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Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Ethics of Martin Luther

I am currently studying a little book by Paul Althaus called The Ethics of Martin Luther. It's sort of a companion to Althaus's better known The Theology of Martin Luther. As far as I can tell, the ethics book is out-of-print. Maybe Concordia Publishing House could get the rights to republish it.

Just for fun, here are some jottings just from my first page of notes:

  • ...Justification through faith alone is of fundamental significance for the proper understanding and realization of the ethical life (xix)

  • No man ever surrenders his heart to the will of God as completely as the command of God requires

    • "A man may do many good things but still not be a good man, because his heart is never pure but always divided and enslaved in sin." (4)

  • "A good conscience is not the product but the source of the Christian ethos." (5)

  • Sin contaminates everything we do, even our outwardly good works.

  • "our activity is really good in God's judgment only if we act with the right feelings and attitude toward God." (7)

  • A deed may be "good" on the surface in that it is obedience to a divine command and serves the neighbor. But if it is done in unfaith, it is sin before God.

  • "A work may be very ethical in terms of its substance even thought it is done in unfaith; if so, it is sin in God's judgment (Romans 14:23)." (8)

  • "In the ethical sense my action is good if done in response to God's command. In the meta-ethical sense, my action is good, despite its constant impurity, because of God's act of justification." (7)

  • "Thus Christian activity is good, despite all the sinfulness that remains within us, because it is done in faith." (8)

  • "The Holy Spirit is restless in us and cannot remain idle; and as a result, the Christian is also not idle but is rather filled with energy and acts in such a way that he pleases God." (12)

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