Thursday, January 26, 2017

Breaking Luther: Martin was a Manichean, teaching both an evil Jesus and a good Jesus

The idea that Martin Luther just wanted to restore the early Church is laughable, but he did personally teach the early heresy of Manicheanism as his own.

"For most of post-Reformation history, it has been axiomatic in theological histories of the controversy to propose Martin Luther as a devoted follower of the theology St. Augustine of Hippo, the great opponent of the Manichees. This is not surprising, given that Augustine is often invoked by the Reformers against Catholic dogma, that heretics such as Calvin and Cornelius Jansen have made a corrupted Augustinianism the center of their doctrines, that Augustine's bold stance in favor of grace against the Pelagians lent itself to a certain degree of use by Reformers arguing in favor of sola fide and double-predestination, and that Luther himself was an Augustinian monk. Contemporary scholarship, however, reveals quite a contrary picture of Luther. Far from invoking Augustine against Rome, Martin Luther shows himself disdainful of the great doctor of Hippo, and in fact an advocate of the dualist theology of the Manichees.

How could these important elements of Luther's thought get lost? Theobald Beer points out that what we now know as "Lutheranism" is really the thinking of Luther's successor, Philipp Melanchthon, who was Luther's interpreter and advocate, who nevertheless diverged from Luther on several important points. Unlike Luther, Melanchthon held the Church Fathers, especially Augustine, in a certain level or reverence, admitted the usefulness of philosophy in theological studies, and tended towards a certain irenicism that Luther found troubling. Melanchthon brought these characteristics into the Lutheran cause and served to moderate the Lutheranism of the latter 16th century against some of Luther's more extreme positions.

In Luther's glosses, he refers to Christ not as a person, but as a compositum, a composition; this is necessary, since he asserts that divinity and the diabolical are co-existing within Him; Christ is a composition of humanity and divinity. Here Luther is opposing the traditional concept of a single, personal hypostasis, which he will argue against his entire life. This was a huge point of divergence between Luther and Melanchthon; after Luther's death, Melanchthon stated, "The formulas to be rejected are: 'Christ is composed of two natures' and 'Christ is the fruit of creation.'" The former is obviously an attempt to move the Lutheran movement away from Luther's heretical compositum view, and thus Lutheranism would maintain the the traditional formula of hypostasis. Here Luther is especially against Augustine, which we will say more on shortly.

Beer stresses that Luther fixates much more on the role of Christ rather than on His identity; what Christ does is more important than who He is. For Luther, Christ has two functions. "The first," says Theobald Beer, "is the function of shielding us from divine wrath and the second that of giving us an example. This is twofold justification." [4] The human nature of Christ, because it adopts the sinful disposition of fallen man, in fact becomes sin. This is where a Gnostic-Manichaean dualism enters into Luther's thought. There could be no reconciliation between sinful flesh and the divine nature. This is why Christ is compositum but not hypostasis. "

You can read the whole of the article HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment