Like Leonard Smith's larger study, Religion and the Rise of History, this essay, Martin Luther's Two Ways of Viewing Life, asserts that Luther's well-known ""at-the-same-time,"" simul, or paradoxical way of viewing life does not capture Luther's thought as a whole, because it does not represent his deeply incarnational and dynamic, mystical and holistic, particularizing and historical way of viewing life based on the power of the Word and the Spirit of God either in his own life or in human history. Smith contends (1) that the best way to capture Luther's ""second"" basic way of thinking and of viewing life is through the connected prepositions (connected especially for Lutherans) ""in, with, and under""; (2) that this second basic way was based primarily on the Gospel of John and its great Prologue, which shows how God is acting, creating, and redeeming, and how Jesus is ""the Word become flesh""; and (3) that understanding both of Luther's ways of viewing life is helpful for understanding Lutheran education and ""a Lutheran ethos"" since the sixteenth century. Since this brief essay is written primarly for a general audience, it can easily be used as a text or supplementary reading for a class, seminary, or group discussion. ""Leonard Smith is a superb scholar of German intellectual history. He has used his work on the German Enlightenment and later periods to add a new dimension to the thinking about the sixteenth-century scholar and reformer, Martin Luther. In particular, Smith argues that Martin Luther's paradoxical way of thinking and his deep mysticism culminates in the idea that there is a special 'Lutheran Ethos, ' one that is related to all areas of life, education, vocation, civil and political life."" --Richard G. Cole Emeritus Professor of History Luther College ""Luther's influence continues as a remarkable source of continuous relevance. Smith uncovers yet another dimension. I am grateful for his work."" --Larry Rasmussen Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics Union Theological Seminary ""Some important ideas lie buried just below the surface of intellectual history; obvious to one generation, they become invisible to the next. Leonard Smith's roots, which reach unusually deeply into German intellectual and cultural life, help him lay bare the most basic epistemological and hermeneutical (and indeed spiritual) assumptions of the founders of modern German history and theology. To hear these thinkers anew, embedded in the Lutheran context they shared, is to hear them fully for the first time since their own era."" --R. Guy Erwin Gerhard & Olga J. Belgum Professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology California Lutheran University ""Smith offers a penetrating study of Luther's central insights with an eye on its implications for the cultural role of morality-a fascinating sequence to his Religion and the Rise of History."" --Eric W. Gritsch Emeritus Professor of Church History Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary Leonard S. Smith is Emeritus Professor of History at California Lutheran University. He is the author of Religion and the Rise of History: Martin Luther and the Cultural Revolution in Germany, 1760-1810 (2009).
About the Author
Leonard S. Smith is Emeritus Professor of History at California Lutheran University. He is the author of Religion and the Rise of History: Martin Luther and the Cultural Revolution in Germany, 1760-1810 (2009).