Sunday, February 8, 2009

Luther and the Word, part 3

Here is the third portion of the paper.

Luther also refused to acknowledge that reason or philosophy could replace Scripture’s authority. Many Protestants could not believe in various teachings of Holy Scriptures concerning the Sacraments because it did not agree with their philosophies or did not make sense to their human reason. Luther once said, “It is most scandalous for us to attempt to defend God’s Word with our reason, whereas we are to defend ourselves against all enemies with the Word of God.”25 Ultimately, it was Luther’s firm conviction that Scripture alone could determine what the Church could and could not teach that separated his theology from the theology of Rome, the enthusiasts, and most Protestants.

In Martin Luther’s theology the content of Holy Scriptures was divided into Law and Gospel. The Gospel was for Luther the center and purpose of the Word. This Gospel was the good news that Jesus died for the sins of the world and the promise that those who believe in Him will have eternal life. Luther said:

“And the gospel should really not be something written, but a spoken word, which brought forth the Scriptures, as Christ and the apostles have done . . . He (Jesus) called his teaching not Scripture but gospel, meaning good news or a proclamation that is spread not by pen but by word and mouth.”[26]

The Gospel is best called the spoken Word. Whenever the Gospel is preached or proclaimed, that which is spoken is the Word. Therefore, when a pastor gives a sermon or speaks the words of Absolution, the words that come from the pastor’s lips are the Word of God. When a Christian forgives another of their sin and proclaims the good news of God’s love to them, they speak God’s Word. For Luther, “wherever there is a manifestation or utterance of the Divine will of love, there is the living Word of God.”[27] God’s spoken Word was God’s own living presence. Luther made this quite clear when he said, “Remember that God has said: I am in your mouth, and I pass with the Word through your ears into your heart. So, then, we have a sure sign and know that when the Gospel is preached, God is present and would have Himself found there.”[28] So, when a person hears a Christian proclaim the Gospel, they hear the Word; in fact, they hear Christ Himself speak to them.

How does your philosophy intersect with this Word of God?

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