This is another one of those recurring items you will find at Planet Augsburg–selections from Martin Luther’s “Table Talk.” Luther was a prolific writer. His complete works run to 55 volumes! Odds are that most of the readers of this site, Lutheran they may be, have not lately dug into one of those 55 volumes to get cozy with Martin. Frankly, such an endeavor can be intimidating.
However, Luther was a witty and articulate conversationalist. So much so that his friends and followers began recording his words during their informal chats around the dinner table or other gathering. This “table talk” was published in 1566, twenty years after Luther’s death. It remains in print today. Luther ranges far and wide and his earthy wit is often revealed in these selections. We hope to give you just a taste of Herr Luther with occasional excerpts from Table Talk relevant to today’s issues or season:
#183 – The feast we call Annunciatio Mariae, when the angel came to Mary, and brought her the message from God, that she should conceive his Son, may be fitly called the ‘Feast of Christ’s Humanity’; for then began our deliverance. The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that he sunk himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.
“Mystery” is a word that seems quite bothersome to us moderns. I have met a few quite devout Christians who chomp at the bit to explain the logic of Christian doctrine to all unbelievers in an effort to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt that Christianity is the truth. I have also met a few materialists ready to discount anything that cannot be seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands. Both sides have a hard time with mystery.
However, I have met more people who seem to be in the middle of these two. They are quick to deny belief in any of those Biblical “fairy tales” (e.g., Noah and the Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and pretty much the entire Creation narrative). At the same time, they profess a belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Presumably, they accept his Resurrection as true and they accept that Jesus was both True God and True Man.
Upon what basis can they accept these New Testament stories (aren’t these the same sort of “fairy tales”?) and reject those old ones?
My point is this: Luther correctly identifies the incarnation of Jesus Christ (God made flesh) as a mystery beyond all human understanding. Yet, why do today’s Christians have an easier time accepting (presumably) this mystery and want to do everything they can to get out of accepting a six-day creation account? Isn’t the mystery of the incarnation just as difficult to square with science as the creation story?