Martin Luther on the Multiplication of Laws

May 22nd, 2014 Post by

MattPhillips“In the papacy we foolish saints added one ordinance to the other.  There were laws without number.  These only terrified the consciences and left people languishing with thirst.  The preachers only intensified the thirst.  This is inevitable.  The teachings of works-righteousness call forth thirst upon thirst….This is also what the jurists do.  They constantly change, amend, and improve the laws, multiplying them without end.  It is like a snowball that rolls from a roof or from a mountain.  It is small when it begins, but it accumulates more and more snow as it rolls downward.  Finally it becomes so large that it would kill a child standing in its path.  Laws and human ordinances followed the same course in the papacy.” Martin Luther, “Sermons on the Gospel of St John,” Luther’s Works, vol. 23, p. 273.

Here as Luther preached on John 7:38, he discussed the papacy’s use of the law to quench the thirst for forgiveness of sins.  One would only need to study the development of late medieval canon law and the numerous scholastic commentaries of other commentaries on canon law and theology to understand Luther’s point here.  His comparison with the jurists (lawyers) of his time illustrates his point well.  Lawyers and judges twist established law to bring about their desired outcomes. Governments and legal bureaucracies add law upon law, regulation upon regulation, and ordinance upon ordinance until it becomes impossible to understand without the experts’ advice.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:




Rules for comments on this site:


Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.  If you have a topic you think is important to have an article or discussion on, we invite you to submit a request through the "Ask a Pastor" link or submit a guest article.


Provide a valid email address. If you’re unwilling to do this, we are unwilling to let you comment.


Provide at least your first name. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example.  If you have a good reason to use a fake name, please do so but realize that the administrators of the site expect a valid email address and also reserve the right to ask you for your name privately at any time.


If you post as more than one person from the same IP address, we’ll block that address.


Do not engage in ad hominem arguments. We will delete such comments, and will not be obligated to respond to any complaints (public or private ones) about deleting your comments.


Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.


We reserve the right to identify and deal with trollish behavior as we see fit and without apology.  This may include warnings (public or private ones) or banning.

  1. Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    May 23rd, 2014 at 09:08 | #1

    Gene Vieth had a really nice article on this topic a couple of years ago…

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2012/10/legalism-is-worse-than-liberalism/

    Clint

  2. Lloyd Cadle
    May 23rd, 2014 at 16:23 | #2

    @Rev. Clint K. Poppe #1 A few years ago Jimmy Akin of “Catholic Answers” gave his take on this issue……

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/RIGHTEOU.htm

If you have problems commenting on this site, or need to change a comment after it has been posted on the site, please contact us. For help with getting your comment formatted, click here.
Subscribe to comments feed  ..  Subscribe to comments feed for this post
Anonymous comments are welcome on this board, but we do require a valid email address so the admins can verify who you are. Please try to come up with a unique name; if you have a common name add something to it so you aren't confused with another user. We have several "john"'s already for example. Email addresses are kept private on this site, and only available to the site admins. Comments posted without a valid email address may not be published. Want an icon to identify your comment? See this page to see how.
*

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.