Dr. Viktor Frankl and incredible human being

Dr. Viktor Frankl an incredible human being

The psychiatrist, whom I respect by far more than any others, is Dr. Viktor Frankl. Readers may remember him as a Holocaust survivor, and father of a type of psychotherapy called logotherapy, and author of books such as Man’s Search for Meaning. Over against other psychiatrists and psychologists who said that the will to power and the pursuit of pleasure are what ultimately motivate human beings; Dr. Frankl believed that the will to meaning is what ultimately motivates human beings. His logotherapy was born out of his own existential experiences in the World War II concentration camps. He said that according to logotherapy, meaning can be discovered by three ways: “(1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.” Even though Dr. Frankl didn’t publicly declare himself to be an adherent of any religion (he was an Austrian Jew, though I’m not aware that he attended synagogue, his wife apparently was a Catholic) nonetheless, he said that religion is concerned with ultimate meaning, or supermeaning and self-transcendence. For me, this has parallels with the Lutheran theology of the cross; which, of course, originates with Jesus himself, when he taught and lived for others and made the ultimate self sacrifice for humankind.


Readers may be interested in the following links to explore further the life and teachings of Dr. Viktor Frankl: You Tube has several interviews here. Readers can also check out the Viktor Frankl Institute here, where there are also some interviews. What shines through for me is the deep insights into the human condition and the profound authenticity of Dr. Frankl. He obviously practiced what he preached, even though his suffering during the Holocaust must have been horrific, he still lived to the ripe old age of 92 years.






Martin Luther and the theology of the cross

Martin Luther and the theology of the cross


This year I’ve been reading a devotional book consisting of Martin Luther’s writings: Day By Day We Magnify Thee: Daily Readings For The Entire Year, which I highly recommend. Here’s a sample.


One of Martin Luther’s greatest insights on the theology of the cross was that God chooses certain sufferings for us to teach us beyond what we would learn on our own. Human nature, in and of itself, avoids suffering at all costs—yet that is precisely where God meets us. God in Christ is revealed to us through the Spirit’s creative activity through the Word and through the suffering. Here is a quote from Luther’s comment on Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”


Behold, this is the way of the cross, which you cannot find, but I must lead you, like a blind (person). Therefore, not yourself, not a (human being), not a creature, but I will teach you, through My Word and Spirit, the way wherein you are to walk. You should follow the work which you choose and not the suffering which you devise, but that which comes to you against your choosing, thinking, and devising. It is there that I call you. There you should be a pupil. There is the time. There your Master has come to you. (The seven penitential Psalms, 1517. W.A. I. 171f.)

Martin Luther on The Cross is good for us

This year, one of the devotional books I’m reading is a collection of Martin Luther’s writings: Day By Day We Magnify Thee: Readings for the Church Year Selected from the Writings of Martin Luther (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982). Once again, I am appreciative of Luther’s deep, insightful theology of the cross, evident here in this devotion based on Psalm 94:12. His phrase “snore in our security” is, I think, an apt description of many folk in the affluent world today. His remark on obligations is similar to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer described as “cheap grace.”


It is highly necessary that we should suffer, not only that God may thereby prove His honour, might, and strength against the devil, but also because the great and precious treasure which we have, if it were given unto us without such suffering and affliction would make us snore in our security. And we can see—unfortunately it is a general thing—that many abuse the Holy Gospel, behaving as if they were freed from all obligations through the Gospel and that there is nothing more they need do, or give or suffer. This is a sin and a shame.


The only way our God can check such evil is through the cross. He must so discipline us that our faith increases and grows stronger, and thus draw the Saviour all the deeper into our soul. For we can no more grow strong without suffering and temptation than we can without eating and drinking.