Monday, October 13, 2008

Martin Luther’s Teaching Moments

So far, there are two passages in Marty’s Martin Luther which particularly made me pause and think. The first was Luther’s comparing the story of Jacob struggle with God to the way we all wrestle with the ideas and paradoxes surrounding God. What intrigues me is Luther‘s choice of words. He believes we have to conquer God. Luther admits that “if we judge according to philosophy,” it’s an absurd idea (26). Indeed, it sounds like something the Catholic church would have used to justify the selling of indulgences, conquering God’s wrath with pieces of paper. Fortunately, Luther wasn’t saying that God wasn’t omnipotent. Luther’s point is that God “is not conquered in such a way that He is subjected to us, but his judgment…is conquered by us praying, seeking, and knocking, so that from an angry judge…He becomes a most loving Father” (27). I think this is because of God’s perfect nature. Another Luther comment which sounds strange when taken at face value is “Every good work is sin” (77). Again, what Luther is really saying is that doing good works to try to win God’s favor is arrogance. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still a sin. So why does Luther initially word his views in such a way, it sounds like he believes something completely different. I think it’s because he was a teacher. By wording his point in such a stark way, Luther grabs your attention, and gets you to think about this Biblical passage in a new way. That’s the mark of a great teacher.

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