The Self-Donation of God: Gerhard Forde and the Question of Atonement in the Lutheran Tradition

Jack D. Kilcrease, Marquette University


My engagement with Gerhard Forde's theology began during my first year at Luther Seminary. In entering seminary my interest was in becoming a Lutheran systematic theologian with a focus on Christology. Throughout college I had studied the New Testament, the Reformation and Christian systematic theology very intensely. Forde's own interpretation of Luther's theology was an important contribution to my own study of Luther and the doctrine of Christ. Nevertheless from the beginning of my study of Forde, I was extremely conflicted about his Christology and doctrine of atonement. I considered his understanding of the dialectic of hidden and revealed God, law and gospel to be substantially on target, but his view of atonement did not make sense to me theologically, and I could not square it with what the Bible, Luther or the Lutheran Confessions said about atonement. This sparked my interest in writing a dissertation on the subject...