The Ethics of Martin Luther

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

6
WORK

AS THE SITUATION required, Luther specifically discussed a number of topics and questions related to the Christian life: marriage, secular authority, the military, war, and business. Other topics are not discussed comprehensively but only within the context of the interpretation of related Bible passages. One such topic is work. Luther speaks about work when a particular passage of Scripture offers the opportunity. He does so particularly in his interpretation of Psalm 127 and Psalm 128.1

God has commanded work. The fact that men work is based on God's will to create and to preserve his creation. All men know that a married man must work in order to support his wife and children, and this knowledge belongs to natural law.2 Work is part of God's created order not only as a result of sin but already was so before the fall: even in paradise God gave Adam “work to do, that is, [to] plant the garden, cultivate, and look after it.”3 Work is the “mask” behind which the hidden God himself does everything and gives men what they need to live.4 Our work in and of itself does not produce the goods that are necessary for life. God himself must add his blessing to our work. However, he has ordered work and commanded us to work as the means by which he blesses us. In this respect work is very honorable; it is a most holy thing and, as the means through which God blesses us, is itself a blessing.5

Admittedly, work is also a tiring burden and is accompanied by tension, worry, and disappointment. It stands under the curse which God placed on the soil after the fall into sin. Luther, bound as he is to the biblical story of the fall into sin, does not reduce

1WA 40111, 202 ff., 278 ff.

2WA 40111, 278.

3WA 7, 31; RW 1, 371; cf. LW 31, 360.

4WA 311, 437; LW 14, 115; Theology, 107–108.

5WA 40111, 278, 280.

-101-

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The Ethics of Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xix
  • Contents xxi
  • Abbreviations xxiii
  • 1: The Foundation of the Christian Ethos1 3
  • 2: The Knowledge of God's Commands1 25
  • 3: Stations and Vocations (The Orders) 36
  • Chapter 4 - The Two Kingdoms and the Two Governments 43
  • 5: Love, Marriage, Parenthood1 83
  • 6: Work 101
  • 7: Property, Business, and Economics1 105
  • 8: The State1 112
  • 9: Great Men in Political History 155
  • Indexs 161
  • Index of Authors 162
  • Index of Scripture References 163
  • Index of Subjects 164
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