Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Luther Quote?

In the late '80's, I first saw a nature-scene poster with a quote attributed to Martin Luther, "God writes His gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars." Now it's all over the Internet. But I cannot find the exact source within Luther's works, nor an attribution of source when it's quoted. One longer extraction placed it in the context that when you know Christ, know the incarnation, know His salvation for you, then you can see the gospel written in all things. This would make more sense from Luther. Is it possibly from the Weimar edition of "Table Talk", in some section not fully translated into English?

Some Lutheran theologians discount any talk of nature as: (1) an excuse not to go to church (2) a seeking after only a glorious, powerful God, not the God who had to die in weakness and shame upon the cross to save us from our sins, or (3) not having anything important to teach us in religious matters. These opinions are fair neither to Luther nor to the Bible, both of which extensively use object lessons & metaphors from the Bible to make their point. (Even if the quote above is not authentically Lutheran, Luther's thinking is so replete with mentions of nature---far more than music, beer, women, or many other things attributed to Luther.) If you're a Christian, you have the Bible (or portions of it) embedded within yourself when you're out in nature. So you will be able to learn these lessons. Nature now dimly reflects great glories of Eden which were lost when sin broke the created world and also what we can expect in the new creation, heaven. The latter half of Romans 8 which speaks of "all creation groaning" due to humanity's sin. There are Lutherans who really take that angle seriously, too, while taking in nature; that's another aspect of taking sin seriously!!!
If you're more of a "concrete" as opposed to "abstract" person, the frequent references to nature are faith-building because they are within God's word.
(For more, see earlier post, "The Dirty Floor")


+disce pati+ said...

Did you ever find the location of that Martin Luther quotation "God writes His gospel not in the Bible alone....."???

I'm looking for it and was wondering if you had found where it is from.


Andrew Kenny said...

At School I studied a strange mix of Geography , biology and Religious studies, which consisted of Acts and the early church. Yet it was the study of God's handiwork in creation, of the cell structure, of the relationship between the aninals and plants, the carbon cycle, the rocks that make up the great mountain ranges,the rivers etc etc that really blow my mind and left me dumb before our incredible Creator and Father God.

The scripture is indeed a map, a love letter, an instruction manual but there will be no black leather gold edged one in heaven.THe bible can give us direction but when we meet the Lord we can dispense with it, then the relationship willbe face to face.

I love luther, like His Master he loved nature and told us that even the Ravens could teach us a thing or two.

I appeciated your comments on Luther on my blog. God bless.

Under the Sky said...

No, I don't have the original source, unfortunately. I have read some of his original writing, but I cannot give a source for that particular quote.

I have to say that I don't at all see it as an excuse not to fellowship with other believers! Going to church with my brothers and sisters in Christ is one of the greatest gifts from the Lord to me. Our life would not be the same without it. I see Luther's quote saying what Romans says to us in the first chapter on creation:

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.


C. Marie Byars said...

Thanks everyone for trying. I even tried Snopes on this one. We'll see if I ever get to the bottom of this one. Anyway, there are a lot of Christians who know we cannot always just use Augustine's and Anselm's (and Paul's) "judicial" metaphor of justification. It's not always culturally appropriate or personally good communication.