The theology of correlation
The correlation is a way to measure how associated or related two variables are. We look at things that already exist and determines if and in what way those things are related to each other. The purpose of doing correlations is to allow us to make a prediction about one variable based on what we know about another variable. In a positive correlation, as the values of one of the variables increase, the values of the second variable also increase. Likewise, as the value of one of the variables decreases, the value of the other variable also decreases.
In a negative correlation, as the values of one of the variables increase, the values of the second variable decrease. Likewise, as the value of one of the variables decreases, the value of the other variable increases. This is still a correlation. It is an “inverse” correlation. The word “negative” is a label that shows the direction of the correlation.
An advantage of the correlation method is that we can make predictions about things when we know about correlations. The existence of a correlation is not the same as saying one caused the other. Correlation does not mean causation.
As noted, True Repentance is hard to perform which may explain this saying from Second Clement: “Therefore, almsgiving is a good thing, as is repentance from sin. Fasting is better than prayer. But almsgiving is better than both. ‘For love covers a multitude of sins.’” Consequently, Matthew and Mark had to rewrite Luke to make it palatable by reducing its significance. Matthew and Mark also introduced the theology of the cross missing in Luke. This suggests that there is a negative correlation between the two doctrines wherein the high values of one are likely to be associated with low values of the other.
One example illustrating the strength of the negative correlation comes from the writings of John Cassian, a monk and ascetic writer who introduced the rules of Eastern monasticism into the West. He was born probably in
“For after that grace of baptism which is common to all, and that most precious gift of martyrdom which is gained by being washed in blood, there are many fruits of penitence by which we can succeed in expiating our sins. For eternal salvation is not only promised to the bare fact of penitence, of which the blessed Apostle Peter says: ‘Repent and be converted that your sins may be forgiven;’ and John the Baptist and the Lord Himself: ‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand:’ but also by the affection of love is the weight of our sins overwhelmed: for ‘charity covers a multitude of sins.’ In the same way also by the fruits of almsgiving a remedy is provided for our wounds, because ‘As water extinguishes fire, so does almsgiving extinguish sin.’”
I have a lot of reading to do but I strongly suspect that there is no theology of the cross in the writings of John Cassian which is predicted by the negative correlation postulated above.