Baptism in the theology of Martin Luther simper ES in Motu Et Initio
The thesis examines Luther's mature doctrine of baptism in the context of his wider thought. The study is centred upon the years after 1527 when, after the impact of the radical reformation had fully worked through, Luther's baptismal theology reached its final form, as regards content, balance of emphasis, and profile. A two-pronged approach to the material is adopted. Luther's formal baptismal doctrine is analysed according to the categories of the Greater Catechism (1529): baptism as word and water; what baptism accomplishes; baptism and faith; baptism's significatia, and Kindertaufe. But it is argued that an examination of the formal baptismal theology needs to be complemented by an understanding of the dynamics of Luther's use of baptism and its place in his thought. This is supplied by an examination of Luther's handling of baptismal themes in a wide variety of contexts in the Lectureson Genesis (1535-45). The difficulties of relating the older Luther's sacramental theology of baptism to the central themes of his thought are posed. These problems areviewed from a number of angles: the continuity of Luther's baptismal doctrine over time is assessed, and the interplay between his view of baptism and a number of soteriological and ecclesiological themes discussed. Finally, Luther's baptismal doctrine is viewed against its sixteenth-century background. The 'present tense' of baptism emerges as crucial to Luther's understanding of it from 1520 onwards. This theme reflects Luther's theology of the means of grace; it is linked to his understanding of the shape of the Christian life, the nature of the Church, and the simul doctrine. When understood like this, Luther's baptismal theology, so far from being at odds with his doctrine of justification by faith, is a most powerful expression of it.