miércoles, 22 de agosto de 2012

Martin Luther: Undoing a Path of One Thousand Years

Augustinian monk son of the Renaissance, Martin Luther (1483-1546), was born in times of fear. Men feared an angry God, witches and spirits as well as Turks. In his monastic life Luther turned to the study of Greek and Hebrew languages, which monasteries had kept for centuries, and by the age of twenty five he was a professor of theology in Wittenberg, although his doctorate was completed until 1512 at age 29. In this process Luther learned to doubt all thinkers (Jodocus Trutfetter) and came to the conclusion that faith and not reason was the only path to know God (W. of Okham). 
The terror of God Luther resolved it through a very long and existential process, by stressing the love of God which he called grace using pauline language. A loving God had declared the believer righteous so there was no reason to fear him anymore. This turned an angry deity into a gracious God who accepts man on the basis of the death of Christ by declaring man justified. 
Luther also reflected that the Church could not have created a path to know God. Tradition was after all not a divine gift but a human development which yesterday was as human as the day before yesterday, so if one goes back to its earliest origin one does not find but the face of man himself rather than God’s.  So to know God he, graciously, has to make himself known through his Word in the Scriptures. There is not other source of divine revelation but Scriptures.
So Luther denied that the scholastic bridge between heaven and earth was a God given tool. Analogy as the connection between what is human and that what is divine is an arrogant move on the part of theologians. It is a product of the “whore reason” and comes short to putting God in ones pocket. It can be predicated only on the basis of destroying Gods glory, his majesty and divine order. Gott ist der ganz Andere!  In Old Testament tradition God was totally other and Luther believed that to be the core of who God is. The world of witches and spirits was nothing and certainly not a source of fear.
 In his search for that which is truly biblical Luther discarded five of the sacraments and reinterpreted the other two. He denounced the purgatory as unbiblical and used against the Pope a very effective ad-hominem. First there are not biblical basis for substituting repentance and penance as the only way to appease God, so taking money instead of contrition was another deformation without biblical support. If the pope claims to have power over the purgatory why does he have to ask for money in order to use it. Why does he not, as an act of compassion, empty the purgatory once and for all?    
 Luther by recovering the Bible and its themes as creation, the fall, the incarnation, and so forth, had helped to bring back history into theology. The scholastic approach had exhausted itself and delivered all that it had. Reason had devised formulas to explain things, usually going around, behind and above history to satisfy human reason but without meeting history itself in a personal way. The incomprehensive encounter between eternity and time, spirit and matter, infinite and finitude postulated by some scholastic rationalists had finally met in the person of Jesus Christ, the point in which God meets man. This was made possible in new way when Martin Luther rejected the abstract notions and categories of scholastics.
Nature and supernatural are connected but not by reason for that leads only to the vanity of man search for himself. They are connected by God, in the person of Christ who reveals God through the veil of his flesh, Deus absconditus, who in Christ becomes Deus revelatus, God revealed in mystery, is through Christ  the way par excellence to know something true about God, his glory and his majesty.