Friday, February 18, 2011

Beautiful Savior?

Back to the bridal mysticism thing again.

After reading The Heidelberg Disputation and Freedom of a Christian in tandem for my Luther class, another point struck me regarding how Luther is rejecting the Platonic-Augustinian desire-mysticism. Not only are we not attractive to God (i.e., we bring sin and death to the mystical marriage of faith!), but Christ isn't attractive to us! After all Isaiah says to regarding him: "he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).

Luther notes in thesis 4 of the Heidelberg Disputation that God's works always appear unattractive, but are nevertheless eternal merits. Hence, we receive Christ through the hearing of faith contrary to the vision of beauty and love, as the Platonic-Augustinian tradition would have it.

After all, for love to be primary, there must be a primacy of vision in the divine-human relationship. Love desires and pursues that desire (i.e., the works of the law). Faith hears and patiently receives. Faith hears and believes against external appearance.


  1. Yet faith always gives birth to love. Faith, which comes through hearing, "sees" the God of all love and grace in the beaten bruised gory face of the crucified. The ugliness of the cross to the believer is most beautiful thing in the world. So we love the God who so graciously saved us.

  2. Correct. Though first, this faith is contrary to vision in that Jesus does not look like God on the cross since to vision his attributes are the opposite of what we know as divine.

    Secondly, much as love is derivative of faith (we might reverse St. Thomas' formula and say for Luther "love formed by faith"), vision is derivative of hearing. If I believe what I "hear" I come to "see" the dying Jesus as the highest expression of divine love in his pain, suffering, and alienation.

  3. Dr. Kilcrease, a wonderful insight that needs to be remembered.