CAPSULE ON LUTHERANISM
1. Luther's own test: "If this article stands, the church stands, if it
collapses, the church collapses." Luther was talking about justification
by faith in his Exposition of Psalm 130. 4.
2. The collapse: Luther misunderstood two key words, "justification" and
He thought faith means taking Christ as one's personal Savior, confidence
that the merits of Christ apply to me. After this, he said: ("Epistle"
501): "Even if you sin greatly, believe more greatly." In other words, you
may sin as much as you want--it is all outbalanced by the merits of
Christ. So you are infallibly saved. In another letter: "Even if you
commit adultery and murder 1000 times a day, it will not separate you from
Fatal flaw: By faith St. Paul means three things: 1) If God speaks a
truth, believe it in your mind (as in 1 Thes 2:13; 2 Cor 5:7). 2) If God
makes a promise, be confident in His promise (cf. Gal 5:5; Rom 5:1; 1 Thes
5:8). 3) If He tells me to do something, I must do it, must obey (cf.
Romans 1:5: "The obedience of faith", i.e., the obedience that faith
is." The large Protestant reference work, "Interpreter's Dictionary of the
Bible," Supplement, p. 333 explains faith the same way. --Therefore, faith
which includes obedience, cannot justify disobedience -- as Luther
thought!. So in Luther's system, one is not infallibly saved. If he
commits mortal sin, does nothing but thinks it is all right, that will not
cancel out a mortal sin! St. Paul surely took Christ as His Savior, yet
in 1 Cor 9:26-27, he says he has to be hard on his body to tame it, or it
might lead him into sin and he would fail to get salvation.
Another fatal flaw: He thought justification means we remain totally
corrupt (cf. his "Bondage of the Will"). But St. Paul says the Christian
is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who would not dwell in total corruption (
1 Cor 3:17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16). And a Christian is a "new creation", made
over completely: 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15).
Another fatal flaw: He depended on Scripture alone. But he had no means of
knowing which books are inspired. He thought if a book preaches
justification by faith strongly it is inspired -but most books of
Scripture do not even mention justification by faith! 2 Tim. 2:2 called
for oral transmission of teaching.
Born again: This builds on Luther's error. In taking Christ as Savior, one
must have an [emotional] experience. Otherwise he is not Christian. So
Mother Teresa goes to hell. What a "God"!
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says we must keep vows. Luther broke all his vows.