01 May 2013

Luther's God

The final words of Roland Bainton's celebrated biography of Luther--
In his religion he was a Hebrew, not a Greek fancying gods and goddesses disporting themselves about some limpid pool or banqueting upon Olympus. The God of Luther, as of Moses, was the God who inhabits the storm clouds and rides on the wings of the wind. At his nod the earth trembles, and the people before him are as a drop in the bucket. He is a God of majesty and power, inscrutable, terrifying, devastating, and consuming in his anger.
Yet the All Terrible is the All Merciful too. 'Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord . . .' But how shall we know this? In Christ, only in Christ. In the Lord of life, born in the squalor of a cow stall and dying as a malefactor under the desertion and the derision of men, crying unto God and receiving for answer only the trembling of the earth and the blinding of the sun, even by God forsaken, and in that hour taking to himself and annihilating our iniquity, trampling down the hosts of hell and disclosing within the wrath of the All Terrible the love that will not let us go. No longer did Luther tremble at the rustling of a wind-blown leaf, and instead of calling upon St. Anne he declared himself able to laugh at thunder and jagged bolts from out of the storm.
This was what enabled him to utter such words as these: 'Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.'
--Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Hendrickson, 1977), 401

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