A Jagged Contention: Enthusiasm


“In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world, its poison having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power, and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments or spoken Word. Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without the voice of Mary. And Peter says, 2 Pet. 1:21: ‘The prophecy came not by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they still were unholy; for they were holy, says he, since the Holy Ghost spake through them.”

– Martin Luther, “Smalcald Articles” (3.7)


According to Luther, Satan’s great work is to lead God’s children away from his outward Word to spiritualizing and self-pride. Do you agree with his assessment that God does not want to deal with us except through the spoken Word and Sacraments?

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