The Theology of Martin Luther

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

21
THE PEOPLE OF GOD

Luther's Reformation took place in conflict with the church of his time. He was opposed not only to its empirical reality but also to the Roman concept of the church. He did not wage this battle, however, in the name of a churchless and individualistic piety but in the name of his own clear concept of the church derived from his understanding of the gospel.1 Luther thankfully and humbly knew he was a member of the church. He not only sang, “Our God He Is a Castle Strong,” but he could also boldly confess: “The church shall be my fortress, my castle, and my chamber.” He spoke these words in German in the midst of his Latin lectures on Genesis.2 He sang a hymn in praise of the church based on Revelation 12:

To me she's dear, the worthy maid,
And I cannot forget her…3

He directs the man who wishes to find Christ to the church: “Whoever seeks Christ must first find the church. Now the church is not wood and stone but the group of people who believe in Christ. Whoever seeks the church should join himself to them and observe what they teach, pray, and believe. For they certainly have Christ among them.”4 The reality of the church is thus an essential part of man's relationship to Christ. A man's relationship to the church obviously precedes even his relationship to Christ and does not follow that relationship as Schleiermacher

1 Cf. especially Karl Holl, “Die Entstehung von Luthers Kirchenbegriff,” GA
1, 288–325. On Luther's doctrine of the church, see Wilhelm Walther, “Das
Erbe der Reformation,” Luthers Kircbe, No. 4, (1917); E. Kohlmeyer, “Die
Bedeutung der Kirche für Luther,” Zeitschrijt fur Kircbengeschicbte, XLVIl,
Ntut Folge X, (1928), 94 ff.; Martin Doerne, “Gottes Volk und Gottes Wort,”
Luther-Jahrbuch, XTV (1932), 61 ff.

2WA 44. 713.

3WA 35, 462; LW 53, 293.

4WA 101,4, 140.

-287-

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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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