Master of Arts (MA)
Primary Subject Area
Theology; Religion, General; Philosophy
Anthropology, Aquinas, Luther, Reformation, Scholasticism, Scotus
Bender, Cole Andrew, "Luther's Theological Anthropology: A Decisive Break from Scholasticism" (2011). Masters Theses. 167.
The debate between Martin Luther and the Medieval Scholastics was one of the most significant debates in both the Reformation as a movement and the development of western Christianity as a whole. While the debate is dominantly characterized in terms of the dispute over the doctrines of sin and grace, the dispute between Luther and the medieval scholastic theologians was not simply a dispute over these two central doctrines but was a clash of entire theological systems. Moreover, the dispute over the doctrine of man forms a more logically basic and decisive point of clash, as Luther constructs his positions on sin and justification in light of a specific anthropology which is radically different from the dominant scholastic anthropologies. By adopting a substantially Aristotelian anthropology, Aquinas and Scotus define the basic composition and nature of man in such a way that their respective resulting doctrine of sin leaves man's fundamental nature unchanged by the Fall, resulting in a doctrine of justification that still slips into the framework of merit. In contrast, Luther critiques this ontological focus in philosophical anthropology in favor of a theological anthropology that exhibits a relational, eschatological focus. This re-articulation of the doctrine of man allows Luther to affirm a more radical, existentially significant doctrine of sin and consequently controls his emphasis on and formulation of the doctrine of unmerited grace.