If God has said it, it will surely come to pass. Of that I have no doubt. For there stands his Word. That cannot lie. Besides, God is almighty. Therefore, whatever he says cannot fail. It must come to pass. but, as has been said, the only thing that is lacking is that men do not believe that God is almighty, that he can do it, and that he has said he wants to do it.
If we could convince a Mohammedan of these two premises, namely, that God has said such things and that God is almighty, he would surely also believe all the other articles of faith. But of this only the Holy Ghost can convince men, as we have seen. We, on our part, have enough to do if we will only set out to repeat all that the Scriptures have said. We do that poorly enough, and our repetition of the scriptural truth is done in a stammering way. But to fail with God's Word is better than to succeed without it.
We shall, therefore, be well equipped to defend the articles of faith against all the temptations of the devil if we are well grounded in God's Word and cling to it firmly when the devil seeks to overthrow our faith with clever fables, which are brought forth out of human understanding and reason.
... Against Erasmus he wrote that the principles of the Lutheran Reformation can be defended by clear Scripture, and he went onto say that whatever cannot be so defended has no place in the Christian religion.
...There is no better advice on how to stand against the deception of the devil than to hold fast to the bare, clear word of the scriptures, and think no farther nor speculate. Rather, we ought to close our eyes and say, "What Christ says, that must and should be true, even if I or any other man cannot understand or comprehend it or know how it can be true. Christ knows well what he is, and what or how he should speak of himself." Whoever does not regard this, he will stumble and err and fall. For it is not possible to comprehend even the most insignificant article of faith with human reason or human senses.
If therefore the Christian believer wants to be well prepared to defend his faith, he should know the texts of Holy Scripture on which the articles of faith are based and from which they are drawn. In divine things we are not to argue, but only to listen. We are not to engage in subtle disputation in an attempt to prove the possibility of what God has said.
...let this be the primary concern of a theologian, that he knows the texts well, as they say. And let him hold this as his first principle, that in holy things one must not dispute nor philosophize.
...The devil must be conquered with Scripture and not with reason. In fact, to defend God's Word with reason is like trying to defend one's helmet and sword with a bare arm and bare head.
Interesting in this connection is Luther's comment on Peter's admonition to be ready at all times to give an answer to anyone who asks a "reason for the hope" that is in us (1 Peer 3:15). This text is often used today as a call for a rational apologetic in defense of Christianity. It also was understood in this way by scholastic theology Luther, however, commented,
The scholastics have twisted this text to the effect that one should overcome heretics with reason and out of the natural light of Aristotle, because it says here in the Latin, "rationem reddere," as though Peter meant that we should do it with human reason. Therefore they say that the Scriptures are far to weak to overcome heretics. It must be done with reason and must come out of the brain. From that source one must prove that the faith is right. And yet our faith is above all reason and produced only by the power of God. Therefore, if people do not want to believe, you should remain silent, for you are under no obligation to compel them to accept the Scriptures as God's Book, or God's Word. It is enough to show that your view is based on Scripture.
...the gospel stands in need of proclamation, not defense.
Whoever believes nothing and denies everything that we say of God and of God's Word, with him we have nothing to do, as it is also taught in the schools, 'One must not debate with him who denies the first principles.'
Luther understood the dialectical implications of this approach very well. He himself points to the apparent weakness of this point of view. (more about that p. 167-168).
From The Foolishness of God by Siegbert Becker (c) 1982 Northwestern Publishing House (www.nph.net). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.