Luther’s Bondage of the Will continues talking about how God does everything in salvation and yet few are saved and this is entirely God’s fault.
The obvious question then is: how can God say He is love and likes to show mercy and yet He saves so few?
Here’s Luther’s answer:
Thus God conceals His eternal mercy and loving kindness beneath eternal wrath, His righteousness beneath unrighteousness. Now, the highest degree of faith is to believe that He is merciful, though He saves so few and damns so many; to believe that He is just, though of His own will He makes us perforce proper subjects for damnation.
Luther doesn’t think God is merciful and righteous, he can’t because according to his theory, God makes people unrighteous (which implies that God is unrighteous) and then has wrath on them for doing the unrighteousness God made them do.
Luther’s answer to the conundrum is faith! It obviously makes no sense, so this is where faith comes in. Faith is only required when things don’t make sense. God’s character, according to Luther, makes no sense, so we embrace the nonsense and just believe it to be.
If God says He’s righteous, well, then He must be righteous. Luther falls for the old line, one also maintained by Calvinism, that God doesn’t actually have to be righteous. God says He’s righteous, therefore, by default, everything He does is righteous even if according to all appearances it isn’t righteous.
In other words, God isn’t righteous because He does righteousness, God is righteous because He said so.
If that’s the case, then words don’t mean anything. When John says, “Be not deceived, he who doeth righteousness is righteous” John can’t be describing God. Everything falls apart.
Luther makes the point even clearer later:
If I could by any means understand how this same God, who makes such a show of wrath and unrighteousness, can yet be merciful and just, there would be no need for faith.
If God made sense, Luther wouldn’t need faith. That’s amazing. A startling misunderstanding of the concept of faith.
It is an amazing thing to me that Luther coins “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone) and is viewed as the authority on what faith is for the entire Reformation and yet shows very little biblical understanding here as to what faith is.
Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God.
Luther never stops to consider whether his conception of God’s character is correct. Luther is admitting his doctrines make no sense. And some how, by developing completely incoherent doctrine. Luther thinks this proves his faith!
If your doctrines make no sense, perhaps consider whether you’re actually hearing the God of truth, wisdom, order, and uprightness.
Believing incoherence is not a sign of faith; it’s a sign you’re listening to incoherent people.
Faith is not a blind leap. Faith is not a thing that fills in the gap that reason and wisdom can’t fill. His understanding of faith is more akin to paganism and idolatry–why are we praying to an idol we carved and had to nail to a wall to keep standing? I don’t know, but that’s where faith comes in.
The more things make sense, the less Luther thinks we need faith.
I think if the Catholic Church had just ignored this guy, no one would have paid any attention to him.