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As Brian Gerrish notes in his introduction to Grace and Reason, “‘Luther on reason’ is a vast subject—perhaps, surprisingly so—and even when the ground to be covered has been carefully mapped out, it would not be difficult to lose one’s path.”
Today, we’ll be examining snippets from this book and expanding our research using Logos. To start, I open the resource in my Logos software.
Grace and Reason
According to Gerrish, the primary basis for the distinction between grace and reason lies in “Luther’s fundamental dualism of an Earthly and a Heavenly Kingdom.” Since I have Luther’s Works, I’m going to setup a search using the power of Logos.
Search Luther’s Works
To search Luther’s works, Open a search tab and select “Basic”
By default, this should read, “Search Everything for.” But I’m only interested in Luther’s Works right now. We’ll need to create a custom search collection. To do this:
- Select the dropdown menu from the word, “Everything”.
- Type “Luther’s Works”
Logos immediately brings up the 57-resource collection. Note, for this to function properly, you must own the works of Luther.
Now I want to search for grace and reason. However, in order to get the best results, I’m going to use the operator “NEAR.”
Grace, verified by reason
Among the results, I find “The First Article,” a section from Luther’s Works, Volume 32, wherein Luther writes,
Without faith, no one can have any dealings with God, nor receive his grace.
All this is also verified by reason and the common sense of mankind.
As you can see, the software has highlighted the occurrences of “grace” and “reason” in contrasting colors.
According to Luther, reason cannot stand on its own. It can only verify grace.
Reason rages against grace
From what I’ve seen so far, it seems like Luther had a positive view of the relationship between grace and reason. But as I continue reading through our search results I find a surprising quote in the section, “The Gospel for the Main Christmas Service , John 1[:1-14]” in Luther’s Works, Volume 52:
Reason rages against grace and cries out against its light; reason accuses it of saying that it forbids good works. It does not want its way and manner of becoming godly to be rejected. It continues to rave that one must be godly and serve God. Thus the light of grace is made to appear foolish, indeed, to be error and heresy, which must be persecuted and banished.
My search results show me several other occurrences in this writing and I will continue to read through on my own. But for now, I have several instances of Luther’s writings to support the author’s contention that Luther saw grace and reason as intersecting, but diametrically opposed forces.
Save your research
I’d like to continue studying this topic as I read through Grace and Reason this month. So, I put all my research into a Clippings document for easy access later. To do this:
- Select the “Documents” menu
- Under “New” select “Clippings”
- Rename your “Untitled Clippings” document. I’ve named mine, “Luther on Grace and Reason”
- Select the text you’d like to add to your document.
- Right click on the highlighted text.
- Select “Add a clipping” from the context menu.
Now, I can add tags, notes, and continue my study when I return.
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