I think at the end of the day, the problem people have with the disputation is that it presents theology in the most stark terms possible. It makes clear that righteousness as proper performance (whether or not we say said performance is augmented by divine assistance) is an illusion. If our actions created us as righteous, then we would ourselves been divine and self-creating. God would be the passive receiver of the good and we would be the omnipotent givers of it. Ultimately, when we look to the cross and see human nature in ruins and God dead, then performative righteousness is out the window. Free will and merit are out the window. Negotiating between the potentialities of grace and nature is an utter bust.
Monday, January 31, 2011
The Heidelberg Disputation and the End of Illusions.
I tried to teach the Heidelberg Disputation again today in my Luther class. I might have mentioned to some of you that tried to do this back in my continuing adult ed. class back in the fall and it didn't work. I think I made it a little too abstract for them, but this time I worked to make it very concrete this time. I think I did a good job, but I didn't get a very positive response. My one Catholic student who tends to be very lively kind of shut down in the middle of the discussion about what Luther's problem is with performative righteousness. I think I lost him. It might just be the subject material that creates this bad reaction. I think I'm presenting it well, but it just seems to leave a bad taste in people's mouths.