Recovering Luther on the ‘Institutions’ of the Living Word

A review of The Promise of Martin Luther’s Political Theology: Freeing Luther from the Modern Political Narrative
by Michael Laffin (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), the early form of material submitted to The Expository Times.

Critical genealogies of modernity have brought an excessive set of charges against Martin Luther. Luther allegedly holds a dualistic ‘doctrine of the two kingdoms’, which entails an autonomous political sphere given to authoritarianism; he construes the relation of divine and human agencies competitively, emphasising the ‘passivity’ of the latter while dismissing the possibility of ‘pagan virtue’; his thought is in thrall to nominalism and voluntarism, joint causes of contemporary social fragmentation. For many political philosophers and theologians, such contestable theses have become the received wisdom; nails hardly seem needed to post them.

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© David Robinson, 2018