Heidelberg Disputation (Thesis 2)

The showdown with Aristotle continues. The good, the bad, and the ugly have just been told that keeping the law will not advance them towards righteousness, rather, it will hinder them and make them worse. Luther follows with some more shots in quick succession, with a rifle on loan to him by one Chuck Connors – a winchester lever action:

Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.

LW 31:39

 Luther explains:

Since the law of God, which is holy and unstained, true, just, etc., is given man by God as an aid beyond his natural powers to enlighten him and move him to do the good, and nevertheless the opposite takes place, namely, that he becomes more wicked, how can he, left to his own power and without such aid, be induced to do good? If a person does not do good with help from without, he will do even less by his own strength. Therefore the Apostle, in Rom. 3[:10–12], calls all persons corrupt and impotent who neither understand nor seek God, for all, he says, have gone astray.

LW 31:43

Seeking to obey the external law of God does not make us righteous – it only proves us more unrighteous. How much less can any of our internal aids – our own strength, ability and work – advance us to righteousness? Aristotle taught that we become righteous by doing righteous deeds – God teaches us that no one is righteous and no one can do righteous deeds, and furthermore, our righteous deeds are filthy! With this, Aristotle’s gun hand starts to shake…

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