Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Ethics of Martin Luther

by Paul Althaus

After my wife read this one, she exclaimed that Martin Luther would make a good Democrat. As I envisioned the reaction some of the more conservative members of our Lutheran congregation would have to this statement, I knew that I had to read the book for myself. The Ethics of Martin Luther is basically a distillation of Luther's thoughts on ethics, culled from his various writings. If you want to read what Luther actually said, then you need to follow the footnotes and look up the various references yourself. Otherwise, you just have to take Rev. Althaus' word for it. It starts out, appropriately enough, with what Rev. Althaus sees as the foundation of Luther's ethics--the doctrine that sinners are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. 'Tis such a beautiful thought that my heart sang as I read the first chapter, and I was naturally won over to whatever Rev. Althaus had to say from then on. He then went on to Luther's views on the two types of law--natural law, which is evident through reason and is common to all humanity; and divine law, which is revealed through the Bible and is binding only on the follower of Jesus. From there we're shown how this twofold legal system plays out in areas of government, family, work and economics. It was interesting reading, one that put into words many of my own ethics. As for Luther's political leanings--he was, of course, a man of his own time and culture. I'm sure that, were he to be transported to 21st Century America, he would fit in with neither of the dominant political parties. And probably each party could point to his teaching to support parts of their own platforms.

It's on my shelf. (Well, actually my wife's shelf. But we share.)
LibraryThing link


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