Did Martin Luther Reject Reason?

Martin LutherMartin Luther is quoted as saying, “Reason is the enemy of faith.” That is a difficult statement for those who believe that Christianity is a reasonable faith.

Like any historical inquiry, statements need to be examined in context. Roland Bainton puts Luther’s statement in perspective with this explanation:

Luther often railed at reason, and he has been portrayed in consequence as a complete irrationalist in religion. This is quite to mistake his meaning. Reason in the sense of logic he employed to the uttermost limits. At Worms and often elsewhere he asked to be instructed from Scripture and reason. In this sense reason meant logical deduction from known premises; and when Luther railed against the harlot reason, he meant something else. Common sense is perhaps a better translation. He had in mind the way in which man ordinarily behaves, feels, and thinks. It is not what God says that is a foreign tongue, but what God does that is utterly incomprehensible. (Here I Stand, pp. 172-73)


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