Friday, February 25, 2011

Luther on evil

Who is this that darkeneth counsel
by words without knowledge?
- Job 38:2

It now remains for someone to ask: Why does God not cease from that movement of omnipotence by which the will of the ungodly is moved to go on being evil, and to grow worse? The answer is: this is to desire that for the sake of the ungodly God should cease to be God; for you are desiring that His power and activity should cease - that is, that He should cease to be good, lest the ungodly should grow worse!

Why then does He not alter those evil wills which He moves? This question touches on the secrets of His Majesty, where 'His judgments are past finding out' (cf. Rom. 11.33). It is not for us to inquire into these mysteries, but to adore them. If flesh and blood take offense here, and grumble, well, let them grumble; they will achieve nothing; grumbling will not change God! And however many ungodly stumble and depart, the elect will remain (cf. John 6.6off.).

The same reply should be given to those who ask: Why did God let Adam fall, and why did He create us all tainted with the same sin, when He might have kept Adam safe, and might have created us of other material, or of seed that had first been cleansed? God is He for Whose will no cause or ground may be laid down as its rule and standard; for nothing is on a level with it or above it, but it is itself the rule of all things. If any rule or standard, or cause or ground, existed for it, it could no longer be the will of God. What God wills is not right because He ought, or was bound, so to will; on the contrary, what takes place must be right, because He so wills it. Causes and grounds are laid down for the will of the creature, but not for the will of the Creator - unless you set another Creator over him!

- Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness Matt, thanks for posting has been so beneficial to me and helpful in addressing some of the issues and questions I am faced with. I really like that part that says~"Causes and grounds are laid down for the will of the creature, but not for the will of the Creator." How true is that!?! We sometime tend to forget this and think that the world revolves around us, whereas we instead should be "revolving around" and glorifying God! Thanks again bro,

Matt Perkins said...

Hey A.J.,
I'm glad you liked the quote. In some ways it isn't a very satisfying quote for trying to understand why there is so much evil in the world. Luther basically says it's a mystery touching on the "secrets of His Majesty." But even though the quote is in some ways not very satisfying I think it is true. As you pointed out, I think the most important thing expressed here is that no cause or ground can be laid down for the will of God, or else He would not be God as that cause or ground would be above him.

Glad to have you posting here again!