6.118: Martin Luther seems to be saying that God, in Jesus, died on the cross. But isn’t that heresy?

Today our theologians will be answering the listener-submitted question, "Martin Luther Seems to be Saying that God, in Jesus, Died on the Cross. But Isn't That Heresy?"


Welcome to season six of Enter the Bible, a podcast in which we share “Everything You Wanted to Know about the Bible…but were afraid to ask.”

Co-hosts Katie Langston and Kathryn Schifferdecker are joined by Mark Tranvik. Tranvik is a Professor of Reformation History and Theology at Luther Seminary. He is also an ordained pastor in the ELCA. His area of specialty is the Lutheran Reformation.

Today our theologians will be answering the listener-submitted question, “Martin Luther Seems to be Saying that God, in Jesus, Died on the Cross. But Isn’t That Heresy?”

Show notes

Biblical books and passages mentioned

  • 2 Corinthians

Topics, themes, figures, and books mentioned

  • Mark Tranvik: Martin Luther and the Called Life (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016)
  • Martin Luther
  • Patripassianism: theological heresy
  • The Trinity
  • communicatio idiomatum: Communication of Properties, a Christological concept
  • Garden of Gethsemane
  • Divine Vulnerability

Full Transcript

Today's Episode Hosted By

Joined by


Mark Tranvik

Mark Tranvik

Mark likes to think of himself as a parish pastor at heart. He has spent almost ten years (1984-93) as a pastor at Cross of Glory Lutheran Church in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. It was a rich experience, full of struggle and joy. Even today as a teacher he tries to keep one eye on the parish pastor or lay leader when he talks about the Reformation or a theological topic. One of his favorite things to do is to visit congregations and lead adult forums. He does not want his scholarship to be divorced from the “real world” of the parish.

Mark retired in 2020 after twenty-five years of teaching at Augsburg University. That also was a good experience and he learned much from his Auggie students and colleagues. Following his “retirement” he was offered a full-time position in Reformation history and theology at Luther Seminary. Mark's academic interests are in Reformation sacramental theology and Luther’s doctrine of vocation in particular. He looks forward to introducing his students to the crazy idea that Luther picked up from Paul: God’s love for the unlovable.

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Hosted By:

Kathryn M. Schifferdecker

Kathryn M. Schifferdecker

Kathryn M Schifferdecker came to Luther Seminary as an assistant professor of Old Testament in 2006. Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2001, Schifferdecker was associate pastor for five years at Trinity Lutheran Church, Arkdale, Wisc., before coming to Luther. Schifferdecker is a frequent contributor to workingpreacher.org, Word & World and the author of Out of the Whirlwind: Creation Theology in the Book of Job (Harvard University Press, 2008). She is currently writing a commentary on the book of Esther.

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Katie Langston

Katie Langston

Katie Langston is a doubter by nature and a believer by grace. She grew up Mormon in a small Utah town and still isn't sure she fits in anywhere sophisticated enough to have a Target. She's the author of Sealed: An Unexpected Journey into the Heart of Grace, an acclaimed spiritual memoir about her conversion to orthodox Christianity. Katie works as the director of digital strategy for Luther Seminary's innovation team, where she oversees digital projects aimed at cultivating vibrant Christian spirituality in a post-modern, post-Christian cultural context.

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