The Theology of Martin Luther

By Paul Althaus; Robert C. Schultz | Go to book overview

15
GOD IN JESUS CHRIST

THE RECEPTION OF THE
ANCIENT DOGMAS

I BELIEVE in Jesus Christ: this is the confession of faith in the Christian tradition which Luther received.1 Luther felt that the words “I believe” by themselves assert that Jesus Christ is God. For faith is a relationship to God. “If I should say to someone, 'I believe in you and I place my trust and the confidence of my heart in you,' that one must be my god.”2

Luther understands the confession that Christ is God in terms of the christological dogma of the ancient church. He expressly accepts the great ecumenical creeds of Greek and Latin theology. Apart from individual concepts he expresses no criticism of the traditional christological dogmas. He agrees with Athanasius and rejects Arius. His Christmas song, “All Praise to Thee, O Jesus Christ,” adores the miracle of the incarnation of the Eternal Son in the style of Greek christology.3 He particularly emphasizes that no power of reason is able to comprehend the paradox of the incarnation. The Creator has become a creature.4 Luther without reservation uses the traditional terminology of the “two natures” and of their unification in the one person of the Lord to describe the mystery of Jesus Christ. He adopts the ancient doctrine of the communication of attributes, that is, of the exchange of attributes between the two natures in the person of Christ and expands it in his doctrine of the Lord's Supper. He is as much concerned with the true deity of Christ as Athanasius or Anselm was and in the same sense as they. “If Christ is divested of his deity, there re-

1 On Luther's christology, see Ernst Wolf, Die Cbristuiverkündigung bet
Luther
(1935). Reprinted in Peregrinatio (Munich: Kaiser, 1954), pp.
30 ff. Erich Seeberg, Cbrhtus, Wirklicbktit und Urbild (Stuttgart: Kohlham-
mer, 1937). P. W. Gennrich, Die CbristologU Luthers im Abendmahlsstreil
1524 bit 1529
(Göttingen: Vandenhoedc & Ruprecht, 1929).

2WA 37, 42.

3WA 53, 434 i.; LW 53, 240 f.

4WA 37, 43 f.

-179-

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The Theology of Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • From the Preface to the German Edition v
  • Translator's Note ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Authority of Scripture and of the Creeds 3
  • 2: The Subject Matter of Theology 9
  • Part One - The Knowledge of God the Word of God and Faith 13
  • 3: The General and the Proper Knowledge of God 15
  • 4: God in Himself and God as He Reveals Himself 20
  • 5: The Theology of the Cross 25
  • 6: The Word of God and the Spirit of God 35
  • 7: Faith 43
  • 8: Reason 64
  • 9: The Holy Scripture 72
  • Part Two - God's Work 103
  • 10: God is God 105
  • 11: God's Will for Men 130
  • 12: Man as a Sinner 141
  • 13: Man Between God and Satan 161
  • 14: Man Under the Wrath of God 169
  • 15: God in Jesus Christ 179
  • 16: The Trinity 199
  • 17: Jesus Christ as the Reconciler and Redeemer 201
  • 18: Righteousness in Faith 224
  • 19: Law and Gospel 251
  • 20: The Freedom of the Gracious God 274
  • 21: The People of God 287
  • 22: The Church as the Community of Saints 294
  • 23: The Office of the Ministry 323
  • 24: The True Church and the Empirical Church 333
  • 25: The Sacrament 345
  • 26: Baptism 353
  • 27: The Lord's Supper 375
  • 28: Eschatology 404
  • Appendixes 427
  • Appendix One - “and Though I Had All Faith” 429
  • Appendix Two - “love and the Certainty of Salvation” 446
  • Indexes 459
  • Index of Names 460
  • Index of Subjects 461
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