Open Access

The Daughter of the Word: What Luther Learned from the Early Church and the Fathers

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Patristic Thought in Byzantine and Protestant Theology. From Gregory Palamas and George Pachymeres to Luther, Calvin, Anglicans, and Anabaptists. Editor: Andre A. Gazal


All the major sixteenth-century Reformers knew something about the early church and used the early Fathers. As an Augustinian monk and professor of theology, however, Luther’s knowledge and use of the great Father was both deeper and more nuanced. While indebted to Augustine, Luther went further in defining what it meant for theology to be ‘scriptural’. He saw history as the interaction of God’s two regimes, and the church of every age as weak and flawed but conquering through the cross of Christ. This led him to a free use of the Fathers without being constrained to always agree with or imitate them. The comfort he received from the Apostles’ Creed in particular led him to appreciate the early creedal statements, and so it was natural for him to use them as models when formulating the new confessions required in his own day. The sixteenth-century heritage of written confessions of faith is a heritage under-appreciated but still vital for church bodies today.1

Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception