A Survey of Luther’s Theology Part I -- By: John Theodore Mueller

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 113:450 (Apr 1956)
Article: A Survey of Luther’s Theology Part I
Author: John Theodore Mueller

A Survey of Luther’s Theology
Part I

John Theodore Mueller

Luther’s Doctrine of God

Luther, of course, taught the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity, for what he meant to restore to Christendom was the pure doctrine of the prophets and apostles. Luther, however, never treats the doctrine of the Trinity speculatively or academically, but always from the viewpoint of the giving, saving, redeeming love of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To him the triune God is always the God of salvation. Luther, it is true, recognized also the “hidden God,” the Deus absconditus, of whom Paul speaks in Romans 11:33–36, and of His concealed will “that is to be feared.” But it is his invariable advice and teaching that sinners must turn from the hidden God to the revealed God, whom we see in His full grace and mercy in the gospel of salvation, in particular, in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Son of God, especially in His gracious gospel promises and universal, serious gospel invitations to come and receive Christ’s salvation, prepared for all mankind, freely by grace, without works (W 18, 684f; 42, 295. Seeberg, pp. 178ff). Luther thus writes: “He who has a God without His Word [that is, who “dreams up” a God not taught in the divine Word, in particular, not in the gospel] has no God…. For outside His Word He does not want to be conceived of, be sought and found by our speculation and cogitation” (W 30. 3, 213. Seeberg, 179. Luther’s favorite expressions against the enthusiasts are “erdichten,” to fabricate; or “ertraeumen,” to dream up).

Just because Luther adhered so very closely to the

gospel and the God of grace and salvation revealed in the Bible, he taught not only the doctrine of “Scripture alone” and of salvation “by grace, through faith alone,” but also that of universal grace and redemption, and God’s serious desire and will to save all men through the Word and the sacraments (Sola Scriptura; sola gratia; sola fide; gratia universalis in Christo). As Rome denies the doctrine of salvation “by grace alone,” so also it denies the doctrine of “free grace for all sinners,” since it substitutes for the gospel doctrine of salvation through faith in Christ, salvation through the church (Rome demands as its first and foremost doctrine submission to the authority of the pope, and not to that of Christ. Its application of the ancient maxim: Nulla salus extra ecclesiam, to the Roman Catholic Church is seriously meant, and only by way of a quasi forced concession does it teach the salvation of persons outside the Roman Church, nam...

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