Happiness vs. Freedom?

In a description of his new book, The Intolerable God, author Christopher J. Insole tells about a central struggle in the philosopher Immanuel Kant:  the conflict between happiness and freedom.

Now this sounds strange to American ears.  Surely, freedom is essential to happiness.  But Kant relates the issue to God.  Here is how Insole describes Kant’s dilemma:

We need God if we are to hope for happiness, as Kant thinks we must. We also need freedom, in a strong sense, in order to be moral. God must withdraw for this freedom to be possible. But if God withdraws, happiness can no longer be attained.

Read about this after the jump.  How would you resolve this dilemma?  I offer some thoughts myself. [Read more…]

“Then we become His gods”

More mind-bending insights from Luther, this time on why so many people reject God’s gifts and His grace, insisting instead that they themselves merit their salvation.  “Then we are the workmen who lay the cornerstone on which God then builds His grace and love, so that He must praise, thank, and adore us. Then we become His gods instead of the other way around.” [Read more…]

God the Giver

I came across one of those stunning and paradigm-shifting quotations from Luther, this one about how God–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–is always giving.  Above all, God, in all of His persons, is always giving Himself. [Read more…]

Luther and Religious freedom

The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent account by Joe Loconte on Luther, the Reformation, and its precursors.  He ends up crediting Luther, who insisted that faith is not something that can be coerced, for the Western concept of religious freedom.  He then wonders if Islam can ever have such a reform.  Read it all, but I’ll quote some of his final paragraphs after the jump. [Read more…]

God always begins with NOTHING

“It is God’s nature to make something out of nothing; hence one who is not yet nothing, out of him God cannot make anything. . . .Therefore God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise.  In short, He has mercy only on those who are wretched, and gives grace only to those who are not in grace.”

–Martin Luther, “Commentary on Psalm 38,” Luther’s Works 14:163. [Read more…]

Kierkegaard on Luther

We keep hearing that today’s church needs to change; that is to say, it needs reformation.  What will it take to reform the church?  The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, credited or blamed for inventing existentialism, took up this same question.  First of all, he said, we need a reformer.  And the reformer needs to be like Martin Luther.

It’s fascinating–and perhaps an entry into the mindset of today’s existentialists–to see what Kierkegaard saw in Luther.  Read that after the jump, and click the link to see what he had to say about reform and false reform in the church. [Read more…]