Sunday, 17 February 2008

Luther on Discipleship: "Bewilderment is True Comprehension"

“Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend—it must transcend all compreshension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey's end. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire—that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple. If you do that, there is the acceptable time and there your master is come.”
From Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 93.


J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for Bonhoeffer.

Luther? on discipleship:

"draw Christ as deep as possible into the flesh"


"flee the hidden God and run to Christ"

(at least those are Philip Yancey's translation / paraphrase of Luther; fr The Jesus I Never Knew (pages 16 & 257). My Luther scholar friend gave me a long passage from which these seem to be distilled. Any idea of a more precise source from Luther's writings?)

Profound stuff. Thanks again for posting.

Phil Sumpter said...

I'm afraid the only Luther I've read is from other's writing about him. Shameful, I know. I situation I hope to remedy, whenever I find the time ... So, sorry I'm not aware of any more precise sources.

Anonymous said...

My favorite items by Luther and short and sweet. The commentary on Galatians, his propositions on being a theologian of the cross, and On Christian Liberty. And a sermon about how to use the Law that give some important hermenuetical advice from the pulpit.

Phil Sumpter said...

Thanks Geoff. I really need to get into Luther. He's constantly popping up in all the stuff I read and his theological approach is obviously influential to a lot of important people. Did he ever exegete the OT? I couldn't find anything.

Which is easier to make a model airplane out of and why: a banana peel or a wet sock?

A banana peel, because I am a model airplane, and I can eat the peel, and assimilate it's nutrients for new tissue.

Dude, that is awesome!

Thuloid said...

Did Luther ever exegete the OT?

He did the bulk of his mature exegetical work on the OT--on a modern faculty, he might well be an OT professor.

Unfortunately, not enough of this is translated into English as of yet. Still, check out the selected psalms commentaries from his later lectures on them (volumes 12 and 13 of the American edition of Luther's works), and the great Genesis commentary (volumes 1-4, I think). Those will at least give you a start on Luther on the OT. His stuff on Psalm 51 in volume 12 is fantastic.

Adam Morton

Phil Sumpter said...

Adam,that's brilliant, thanks! The Psalms is just what I need. Could you give me a bibliographic reference for this "American series" so I can track it on Amazon?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. The volumes I'm recommending are from Luther's 1532lecture series on the psalms, which is not complete. There's a fully translated lecture cycle on the whole book of Psalms, but it comes extremely early in Luther's career--1512/13, and so isn't very representative of what comes later. There's also an even later (I'm thinking 1539?) run-through of the Psalms in the Weimar edition of Luther's works, though I can tell you from experience that that those look more like lecture notes than a full exegesis. Maybe a sentence or so per verse.

The volumes you might want are 12, 13 and 14 from the American Edition of Luther's Works, through Concordia Publishing House (though Augsburg Fortress also distributes them, somehow).

Amazon doesn't seem to list them very well:

You want the ones titled "Selected Psalms", which are the later ones, rather than "Lectures on the Psalms", which are the very early work.

Or look here:

They at least have all of them, listed in orderly fashion, and tell you which psalms are in which volume (they aren't in order).

Hope that helps,

Adam Morton

Phil Sumpter said...

That's great, Adam. I'll use that when I get to the exegesis section of my doctorate!