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Luther on the Worst Heresy

“The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has ever plagued the mind of man was the idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God.” ~Martin Luther

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About Eric "Gunny" Hartman

Gunny is pastor of Providence Church in Plano, TX, and has taught at Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has completed coursework for a PhD in Rhetoric at University of Texas at Arlington and tries to be a good father to his 4 kiddos, exhibited by coaching a girls soccer team.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Luther on the Worst Heresy

  1. To clarify before I comment, all three are pre-conversion, right?

    Posted by Eric "Gunny" Hartman | August 4, 2011, 8:35 pm
  2. Thanks for the comment. Do I think it’s going too far?

    Well, I don’t want to put words in Luther’s mouth, but I’d align that mentality (i.e., theology) with Pelagianism, wherein man doesn’t need/require the grace of God. I think the mindset Luther’s describing (1) minimizes, and perhaps insults, God’s holiness, and elevates, and perhaps, deifies man and his ability.

    I would use the word heinous. Perhaps Luther used the term “damnable” because to get those things wrong inevitably leads to damnation of the soul.

    You wrote: “I would argue that rejection of the Son is a far more heinous crime.”

    But, why do they reject the Son? Is it not because, at least in part, they have seen no need of Him? They don’t value Him or His sacrifice, because they foolishly think another way is possible, self-improvement, right?

    Or, to put it another way, which is also to say it in a way that’s not contra your thought, they sin by rejecting Christ because they have overestimated themselves and underestimated the holy God who requires the perfection that only that rejected Christ could deliver.

    Posted by Eric "Gunny" Hartman | August 4, 2011, 8:34 pm
  3. On that note, who of the following is in the worst spiritual state? Who is in the best state?

    Person A: Believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for his sins, and that he rose from the dead. He is semi-Pelagian and thinks that his good works contribute something to his salvation.

    Person B: Believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for his sins, ands that he rose from the dead. He believes that only God-given faith justifies, but since he believes, he feels pretty good about himself and his standing with God.

    Person C: Believes in God. Believes that he is utterly and hopelessly bankrupt when it comes to moral merit. Believes that only God could justify him. Rejects Jesus as the Son of God.

    Posted by medwards76 | July 27, 2011, 1:12 pm
  4. Hey! I’m going to bite on this. I don’t mean to be combative or mean-spirited–I like you and I like you Reformed types, but can you give me an example of Jesus or Paul saying something like this? Sure, self-righteousness is foolish, even sinful, but the most damnable heresy? Don’t you think that’s going too far?

    I accept that the Scriptures teach that we can’t make ourselves good enough to live with an all-holy God. They also teach that it is foolishness to try to do so. But where I think Luther goes wrong is in elevating this particular sin as the ultimate human folly. His whole system is based on that idea, and it collapses without it. I would argue that rejection of the Son is a far more heinous crime.

    Like I said, not trying to be combative, just promoting discussion!

    Posted by medwards76 | July 27, 2011, 12:56 pm

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