Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Martin Luther in the modern political narrative : a constructive reappraisal of Luther's political theology with special reference to the institutions in critical conversation with John Milbank and Jennifer Herdt
Author: Laffin, Michael Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 3910
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
The thesis reappraises Martin Luther's political thinking by locating it within the overall grammar of his theology in critical conversation with contemporary theologians whose politico-ethical thought is placed consciously in contrast to Luther. Specifically, I engage the work of John Milbank and Jennifer Herdt. Milbank criticizes Luther for a perceived univocal and nominal ontology resulting in a privatized and spiritualized Christianity, falsely dividing the world into autonomous spheres and leaving justification merely a matter of imputation by magnifying faith and pushing love to the sidelines. Herdt argues that Luther follows in the wake of voluntarism, leading to an insistence on human passivity in response to an acknowledged utter dependence on divine activity. Besides complicating sanctification, she suggests this leaves no room for pagan virtue, reducing politics to authoritarian imposition of order. In contrast, the thesis seeks to re-examine these narratives through a focus on the political significance of areas in Luther's corpus neglected in contemporary accounts of his political thought, particularly his exegetical, sacramental and ecclesiological writings. His teaching on the two ecclesiae preserves the critical edge prominent in Augustinian two civitates accounts, but when set alongside his theological insistence on holding the institutions of the church and political order together under the one rule of God ('two regiments'), allows greater room for genuine Christian engagement in political life. Luther does this while retaining the biblical emphasis on the centrality of faith in which believers are given a new heart and freed for political life. This is in opposition to views that would put at the centre of the Christian contribution to political life either a new ontological theory (Milbank), or that would locate the Christian contribution at the level of virtuous behaviour (Herdt). As such, the Christian contribution to politics is explorative discernment in humble, yet assured response to God's promising Word to govern and provide for human life in the sanctifying institutions of the ecclesia, oeconomia, and politia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: North Hills Community Church (California)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available