Thursday, October 24, 2013

Luther - God wills man to do evil?

"For I misspoke when I said that free will before grace exists in name only; rather I should have simply said ‘free will is a fiction among real things, a name with no reality.’ For no one has it within his control to intend anything, good or evil, but rather, as was rightly taught by the article of Wycliffe which was condemned at [the Council of] Constance, all things occur by absolute necessity.  That was what the poet meant when he said, ‘All things are settled by a fixed law’ [Virgil, Aeneid 2.324]…."

This is part of Luther's Assertion of Article Thirty Six which was a response to Pope Leo X’s official document (Latin: bulla) Exsurge Domine dated June 15, 1520. He here denies free will not only to do good, but even to will evil. This was in part to combat the idea of Congruous Grace, which taught that man can do some good before he is converted, though not to merit him eternal life. However, in doing so, Luther went as far as to say:

"What, then, is free will but a thing in name only? How can it prepare itself for the good when it does not even have the power to make its own paths evil? For God does even bad deeds in the wicked..."

So God is the doer of even evil deeds? Thoughts?

Quotes taken from Thomas Scheck's BISHOP JOHN FISHER’S RESPONSE TO MARTIN LUTHER article, which can be found in the journal Franciscan Studies.

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