Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Luter: wrecker or reformer?

My random notes on comments from the Fisher House talk/conversation with Prof Rober A. W. Rex from Cambrige.

Two key points:
 -  psychologically he needs absolute certainty of his salvation
 1 -  absolute certainty 
 2 -  his salvation (Jesus died pro me, not so much pro nobis) - this fits modern egocentrism 

1- Absolute Certainty

This requires that my salvation doesn’t depend on me, otherwise I can’t be certain of it.
We can’t trust in ourselves because “all men are liars”.
As faith is needed for salvation it can’t depend on me, not even my decision of believing.

The following tatement summarises the issue:
the act of faith is an act of the human person in which the human person is entirely passive.  Or as Prof Preus wrote : faith 'is an activity of man in which man is not active'. Robert Preus, Justification and Rome (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia, 1997), p. 137.

The problem is that this statement is a contradiction in terms. If the faith should be my faith I have to concur in a way, by cooperating with the grace of God, otherwise it is not *my* faith in any meaningful sense.

Finally,  seeking absolute certainty we reach a sort of vicious circle: to be saved you have to believe with certainty that people have to believe with certainly to be saved. Basically I believe if a) I am sure I go to heaven b) I am sure that only people who are sure to go to heaven are saved.

2 -  Jesus died pro me:

Jesus died for me, not for us as community. Radical egocentrism/individualism that fits well with modernity.
The consequence is that Luter has no ecclesiology. This individualism undermines the church.

Luter wants to establish his doctrine of absolute certainty with absolute certainty, therefore he can’t rely on the church, as it is relying on men, so he have to rely only on the bible. Again, every men is a liar.

Obviously disagreement soon appears, but there is no way to deal with it.

3 - Comparison to Calvin

Luter believed in the real presence.
Calvin brings ecclesiology into Luter’s theology (not sure how)
Calvin believes in double predestination
Calvin imposes no images because they are idolatry  (and as corolary real presence as idolatry).


Why didn’t Protestanism  spread to some places and not others?

The spread of Luter ideas was a matter of German Language.
He was an absolute brilliant writer who by himself fixed the German modern language. He was spread by the press. The south of Europe read other books apart from Luter, that is why it didn’t spread there. 

[ All mistakes are mine, good thing I learn from others]

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