God's Devil

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Josh Hunt | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Mar 16 2022 7:17 AM

I have heard it attributed to Luther, but I cannot find the quote in any of my Luther books: the Devil is God's Devil.

Is it in a book I don't have?

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Christian Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 16 2022 7:30 AM

God's Devil: The Incredible Story of How Satan's Rebellion Serves God's Purposes by Erwin W. Lutzer

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Morgan | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 16 2022 7:34 AM

It's attributed to him often in my search, but no direct reference is given to Luther's work. The best I could find would be a reference to Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, pp. 162–68.

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 16 2022 7:42 AM

Maybe people got confused and attributed it to Luther instead of the actual Lutzer (Erwin) 😁

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Thomas Pape | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 16 2022 7:47 AM

Darum wollen wir solchen nichts gepredigt haben, auch nach unserem Willen nichts von unserer Freiheit zugestehen noch einen Nutzen haben lassen, sondern wieder den Papst oder seinesgleichen über sie (kommen/regieren) lassen, der sie zwinge wie ein rechter Tyrann. Denn es gehöret doch unter den Pöbel, der dem Evangelium nicht gehorchen will, nichts anderes als ein solcher Stockmeister, der Gottes Teufel und Henker sei. Den anderen aber, die ihn gerne sagen lassen, müssen wir immer predigen, anhalten, reizen und locken, dass sie solchen teuren und tröstlichen Schatz, durchs Evangelium vorgetragen, nicht umsonst hingehen lassen. Darum wollen wir auch von der Beicht etwas reden, um die Einfältigen zu unterrichten und zu vermahnen.


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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 16 2022 8:07 AM

Thomas Pape:
Denn es gehöret doch unter den Pöbel, der dem Evangelium nicht gehorchen will, nichts anderes als ein solcher Stockmeister, der Gottes Teufel und Henker sei.

The rabble who will not obey the gospel deserve nothing but a jailer like this who is God’s devil and hangman.

Kolb, R., Wengert, T.J. and Arand, C.P. (2000) The Book of Concord: the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, pp. 477–488. - https://ref.ly/logosres/klbcncrd?ref=BookOfConcord.Large+Cat.%3a+Sacrament+of+the+Altar%2c+art.+0%2c+par.+87&off=2686&ctx=like+a+true+tyrant.+~The+rabble+who+will+ 

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Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 16 2022 4:12 PM

While explaining the psalm verse where God is prayed: "You turn us back to dust, and say, 'Turn back, you mortals.'" (Psalm 90:3), Luther ponders on the difficult thought of God causing death. This is his solution:

"Moses rightly refers death to God Himself. He wants to warn us not to look frantically for help anywhere except to Him who has caused the evil. “For He who has torn, the same will also heal” (Hosea 6:1). This is the name of our God: “He kills and restores to life; He brings down to hell and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6). Of this God, Moses here says: “Thou causest men to die.” It is this God, too, who commands the sons of men to return. Just as we initially receive life through Him, so also through Him we finally overcome death. But this death is the cause not only of concupiscence but of all sin.
God indeed uses the devil to afflict and to kill us. But the devil cannot do this if God does not want sin to be punished in this way." (LW 13, Emphasis mine).

While explaining the sufferings of Job stirred by Satan but afflicted by God, writes Luther:

"It is very shocking that the Prophets should make such a point of saying that evils come from God Himself, though it is true that of Himself God does not do evil things but uses instrumental means. So the Lord says in Job 2:3: “You moved Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” But the history clearly shows that the devil burned the house, killed the children, and persuaded him to despair and to murmur against God. These, I say, are really the devil’s works, and yet the Lord says, 'I afflicted him.' "(LW 12, Emphasis mine).

Could this be the thought behind Luther's thought on the Devil being "God's Devil"? Luther is denying dualism. The Devil is (only) the instrument of God.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 12:01 AM

Try searching for "God's ape" instead of "God's devil" -- these are the references I found:

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mike | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 11:36 AM

Why ape? I'm wondering?

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Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 11:58 AM

mike:

Why ape? I'm wondering?

Isn't there a saying - also in english - "to ape something/someone"? In aping God the Devil might show that evil isn't an entity of it's own but rather the absence of goodness - as classical theology puts it? 2 Corinthians 11: 14?

Just my guess. Anyway, a powerful metaphor!

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Christian Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 1:16 PM

Good thought, Mike but it would take a lot of research to devour this topic. I am not sure. When calling others apes they are likening them to animals that are not disliked, as far as I can remember with my linguistic background. However these metaphors convey the message that these people are literally subhuman. In short, some offensive animal metaphors are degrading whereas others are disgusting. 

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Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 1:28 PM

Good and valid perspective, Christian.

I quess I didn't express myself clear enough: my thought as to the verb "to ape someone" was the thought of imitating, mimicking, copying. I.e. Evil cannot exist on it's own, it needs goodness to imitate and exploit somehow.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 3:09 PM

Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari:

mike:

Why ape? I'm wondering?

Isn't there a saying - also in english - "to ape something/someone"? In aping God the Devil might show that evil isn't an entity of it's own but rather the absence of goodness - as classical theology puts it? 2 Corinthians 11: 14?

Just my guess. Anyway, a powerful metaphor!

Aping someone or something means imitating it. "Monkey see, monkey do." Here's evidence that that's what Luther had in mind.

Christian Alexander:

Good thought, Mike but it would take a lot of research to devour this topic. I am not sure. When calling others apes they are likening them to animals that are not disliked, as far as I can remember with my linguistic background. However these metaphors convey the message that these people are literally subhuman. In short, some offensive animal metaphors are degrading whereas others are disgusting. 

I don't think that's what Luther meant by the term "ape". He meant a false mimicker, not the original. Like when Satan appears as an angel of light.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 3:15 PM

Christian Alexander:
However these metaphors convey the message that these people are literally subhuman. In short, some offensive animal metaphors are degrading whereas others are disgusting. 

Independent of whether or not you have correctly analyzed the social impact of the metaphor, one is required to use the metaphor historically in referring to texts that use it. In such cases, one should understand it as it was understood at the time the author used the metaphor, not as it would be understood today. One must also, when interpreting a metaphor, recognize that the metaphoric comparison is on specific attributes not all attributes.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 17 2022 10:21 PM

MJ. Smith:

... one is required to use the metaphor historically in referring to texts that use it. In such cases, one should understand it as it was understood at the time the author used the metaphor, not as it would be understood today...

Thanks for the good comment and reminder, MJ! It would seem that Luther inherited the saying of the Devil as "God's ape" from Tertullian (born circa 160 a.D.), who wrote referring to the pagans or to the Gentiles of his time, how they imitated the Christian rituals, in which "we recognise here also the zeal of the devil rivalling the things of God" (De Baptismo).

Hence, Diabolos Dei Simius.

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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 18 2022 12:39 AM

Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari:

I think this is the point of the "God's Devil" figure of speech. For my personal theological sensitivities, Luther is sailing too close to ascribing evil to God here - but everyone's mileage may vary. One always has to keep in mind that Luther was not a systematic theologian and was usually expressing his thoughts on a current topic in very strong language, whereas he might voice a complementary idea (such as that the devil is a strong adversary of God and the believers and wreaks havoc all over) in equally strong terms, seemingly contradicting himself.   

The aspect of the devil being God's ape (which ties in to the philosophical argument that evil is not a created thing, but rather the absence of good) may be somewhat related, but for me leads away from the core of the "God's Devil" argument.  

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 18 2022 1:54 AM

Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari:

This sounds like someone saying, "I didn't kill him; the gun killed him." In other words, "I'm not culpable...the instrument I used is culpable."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 18 2022 2:01 AM

David Paul:

Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari:

This sounds like someone saying, "I didn't kill him; the gun killed him." In other words, "I'm not culpable...the instrument I used is culpable."

Precisely why some theologies are either/or while others are both/and.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 18 2022 2:08 AM

MJ. Smith:
Precisely why some theologies are either/or while others are both/and.

I prefer the theology of paradox...sometimes "yes" and sometimes "no", i.e. it all depends - per Prov. 26:4, 5.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 18 2022 2:24 AM

David Paul:
I prefer the theology of paradox..

Which I associate with Henri de Lubac but under the name both/and ...Geeked

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