Martin Luther's Understanding of God's Two Kingdoms (Texts and Studies in Reformation and Post-Reformation Thought) , livre ebook

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The concept of God's two kingdoms was foundational to Luther and subsequent Lutheran theology. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, that concept has been understood primarily as a political concept. But is a political reading of the two kingdoms a perversion of Luther's teaching?Leading Reformation scholar William Wright contends that those who read Luther politically and see in Luther a compartmentalized approach to Christian life are misreading the Reformer. Wright reassesses the original breadth of Luther's theology of the two kingdoms and the cultural contexts from which it emerged. He argues that Luther's two-kingdom worldview was not a justification for living irresponsibly on planet earth.
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Date de parution

01 janvier 2010

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0

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9781441212689

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English

Martin Luther s Understanding of God s Two Kingdoms
Texts and Studies in Reformation and Post-Reformation Thought
General Editor
Prof. Richard A. Muller, Calvin Theological Seminary
Editorial Board
Prof. Irena Backus, University of Geneva
Prof. Susan M. Felch, Calvin College
Prof. A. N. S. Lane, London School of Theology
Prof. Susan E. Schreiner, University of Chicago
Prof. David C. Steinmetz, Duke University
Prof. John L. Thompson, Fuller Theological Seminary
Prof. Willem J. van Asselt, University of Utrecht
Prof. Timothy J. Wengert, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Prof. Henry Zwaanstra, Calvin Theological Seminary
Martin Luther s Understanding of God s Two Kingdoms
A Response to the Challenge of Skepticism
William J. Wright
2010 by William J. Wright
Published by Baker Academic a division of Baker Publishing Group P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287 www.bakeracademic.com
E-book edition created 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means-for example, electronic, photocopy, recording-without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
ISBN 978-1-4412-1268-9
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Contents
Series Preface
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction
1. Interpretations of Luther s Idea of the Two Kingdoms during the Last Two Centuries
2. The Skeptical Challenge of the Early Italian Renaissance
3. Northern Humanism: The Context of Luther s Two Kingdoms
4. The Two-Kingdoms Worldview: How Luther Used the Concept in Diverse Contexts
5. The Reformer Applies the Two Kingdoms to Christian Life
Bibliography
Series Preface
The heritage of the Reformation is of profound importance to our society, our culture, and the church in the present day. Yet there remain many significant gaps in our knowledge of the intellectual development of Protestantism both during and after the Reformation, and there are not a few myths about the theology of the orthodox or scholastic Protestant writers of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These gaps and myths-frequently caused by ignorance of the scope of a particular thinker s work, by negative theological judgments passed by later generations on the theology of the Reformers and their successors, or by an intellectual imperialism of the present that singles out some thinkers and ignores others regardless of their relative significance to their own times-stand in the way of a substantive encounter with this important period in our history. Understanding, assessment, and appropriation of that heritage can only occur through the publication of significant works (monographs, essays, and sound, scholarly translations) that present the breadth and detail of the thought of the Reformers and their successors.
Texts and Studies in Reformation and Post-Reformation Thought makes available (1) translations of important documents like Caspar Olevian s A Firm Foundation and John Calvin s Bondage and Liberation of the Will , (2) significant monographs on individual thinkers or on aspects of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Protestant thought, and (3) multiauthored symposia that bring together groups of scholars in an effort to present the state of scholarship on a particular issue, all under the guidance of an editorial board of recognized scholars in the field.
The series, moreover, is intended to address two groups: an academic and a confessional or churchly audience. The series recognizes the need for careful, scholarly treatment of the Reformation and of the era of Protestant orthodoxy, given the continuing presence of misunderstandings, particularly of the latter era, in both the scholarly and the popular literature and also given the rise of a more recent scholarship devoted to reappraising both the Reformation and the era of orthodoxy. The series highlights revised understandings regarding the relationship of the Reformation and orthodoxy to their medieval background and of the thought of both eras to their historical, social, political, and cultural contexts. Such scholarship will not only advance the academic discussion, it will also provide a churchly audience with a clearer and broader access to its own traditions. In sum, the series intends to present the varied and current approaches to the rich heritage of Protestantism and to stimulate interest in the roots of the Protestant tradition.
Richard A. Muller
Acknowledgments
This work has been in progress for many years and to give credit to all of the mentors, colleagues, and students who have helped the author s thought processes would require far too many pages. I must, however, single out those who have helped me the most in the completion of this project. The interlibrary loan department at UT-Chattanooga s Lupton Library has been efficient and helpful throughout. A special thank-you must go to the personnel of Pitts Theology Library at Emory University, especially Myron McGhee, who listened and responded for years to my cries for help in procuring all the volumes of the Weimar edition of Luther s works. They have always been very friendly and helpful. Special recognition must also be rendered for the use of the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection and to its efficient personnel. The Kessler Reformation Collection is a marvelous archive of original and secondary sources on the Lutheran Reformation, located in the Pitts Theology Library. This wonderful collection made it possible to look at some of the nineteenth-century works that are no longer found in many research libraries, as well as some of Luther s original publications.
The author is particularly indebted to spouse Barbara and son Hal. Over the last few years, both have endured many long hours of hearing about the book. They have played the roles of editor and critic. They were invaluable in producing the final copy of the manuscript. Without their multifaceted help, this book would never have been finished.
Abbreviations
LW Luther s Works . Martin Luther. Edited by Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut Lehman, 55 vols. Philadelphia and St. Louis: Fortress and Concordia, 1955-1986
WA Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe . Martin Luther. Weimar: H. B hlau, 1883-1993 (English quotations attributed to this work are the author s translation.)
Br Briefwechsel
DB Deutsche Bibel
Tr Tischreden
Introduction
For Martin Luther, God s two kingdoms were a fundamental premise based upon the diligent study of the Scriptures. They were the reality in which the Christian lived during his or her lifetime. As a basic assumption, Luther presented all of his teachings within the context of these two kingdoms. The present study will describe his use of the two kingdoms in depth and their implications for the individual Christian. It will examine the influence of Renaissance humanism and show how it both stimulated and facilitated Luther s development of this view of reality.
By the early sixteenth century, Renaissance humanism had forcefully challenged the dominance of Scholasticism and obtained a foothold in many universities, including Erfurt, where Luther obtained his education. Humanism brought with it a rhetoric based upon skeptical assumptions, a desire to uncover the original sources and philological methods for examining sources. Hence, Luther s conception of man s relationship with God and his place in the world matured in a skeptical milieu. (In this study, the term skeptical will not refer to the modern understanding of doubt directed specifically at religion.) 1 This book will show that Luther was influenced mostly by the earlier Italian humanists, especially Lorenzo Valla. In addition to providing a model of humanist uses of philology and rhetoric, Valla showed an epistemological way out of Renaissance skepticism toward God s Word and religious matters. Valla had revealed a rhetoric of faith as opposed to the rhetoric of proofs, facts, definitions, and philosophy. It was a rhetoric that appealed to the heart rather than the intellect.
Luther searched for certainty regarding God, who He was, how He acted, how He was disposed to people, and how people related to Him. He turned to the Scriptures in his search for certainty, ad fontem as the humanists put it. But as a student equipped with the skeptical humanist tools of philology, Luther found a God in Scripture who was incomprehensible, and he found teachings that were inexplicable by the logic he had learned at the university. Many of the characteristics ascribed to God in Scripture and the events described therein seemed impossible or illogical and were, therefore, subject to doubt. An example of this was the ubiquity of God, which Luther could not understand or grasp with reason. 2 Another example was the Genesis account of creation, which simply defied human reasoning and the best pagan science since antiquity. Luther located the cause of this experience in the late medieval penchant for explaining religious matters philosophically. As he put it, For all other branches of knowledge are taught on the basis of syllogisms, induction, and experiments but only theology concerned what is nothing, . . . unseen, impossible, absurd, and foolish. 3
Doubt and skepticism compelled Luther to articulate and clearly explicate the biblical reality of God; that is, the Jahweh of the Old Testament and the Word and Christ of the New Testament. It was because Luther saw the need for establishing the certain reality of God s actions that, in his early writings, he talked about this spiritual reality in terms of a place or locus . 4 Religious matters concerned a soteriological object rather than just an epistemological one. Faith was the method through which Christ worked or acted on pur

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