vendredi, juillet 10, 2015

Dooyeweerd: Dualism in Luther's view of law and gospel

Martin Luther (by Lucas Cranach the Elder 1546) 
The after-effect of the nominalistic dualism in LUTHER'S spiritualistic distinction between the Law and the Gospel.
by Herman Dooyeweerd
Hyperlinks below are to Dr J. Glenn Friesen's
Dooyeweerd Glossary
LUTHER confessed the central significance of God's Sovereignty in the Biblical sense. He possessed the insight that divine grace in Christ must intrinsically penetrate temporal life in all spheres. Yet, in spite of this, he never fully escaped the nominalistic influence of the Occamist University of Erfurt and of his later studies in an Augustinian monastery ("Ich bin von Ockam's Schule"). This influence is evident from his dualistic conception of the relation between the Law and the Gospel. 

LUTHER considered a person in the sinful state to be bound to temporal ordinances. A Christian person in the state of grace, on the contrary, is not intrinsically subject to the Divine Law, but lives in evangelical freedom according to love. In "this earthly valley of tears" he only bows to ordinances out of obedience to the will of God with respect to the natural state of sin. And, by so doing he tries to penetrate them with the spirit of Christian love. But intrinsically this spirit contradicts the severity of the Law. This dualism between the Law and the Gospel must, with respect to the relationship between the Christian religion and philosophy, again lead to the nominalistic separation of faith and science, with the usual Occamistic depreciation of the latter. 

At this point we can observe the after-effect of the scholastic nature-grace motive in its antithetical Occamistic conception. We find, to be sure, in LUTHER a fulminating judgment against ARISTOTLE and the medieval scholastic philosophy; we find in him a passionate opposition to the Biblical Humanism which in Germany and Holland (ERASMUS) tried to effect a new synthesis between the Christian faith and the spirit of Greco-Roman antiquity. But, nowhere do we discover the conviction that the religious root of the Reformation requires a radical reformation of philosophy itself.

LUTHER never had an inner contact with the Humanistic spirit. In his attitude toward human knowledge he remained a prisoner to the medieval spirit of Occamism. The spiritualistic trend in his character was strongly nurtured by the German mysticism of ECKHART and by the Augustinian-Franciscan spirit. Moreover, his "Weltoffenheit" ["openness to the world"], which caused him to reject the monastic ideal, continued to be broken by a dualism, unexplainable in terms of the Biblical doctrine concerning the corruption of nature due to the fall

LUTHER never wrested himself loose from a nominalistic dualism in his view of the church. He considered the regulation of the "visible church" to be a matter of relative indifference and sought support from the governing prince for an ecclesiastical reformation. In addition, this dualism displayed itself in his subsequently abandoned distinction between official and personal morality. His attitude towards scientific thought continued to be burdened in the same manner with the dualistic prejudice concerning the relation of faith and natural reason.

One can recognize this without in any way being deficient in love and appreciation for the great reformer. The recognition of his faults does not obliterate the fact that LUTHER'S Biblical faith became the impulse to a continuous reformation of his thought and the cause of his later abandonment of many previous errors.
Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol 1 pp 511-513.
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