In a comment on Psalm 129:4 Luther writes that it is necessary that the Word assure us that God is just, because when we look at the way the world is governed, God seems to be completely unjust. He favors the godless with wealth and prosperity and power, and the heretics win fame and the approval of the populace. To be God is to be omnipotent..., omniscient... To be God is also to be perfectly good, and as such God ought to want no evil to exist... "This argument of Epicurus and people like him," says Luther, "is plainly unanswerable."So we see how far reason gets us: it tell us that there is a God and it tells us that there is no God or he is not good, which precludes him from being God.
..."Aristotle comes wholly to this conclusion, that, even if he does not call God shameful, yet he lets God be ignorant of all things, so that God knows and sees none of our affairs, and thinks of nothing except himself and delights in nothing but the contemplation of his own Being.... But what kind of God is this, and what good is he to us?"
Luther goes on to say the Holy Ghost diverts us from this stumbling-block when he assures us in the Word that God is just. We are not to judge by what we experience in the present, but only to believe what God tells us about the future.
When Luther here in his own words repeats the argument of Epicurus, he plainly indicates that this is a very natural conclusion of the very same reason which has from other evidence concluded that there is a God.
Poor Cicero, having had no revelation to work with went from a good beginning to a bad end with his theology.
(Quote Luther) [Cicero]... yet, even though he comes to this conclusion, nevertheless he is overwhelmed by the vacillations of his speculations, so that at times this opinion is not firmly held and it seems to slip through his fingers. For this argument about infinity is so strong, that the place of religion is again torn out of our reason when we see this natural world overwhelmed by various calamities.
p. 42, Becker concludes this treatment with this sentence:
Luther did not disparage the natural knowledge of God because it was rational, but because it was unstable and incomplete.
From The Foolishness of God by Siegbert Becker (c) 1982 Northwestern
Publishing House (www.nph.net). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.