Luther’s early Manicheanism

From Pelikan,

Luther accused Erasmus of reviving the Pelagian heresy…Erasmus claimed to have on his side the teaching of the church fathers over the centuries, in contrast to the unheard-of doctrine of Luther, whose only precedent lay in Manicheanism (which Luther sought to repudiate)…(Pelikan, 140).

Image of the Devil in Man

Luther’s understanding of the image of God is this:  that Adam had it in his being and that he not only knew God and believed that he was good, but that he also lived a life that was wholly godly…”  All that was lost and would be fully restored only after Judgment Day.  In its place had come death and the fear of death, blasphemy, hatred toward God, and lust:  “These similar evils are the image of the devil, who stamped them on us” (Pelikan, 142).

Okay, but what did Luther mean by “image of the devil” in man?  Wasn’t he just outlining the fall?  He was, and much, much more.  Pelikan goes on,

The fateful introduction, here in Luther’s Genesis, of the notion of an image of the devil in man in place of the image of God, directed as it was against the peril that the doctrine of the image of God and of the freedom of the will as part of the content of that image would glorify human powers at the expense of grace and thus jeopardize the doctrine  that the role of the human will in conversion was “purely passive…”

In other words, Luther correctly saw that freedom of the will and the image of God are connected.


One comment on “Luther’s early Manicheanism

  1. […] —————–.   The Reformation of Church and Dogma.  Better titled:  Fractures in the Augustinian Synthesis.   Documents many substantial problems with Luther’s theology, including manicheanism and man as created in the image of the devil. […]

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