How can the Protestant Reformer and the group of pastors/theologians/coffee aficionados have anything in common?  Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Luther is most noted for his 95 theses.  Nailed to the door of the church in Wittenburg, they were a spark for the Protestant Reformation.  Luther is probably most famous for his “Here I Stand” speech.  Given in Worms when commanded to recant, it was Luther’s most public refutation of Roman Catholicism and his subsequent ‘witness protection’ life allowed him to begin a German Bible and commentaries.

But if you asked Luther what he thought was the most important thing he wrote, he would probably have answered ‘The Bondage of the Will.’  Luther saw this issue and not indulgences or priestly abuses as the central issue between the Bible and Rome.

‘The Bondage of the Will’ is Luther’s response to a booklet by Erasmus that pushed the (unofficial) idea of Rome regarding the freedom of the will.  To be fair, Erasmus really wanted to stay out of the whole thing and was strong-armed into writing it.  But Luther didn’t care- he saw a softball and smacked it.

Erasmus, in his preface, goes on and on about not wanting to make ‘assertions.’  Basically, he didn’t want to make many statements about the bondage or freedom of the will because he was sure that no one could really know that much about it.  (Are you beginning to see where this is going?)  This drove Luther slightly insane.  Paraphrasing- he says ‘if we can’t really know anything about it, why are you writing?  Anything you say assumes some knowledge, but you don’t want to assert any knowledge.  You seem to love uncertainty and there is nothing worse than uncertainty.’

The zeitgeist today is the same.  The only thing certian is uncertianty.  The emergents love to put out lots of books to assure you of the ‘rightness’ of ‘unassuredness.’  The paradoxes stack up like IHOP.  How can you assure someone of ‘unassuredness?’  It’s like saying ‘there are no absolute truths.’  Which is in itself an absolute truth.  And something my profs in school loved to say.  Didn’t make sense then; doesn’t make sense now.

Luther tells Erasmus, again paraphrasing (and not nearly as sarcastic), if there is a Bible and the Bible is God’s Word then uncertianty and ‘unassuredness’ are sins because God has worked to make sure we are saved from both.

Amen to that.

5 thoughts on “Luther and the Emergents

  1. Greg, can you help clarify your comments with regard to the following excerpt from the Westminster Confession of Faith and the following commentary?
    Thanks!

    1. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
    If that isn’t an example of “now we see in a glass darkly but then face to face”
    (I Corinthians 13:12), I don’t know what is! The mystery and tension of the whole doctrine of predestination and free will is here clearly affirmed before any further explanation. How is God not “the author of sin” if he “freely and unchangeably ordains whatever comes to pass”? No answer. It’s a mystery. How can God “freely and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass” and yet “offer no violence to the will of the creatures”? It’s a mystery. Predestination and free will are affirmed side by side in the same paragraph in no uncertain terms before the subject is carried any further.

  2. Well in your post you talk about the paradoxes of the emergents and Erasmus’ writings. The commentary that I posted previously was submitted to me in re: to the Westminster Confession of Faith. The commentary seemed to assert that there was a paradox within the phrasing of,

    “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

    I was just wondering your thoughts on this…

  3. OK, I gotcha now. I think that the difference is the distinction between the end of revealed truth and the questioning of the ability to know ANY truth. For example, we are certian that God exisis in 3 persons because it comes from His Word. But how He can be Three person and One God is a contradiction to our understanding of reality. But nevertheless, that is what He tells us. We have comes to the end of revealed truth and that is as far as we can go certian that we are on His Word. In the same way, the example you use is the end of revealed truths- all things come to pass by God’s good pleasure, but He is not the author of sin. A contradiction to us, but the end of where we can go and know that we are still on His Word.

    The Emergents, however, are saying that we can not really be sure of anything. That as sure as you are certian of a truth, you are wrong. Typical po-mo stuff and self-contradictory in and of itslef. The reason that we cannot accept a contradiction here is that it violates the rules of logic WHILE trying to implement them. That is a far cry from an apparent contradiction in what God has revealed. There, we are not using our own logic to define a reality, but acknowledging His existence as so for removed from ours.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s