-Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.--"We are beggars. This is true."--Martin Luther-

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lutheran Quote of the Day: Malysz on Identity

This comes from our own Piotr Maylsz over at Lutheran Theology. This quote draws on the theme of identity, and whether we try and form it from ourselves or whether we receive it from outside of us. This is accomplished through either justification of the sinner from outside- extra se- or self-justification from ourselves- in nobis. This theme is especially well developed by Oswald Bayer in Living by Faith: Justification and Sanctification. (trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003.) It can also be seen in Malysz' excellent article "Third Use of the Law in Light of Creation and the Fall" Logia 11, no. 3 (2002): 9-19.

I draw on this theme often, myself. It is especially evident in my post "Dependence and Independence" where I critique the attempts of man to establish independence in spite of the fact that we are always and totally dependent on the grace of God and his gifts.

Here is what Malysz has to say on this topic:

"To understand what Luther means by God’s justification of the sinner, it is first necessary to understand the reformer’s view of sin as self-justification. The being of a human person, according to Luther, needs to be underwritten, as it were, from the outside. It is not a locus of its own identity. Identity can either be received by one, or else the person may attempt to construct her own identity. In the former case, what one is, as a creature, is determined by the love of God. In the latter case, believing herself to be a free and autonomous shaper of her destiny, the person embarks on a pursuit of sources of security which could underwrite her being. She defines herself through her actions and commitments. In this, however, she enslaves herself to her own selfjustificatory activity, for to refrain from it would be tantamount to allowing one’s being to disintegrate. Thus all of the sinner’s works, however good they may appear, are ultimately only a modality of self-interest. Luther describes this enslaving pursuit of self-justification as being turned in on oneself (homo incurvatus in se ipsum). For the reformer, the sinner is the arch-individualist, and that in spite of all her activism."

-Piotr Malysz "Exchange and ecstasy: Luther’s eucharistic theology in light of Radical Orthodoxy’s critique of gift and sacrifice," Scottish Journal of Theology 60, no. 3 (2007), 297-298.

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