THE SUBJECT MATTER
LUTHER very carefully considered the subject matter of theolLogy. Theology is concerned with the knowledge of God and of man. It is therefore both theology in the narrower sense—the doctrine of God—and anthropology. These two are inseparably joined together. God can be properly known only in terms of his relationship to man; and man can be properly known only in terms of his relationship to God. Theology is thus concerned neither with an objective doctrine of God nor with an anthropology that asks questions about man other than those involving his relationship to God. Both sides of this relationship are determined by the fact that man is a guilty and lost sinner and that God is the justifier and the redeemer of precisely this kind of man. This highly existential twofold theme of man's guilt and redemption—this and nothing else—is the subject matter of theology. “Whatever one seeks apart from this is error and idle gossip in theology.”1 This means that theological knowledge of God and of man is “relative” knowledge in the sense that each is known only in relationship to the other, a relationship that is ontological as well as personal. This is what Luther means when he says, “Christ is the subject matter of theology.”2
What is the significance of this for the relationship of theology to philosophy?3 Philosophy is also concerned with man, with man as a rational being and as the bearer of reason, which is the source of all culture. Philosophy however is not concerned with man as “theological” man, with man in his relationship to God. Philosophy thinks of man in immanent categories. Compared with the
1 WA 40II, 327; cf. LW 12, 310 f. Cf. WA, TR 5, 5757.
2 WA, TR 2, 1868 and frequently; cf. the index in WA, TR 6.
'See The Disputation Concerning Man, WA 391, 175 ff.; LW 34, 137–144.
Cf. also WA 4011,327; LW 12, 310 f.