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Friday, May 18, 2012

Pieper & Walther on... use of Luther (Part 7)

In this installment (continuing from Part 6), we summarize Pieper and Walther on the use of Luther for difficult theological questions:
How should we use Luther with difficult theological questions?  Walther gives the advice:  “Whenever one bumps into a difficult theological question, one tries to receive with the help of the indexes of Luther's sayings and subjects of Luthers works to get Luther's insights about that from all concerning places. This one must make a rule.  A Lutheran preacher should know how Luther judges on important theological issues.  He is no oracle, but his judgment is of extreme importance for us.  Just read all the places to see where he comes to speak on the issue in question.  Whoever does this diligently, will soon grow fond of Luther and recognize that he can find no better counsellor. Whoever does not do it, does not use Luther.”
That is why I read and re-read Luther's essays against the Jews "On The Jews and Their Lies" and "Vom Schem Hamphoras".  The Jews under their rabbis are a poor, lost people as Luther, Walther and Pieper confirm.  And Luther builds the Christian faith in each of his writings and others.  In "Vom Schem Hamphoras", Luther even adds a beautiful exposition of the different accounts of the lineage of Christ.  I quote from page 190-191 of Gerhard Falk's translation:

83. From the beginning of the gospel, as St. Luke and St. Mark wrote it, the question has arisen: why the two apostles have told the story of the origins of the family of our Lord Jesus Christ so differently (or, as many have explained it, so contradicted by one another?) and it is peculiar that both agree upon the lineage or origins of these persons and end with Joseph and not with Mary and Christ; from this the wise sought to conclude it is not proved with that that Christ is of the family of David, because he does not come from Joseph, whom the apostles trace as coming directly from the line of David, and then suddenly abandon the same Joseph and substitute Mary.
84. Here everyone is involved, particularly the Jews, and thereafter the emperor Julian and his heathens.  In fact, many of the old teachers and not a few of the new; they need to better understand this and other wonders as to whether our Christian belief is wrong here, or uncertain or totally in the dark. That is why we want to talk about this a bit but with permission, if I may, that we are happy to let anyone do it better.
I may offer my own translation to the world of this wonderful Christian writing of Luther who answers a difficult theological question so the Jewish Prof. Gerhard Falk loses some of his "glory".

The final Part 8 follows – Luther's uniqueness.

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