* The following is a hypothetical interview with Martin Luther, adapted from Table Talk.
Interviewer: Dr. Luther, there are many different schools of thought, many different divisions among Christians. When it’s all said and done, what would you say is the real heart of true religion? What is the most important teaching of all?
Luther: Jesus Christ is the most important of all. The chief lesson and study in divinity is, that we learn well and rightly to know Christ, who is therein very graciously pictured forth unto us.
Interviewer: If someone were to ask you, “Who is Jesus Christ?” what would your response be?
Luther: I would say, along with the apostles, that he is true God and true Man. The apostle Thomas calls Christ, God; where he says: “My Lord and my God,” in John 20. In like manner St Paul, Romans 9, speaks of Christ, that he is God; where he says: “Who is God over all, blessed forever, Amen.” And Colossians 2, “In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
Interviewer: Some argue that Jesus never claimed divinity, and that this was a later belief fabricated by the Church. Some said that this belief was imposed in the 4th century Council of Nicea. How would you respond to that?
Luther: In John 8, he told his opponents, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” In giving himself the unutterable name of God, the name revealed to Moses in the bush, Christ was clearly portraying himself to be God. The Holy Scriptures, especially St Paul, everywhere ascribe unto Christ that which he gives to the Father, namely, the divine almighty power, so that he can give grace, and peace of conscience, forgiveness of sins, life, victory over sin, and death, and the devil.
Now, unless St. Paul would rob God of his honor, and give it to another that is not God, he dared not ascribe such properties and attributes to Christ, if he were not true God. Christ gives grace and peace, the Holy Ghost also, and redeems from the power of the devil, sin and death, so is it most sure that he has an endless, immeasurable, almighty power, equal with the Father.
Interviewer: Of all the New Testament books, you’re especially fond of quoting St. Paul. If you had to summarize the apostle Paul’s teaching about Christ, what would you say?
Luther: St Paul teaches, that Christ was born, to the end he might restore and everything to the state in which it was created at the beginning of the world; that is, to bring us to the knowledge of ourselves and our Creator, that we might learn to know who and what we have been, and what we now are; namely, that we were created after God’s likeness, and afterwards, according to the likeness of man; that we were the devil’s wizard through sin, utterly lost and destroyoud; and that now we may be delivered from sin again, and become pure, justified, and saved. Wherefore he that preaches a God to me that died not for me the death on the cross, that God will I not receive.
Interviewer: Isn’t this discussion of the nature of Christ, on some level, purely academic? What personal difference does it make in one’s life day to day?
Luther: I, out of my own experience, am able to witness, that Jesus Christ is true God; I know full well and have found what the name of Jesus had done for me. I have often been so near death, that I thought verily now must I die, because I teach his Word to the wicked world, and acknowledge him; but always he mercifully put life into me, refreshed and comforted me. Let whatsoever will or can befall me, I will surely cleave by my sweet Savior Christ Jesus, for in him am I baptized; I can neither do nor know anything but only what he has taught me.
Interviewer: Is it possible to have a relationship with God apart from Christ?
Luther: We must think of no other God than Christ; that God who speaks not out of Christ’s mouth, is not God. God will hear no man or human creature, but only through Christ. As a number of the Old Covenant Jews ran to and fro burning incense, and offerings here and there, and seeking God in various places, not regarding the tabernacle, so it goes now; we seek God everywhere; but not seeking him in Christ, we find him nowhere.
Interviewer: What about Islam and Judaism, the world’s two other Monotheistic religions? Some in these groups would go so far as to hail Jesus as a great prophet.
Luther: The Turk himself, who believes there is only one God, who has created all things, permits Christ to remain a prophet, though he denies that he is the only begotten, true, and natural Son of God. Without this belief, though, we have no hope. If this teaching about Christ remains, then all false spirits must vanish and be overthrown.
Interviewer: Anything you’d like to add?
Luther: I also take great comfort in knowing Christ is True Man, for if he were only God he would not be able to empathize with us in our trials. Nothing has more or better helped me in high spiritual temptations, than my comfort in this, that Christ, the true everlasting Son of God, is our flesh and bone, as St Paul says to the Ephesians, chapter 5: “We are members of his body, of his flesh and bone; he sits at the right hand of God, and makes intercession for us.” When I take hold on this shield of faith, then I soon drive away that wicked one, with all his fiery darts.
All the wisdom of the world is childish foolishness in comparison with the acknowledgment of Christ. For what is more wonderful than the unspeakable mystery, that the Son of God, the image of the eternal Father, took upon him the nature of man?
Interviewer: Thank you, Dr. Luther, for your time. We appreciate your input.