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Luther's Outlaw God: Volume 1: Hiddenness, Evil, and Predestination

Author: 
Steven D. Paulson (Author)
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Description

In this first of three volumes addressing Luther's outlaw God, Steven D. Paulson considers the two "monsters" of theology, as Luther calls them: evil and predestination. He explores how these produce fear of God but can also become the great and only comforts of conscience when a preacher arrives.

Luther's new distinction between God as he is preached and God without any preacher absolutely frightened all of the schools of theology that preceded it, and for that matter all that followed Luther, as well. That fear coalesced in various opponents like Eck and Latomus, but in a special way in Desiderius Erasmus.

For Paulson, bad theology begins with bad preaching, and since the church is what preaching does, bad preaching hides the church under such a dark blanket that it can hardly be detected. He argues that the primary distinction of naked/clothed or unpreached/preached radiates out in all directions for Luther's theology, and shows what difference this makes for current preaching. Specifically, Paulson takes up the central question of all theology (and life): What is God's relation to the law, and the law's relation to God? Luther's answers are surprising and will change the way you preach.

ISBN: 
9781506432960
Price: 
$34.00
ISBN: 
9781506432977
Price: 
$31.99
Release date: 
September 1, 2018
Pages: 
308
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Endorsements

This is a major contribution to a hermeneutic, a pastoral theology, and a homiletic superbly suited for our time.

Luther’s Outlaw God confronts the realities of life’s often harsh and cruel mysteries through an open confrontation with the actual texts of Martin Luther’s proclamation of God’s word as preacher and professor. Paulson leads readers into Luther’s use of sermon and lecture, where no safe haven is to be found in God’s law and demands for human obedience. Instead, Paulson accompanies readers into Luther’s pulpit and lectern as the battlefields, where God goes to war against Satan’s manifest deceptions with the cross of Christ in order to usher in the peace that God’s gift of trust in Christ reestablishes.

Robert Kolb, emeritus | Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis

Paulson’s book is a commendable piece of Luther interpretation focusing on one of his central ideas: the bound will.

Paulson rightly stresses that key to understanding Luther’s argument is his distinction between the God not preached (the hidden God) and the God preached (the revealed God), which in turn is related to Luther’s fundamental Reformation discovery: the proper distinction between law and gospel. Paulson’s style is clear, direct, and engaging. This makes the book accessible to readers at all levels, but students and teachers of theology will find it especially helpful as they ponder Luther’s treatment of the Deus absconditus.

Jeffrey Silcock, emeritus | Australian Lutheran College

Since preachers are at the forefront of proclaiming this promise, they especially will find this book most helpful in discerning when, where, and how to offer Christ as the “preached God.”

As suffering injustice, “outrageous fortune,” and pain, humans encounter a God who seems not only indifferent to their plight but even pitted against them.  Masterfully expositing both scripture and Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Paulson shows that in the face of such disempowerment and destabilization human security is achieved neither through theodicies (defenses of God) nor self-improvement programs but instead through unguarded trust that, for Jesus’ sake, God will grant sinners new life.  Since preachers are at the forefront of proclaiming this promise, they especially will find this book most helpful in discerning when, where, and how to offer Christ as the “preached God.”

Mark Mattes | Grand View University

Anchored in Scripture and in conversation with Luther’s writings, Luther’s Outlaw God practices what it preaches—it preaches!

“Seek the Lord while”—and where, adds Luther—“he may be found.” In this book, Steven Paulson follows Luther’s finger as it points to this time and place: God is given to sinners while they are sinners through a sermon. The distinction between God not preached and God preached is, for Paulson, the difference between fear and faith, between death and life. Anchored in Scripture and in conversation with Luther’s writings, Luther’s Outlaw God practices what it preaches—it preaches! Preaching is the saying of God’s promise in which God stops hiding from us and we find ourselves hidden in God. To read this book is not only to hear about this promise; it is to hear this promise—it is to be addressed by the Lord where and when he may be found: now, for you, in “the word of the cross” that gives God to the dead and makes them alive.

Jonathan A. Linebaugh | University of Cambridge, Jesus College