The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther

By Donald K. McKim | Go to book overview
1. The above essay has shown to what a large extent Luther developed and formulated his theological statements in concrete conflicts, sometimes provoked by a deplorable state of affairs or an opponent's position. Luther can only be understood through his time and in his time. Thanks be to God, time has changed. As a result numerous occasions that prompted Luther to make hard-hitting statements are also gone. To this extent any single criticism, idea, or statement of Luther should always be carefully checked for whether it stands up to the test of our modern time.
2. No one disputes that Luther was a great theologian, a brilliant rhetorical speaker and in many regards a highly successful reformer. If we would like to keep his legacy alive, it will be our foremost task to zero in on his theology as a whole and to analyze his patterns and processes of argumentation to unearth his unique way of“doing theology.” It is not about individual arguments, but an entire line of argumentation; not about biblical fundamentalism, but an ongoing relationship with Scripture; not about systematic Lutheran dogmatics, ethics, or the like, but his dynamic way of reaching answers and statements which are both worth keepingfor future generations and worthy to be gathered into the wealth of ecclesiastical and spiritual traditions. In addition to the fundamental reconnection to Scripture (sola scriptura), we can also treasure the hermeneutic distinction between law and gospel, the teaching of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit is bound to Scripture, the evaluation of human freedom as it is bound to God's Word and commandments, the teaching of unconditional justification out of grace alone, the view of the church as a communion of sinners called and redeemed by God, the highlighting of the church's office of comfort, the common priesthood of all believers, and last but not least the spiritual approach to the question of authority.

Notes
1
See Bernhard Lohse, “Luthers Selbsteinsch¨atzung, ” in Martin Luther: Reformator und Vater im Glauben. Referate aus der Vortragsreihe des Instituts für europ¨aische Geschichte Mainz, ed. Peter Manns (Stuttgart: Steiner-VerlagWiesbaden-GmbH, 1985), 118–33. Reprinted in Evangelium in der Geschichte: Studien zu Luther und der Reformation. In honor of the 60th birthday of the author, ed. Leif Grane, Bernd Moeller, and Otto Hermann Pesch (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1988), 158–75).
2
WA BR 1, 56f. (No. 52 from November 11, 1517 to Johannes Lang); compare also Bernd Moeller and Karl Stackmann, Luder—Luther—Eleutherius: Erw¨agungen zu Luthers Namen (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1981).
3
See for example WA BR 1, No. 48, 69–71; WA BR 2, No. 371, 46–59 (from January 25, 1521); WA 6, 404, 31–405, 1.
4
WA 10/ii, 105, 2–106, 14; WA BR 2 No. 455, 39–45 (from March 5, 1522); WA BR 3 No. 567, 31–33 (from January 3, 1523); WA 18, 327, 30f.

-114-

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The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents ix
  • Notes on Contributors xi
  • Preface xv
  • Chronology of Martin Luther xvii
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Part I - Luther's Life and Context 1
  • 1 - Luther's Life 3
  • 2 - Luther's Wittenberg 20
  • Part II - Luther's Work 37
  • 3 - Luther's Writings 39
  • Notes 59
  • 4 - Luther as Bible Translator 62
  • 5 - Luther as an Interpreter of Holy Scripture 73
  • Notes 82
  • 6 - Luther's Theology 86
  • Notes 114
  • 7 - Luther's Moral Theology 120
  • 8 - Luther as Preacher of the Word of God 136
  • 9 - Luther's Spiritual Journey 149
  • 10 - Luther's Struggle with Social-Ethical Issues 165
  • Notes 175
  • 11 - Luther's Political Encounters 179
  • Notes 190
  • 12 - Luther's Polemical Controversies 192
  • Part III - After Luther 208
  • 13 - Luther's Function in an Age of Confessionalization 209
  • 14 - The Legacy of Martin Luther 227
  • Notes 238
  • 15 - Approaching Luther 240
  • Notes 252
  • Part IV - Luther Today 257
  • 16 - Luther and Modern Church History 259
  • 17 - Luther's Contemporary Theological Significance 272
  • Notes 286
  • 18 - Luther in the Worldwide Church Today 289
  • Select Bibliography 304
  • Index 313
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