Luther's Augustinian Theology of the Cross [Marco Barone]

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Puritan Board Senior
Barone, Marco Luther's Augustinian Theology Of The Cross: The Augustinianism of Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation and the Origins of Modern Philosophy of Religion
Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers 2017

Marco Barone explains how Dr. Martin Luther understood the Gospel as set forth in Luther's 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. Dr. Barone examines Luther's Theology in light of Augustine's anti-Pelagian convictions. Barone shows that a close reading and comparison of Augustinian and Lutheran works display a remarkable level of agreement between them on the issue of free will, righteousness, virtue and the cross. Barone shows that Luther in Luther's Heidelberg Disputation Proof 20 agrees with Saint Augustine that man cannot know God except through the "humility and shame of the cross." Barone shows that Luther built on Augustine's theology of grace and taught that not understanding God's Law in the light of the cross always results in a misuse of the Law.

The second part of the book consisted in the demonstration of a Lutheran philosophical thesis that can be deduced from the theology of the German reformer: any theology or philosophy that does not have as its starting point an Augustinian doctrine of man's absolute dependence on God's grace is necessarily characterized either by a Pelagian or a Semi-Pelagian soteriology. In the conclusion, the work offers some suggestions on the use that Luther's philosophical thesis may have in the study of the ethical presuppositions of the philosophy of religion of the Modern Age.

Barone provides a helpful contrast of Dr. Martin Luther's and St. Augustine of Hippo's, Philosophy of the Cross with what he calls the Philosophy of Glory held by Scholasticism, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Gottfried Leibniz, and Immanuel Kant. Dr. Barone's study argues that Luther drew upon Augustine's soteriology to construct a critique of philosophical systems that emphasized epistemological, and ethical autonomy. Barone then extends this analysis to Kant and Leibniz, as general representatives of the modern mainstream philosophy of religion.

Barone shows that the philosophy of the cross starts with the assumption that will of fallen man's is corrupt. "Man has willfully fallen into necessity willfully to choose evil." The philosophy of glory holds that man's will is neutral and free. Man is able freely to choose between good and evil. Leibniz says, "there remains still a certain freedom after the fall."

Virtue, for those who hold to the philosophy of the cross, is attainable only by the divine grace of regeneration. The philosophy of glory teaches that man is inherently able to perform virtuous acts. Leibniz says "...I am not in favor of those who thought to do great honour to our religion by saying that the virtues of the pagans were only splendida peccata, splendid vices. It is a sally of St Augustine's which has no foundation in holy Scripture, and which offends reason."

The philosophy of the cross weigh fallen man and finds him devoid of righteousness. The only righteousness that man may have is that which is given him. It is the righteousness of Christ, freely given by grace alone through faith alone. The philosophy of glory understands righteousness as something which can be obtained through repetitive exercise of moral practices. For Kant man's righteousness is autonomously achieved through the spontaneous exercise of the will in welcoming good maxims.

The cross was for Luther was central to his theology and his philosophy. The cross for Luther and Augustine is the absolutely necessary atoning, expiatory sacrifice to obtain man's regeneration and enlightenment. Kant held that man is capable of becoming righteous in God's eyes without the imputed righteousness graciously received by faith in the cross of Christ.

I suspect this book to be a reworking of Marco Barone's Master thesis at Mary Immaculate College which is academically linked with the University of Limerick in Ireland. Dr. Barone did his PhD at Queen's University Belfast, writing his dissertation on the topic G. W. Leibniz and Jonathan Edwards on Free-Agency. I hope he reworks and publishes that work as well.

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Thanks for the review. I will read it after work.

Marco sent me a copy to review. It is in the queue with many other books from other publishers.

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Greetings Robert. I should have waited for you to review it, so that it got the proper scholarly review it deserved.
By review, I meant reviewing his title for the RHB catalog. I review 90% of the incoming books to RHB. Though, I have been seriously considering starting a blog to explore and synthesize Patristic works, primary and secondary, through Protestant eyes.

I am sure your review is excellent and will take it into consideration when I get to Marco's book.

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Marco is a good friend of mine. I knew him very well when he was studying at Queen's. Indeed, I messaged him last night to tell him that I was just back from watching Norn Iron playing Italy.
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