Thursday, 30 September 2010

Luther vs Aquinas II

Ding ding! Round 2. Except, I must apologise, but I can't for the life of me work out how to format this post in such a way that points 51-97 come out numbered correctly (Blogger kindly reformats them so they start from 1, whatever I do), so instead I shall give you the whole 97 points. If you feel you grasped Luther's basic argument first time round, feel free to start from point 51; otherwise, here's points 1-97 all in one place.

  1. Don't criticise Augustine!
  2. If you do, it's letting Pelagians and heretics win.
  3. And sticking your tongue out at all the doctors of theology.
  4. Man, being a bad tree, can only will and do evil.
  5. Man isn't free to choose between good and evil; our wills are captive.
  6. We can't choose to do what's right.
  7. Without the grace of God, we can only will evil [are you getting the gist yet?]
  8. But that doesn't mean our wills are essentially evil [hang on a minute...]
  9. But our wills are innately and inevitably evil [what?]
  10. The will is not free to will the good.
  11. It can't will what it ought to will.
  12. But it can will whatever it chooses to will.
  13. Sinful man can't love God.
  14. The will can will what's bad but not what's good.
  15. Only the will can will what's bad but not what's good [that's a tongue twister right there]
  16. Sinful man can love what God has created, but can't love God.
  17. Human nature is unable to want God to be God: we want to be God instead.
  18. We can't love God more than anything else.
  19. I said, we can't love God more than anything else.
  20. If we do kind things it's by grace and not by our own free will.
  21. Everything we do in accordance with our nature is an act against God.
  22. Acts against God are bad.
  23. We can't put right our badness by being hopeful.
  24. Hope isn't contrary to love [what's your point, Lutherface?]
  25. Hope doesn't grow out of good things but out of suffering which destroys good things.
  26. The best way to do good isn't to perform acts of friendship;
  27. It's to perform the act of conversion, following grace.
  28. We can't choose to seek God.
  29. The best way of getting hold of God's grace is to be eternally elected and predestined by God [that's alright, then].
  30. We can't do anything to earn God's grace.
  31. Blah
  32. Blah blah
  33. Did I mention we can't earn grace?
  34. In terms of our human nature, we can't do what's right. Did I say that already?
  35. Ignorance is no excuse.
  36. I SAID ignorance is no excuse.
  37. Our natures take pride in anything we do which looks good.
  38. There's no moral virtue without pride or sorrow, i.e. without sin [Great, now sorrow is a sin].
  39. We are not masters of our actions but servants.
  40. We don't become righteous by doing righteous things. When we've been made righteous, we do righteous things. The philosophers were wrong.
  41. Aristotle's Ethics is the worst enemy of the good.
  42. Aristotle was wrong.
  43. It's wrong to say that no one can become a theologian without Aristotle [take that, Aquinas!]
  44. In fact, you can only become a theologian without Aristotle.
  45. Theologians don't need to be logicians [take that, Dawkins!]
  46. There's no such thing as a logic of faith.
  47. You can't use logic to talk about theology.
  48. But that doesn't mean that theology is illogical.
  49. If you could prove theology with logic, you wouldn't need faith [that would be BAD, btw]
  50. I hate Aristotle.
  51. Aquinas didn't even understand Aristotle anyway.
  52. I hate Porphyry too, but you probably haven't heard of him.
  53. Stop talking about Aristotle! I already told you I hate him!
  54. An act is only good if it has grace; and if it has grace, it doesn't need anything else to be good.
  55. The grace of God is never inactive: it's always living and active. And did I mention that we can't do anything good without grace?
  56. God won't accept us unless he's already justified us by grace.
  57. It's dangerous to say that the law commands that an act of obeying the commandment be done in the grace of God.
  58. That would imply that 'to have the grace of God' is a new demand going beyond the law.
  59. And that you can fulfil the law without grace.
  60. Which you can't.
  61. So it doesn't follow that the law should be complied with and fulfilled in the grace of God.
  62. People outside of the grace of God sin ALL THE TIME, even if they're not doing anything obviously bad.
  63. They sin because they don't spiritually fulfil the law.
  64. Er.
  65. Outside of grace it's impossible not to be angry and lustful, and even in grace it's not possible to fulfil the law perfectly.
  66. Hypocrites are bad.
  67. We can't be good without grace.
  68. We can't be good without grace.
  69. Without the grace of God, nature DESTROYS the law [Oh noes]
  70. Good laws are bad for the natural (evil) will.
  71. Without grace, the law and the will are enemies.
  72. The will never wants what the law wants.
  73. Blah blah
  74. The law makes sin abound because it annoys the will.
  75. But the grace of God makes justice abound because it makes the will love the law.
  76. You can do things that look good without grace, but they're not really good.
  77. Did I mention that the law and the will don't get on?
  78. If the will keeps the law without grace, it's only doing it to get something for itself.
  79. Those who do the works of the law are condemned.
  80. Those who do the works of grace are blessed.
  81. You can do good works outside of grace. Not!
  82. Religious ceremony is rubbish.
  83. And so are the ten commandments.
  84. The only law that's good is the love of God put in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  85. If our wills could choose, they'd choose to be free of the law.
  86. Will and law: definitely no sitting in a tree K.I.S.S.I.N.G for them.
  87. The law is good, and because the will doesn't like the law, the will must be bad.
  88. The will is bad.
  89. [Deleted due to unnecessary repetition]
  90. The grace of God is meant to direct the will.
  91. Not so that we can do good more often, but so we can do any good at all.
  92. If we could do good things on our own, we wouldn't need love.
  93. I don't like scholastic theologians. I'm talking about YOU, William of Ockham.
  94. We can't love God and creatures.
  95. To love God is to hate oneself and know nothing but God.
  96. We must make our wills conform to God's will.
  97. They should be totally the same.

And even though I've just totally disagreed with, like, every important Catholic theologian, I'm still well Catholic, and everything I've said is totally in line with what the teachers of the church say. So there.

Ah, Luther. How could you not love him?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I enjoyed it, and more importantly I think I can safely skip leading Luther scholar Graham Tomlin's lectures later this year.

In a similar vein I'm working on Karl-Barth-as-Vicky-Pollard (God is the "yeah but no but yeah" in the "no but yeah but OMIGOD"of Christ. Or something similar. Actually, that line could well be somewhere in the Church Dogmatics, it's not like anyone would have noticed)

Linda M said...

Excellent! I don't so much love Luther, I may love you (eh, your blog) - time will tell.

Marika said...

I always feel like I ought to find some redeeming qualities in Luther, and then read him and come away thinking he's just an idiot. They'll make a Catholic of me yet...

Anonymous said...

Love it. I went to a Lutheran school and I'm really good at Lutheran stuff. One of the few Scripture quotes that I learnt when I was 12 was, "Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me" Nowadays I am a simple soul, God is love, everything else is secondary.

Anonymous said...

How can you not love Luther to bits? Seriously, this is an awesome distillation of his thesis. I loved especially 41-53. How can you not love Luther to bits? Seriously, this is an awesome distillation of his thesis. I loved especially 41-53.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the weird repetitive comment. I feel like I've become spam or something.

Marika said...

If only all my spam were that interesting...