Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gerhard on Luther and Melanchthon

I'm working through Gerhard's section on free choice and free will. He continues to impress me not only as a genius in theology, but also as a reasonable man full of good sense. He is no sycophant to the theologians who have gone before him and neither does he commit the sin of Ham against his fathers in the faith. Here is a fine example of his moderation, kindness, and honesty toward the giants on whose shoulders he stands.

As to what [Bellarmine] writes (in ch. 5) about the contradictions of Luther and Philip, “they remove almost every freedom of the human will in external and civil acts altogether,” let Dr. Chemnitz (part 1, Loci, toward the end of his chapter De causa peccati) be referred to on this matter. Dr. Luther is not embarrassed to confess with Augustine that he wrote [more] advantageously [elsewhere], thus even in the later editions of the works of Luther those words (from Assert., art. 36) that according to the teaching of Wycliffe all things occur by absolute necessity, have been omitted, as also in his later loci Philip explained his intent clearly. The meaning of words must be taken from the circumstances of the one who is speaking. But they wrote against the immoderate praisers of free choice, thus the same thing happens to them which happened to the fathers of the primitive church who, when they intended to refute the errors of the Manichaeans, went too far and spoke too indulgently and importunely about free choice.

1 comment:

  1. And this is just what Luther would want, who wrote:

    Moreover, Augustine always asked that his books be read with discernment. So if [the fathers] write good and wholesome words, I follow in their footsteps; if they write anything outside of the church, I do not follow them. You young men should not get used to condemning or insulting those good men. Learn to speak piously and reverently about the holy fathers and with charity. They were flesh and blood men just like us and could make mistakes. They had evils that provoked them, just as we do. They were forgiven, just as we want to be forgiven when we are gone.


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