Monday, July 15, 2013

The Place of Reason in Luther's Theology

 "Reason... can only say, "Bread is bread, and water is water.  How can bread be Christ's body or water be a bath for souls?" Reason cannot and will not stay in the Word and surrender to it...Reason sees that the Word defies all understanding, that it is against every sense, feeling and experience.  So reason falls away from the Word of God or denies it completely or, if it cannot avoid it, turns and twists that Word with comments until it finally agrees with reason.  But then faith has no more place.  Faith has to give way and concede the victory to reason".

"Faith certainly has this struggle with reason in Abraham.  But faith conquered in him, butchered and sacrificed that bitterest and most pestilential enemy of God.  Likewise all the pious, stepping with Abraham into the darkness of faith, put reason to death, and say, "Reason, you are a fool.  You do not know the things of God.  So do not get in my way, but be quiet.  Do not judge, but hear the Word of God and believe".

"According to reason, we want to be masters over our Lord God and teach him what fits and does not fit.  And if it does not fit, then friend, hrow the doctrine out!  So, for example, it makes no sense to sprinkle children with the water of baptism.  Throw the doctrine out! In this way we will construct a right faith.  According to reason we are as intelligent in these matters as a cow.  And if intelligence counted for anything, I could probably construct a religion better than you.  But here, we are not in a tavern.  We are in a Christian church, where we must believe, not what reason thinks is right or what pleases me or you, but what the Scriptures tell us".