500 years ago this year Luther penned the Heidelberg Disputation. He delivered it at a pastor’s conference of Augustinian Monks in April. While the 95 theses, only nailed about 6 months prior, clarified and brought to light many things, they are quite far from being “Lutheran.” But here in the Heidelberg Disputation, we have all the foundations of the Reformational Theology save scripture alone, which really was just assumed at this point. The final theological theses, 28, is one of my favorites.
The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that, which is pleasing to it.
Luther’s proof goes on to clarify:
The second part is clear and is accepted by all philosophers and theologians for the object of love is its cause. Assuming, according to Aristotle, that all power of the soul is passive and material and active only in receiving something, thus, it is also demonstrated that Aristotle’s philosophy is contrary to theology, since in all things it seeks those things which are its own and receives, rather than gives, something good.
The first part is clear because the love of God, which lives in man, loves sinners, evil persons, fools, and weaklings in order to make them righteous, good, wise, and strong. Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore, sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive.
For this reason the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons.
Thus, Christ says: For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matt. 9:13).
This is the love of the cross, born of the cross, which turns in the direction where it does not find good which it may enjoy, but where it may confer good upon the bad and needy person. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), says the Apostle. Hence Ps. 41:1 states, “Blessed is he who considers the poor”, for the intellect cannot by nature comprehend an object which does not exist, that is the poor and needy person, but only a thing which does exist, that is the true and good. Therefore, it judges according to appearances, is a respecter of persons and judges according to that which can be seen, etc.
The words are striking and true, “This is the love of the cross, born of the cross, which turns in the direction, where it does not find good which it may enjoy, but where it may confer good upon the bad and needy person.”
Praise God for the Grace given unto very unattractive sinners.