The Devil's Whore
Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran Tradition
Publication Year: 2011
Martin Luther's disdain for philosophy is well known, and the Lutheran theological tradition has been wary of its constructs. Yet the tradition also includes philosophical giants-from Melanchthon to Schleiermacher to Kierkegaard and even Nietzsche. This volume assumes that such skepticism about reason actually opened up new ways of doing and seeing philosophy.
Philosophers, theologians, and historians assess the paradox and achievements of philosophy in the Lutheran vein. In their important exploration in the history of ideas, they not only probe the roots and branches of Luther's own ambivalence toward philosophy, they also draw illuminating connections between his revolutionary theology and the development of European continental philosophy.
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
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Sixty years ago Jaroslav Pelikan ended his first book, a monograph on the influ-ence of Luther on philosophy, with the hope that ―twentieth century Lutheran-ism may produce Christian thinkers of the ability and consecration necessary for that task [of working out a Christian philosophy].‖1 It is now the twenty-first My first call to the topic came not from Pelikan, whom I read later, but from ...
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As we move toward the five hundredth anniversary of the beginning of Martin Lu-ther‘s assault upon and ultimate destruction of the monolithic institution of the Roman Catholic Church with the posting of his Ninety-Five Theses for Debate on October 31, 1517, this collection of essays has been assembled to analyze some obvious and perhaps not-so-obvious connections between Luther‘s revolutionary ...
PART IPHILOSOPHY AND LUTHER
CHAPTER 1Philosophical Modes of Thoughtof Luther’s Theologyas an Object of Inquiry
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The fact that I am not a philosopher but ―only‖ a theologian and yet am addressing a philosophical topic is no accident. Rather, it makes palpably clear what I consider is the greatest deficiency in this area of research in the twentieth century.1 ―Philosophy has paid no attention at all to the strong upsurge in Luther re-search over the last few decades—a striking sign of the strange way in which philos-...
CHAPTER 2Does Luther Have a ―Waxen Nose‖?
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Luther‘s influence on the history of Western intellectual thought is, as the essays in this volume demonstrate, monumental. What would the Enlightenment be without Luther‘s radical notion of freedom (in Christ)? How might modern theories of sub-jectivity look without Luther‘s characterization of the self as existing simultaneously before God and others? How might contemporary secularization have developed ...
CHAPTER 3―Putting on the Neighbor‖
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Everyone should ―put on‖ his neighbor and so conduct himself toward him What has long been noticed but little analyzed is Luther‘s relationship with his ―beloved Cicero,‖ as one interpreter has again recently remarked.3 I will explore a key feature of Cicero‘s relationship with his philosophical predecessors in order to highlight one reason for Luther‘s love affair with this ―wisest man.‖ The ...
CHAPTER 4Luther and Augustine—Revisited
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It was more than a century ago that the Dominican religious Heinrich Denifle irritated Protestant researchers in the aftermath of the celebrations of the four hundredth anniversary of Luther‘s birth in 1883.1 He asked them provocatively for the precise date and the content of Luther‘s Reformation breakthrough. With his immense knowledge of late medieval sources, Denifle sought to prove the ...
HAPTER 5Whore or Handmaid?
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Is reason ―the Devil‘s whore,‖ as Luther said,1 or is it theology‘s ―handmaid,‖ as Aquinas (almost) said?2 The place of reason in the theologies of Martin Luther and Thomas Aquinas is an issue of enormous complexity and the subject of many excellent and penetrating studies. Yet old caricatures surrounding this subject stubbornly persist, outliving by many years the carefully nuanced scholarship that ...
CHAPTER 6Luther’s ―Atheism‖
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Twentieth-century scholarship rediscovered the provocative idea of Luther‘s atheism and treated it under the theme of the ―hiddenness of God‖1 in the agony of existential decision.2 In echo of Luther, Paul Tillich famously spoke of doubt as part of faith, understood as ultimate concern.3 No one could rightfully deny this ―existential‖ element in Luther nor should we want to deny it.4 Far more ...
CHAPTER 7Luther’s Philosophy of Language
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The philosophy of language deals with the nature of linguistic meaning. While concern about linguistic meaning is relevant to all areas of philosophy, sustained, self-conscious reflection on language as philosophy‘s subject matter is primarily a twentieth-century enterprise. Philosophers of the last century generally thought in two different ways about language. While one group took ordinary language to be ...
CHAPTER 8Philipp Melanchthon
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Philipp Melanchthon was the first Lutheran philosopher.1 Two parts of this claim—that he was a philosopher and that he was Lutheran—may require some justification. After at least gesturing toward such a justification, I will present the general contours of Melanchthon‘s approach to philosophy on the belief that it can be a great help to twenty-first-century Lutherans as we continue to struggle to ...
PART IILuther’s Impacton Continental Philosophy
CHAPTER 9Reasoning Faithfully
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In the preliminary remarks of the Theodicy, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) reminds his reader that ―the question of the conformity of faith with rea-son has always been a great problem.‖1 This essay will not solve that ―great prob-lem.‖ However, in the face of heated disputes that claim one must choose reason or faith, science or religion, philosophy or theology, in Leibniz we find an early ...
CHAPTER 10The Means of Revolution
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How does one become another? People episodically do good, but can they become good? ―But if a man is corrupt in the very ground of his maxims,‖ Immanuel Kant once asked, ―how can he possibly bring about this revolution by his own powers and of himself become a good man?‖1 His question is not merely rhetori-cal; he believes that radical evil resides so deeply in human nature that it is ―inex-...
CHAPTER 11Faith, Freedom, Conscience
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As is well known, the core of Luther‘s doctrine can be traced back to his sharp division between the inner and the outer human being. He writes, ―Man is com-posed of a twofold nature, a spiritual and a bodily. Regarding the spiritual nature, which they name the soul, he is called the spiritual, inward, new man; regarding the bodily nature, which they name the flesh, he is called the bodily, outward, old ...
CHAPTER 12Hegel and Lutheron the Finite and the Infinite
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G. W. F. Hegel was an unabashedly Lutheran philosopher. He wrote that philos-ophy had only solidified his Lutheran identity.1 At the same time, his understand-ing of the relation between philosophy and theology differs greatly from that of Martin Luther. Luther was quick to criticize philosophy for the sake of the health of theology. Hegel habitually uses the term philosophy, rather than theology, to name ...
CHAPTER 13―Faith Creates the Deity‖
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Ludwig Feuerbach was a rebel with a cause—to overturn philosophical idealism (Hegel) and unmask theology as anthropology: ―He who clings to Hegelian phi-losophy also clings to theology‖; ―The secret of theology is anthropology.‖1 The realization of this ―unmasking‖ means that ―God is nothing else than the nature of man purified from that which to the human individual appears, whether in ...
CHAPTER 14Søren Kierkegaard
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In contrast to Augustine, for whom philosophy is a lover drawing the believer to Christ, Martin Luther‘s famous attacks upon reason as ―the Devil‘s mother‖ or ―the Devil‘s whore‖ often raise a suspicion that ―Lutheran philosophy‖ is an oxymoron. The picture is complicated by the fact that Luther‘s attack upon rea-son was itself philosophical and that Luther could also regard philosophy as a ...
CHAPTER 15Delicious Despair and Nihilism
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What are we to make of the relationship between Luther and Nietzsche, both historically and as concerns the question, ―What does it mean to live philosophi-cally?‖ My hypothesis is that, in spite of seeming incommensurable differences, they, taken together, are perhaps surprisingly helpful in understanding the voca-tion of philosophy. Often thought to be solely the domain of theology, we will ...
CHAPTER 16Heidegger’s ExistentialDomestication of Luther
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By the early 1920s Heidegger was already famous among German university stu-dents, though he had published virtually nothing. Hannah Arendt recalled that ―in Heidegger‘s case there was nothing tangible on which his fame could have been based, nothing written. . . . There was hardly more than a name, but the name traveled all over Germany like the rumor of the hidden king.‖1 When in ...
PART IIIThe Lutheran Philosopher Today
CHAPTER 17The Vocation of a Philosopher
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Student: ―If Luther thought that reason was the devil‘s prostitute, is it wrong for me to major in It happens with ironic regularity: as class nears its end, a student floats the most profound question of the day—just in time for the swell of backpack zipping, paper shuffling, jacket snapping, and cell-phone texting to swamp her query. But the wave this day could not sink the question. Her issue contains existential ...
CHAPTER 18Lutheran Environmental Philosophy
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The idea of Lutheran environmental philosophy may seem odd given (1) Luther‘s strident comments about reason discussed elsewhere in this volume; (2) the doubts of contemporary philosophers about (a) whether environmental philoso-phy is ―real‖ philosophy given its practical bent and (b) whether theological and metaphysical assumptions that pervade Lutheran thought can be a part of a phi-...
CHAPTER 19Luther and Philosophy in a Scientific Age
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The question I pose is this: Can Luther provide resources for thinking through philosophical issues today? That this could be so is not obvious on the face of it; after all, Luther is a theologian, not a philosopher, and his method of writing is nearly the opposite of systematic. Equally important, much has changed since the decades following the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses, not least among them ...
CHAPTER 20Queering Kenosis
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If Lutheran scholars are to ensure that Luther‘s teachings and insights continue to inform our work, we must do more than simply apply his historic insights to contemporary questions. We should be bold enough to bring today‘s theological and philosophical concerns to bear on his theology. This essay engages the phi-losophy of power implicit in Luther‘s kenotic theology and evaluates its useful-...
CHAPTER 21Philosophical Kinship
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Human knowledge is not limited to the bounds of reason. This provocative and necessary criticism of reason‘s place in the pursuit of truth links in kinship Martin Luther, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and many postmodern feminist philosophers. This claim at first may seem unlikely. First, Schleiermacher was no Lutheran. Se-cond, much feminist criticism of traditional philosophy also criticizes elements in ...
CHAPTER 22Provocateur for the Common Good
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The philosopher cannot help but wince upon hearing Luther‘s references to phi-losophy as the ―Devil‘s whore‖ and his lament that she has gone beyond her proper role: reason in the service of human governance and not as the basis of theology. In particular, Luther‘s venom is directed at Aristotle, whom Luther had read and taught and who had also become the foundation for the scholastic ...
CHAPTER 23Luther and the Vocationof Public Philosophy
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American philosopher Mortimer Adler, co-inventor and promoter of the ―Great Books of the Western World‖ program and author of many books, none of them great, aspired to be America‘s foremost public philosopher. His friend, admirer, and editor of The Great Ideas Today, John Van Doren, commented a few years after his death: ―You won‘t find his name in a dictionary of philosophers. . . . There is ...
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One could argue that just as no scholar would study a medieval philosopher without studying Augustine, no historian of ideas should study a modern (or postmodern) philosopher without first reading Luther. This volume has present-ed connections between Luther and many later Lutheran philosophers. This makes sociological and historical sense. Certainly the worldviews taught on fa-...
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...1. A version of this paper was presented at the American Academy of Religion An-nual Meeting in Chicago, November 2008. A shortened version of this paper was pub-2. Heinrich Heine, Religion and Philosophy in Germany: A Fragment, trans. John Snodgrass 3. Jaroslav Pelikan, From Luther to Kierkegaard: A Study in the History of Theology (St. Louis: 4. Erik H. Erikson, Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (New York: ...
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...“As we move toward the five hundredth anniversary . . . of Martin Luther’s . . . posting of his Ninety-Five Theses for Debate on Octo-ber 31, 1517, this collection of essays has been assembled to ana-lyze some obvious and perhaps not-so-obvious connections between Luther’s revolutionary theology and the historical development of phi-...
Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011