you must first give a meaning for this chaotic world from out of itself; you
must establish order. If the world is not believed as something promised,
then it becomes, as Nietzsche appropriately said, ”a thousands wastes, silent,
34 In such silence and such coldness Luther experiences the wrath of
God. All creatures around me—even if it were only a rustlingleaf that frightens me
35 —make me know and speak of this wrath, but mostly it is spoken in
my own heart in its spite and in its despondency. Luther does not recognize
anything neutral beyond wrath and grace. Wrath and grace—therein lies
the fundamental dual focus of his feeling of the world, his language, and
his understanding of history. In this is founded the struggle which is to be
carried out and which Luther did carry out his whole life long.
Luther has not been trapped by the temptation to seek another clarity
than the one of the reliable word of promise. Therefore the world is not
transparent for him, not wholly calculable and intelligible. His theology is
devoid of any historical-philosophical speculation of unity. To the degree
to which it contradicts such speculations—for instance, the illusion of
invariable progress within the history of the world—it is reasonable, realistic,
and fully cognizant of the experience of the concrete world.
The much referred to, although frequently misunderstood, ”secularity“
of Luther is to be understood as theological through and through. For with
it, the world is perceived as created by God's reliable word and as sustained
despite persistent threats. Its perception is that of justice and grace.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1886), ÷ in Basic Writings, trans.
Helen Zimmern (New York: Modern Library, 1947), 560–61 (Werke Kritische
Gesamtausgabe, ed. G. Colli and M. Montinari [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1968],
vi-2, 199) :”The preacher was the only one in Germany who knew the weight of
a syllable or a word, in what manner a sentence strikes, springs, rushes, flows,
and comes to a close; he alone had a conscience in his ears…The masterpiece
of German prose is therefore with good reason the masterpiece of its greatest
preacher: the Bible has hitherto been the best German book. Compared with
Luther's Bible, almost everythingelse is merely 'literature'—somethingwhich
has not grown in Germany, and therefore has not taken and does not take root
in German hearts, as the Bible has done.“
”Letter to Zelter, “November 14, 1816 (Artemis-Gedenkausgabe der Werke, Briefe
und Gespr¨ache [Munich: Artemis, 1949], vol. xxi, Letters for the years 1814–32;
Fr. G. Klopstock, Die deutsche Gelehrtenrepublik, Part 1 (1774), 170.
J. Cochlaeus, Commentaria de Actis et Scriptis Martini Lutheri Saxonis (1549),
55 (translated from Latin).
Compare”Pro veritate inquirenda et timoratis conscientiis consolandis“(1518),
WA 1, 629–33.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther.
Contributors: Donald K. McKim - Editor.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press.
Place of publication: Cambridge, England.
Publication year: 2003.
Page number: 82.
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