Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Lutheran Perspective on Natural Theology

Ilmari Karimies

Abstract

This article examines Martin Luther’s view of Natural theology and natural knowledge of God. Luther research has often taken a negative stance towards a possibility of Natural theology in Luther’s thought. I argue, that one actually finds from Luther’s texts a limited area of the natural knowledge of God. This knowledge pertains to the existence of God as necessary and as Creator, but not to what God is concretely. Luther appears to think that the natural knowledge of God is limited because of the relation between God and the Universe only one side is known by natural capacities. Scholastic Theology built on Aristotelianism errs, according to Luther, when it uses created reality as the paradigm for thinking about God. Direct experiential knowledge of the divinity, given by faith, is required to comprehend the divine being. Luther’s criticism of Natural theology, however, does not appear to rise from a general rejection of metaphysics, but from that Luther follows certain ideas of Medieval Augustinian Platonism, such as a stark ontological differentiation between finite and infinite things, as well as the idea of divine uniting contradictions. Thus the conflict between faith and reason on Luther seems to be explicable at least in part as a conflict between two different ontological systems, which follow different paradigms of rationality.

Keywords

Luther, Natural Theology, Platonic Tradition, Henry of Genth

Full Text:

PDF

References

AWA 2 Martin Luther, Operationes in Psalmos 1519-1521. Teil II. Psalm 1 bis 10 (Vulgata). Edited by Georg Hammer and Manfred Biersack. Archiv zur Weimarer Ausgabe, ii. (Köln, Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 1981)

WA Martin Luther, D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesammtausgabe. (Weimar, 1883-)

Itinerarium mentis in Deum. Opera omnia S. Bonaventurae V, 295-316. (Ad Claras Aquas, 1981-)

Blaumeiser, Hubertus. 1995. Martin Luthers Kreuzestheologie: Schlüssel zu seiner Deutung von Mensch und Wirklichkeit: eine Untersuchung anhand der Operationes in Psalmos (1519-1521). Konfessionskundliche und kontroverstheologische Studien 60. (Padenborn: Bonifatius)

Delia, Ilio. 1982. Simply Bonaventure. An Introduction to His Life, Thought and Writings. (New City Press)

Dieter, Theodor. 2001. Der junge Luther und Aristoteles: eine historisch-systematische Untersuchung zum Verhältnis von Theologie und Philosophie, Theologische Bibliothek Töpelmann 105. (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter)

Ebeling, Gerhard. 1982. Lutherstudien. Band II, 2. Disputatio de homine. Die philosophische Definition des Menschen (Kommentar zu These 1-19). (Tübingen: Mohr)

Hardt, Tom G. A. 1980. ’Den naturliga gudkunskapen och den naturaliga lagen enligt den evangeliska-lutherska kyrkans lära’, in Om skapelsen. (Uppsala: Pro Veritate)

Juntunen, Sammeli. 1998. ‘Luther and Metaphysics: What Is the Structure of Being according to Luther?’, in Union with Christ. The new Finnish interpretation of Luther, ed. by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans), pp. 129-160

Karimies, Ilmari. 2013. ‘The Nature of Martin Luther’s Theological Cosmology betweem 1513 and 1521: A Re-Examination of the Platonism Thesis’ (Electronically published licentiate thesis in Ecumenics, University of Helsinki, 2013)

–– 2015. ‘Can Luther’s Doctrine of God as the Giver and God as the Highest Good be Reconciled? A Critique of Tuomo Mannermaa’s Two Kinds of Love’, in Pro Ecclesia 24 (2015), 475-489.

Kopperi, Kari. 1997. Paradoksien teologia. Lutherin disputaatio Heidelbergissä 1518, Publications of the Finnish Theological Literature Society 208. (Helsinki: Finnish Theological Literature Society)

–– 2010. ‘Theology of the Cross’, in Engaging Luther: a (new) theological assessment, ed. by Olli-Pekka Vainio. (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books), pp. 155-172.

Kretzmann, Norman. 1990. ‘A General Problem of Creation: Why Would God Create Anything at All?’, in Being and Goodness. The Concept of the Good in Metaphysics and Philosophical Theology, ed. by Scott Macdonald. (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press), pp. 208-228.

Loikkainen, Juuso. 2015. ‘Early Lutheranism and Natural Theology’, in Theory of Science, 37 (2015), 178-186.

Lohse, Bernhard. 1958. Ratio und Fides: eine Untersuchung über die Ratio in der Theologie Luthers, Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte 8. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht)

Mannermaa, Tuomo. 2010. Two kinds of love. Martin Luther’s religious world, transl. by Kirsi Stjerna, 1st Fortress Press ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press)

Martikainen, Eeva. 1992. Doctrina. Studien zu Luthers Begriff der Lehre, Schriften der Luther-Agricola Gesellschaft 26. (Helsinki: Luther-Agricola Gesellschaft)

Montgomery, John Warwick. 1992. ‘The Incarnate Christ. The Apologetic Thrust of Lutheran Theology’, in Modern Theology 7 (1998), 8-12.

Schumacher, Lydia. 2011. Divine illumination: the history and future of Augustine’s theory of knowledge, Challenges in contemporary theology. (Wiley-Blackwell: Chichester, West Sussex)

te Velde, Rudi, A. 1995. Participation and Substantiality in Thomas Aquinas, Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters. (Leiden: Brill)

The Gifford Lectures. 2016. ‘What is natural theology?’, in The Gifford Lectures. [accessed on 11th January 2016].

Työrinoja, Reijo. 2000. ‘Lumen Medium. Henry of Ghent on the Accessibility of Theological Truths’, in Medieval philosophy and modern times, ed. by Ghita Holmström-Hintikka, Synthese library 288. (Dordrecht: Kluwer), pp. 161-182.

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.