Tag Archives: humility

Luther: Take Hold of Those Ears!

I came across this quote yesterday in two books.  It’s in Volume 1 of Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics (190).  Then I also found it in a book I just received, Trials of Theology (ed. by Andrew Cameron and Brian Rosner) (30).  It’s classic Luther, speaking straight words to aspiring theologians:

But if you feel and think that you know it all and are tickled with your own booklets, your teaching and writing, as if you had produced something very precious and had preached admirably, and it pleases you much to be praised before others; if you are highly pleased when someone praises you in the presence of others, and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it:  if you have that sort of pelt, my friend, then take hold of your ears.  If you grab right, you will find a fine pair of large, long, shaggy ass’s ears; then risk the full cost and decorate yourself with golden bells, so that, wherever you walk, people can hear you, point you out , and say: ‘Look, look!  There goes that wonderful creature that can write such fine books and deliver such eloquent sermons.’  Then you are happy, and superhappy in heaven; ay, where the fire of hell is prepared for the devil and his angels!  To sum up, let us seek honor and be elated where it is in place.  In this Book the glory belongs entirely to God, and it says:  ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  To whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen!” [Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam.  Cui est gloria in saecula saeculorum.  Amen!].

Those are convicting words!  Pieper adds this exhortation:  “We advise all theologians and those who would become such to read Luther’s theological methodology repeatedly, in order to follow it by God’s grace, at all times.” (190)

Human Frailty

“How great is the frailty of man, ever prone to evil!  Today you confess your sins; tomorrow you again commit the very sins you have confessed!  Now you resolve to guard against them, and within the hour you act as though you had never made any resolution!  Remembering, then, our weakness and instability, it is proper to humble ourselves and never to have a high opinion of ourselves.”

Thomas a Kempis, the Imitation of Christ, from the excerpt in A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts with Introductions

A Kempis was correct, though he should have added that we also ought to constantly look to Christ, not only as our example, but also as the one whose perfect righteousness is ours.