Therefore a distinction must be made between reason left to itself without restriction, which runs about unbridled and is carried around by its reckonings, which judges and decides on the basis of its own principles, which are common notions, perceptions, experience, etc., and reason restrained by God’s Word and kept in obedience to Christ. This judges and decides on the basis of the proper principle of theology, that is, on the basis of God’s Word, which has been set forth in the Holy Scriptures. The mysteries of faith are not contrary to reason considered in the latter respect, but they are contrary to reason considered in the former respect. (from a yet-unpublished translation of Luther, as posted by Paul T. McCain)
Martin Luther is still my hero. While Luther’s comments on reason (a longer quote is posted on McCain’s site) have been ridiculed by atheists as showing the irrelevance of Christianity, it is only because they are not understood in context. Obviously, Luther relies on well-reasoned logic in this very analysis.
This quote by Luther, I think, reveals an area of protest with regard to the Roman Catholic Church that is often overlooked, and which I’ll be writing more about soon in my series on “Exploring the Twain“: The Roman Church’s theology was being subjected to a philosophy that was more and more governed by man’s ability to make things appear logical. While Luther saw and opposed this direction, the rest of the protestants – Calvin and Zwingli, for example – continued to embrace a reason-driven theology, which paved the way for our modern evangelicalism. Luther’s position here places him more in like with the Eastern Church, which had and has a different approach to theology and philosophy.
Luther probably doesn’t get all the credit he deserves for his remarkable insights, I think primarily due to his patently unmodern commitment to apostolic Christianity.
Luther is still my hero.