Tuesday 28 September 2010

Luther vs Aquinas

In his Disputation Against Scholastic Theology, written just before his famous Ninety Five Theses, Luther sets out ninety seven reasons why he disagrees with scholastic theologians. Think of it as a kind of warm up for the Ninety Five Theses, where again Luther explains why he's right and everyone else is wrong. Scholastic theology, by the way, was the major strand of academic theology from the 12th-16th century, originating around the same time as the first universities were set up and Aristotle's work was rediscovered (it had been lost to the West for centuries but had been preserved in Islamic culture). It included hugely important thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, so Luther's taking on the big guns here. It's a shame he comes out sounding like such a prat. Here's a summary (actually not that much shorter than the original) of points 1-50; you'll get the second half later this weekend, you lucky things.
  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 inevitable 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.

That's all for Part I, folks. You'll never guess what Luther talks about it Part II.

Photo: Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach der Ältere


Chris Juby said...

These are great! You should set up a Twitter account for them :)

Anonymous said...

If Luther sounds like a "prat," you sound like a dick, not surprising as you clearly haven't understood a word he said.

Marika said...

lol, ok.

Ben said...

Martin Luther did not enjoy scholastic theology. He preferred that Aristotle's work not influence theology. More direct, 'Aristotle's logic'. Nonetheless, Luther did use logic (as all do). Luther showed an appreciation for a logic that 'cared' for others. Luther felt that scholastic theology made theology "too systematic" and allowed students of theology to 'understand' God, but not use apply theology to the work of God, offering authentic grace to others.Theologian John Gerstner and R.C. Sproul in their work "Classical Apologetics" write an excellent article about this. They argue that Luther did enjoy logic (as some think he did not)-but that he preferred a logic that 'cared' like the way that Cicero used reason.


vialactea said...

This is very funny original and actually quite accurate, and a simplified way of presenting very complex issues. Don't know what Lutherans would make of it though lol

Anonymous said...

Lutherface made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that. Luther would probably call you a papist and a "donkey". ;P seriously though I enjoyed this...and it seems to me insightful regarding his train if thought. Where is part 2?