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date: 19 August 2017

Martin Luther and the Holy Spirit

Summary and Keywords

Although often neglected in historical and theological studies of Martin Luther’s work, an understanding of the Holy Spirit undergirds his signal contributions to the history of theology and is essential to any case for his ongoing relevance to contemporary theology and practice. Drawing on biblical exegesis, Luther would reinvigorate the doctrine of the Holy Spirit he inherited from the Western theological tradition and from the Ancient Church. Nonetheless, he wrote in a variety of literary genres and in response to a range of issues. To address this linguistic and historical complexity, this article examines the role the concept of the Holy Spirit plays in his theology by providing readings of texts that have been influential on later appropriations of his work. In doing so, it focuses on two intertwined themes in his theology. First, it examines his understanding of the Holy Spirit in relation to justification—that is, the righteousness of God we receive as a gift by faith—looking at his early biblical theology and two especially influential texts, “The Freedom of a Christian” (1520) and his “Lectures on Galatians” (1535). Second, it discusses his portrayal of the Holy Spirit as sanctifier—that is, as the one who creates holiness or sanctification in us—in his most well-known catechisms, in the “Confession of 1528,” and in his “Lectures on Genesis” (1535) and “Sermons on John” (1537). Throughout, attention will also be given to his understanding of the Trinity, Word and sacraments, faith, hope, and love, and the themes of promise and gift. The article concludes with a sketch of historical work and a discussion of the influence of Luther’s pneumatology on later theology and current areas of research.

Keywords: Martin Luther, Holy Spirit, Triune God, Christ, justification, holiness or sanctification, Word and sacraments, faith, hope, love, promise, gift

The Spirit and the Righteousness of God

Early Biblical Theology

At the end of his life, Martin Luther described the great insight he had as a young man. After reading Paul’s letters, he discovered that the righteousness of God is a gift we receive passively in faith, and not actively through any work we perform. Discovering that this insight applied to analogous biblical terms (the power of God, the strength of God, wisdom of God, and so on), he also found that Augustine taught something similar—although in his view Augustine was not completely clear on how this righteousness was always an alien righteousness “imputed” to us through the Word and faith.1

This understanding of faith began to emerge in Luther’s early writings on the Psalms where he addressed a tension in the teaching he inherited as a young Augustinian monk. In this teaching faith (fides) was considered to be the cognitive adherence to Church teaching. However, such faith could only be salvific if it was formed affectively and volitionally in a life of love (caritas) toward God and others. Thus, one could not find certainty that one was, in fact, existentially in a state of grace except in the despairing humility (humilitas) that recognized that one was a sinner who relied solely on hope (spes), trusting wholly in God’s lovingkindness and mercy.2

Luther addressed this tension in his early commentaries on the Psalms.3 On the one hand, he read them Christologically, interpreting all of the psalmist’s cries and laments, and indeed all Israel’s prophecy and history of salvation, in relation to Christ. On the other hand, he also read them tropologically, depicting how the Holy Spirit gives birth to Christ in our lives, uniting us with his path from the incarnation, crucifixion, descent into hell, resurrection, and ascension.4 By way of this exegesis, Luther portrayed how through faith in Christ (fides Christi), God’s judging and saving Word reveals God hidden in the incarnate Christ as God’s righteousness for us and in us. Crying out in our humility (humilitas) and despairing self-accusation, it is Christ now—the living truth of revelation—who gives us hope (spes) in the certainty of our salvation because through him the Holy Spirit pours the love (caritas) of God into our hearts.5

Luther’s commentary on Romans more explicitly relates this understanding of faith in Christ (fides Christi) to the work of the Holy Spirit.6 It begins by rendering how “the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ” by raising Jesus from the dead and proclaiming to all the Word, the apostolic Gospel of God, which is that the Son of God who humbled and emptied himself as the incarnate Son of David has now been raised the Son of God with power over all (Rom. 1:4). Fulfilling God’s promises to Abraham, this Word—Jesus Christ—now embodies God’s righteousness for all who trust in him.7

The rest of the commentary centers on how this Word creates faith in Christ (fides Christi) within us “by means of Christ’s faith” (per fidem Christi, Rom. 3:22). Christ himself is God’s gift of salvation to us. Not only is his righteousness imputed to us even while we are still sinners, giving us favor (grace) in the Father’s eyes for his sake, but it also is the very living truth of God that creates faith as a gift (donum) within us.8 Adopting the Ancient Fathers’ theme of the “exchange” (that Christ became human so that we might become divine), Luther gives it a Pauline interpretation: Christ takes on our sin and gives us his righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).9 Thus, in spite of still being sinners, we now can live by faith in Christ’s righteousness. Baptized into his death and life, we now can live in conformity to the way of his cross and resurrection (Rom. 6:1–14).10

Justified by faith in Christ, we now can endure temptation and suffering because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Like Augustine, Luther identifies this love infused into our hearts with the law the Spirit writes on our heart: the law of Christ that enables us to fulfill Moses’s law.11 Nonetheless, he deviates from Augustine by rejecting the idea that this love of God is the true love of self (amor sui). For Luther, the only true love of self is the self-condemnation (condemnatio sui) and self-hatred (odium sui) that agrees with God’s judgement that we are sinners.12 Why? Because the “wisdom of the flesh”—our natural proclivity—is to seek its own interest or advantage.13 By contrast the “wisdom of the Spirit” seeks only the common good; it rejects one’s personal good in order to love all things, including God, in God and for God’s sake only (Rom. 8).14

But that kind of love is impossible for us. Only as the Spirit “sighs and groans” through our weakness can we “cry Abba Father”—no longer fearing and hating God as an enemy or tyrant for demanding the impossible (Rom. 8:26; Gal. 4:6).15 And just as the Spirit moved on the waters at creation (Gen. 1:1–2), so the Spirit now moves within us, impregnating us with Christ’s life, so that we can yield wholly to God’s will not in active yearning, but in a suffering (passio) that endures the Spirit’s creative work within us.16

Luther expands on this experience of the Spirit’s “sighs and groans” in our lives in his commentary on the Magnificat.17 Mary, he maintains, has much to teach us about the “art” of God’s work, method, nature, and will. She has been instructed and enlightened in the “school” of the Spirit, the school where we come to understand God’s Word by “experiencing, proving, and feeling it.” God has seen her “in the depths” and now she is so saturated with “divine sweetness and the Spirit” that she seethes with the Spirit’s “sighs and groans,” her words alive with fire, light, and life and her entire body and life afloat in love and praise of God.18

Through her experience, Mary teaches us that in God we encounter a radically unique way of seeing, work, help, method, counsel, and will. An ongoing “energetic power,” God’s work is a “continuous activity”: whatever is nothing, God makes into something, and whatever is something God makes into nothing. Unlike us, who always look to what is above us—“honor, power, wealth, knowledge, a life of ease, and whatever is lofty and great”—God looks into the depths—wherever there is “poverty, disgrace, squalor, misery, and anguish.” Thus, God’s work in us can both terrify and comfort us. It terrifies when God’s judgement brings down those who boast in their own wisdom, power, or wealth. It comforts when God’s mercy, justice, and righteousness exalt the humble, the oppressed, and the poor.19

But Mary is neither an “impure” lover, who seeks only God’s gifts but despairs when they are absent, nor one who merely “appears” to be humble so that she can attain the goods she desires. Rather, she tastes only the “sweetness” of “God’s bare goodness.”20 Thus, her exuberance about being “inwardly exalted in the Spirit” is not unrelated to the death and the cross of Christ that God’s beloved children suffer—and even the depths of woe that Christ, God’s beloved Son, experienced. What she tastes is solely “the bare, unfelt goodness that is hidden in God.” This is what gives her “equanimity” and an “even mind”—without needing to prove that she is “in the right”—even as she gives prophetic witness to the differing ways God’s judgement and mercy fall upon the exalted and the humble.21

The Freedom of a Christian

In view of this understanding of faith in Christ, Luther wrote an essay distinguishing “The Two Kinds of Righteousness.”22 Our “alien” righteousness is the righteousness by which Christ justifies us by faith, in spite of our being sinners, and makes us one with him. Through it, Christ drives out our old sinful self (the old Adam) so that his “alien life” can begin to take hold in our lives, make progress, and finally be perfected at the end in death. Our “proper” or actual righteousness results as the “fruit” of this first type. Not an empirical piety that can be observed, this kind of righteousness is always only “hidden in Christ” (Col. 3:3). Through the Spirit sent in our hearts, crying “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6), the “desires of the flesh” within us, our sinful and egoistic desires, are crucified so that we can actually live, in our everyday day lives, from the standpoint of the more capacious “desires” the “Spirit” has for us—that we be transformed into Christ’s image, loving and trusting in God above all else, and loving our neighbors, becoming servants of one another, following Christ’s example (Gal. 5:17).23

Luther’s well-known treatise, “The Freedom of a Christian,” elaborates on these two kinds of righteousness.24 Through faith in Christ we are “lord of all” (through Christ’s “alien” righteousness in us) even as we are also “servant of all” (through what now has become our “proper” righteousness by faith). Drawing on two of Paul’s theses—that we are to be free from all yet servant of all (1 Cor. 9:19) and that we are to owe no one anything but love (Rom. 13:8)—Luther organizes this treatise around the Pauline contrast between the renewal of our “inner” spiritual life even as our “outer” bodily life is wasting away (2 Cor. 4:16).25

Attending first to our “inner” spiritual nature, Luther observes that no external thing or work can produce true righteousness or freedom within us. Only one thing can do this: God’s Word, the Gospel of God concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was made flesh, suffered, and rose from the dead, having been “glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies.”26

But how are we to “use” this Word of God, when there are so many “words of God” in Scripture? The only “saving and efficacious use” of the Word of God, Luther avers, is to use it to preach Christ, that the soul may be fed, made righteous, set free, and saved as it trusts in the Word.27 Thus, when we preach Christ we are not merely to preach historical facts or laws, but Christ: that he may not only be “Christ” but also “Christ for you and me” and that “what is said of him and is denoted in his name may be effectual in us.”28

Three things happen when we trust, with a firm faith, this Word of God. First, when we cling to these “holy, righteous, and peaceful words, which are full of goodness,” we are so wholly “united” and “absorbed” by them that we not only “share in all their power” but are “saturated and intoxicated by them.” With classic Christian mystical imagery, Luther describes how just as Jesus healed with a touch, so now the Word’s “most tender spiritual touch,” this “absorbing of the Word,” communicates to the soul all that belongs to the Word. And, just as heated iron glows with fire because of its union with it, so the Word “imparts” its qualities to the soul.29

Second, God is honored. As a fruit or byproduct of such faith, we fulfill the first commandment, which for Luther is at the center of God’s commandments. When we trust that God alone is unconditionally true, just, and wise, and will provide all good things, we rely not on any other power—not even that of our good works—but on God’s alone. This is why, for Luther, the chief sin is not anger or lust (or anything else that would keep us from civil and human virtue), but unbelief or lack of trust in God.30

Third, we are united with Christ. Expanding on the “exchange” motif with bridal imagery from classic theological and mystical traditions, Luther describes how Christ, the bridegroom, takes on all that belongs to the soul, his bride, and bestows on her all that belongs to him. In what is not only a “communion” but also a “blessed struggle and victory,” Christ takes upon himself his bride’s “sins, death, and pains of hell” and, engaging in a “mighty duel” with them, “swallows them up” bestowing on us, his bride, his unconquerable life, that is, his “righteousness, life, and salvation.”31

What we receive through faith is grace: Christ’s own birthright in the Holy Spirit as God’s first-born. Following Old Testament types, this birthright is his kingship and priesthood. Not a worldly power that controls and lords it over others, Christ’s kingdom is of the Spirit; it consists of righteousness, truth, wisdom, peace, salvation, and so on. Far from exempting us from natural human suffering and death, it in fact leads us, in Christ, to even more sufferings and deaths. Yet it is a “power made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9), a truly “omnipotent power,” a “spiritual dominion,” which “rules in the midst of oppression.” Because of it, “all” is ours, past and future, life and death (1 Cor. 3:21–23). Nothing, whether good or evil, can happen that does not ultimately benefit us by working God’s salvation in us (Rom. 8:28). Christ’s priesthood is also of the Spirit; it consists of his praying and interceding for us, and teaching us inwardly through the Spirit’s living instruction. In Christ, we too can boldly come into God’s presence in the spirit of faith—crying “Abba, Father!” through his Spirit (Gal. 4:6)—and pray for and teach one another “divine things.”32

Luther goes on to deal with our “outer” life—our embodied lives in relationship with others. And here the works begin as we crucify our self-interested and self-justifying desires so that they conform to the Spirit’s desires (Gal. 5:17). Now faith becomes active in love (Gal. 5:6), but not as an achievement, but rather simply as the “first fruits” of the fullness of the Spirit’s future we ultimately will inherit (Rom. 8:23).33

In this, Christ is our example (Phil. 2:1–11). Although filled with the form of God and rich in all things, he did not assume power over us, but instead gave himself freely to serve us. Likewise, we who have been made rich by faith are so filled and satisfied that we now can, out of our surplus, empty ourselves, spending ourselves freely in “voluntary benevolence” toward others without putting them under obligation, anticipating gratitude or ingratitude, or even distinguishing between friends and enemies. As good things have flowed and are flowing into us, so these good things can now flow from us to others and become “common” to all. Moreover, as Christ has “put on” us, acting in our place, so now we can “put on” our neighbor, acting as if we were in the other’s place. We can even present to God our faith and our righteousness so that they might cover and intercede for our neighbor’s sins, which we take upon ourselves as if they were our own.34

In sum, we are to be “Christs to one another” that “Christ may be the same in all.”35 Not living solely for and in ourselves, we now live in Christ through faith and in our neighbors in love. And in all this, we remain in God and in God’s love.36

Commentary on Galatians

As his reform spread, Luther had conflicts not only with the Roman Church but also with enthusiasts who—with their slogan, “Spirit, Spirit, Spirit”—were, in Luther’s view, tearing down the “bridge, the path, the way, the ladder” and all the means by which the Spirit comes to us through external means.37 Thus, in his lectures on Galatians, a well-known work from his later life, he addresses the question Paul asked the Galatians—“Did you receive the Holy Spirit because you kept the law or because you heard the gospel in faith?” He urges his readers to exercise and practice the distinction between law and Gospel diligently, so that they can instruct consciences, both their own and others’, taking them “from Law to grace, from active to passive righteousness, in short from Moses to Christ.”38 As he makes clear throughout the commentary, the art of distinguishing law and Gospel is rooted in the distinction between the two kinds of righteousness developed in his earlier work. Thus, although he addressed new issues in this later work, and also shifted away from the language of the Augustinian piety of his youth, he still presupposed the basic understanding of the Spirit’s work that emerged in his early years and its relation to the Word, faith, and love.

As he explains in the commentary’s preface, the righteousness of faith or Christian righteousness is always “passive”: we cannot work to achieve it; we can only receive it by faith. By contrast, the righteousness of the law (whether it be ceremonial, political, or moral) is always “active”: we must work to attain it. Belonging to radically distinct worlds and ages—the earthly and the heavenly, the present age and the age to come—there is no middle ground between these two. Although we need good works in our lives together on this finite earth, only the infinitely good and creative power of the heavens can “judge, renew, rule, and fructify” the earth so that these good works can be done as the Lord has commanded. Thus, Luther counters any form of “works righteousness”—whether it be the works of the so-called “papists” or “enthusiasts.” Although they use different language and advocate different practices, they all in Luther’s view promote the same content: active righteousness as a way to justify ourselves in God’s sight.39

Luther, of course, affirms that the law is “the best of all things in the world.” It is necessary for our life together in society.40 Relevant here is his distinction between the law’s two uses. Its “civil” use—its use within the “earthly” realm—is to restrain evil.41 However, its “spiritual” use is to convict sin and to lead to repentance or a change of heart.42 It convicts sin as the Spirit works through it. Thus, in the First Disputation against the Antinomians (1537), Luther describes how the Holy Spirit comes to us in two ways: either in his “naked” and unveiled “divine majesty,” as the autor legis (author of the law) who speaks through the written code with the fire of conscience, or as “wrapped in tongues and spiritual gifts,” as donum (gift) who speaks through the Gospel that sanctifies and makes alive.43

The “true meaning of Christianity,” Luther avers, lies in the Gospel proclamation that we are justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law. When the law exposes that we are sinners, the Gospel declares that God has sent Christ so that we might live in him by faith.44 Again using the motif of the “fortunate exchange” Luther portrays how Christ became “curse” for us (Gal. 3:13)—taking upon his Person all sin, death, and the “curse” of the law, God’s holy wrath against sin—in order to free us from them so that, by faith, we might grasp Christ’s “alien righteousness” as our own, becoming heirs of all he possesses: grace, peace, salvation, eternal blessing, and so on.45

Through faith in Christ, we receive the Spirit promised to Abraham (Gal. 3:14), the same Spirit who descended on Christ at his baptism and on the apostles and believers at Pentecost. Sent into our hearts with light and fire, the Spirit makes us “new and different,” giving us new judgements, new sensations, and new drives that arise in us. In the midst of temptation and adversity, the Spirit cries in our hearts—“Abba, Father!”—giving us certainty that God’s promises are, indeed, true (Gal. 4:6; cf. Rom. 8:26).46

And now “through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal. 5:5). Drawing on scholastic distinctions, Luther compares faith to “dialectic” (the Spirit’s wisdom or prudence in our intellect that enables us to grasp the truth that Christ is now ours) and hope to “rhetoric” (the Spirit’s fortitude in our will that urges, persuades, and exhorts us when we face the cross and conflict that are sure to follow once faith takes hold of Christ).47

But going on to interpret Paul’s statement—that “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision count” any longer, but only “faith working in love” (Gal. 5:6)—Luther rejects the scholastic teaching that “faith is formed by love.” Paul, he observes, negates “circumcision” and the legalism it represents. Thus, faith is the subject of the phrase, not love. Yet, since Paul also negates “uncircumcision,” antinomianism is also rejected with its “laziness” or “slumber.” Love is always the outcome of true faith. Thus, “faith working in love” means that faith is always inwardly passive before God, gazing only at Christ’s righteousness in us as its subject. But as its outcome, faith becomes outwardly active in love toward the neighbor (who does not benefit from our faith but only our works)—regardless of whether he or she is “a servant, a master, a king, a pope, a man, a woman, one who wears purple, one who wears rags, one who eats meat, or one who eats fish.”48

Yet, although we are wholly justified by faith in Christ in spite of our sin, this side of death we still are only partly renewed and partly sinful. And here our freedom in the Spirit is not to be used as a pretext for evil. Rather, through the Spirit, we have power to crucify the “desires of the flesh” so that they conform to the “desires of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:13–26). And since the Gospel is “pure grace,” Luther also speaks here of the usefulness of “exhortations” to stir up the faithful and urge them to do good works.49 These good works, however, are the “fruits” of the “passive holiness” the Spirit creates within us (love, joy, peace, etc.; Gal. 5:22).50 We need not become fanatical ascetics who delight in self-mutilation. Rather, freed from needing to justify or save ourselves, we can now simply focus on expelling sin—our selfish egoism—so that we can attend to our neighbors’ needs in whatever callings or situations in life we may find ourselves.51 This is how we become “saints,” following Christ’s example by bearing one another’s burdens.52

The Spirit and Holiness

For Luther, the righteousness of God as a gift we receive in passive faith was inseparable from the Spirit’s work of sanctifying us. Thus, in the same way that he railed against “works righteousness,” so in the Large Catechism he warned against taking the Gospel “altogether too lightly” and succumbing to the “secret, evil plague of security and boredom.”53 And in On the Councils and the Church (1539), he criticized the “fine Easter preachers” but “very poor Pentecost preachers” who “do not preach de sanctificatione et vivificatione Spiritus Sancti,” but focus solely on “the redemption of Jesus Christ.” Christ has redeemed us from sin and death, he averred, so that the Holy Spirit might transform us out of the old Adam into new creatures; we have died to sin and now live in righteousness, “beginning and growing here on earth and perfecting it beyond, as St. Paul teaches” (Rom. 6 and 7). In sum, “Christ did not earn only gratia, ‘grace,’ for us, but also donum, ‘the gift of the Holy Spirit,’ so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin.”54

Catechetical Writings

Nonetheless, as his “Small Catechism” makes clear, the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification takes place precisely through the forgiveness of sins. Drawing on the Apostles’ Creed, this catechism explains four things. Our faith in Christ is based not on our own reason and strength, but on (1) the Holy Spirit’s calling us, enlightening us with the Spirit’s gifts, making us holy, and keeping us in the truth faith. This activity does not take place in isolation but within (2) the entire Christian Church the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy, keeping it with Jesus in the one common, true faith. Within this community, the Holy Spirit works within us and all believers (3) by forgiving all sins daily in this Church until that day when we will be (4) raised from death and given eternal life.55

The “Large Catechism” locates this depiction of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work within a broader Trinitarian frame.56 If the commandments (which all proceed from the power of the first commandment) tell us what God expects of us, then the Creed tells us what we can expect to receive from God: that we do indeed have this “one God and one faith” not as an effort or work on our part but because of God’s own self-giving in “three persons”—in creation, in redemption, and in sanctification.57 As the Father “gives himself to us” through all of creation’s abundance, then we also have “inexpressible eternal blessings” through the Son who redeems and in the Holy Spirit who sanctifies.58 In the work of these three persons (the so-called economic Trinity), we have the “the entire essence, will, and work of God” (that is, the so-called immanent Trinity).59 Through it, God opens to us “the most profound depths of his fatherly heart and his pure, unutterable love,” showing us how he has not only created us to redeem us and make us holy but has also given us “his Son and his Holy Spirit, through whom he brings us to himself”—since we would not be able to recognize “the Father’s favor and grace” were it not for Christ, the “mirror of the Father’s heart,” and the Holy Spirit, who reveals Christ to us.60

An earlier catechism, the “Short Form of 1520” more explicitly links the first commandment and the Creed, on the one hand, and the economic Trinity and immanent Trinity, on the other. Here, Luther observes that since the Creed has to do not just with “faith about God,” but primarily with “faith in God”—that is, the kind of “living faith” the first commandment demands (“I am your God, you shall have no other gods”)—then this kind of faith can only be “given by God himself.”61 It can only be given because “the Father through his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit” will, indeed, let “happen to me” all that Scripture promises.62 Thus, our very trust in this God, and all that this God gives us, is a confession not only of the Father’s deity but also of Christ’s and the Spirit’s deity (echoing Athanasius’s ancient claim that Christ and the Spirit must be homoousios, “of one substance,” with the Father if they are to redeem and sanctify, respectively), since it is only as these three persons are God, and united together as one God, that the one faith in this one God in three persons can actually be created in us.63

To highlight the Spirit’s work of sanctification, Luther entitles the third article of the Creed in the “Large Catechism” “On Being Made Holy.” What distinguishes the Holy Spirit from other spirits (evil, human, and heavenly) is that only God can sanctify us by offering and applying for our use and enjoyment that which we could not come by ourselves: Christ’s work for us through his birth, death, and resurrection.64 The “Short Form” again describes this in even more explicitly Trinitarian terms: because “the Holy Spirit is truly God together with the Father and the Son,” the Spirit can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, that is, “come in and to the Father through Christ and his life, his suffering and death, and all that is said of him … Working through the Spirit, Father and Son stir, awaken, call, and beget new life in me and in all who are his. Thus the Spirit in and through Christ quickens, sanctifies, and awakens the spirit in us and brings us to the Father, by whom the Spirit is active and life-giving everywhere.”65

The Holy Spirit works through a unique community, “the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God.” This community exists only through the Word and in the Spirit. If the Spirit works through the proclamation of the Word to create, call, and gather the Church, then it is only the Spirit’s work through the Word that creates and increases holiness in us, enabling it to grow daily, becoming strong in faith and in its fruits, which only the Spirit produces. Thus, the Church is not a building but an “assembly” (Greek, ekklesia), called and created by the Holy Spirit. As such, it is also a communion or community (Latin, communio, or Greek, koinonia) of “pure saints” under one head, Christ, called together in one faith, mind, and understanding, possessing a variety of gifts, and yet united in love without sect or schism. As parts and members of this community, we are participants and co-partners in all its blessings (1 Cor. 12).66 The “Short Form” is even more explicit about how in this community “all things are held in common: what each possesses belongs also to others and no one has complete ownership of anything.” All its prayers and good deeds are to mutually benefit believers, who bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).67

The Church exists solely for one purpose, to announce God’s promise of the forgiveness of sin. It does so in a double sense, both that “God forgives us” and that “we forgive, bear with, and aid one another.”68 The announcement of the promise that “God forgives us” is not just a legal fiction but a sacramental word that enacts what it signifies: Christ’s death and life for us and in us. Through humble words and signs, the Spirit brings the crucified and living Christ to us so that through faith him we might die to sin and live out of the power of his life.

Likewise, the sacraments are a visible sign—what Luther called a sigillum (testament)—of God’s promise. As described in his groundbreaking treatise, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520), the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper signifies the promise of the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s broken body and his shed blood. In turn, the water of baptism signifies that we have been incorporated into Christ, the Messiah who fulfills God’s promises to Israel (to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, and to David) and thus also incorporates us into the entire people of God. If baptism is our entry into Christ’s death and life, then the Lord’s Supper, visible signs of Christ’s body and blood, sustain us as we live out of God’s promise in our baptism throughout our lives.69

An earlier treatise, The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ, and the Brotherhoods (1519), vividly fleshes out how the promise that “God forgives us” through these means relates to our “forgiving, bearing with, and aiding one another.” It portrays how the sacraments signify not only the exchange in which we are united with Christ—who took on our “form and necessity” so that we might share in his life—but also the exchange in which we, through Christ, take on one another’s “form and necessity,” sharing with others all the good within our power that can be to their advantage (Phil. 2:1–9).70

The Holy Spirit, then, creates holiness in us by daily granting forgiveness in the broad communal space the Spirit creates through the Word and faith until that day when we no longer will need forgiveness. Holiness has begun and is growing daily as we dwell in the capacious promise of God’s future for us—the promise of a time when our “flesh” will completely be put to death and we will rise gloriously to “complete and perfect holiness in eternal life,” “living in new immortal and glorified bodies,” “full of integrity and righteousness,” “completely freed from sin, death, and all misfortune.” Now, however, we are “only halfway pure and holy.” And here the Holy Spirit unceasingly works in us through the means of “the Word and forgiveness of sins”—imparting, increasing, and strengthening faith so that through this faith we have the power to put sin to death and serve others in love in our various callings in life. Until the time when the Spirit will make us “perfectly and eternally holy,” when we have “died to the world and all misfortune,” we wait in faith for all this “to be accomplished through the Word.”71

The Confession of 1528

Coming at the end of a treatise dealing with the debate Luther had with Huldrych Zwingli and others over the Lord’s Supper, “The Confession of 1528” provides yet another angle on the themes discussed in the catechisms.72

Zwingli and his allies distrusted outward rites, contending that “Flesh is of no avail!” (John 6:63). Luther countered (rejecting Zwingli’s idea that the ascended Christ was now spatially restricted to heaven, arguing instead for the ubiquity of Christ) that Christ as God is omnipresent in divine majesty because of the indissoluble unity of the person of Christ (in “two natures”). Given his omnipresence, Christ can now—in this time between his ascension and Parousia—in fact, be physically present to us in humble signs and words just as he was physically present in his earthly humanity.73 Thus, instead of seeking God’s naked majesty outside of the Deus incarnates (the incarnate God), we can find him in the signs of revelation with which he said: “Here you find me!”74

Moreover, because Christ is physically present in the bread and wine as promised, Luther also maintains (in another treatise, drawing on Irenaeus and Hilary) that the Lord’s Supper has “bodily fruit.” Because we truly are united with Christ’s raised body and blood—Christ’s “spiritual flesh” (Geistfleisch)—through the sacraments, Christ’s “nature and essence” truly is “in us and we in him.” And as this union transforms us, it also transforms our human love for others.75

Given these disputes, it is not surprising that the “Confession of 1528” draws not on the Apostles’ Creed (which deals primarily with the economic Trinity), but rather on formulations from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (which speaks of the immanent Trinity as well). Thus, it begins first with the Trinitarian claim that the three persons are one God who created heaven and earth.76 Then it affirms the Christological claim that the Son is “fully divine and human” and that he alone—and neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit—became human.77

And here, within the context of a Christological claim rather than a pneumatological one (as in his catechisms), Luther discusses the topic of “holiness.”78 Given his presupposition that the triune God creates the world through the “Word of God,” he speaks about how this “Word of God” gives three “estates” or “institutions” in contemporary language: the Church (relating to the first table of the Ten Commandments), the household, and civil government (relating to its second table). Although perverted by sin, these “estates” are the communal context for our lives together, and thus are locations in which God’s creative Word (through both law and Gospel) brings about holiness within us, since God’s Word is holy and sanctifies everything connected with it. And above these estates is the “common order of love,” where we serve not only these orders but “every needy person in general—feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, forgiving enemies, prayer for all, suffering all kinds of evil, etc.”79

Luther, of course, is clear that “to be saved” and “to be holy” are two very different things. Further, he notes that even those who do not have faith in Christ may have much about them that is holy. Nonetheless, since God wishes that all human beings perform these works, surely Christians ought to at least do these works and embody God’s sanctifying truth and justice in these institutions.80

Given this understanding of the three estates, Luther affirms that the Church exists wherever Christ “rules,” which is everywhere. Nonetheless, this “rule” is hidden and only revealed eschatologically in the Spirit through the words and signs of the Gospel (see Ps. 2:8; 19:4). Thus, if it is physically dispersed throughout the world—even “among pope, Turks, Persians, Tartars”—it is only spiritually gathered in one Gospel and faith, and under one head, Jesus Christ.81

Finally, Luther turns to discuss belief in the Holy Spirit. Here he affirms two classic Augustinian claims. First, the Spirit is not only one true God “with the Father and Son” but also “proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son and yet is a distinct person in the one divine essence and nature.”82 Second, the Spirit is “a living, eternal, divine gift and endowment” in whom all believers are “adorned with faith and other spiritual gifts, raised from the dead, freed from sin, and made joyful and confident, free and secure in their conscience.” When “we feel this witness of the Spirit in our hearts,” Luther adds, we are assured that “God wishes to be our Father, forgive our sin, and bestow everlasting life on us.”83

As he did in the “Large Catechism,” Luther locates the Spirit’s work within the context of God’s triune self-giving: “the three persons and one God, who has given himself to us all wholly and completely, with all that he is and has.” First, the Father “gives himself to us,” with all creation; then the Son “gave himself,” bestowing on us “all his works, sufferings, wisdom, and righteousness” to reconcile us with the Father so that we might have “the Father and all his gifts”; and finally so that Christ’s work does not remain hidden and “benefit no one,” the Holy Spirit now “comes and gives himself to us also, wholly and completely,” teaching us to understand what Christ has done for us, helping us “receive and preserve it, use it to our advantage and impart it to others, increase and extend it.”84 The Holy Spirit does this “inwardly” through faith and other spiritual gifts and “outwardly” through the three methods (the Gospel proclamation, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper) that the Spirit uses to come to us and inculcate in us Christ’s suffering for the benefit of our salvation.85 Through these means the forgiveness of sins is offered and received, and “Christ and his Spirit and God are there.”86

Commentary on Genesis and Sermons on John

To conclude this survey of Luther’s writings on the Holy Spirit, we turn to his later biblical exegesis, which renders vivid portrayals of the Spirit’s work within God’s triune life that deepen and expand his catechetical teaching.

Commenting on Genesis 1:1, Luther observes that “the mystery of the Trinity is set forth here.” As God the Father creates heaven and earth out of nothing through the Word, so the Holy Spirit broods over them in the way a “hen broods over her eggs … bringing them to life through heat.” This is why it is the office of the Holy Spirit “to make alive.”87 Frequently referenced throughout his work, this image is implied in his frequent references to the Spirit’s sighs and groans that bring about new creation in our lives (Rom. 8:26; Gal. 4:6). It presupposes the link (drawn as well in Early Church arguments for the Trinity) between the first chapter of Genesis (and also Prov. 8 and Wis. 7) and the first chapter of the Gospel of John, which states that the world was created through the Word (John 1:1–4).88

In his sermons on John, Luther follows Augustine and other Early Church fathers in using the analogy of how we form thoughts and words within ourselves to describe the way God “in his divine majesty” “begets” the Father’s “Word and Wisdom.”89 Of course, he recognizes (as Augustine did as well) the deep “gulf” that exists between God’s thoughts and human thoughts. Further, given his differences with Augustine (especially on “imputation”), Luther renders this analogy as a “Word” spoken and heard rather than as a “Wisdom” contemplated in knowledge and love. Nonetheless, he still uses it to render a “conversation,” “speech,” or “word” within God’s eternal life in which the Father is “the Speaker,” the Son “the Word spoken,” and the Holy Spirit “the Listener from all eternity.”90

Luther uses this analogy not only to portray the Word’s activity in creation (John 1:1–4) but also to render how Christ sends the Holy Spirit as our Comforter in the time between his ascension and Parousia (John 14–16). As the one who proceeds from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is the Listener in all eternity who is now sent by Jesus as the one the Father promised so that when—in Jesus’ physical absence—we hear the Word preached in the Spirit, we can truly “hear” Christ in the physical words and signs that embody him, and thus have faith and the knowledge of Christ truly created within us.91

Thus, the Holy Spirit gives “testimony” to Christ within our lives—within the very “school of experience.”92 Creating within us a “genuine holiness” that we could not come by ourselves, the Holy Spirit gives us “courage” in the midst of all adversity—whether from sin, the flesh, the devil, or the world—enlightening, awakening, and inflaming our hearts so that we stand firm in faith in Christ and through this faith confess it publicly while also living in harmony and mutual love with one another. Abiding in our lives through the Word and faith in this way, the Holy Spirit always testifies that Christ, with his suffering, death, and life, is ours, and that through Christ we have the Father with all his grace. In this way, our lives become a “dwelling” for the triune God after the pattern of the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament.93

Review of the Literature

Rudolf Otto wrote the first historical study of Luther’s understanding of the Holy Spirit, providing a phenomenological analysis of traditional Lutheran conceptions of the Word and faith.94 His contemporary, Erich Seeberg, followed with a study of the Christological orientation of Luther’s pneumatology especially as it relates to the Lord’s Supper.95 Although different, both studies focused on the human experience of God’s saving work and had little to say about the Holy Spirit as a divine person within God’s triune life. More recently, Pekka Kärkkäinen has corrected this lacuna with a dissertation on Luther’s Trinitarian theology of the Holy Spirit, which attends to the variegated ways Luther speaks of the Spirit in sermons, disputations, and other writings.96

Regin Prenter’s Spiritus Creator, originally published in 1946, remains the most comprehensive account of Luther’s pneumatology. Combining historical and systematic approaches, it highlights Luther’s “biblical realism of revelation” in contrast to the scholasticism of the Middle Ages and the enthusiasm of later reformers. Frequently quoting Romans 8:26, it emphasizes that the Spirit is God’s real, personal presence in our lives through Christ in creation and new creation.97

In spite of the dearth of historical scholarship on the topic, Luther’s pneumatology has profoundly influenced, albeit often implicitly, later Lutheran theology. His disciples would soon debate pneumatological distinctions Luther identified yet held together. “Philippists” and “Gnesio-Lutherans,” for example, debated over whether to emphasize either good works or God’s grace alone. In turn, Andreas Osaiander was considered heretical precisely because he collapsed the distinction between the two kinds of righteousness that Luther had identified.98 Similarly, controversies among various movements of the Protestant Reformation—Lutheran, Calvinist, and those of the Radical Reformation—often centered on analogous pneumatological issues.99

The later dogmatic tradition would be influenced by the Formula of Concord and Philip Melanchthon’s genre for organizing material for teaching and preaching around common “loci” or “topics” (loci communes).100 Thus, in Heinrich Schmid’s reconstruction of various dogmatic systems from the 17th- and 18-century, the Holy Spirit is treated as a discrete locus in a list of other topics (God, Trinity, creation, sin, Christ, the means of grace, etc.). What would later be called the doctrine of sanctification was depicted as an ordo salutis (order of salvation) of five steps that were the “consequences of justifying faith”: divine call, illumination, regeneration and conversion, mystical union, and renovation.101

Although helpful as a way of organizing and transmitting complex ideas, this approach lost something of Luther’s dynamic and integrated portrayal of the Holy Spirit as God’s real and personal presence in our lives. Not only did it present the ordo salutis as a sequence of steps, with “mystical union” (which addresses the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in our lives through Christ) as one step among others,102 but it also treated this ordo as a topic separate from justification and Christ’s person and work, on the one hand, and good works, on the other—thus muting Luther’s vibrant and integrated portrayal of faith as “living in Christ through faith and in the neighbor in love.” It is not surprising that pietist movements would continually irrupt in the centuries that followed the Reformation—highlighting the Holy Spirit’s palpable presence in people’s lives, the possibility of heartfelt union with Christ, the practical relevance of Scripture to daily life, and the importance of ethical responsibility.103 In view of this, Prenter’s evaluation of later Lutheranism is that it continually oscillated between replacing “the living Christ truly present in the Spirit” either with a “doctrine of the forgiveness of sins” based on “Christ’s work of satisfaction,” on the one hand, or with an “empirical righteousness” based on the “law” and “free will,” albeit aided by grace, on the other. If “Lutheran orthodoxy” sought a “compromise” between these two tendencies, then when that compromise fell apart it was joined by a “pietism” that “gradually squandered the Lutheran teaching of justification.”104

Further, by reducing Luther’s pneumatology to a series of discrete topics, Lutheran dogmatic systems made less apparent Luther’s rendering of the overflowing and all-embracing character of God’s Triune self-giving to us and the entire world. It would be a philosopher, Georg W. F. Hegel, who would develop the speculative synthesis that would integrate the eternal Trinity with the movement of Absolute Spirit in history—drawing on classic themes in Lutheran orthodoxy, in particular its commitment to the homoousios with regard to Christ and the Trinity.105 Although Hegel’s synthesis would be rejected as heterodox by most theologians, it nonetheless played a role in bringing the doctrine of Trinity to the fore in the 20th century and with it a greater emphasis on pneumatology.106

Prominent figures in this revival include Karl Barth, who was profoundly influenced by Lutheran themes albeit in a post-Kantian and Calvinist vein,107 and Karl Rahner, who countered the neo-scholasticism of his time with the claim, analogous to Luther’s, that “grace” is the gift of Holy Spirit’s personal presence.108 In turn, Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology, which presupposes “Trinitarian principles,” devotes its third volume to a “mystical” and “prophetic” integration of Pauline, Augustinian, and Lutheran pneumatological themes in light of modern thought.109

Theologians in the next generation would pay even greater attention to God’s triune revelation in history. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Robert Jenson, and Oswald Bayer would highlight, with differing emphases, the importance of eschatology and promise in Luther’s pneumatology, reshaping classic themes in Christian theology from the standpoint of the triune God’s eschatological promise of a new future.110 Likewise, others—including Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Jürgen Moltmann, and Eberhard Jüngel—were influenced by the connection Luther made between a theology of the cross and pneumatology, again albeit in different ways.111

In more recent Lutheran pneumatology, the relationship between a Spirit-Christology and a Word-Christology, especially for understanding the “humanity” of Christ (both in Jesus’ life and in our lives through words and signs), has emerged as an important theme.112 Likewise, increasing attention is being given to Luther’s Trinitarian theology;113 to his understanding of the Spirit’s work in creation (which echoes earlier 20th-century work on his theology of creation and its relation to ecological concerns);114 and to his distinctive and complex treatment of God’s “hiddenness” (whether in creation, in Christ’s humanity, our in our lives).115 There have been debates over whether his concept of justification is primarily “forensic” or “essential,”116 and differing accounts have been given of his distinctive understanding of “spirituality.”117 In addition, Luther’s deeply communal and embodied understanding of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives has been spotlighted, focusing on such themes as koinonia (e.g., in dialogue with the Roman Catholic concept of communio),118 diakonia (especially with regard to justice and service for the poor and powerless in an age of “globalization”),119 and the three “estates” (albeit critically retrieved, given their association with Nazi socialism in the last century).120

Finally, three areas of recent scholarship are relevant for contemporary appropriations of Luther’s pneumatology. First, biblical scholarship seeks to interpret Paul’s letters in light of his Jewish background and his Roman and Hellenistic milieu. Often critical of Augustine and Luther for promulgating what Krister Stendahl has called “the introspective conscience of the West,” this literature nonetheless offers fresh perspectives for interpreting Luther’s deeply biblical pneumatology.121 Second, through ecumenical conversation, the “Finnish School” has brought to the fore a reading of Luther’s conception of justification in light of the Orthodox—and patristic—concept of theosis (becoming like or union with God).122 Similarly, conversation with Pentecostals, especially relevant for Lutherans in Latin America and Africa, has the potential for deepening our understanding of Luther’s distinctive understanding of the “experience” of the Spirit.123 Third, recent literature in philosophy and critical theory on the theological underpinnings of Western thought provides conceptual frameworks for reading Luther afresh (especially since his ideas, albeit in secularized form, have had such an influence on later philosophy).124 These frameworks have, in turn, informed contemporary theological appropriations of Luther’s chief pneumatological concepts such as promise and gift.125

The latter focus on promise and gift has great potential for invigorating future appropriations of Luther’s pneumatology. For Luther, God’s triune life is always abundant, overflowing, self-giving love. Within this triune life, the Holy Spirit not only “broods” over creation but is also the very “living, eternal, divine gift and endowment” who brings to us—precisely in the midst of our sin, injustice, and the destructive forces within and around us—the promise in the Word that the living Christ, crucified and raised, is our righteousness and life through faith, completely gratis and without any activity on their part, so that our lives can through passive faith in him overflow in active love and mutual service as we share with one another the Father’s abundant gifts in creation. In Gregory Walter’s words, “the Spirit’s own work is to give himself again and more fully but his giving of himself is to empower the apostolic community to remain in Jesus, to share and be Jesus’ cross-marked body, and to fulfill the longings of the nations and the groaning of all creation.”126

Further Reading

Bayer, Oswald. Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.Find this resource:

Bayer, Oswald. Promissio: Geschichte der reformatorischen Wende in Luthers Theologie. 2d ed. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1989.Find this resource:

Helmer, Christine. The Trinity and Martin Luther: A Study on the Relationship between Genre, Language and the Trinity in Luther’s Works (1523–1546). Mainz: Zabern, 1999.Find this resource:

Jenson, Robert. “The Holy Spirit.” In Christian Dogmatics. Edited by Carl Braaten and Robert Jenson, 2:105–182. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.Find this resource:

Jenson, Robert. Systematic Theology. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Kärkkäinen, Pekka. Luthers Trinitarische Theologie des Heiligen Geistes. Mainz: Zabern, 2005.Find this resource:

Lohse, Bernhard. Martin Luther’s Theology: Its Historical and Systematic Development. Translated and edited by Roy Harrisville. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999.Find this resource:

Otto, Rudolf. Die Anschauung vom heiligen Geiste bei Luther. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1898.Find this resource:

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Systematic Theology. 3 vols. Translated by Geoffrey Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.Find this resource:

Peters, Albrecht. Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms: Creed. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011.Find this resource:

Prenter, Regin. Spiritus Creator. Translated by John M. Jensen. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1953.Find this resource:

Prenter, Regin. The Word and the Spirit: Essays on Inspiration of the Scriptures. Translated by Harris E. Kaasa. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1965.Find this resource:

Schlink, Edmund. Theology of the Lutheran Confessions. Translated by Paul F. Koehneke and Herbert J. A. Bouman. St. Louis: Concordia, 1961.Find this resource:

Seeberg, Erich. Grundzüge der Theologie Luthers. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1940.Find this resource:

Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology, vol. 3. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.Find this resource:

Wingren, Gustav. Gospel and Church. Translated by Ross Mackenzie. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1964.Find this resource:

Wöhle, Andreas H.Luther’s Freude an Gottes Gesetz: Eine historische Quellenstudie zur Oszillation des Gesetzesbegriffes Martin Luthers im Licht seiner alttestamentlichen Predigten. Frankfurt am Main: Haag + Herchen, 1998.Find this resource:


(1.) LW 34:337–338.

(2.) Berndt Hamm, The Reformation Context of Faith in the Context of Medieval Theology and Piety (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2004), 154–163.

(3.) LW 10 and 11; WA 3 and 4.

(4.) Marc Lienhard, Luther: Witness to Christ, trans. Edwin H. Robertson (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1982), 41–42.

(5.) Hamm, The Reformation Context of Faith, 167–177.

(6.) LW 25; WA 56.

(7.) LW 25:146–148; WA 56:166, 167–168, 169. See also Lienhard, Luther: Witness to Christ, 55–56.

(8.) LW 25:242–243; WA 56:255–256. See also Regin Prenter, Spiritus Creator, trans. John M. Jensen (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1952), 27–55; and Lienhard, Luther: Witness to Christ, 56–63.

(9.) Lienhard, Luther: Witness to Christ, 59–60.

(10.) Ibid., 62–63.

(11.) LW 25:186; WA 56:202–203. See also Prenter, Spiritus Creator, 3–5.

(12.) Prenter, Spiritus Creator, 3–9.

(13.) LW 25:344–347; WA 56:355–357.

(14.) LW 25:350–353; WA 56:360, 361–363, 364.

(15.) LW 25:364–368; WA 56:373–379.

(16.) Prenter, Spiritus Creator, 18, 185.

(17.) LW 21:297–355; WA 7:538–604.

(18.) LW 21:297–355; WA 7:538–604.

(19.) LW 21:297–355; WA 7:538–604.

(20.) LW 21:297–355; WA 7:538–604.

(21.) LW 21:297–355; WA 7:538–604. See also Lois Malcolm, “Experiencing the Spirit: The Magnificat, Luther, and Feminists,” in Transformative Lutheran Theologies: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Perspectives, ed. Mary Streufert (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010), 165–178.

(22.) LW 31:297–306; WA 2:145–152.

(23.) LW 31:297–306; WA 2:145–152.

(24.) LW 31:327–377; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(25.) LW 31:344; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(26.) LW 31:346; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(27.) LW 31:346; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(28.) LW 31:357, italics added; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(29.) LW 31:349; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(30.) LW 31:350–351; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(31.) LW 31:351–352; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(32.) LW 31:354–355; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(33.) LW 31:358–360; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(34.) LW 31:365–367; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(35.) LW 31:368; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(36.) LW 31:371; Ger: WA 7:20–38; Lat: WA 7:42–49.

(37.) LW 40:147; WA 8:137, 12–19.

(38.) LW 26:10; WA 40/I:49, 50.

(39.) LW 26:4–17; WA 40/I:41, 42–59.

(40.) LW 26:5; WA 40/I:41, 42.

(41.) LW 26:275; WA 40/I:429–431.

(42.) LW 26:309; WA 40/I:479–481.

(43.) WA 39/I:370, 18–371, 1; cf. WA 39 I:17–20.

(44.) LW 26:126; WA 40/I:223, 224.

(45.) LW 26:276–291; WA 40/I:431, 432–451, 452.

(46.) LW 26:375, 374–388; WA 40/I:572, 573–590, 591.

(47.) LW 27:23–24; WA 40/II:26–28.

(48.) LW 27:28–31; WA 40/II:34, 35–38, 39.

(49.) LW 27:46–47; WA 40/II:56, 58–58, 59.

(50.) LW 26:25; WA 40/I:70, 71; and LW 27:82; and WA 40/II:103, 104.

(51.) LW 27:59–87; WA 40/II:73, 75–108, 110.

(52.) LW 27:66; WA 40/II:82, 83.

(53.) The Book of Concord, eds. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 380 (hereafter cited as BC).

(54.) LW 41:114; WA 50:509–653.

(55.) BC 354–356.

(56.) See also Albrecht Peters, Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms: Creed, trans. Thomas H. Trapp (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), 1–58 and 209–306.

(57.) BC 431–432.

(58.) Ibid., 433.

(59.) Ibid., 439.

(60.) Ibid., 440.

(61.) LW 43:24; WA 10/II:339, 375–406. These quotations are from Luther’s “Personal Prayer Book,” which includes “with a few modifications,” material on the Creed from his “1520 Short Form” (see the “Introduction” to LW 43:7).

(62.) LW 43:29; WA 10/II:339, 375–406.

(63.) LW 43:24; WA 10/II:339, 375–406.

(64.) BC 435.

(65.) LW 43:28; WA 10/II:339, 375–406.

(66.) BC 437–438.

(67.) LW 43:29; WA 10/II:339, 375–406.

(68.) LW 43:28; WA 10/II:339, 375–406.

(69.) LW 36:3–127; WA 6:497–573.

(70.) LW 35:49–67; WA 2:738–758.

(71.) BC 438–439.

(72.) LW 37:359–372; WA 26:261–509.

(73.) LW 37:153–372; WA 26:261–509.

(74.) LW 37:3–150; WA 23:64–283.

(75.) LW 37:3–150; WA 23:64–283. On the Supper’s “bodily fruit,” see also Prenter, Spiritus Creator, 274–288.

(76.) LW 37:361; WA 26:261–509. In a related vein, Luther frequently mentions Augustine’s rule that “the external works of the Trinity are undivided” (opera ad extra sunt indivisa)—in other words, that all three persons are involved in everything God does in the world.

(77.) LW 37:361; WA 26:261–509.

(78.) LW 37:364–365; WA 26:261–509.

(79.) LW 37:365; WA 26:261–509.

(80.) LW 37:365; WA 26:261–509. On the “three estates,” see also Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation, trans. Thomas H. Trapp (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 120–153.

(81.) LW 37:367; WA 26:261–509. See also Peters, Creed, 257–279.

(82.) LW 37:365–366; WA 26:261–509. But note Albrecht Peters’s observation that although Luther adopts the filioque wording from Augustine—that the Spirit proceeds “ab, ex, de utroque” (Augustine, De Trinitate, 15:26.27)—he does not polemicize against the Eastern Church’s decision to preserve the primacy of the Father’s place as source. Indeed, he usually uses the following presuppositions in describing God’s Trinitarian life (drawing on Scripture and the Church’s liturgy): from the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. See Peters, Creed, 40–47.

(83.) LW 37:366; WA 26:261–509.

(84.) LW 37:366; WA 26:261–509.

(85.) LW 37:366; WA 26:261–509.

(86.) LW 37:368; WA 26:261–509.

(87.) LW 1:9; WA 42 (Gen. 1–17).

(88.) See Prenter, Spiritus Creator, 185ff.

(89.) LW 1:18–19, 50; WA 42 (Gen. 1–17).

(90.) LW 22:8–13; WA 46:538–789.

(91.) LW 24:362–365; WA 46:57, 58–59, 60.

(92.) LW 24:168; WA 45:614, 615.

(93.) LW 24:160; WA 45:607.

(94.) Rudolf Otto, Die Anschauung vom heiligen Geiste bei Luther (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1898).

(95.) Erich Seeberg, Grundzüge der Theologie Luthers (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1940).

(96.) Pekka Kärkkäinen, Luthers Trinitarische Theologie des Heiligen Geistes (Mainz: Zabern, 2005).

(97.) Prenter, Spiritus Creator.

(98.) Robert Kolb, “Luther’s Function in an Age of Confessionalization,” in The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, ed. Donald K. McKim (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 222–226.

(99.) Veli-Matti Karkkainen, The Holy Spirit (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 57–73.

(100.) Kolb, “Luther’s Function,” 224.

(101.) Heinrich Schmid, ed., The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3d ed., trans. Charles A. Hay and Henry E. Jacobs (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961).

(102.) See Christine Helmer’s discussion in Theology and the End of Doctrine (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014), 30–32.

(103.) See Peter C. Erb, ed., The Pietists: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1983).

(104.) Prenter, Spiritus Creator, 232.

(105.) See Christine Helmer, Between History and Speculation: Christian Trinitarian Thinking after the Reformation, ed. Peter C. Phan (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 149–172.

(106.) For differing appraisals of Luther’s relationship to Hegel, compare Helmer, “Between History and Speculation,” and Mark C. Mattes, “Hegel’s Lutheran Claim,” Lutheran Quarterly 14.3 (Autumn 2000): 249–279.

(107.) Karl Barth, The Church Dogmatics, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1969). For differing appraisals of the relationship between Martin Luther and Karl Barth, compare George Hunsinger, “What Karl Barth Learned from Martin Luther,” Lutheran Quarterly 13.2 (Summer 1999): 125–155; and Gustav Wingren, Theology in Conflict: Nygren, Barth, and Bultmann (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1941).

(108.) Karl Rahner, The Trinity (New York: Crossroad, 1997). See also Peters, Creed, 38.

(109.) Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967).

(110.) Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, 3 vols., trans. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998); Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology, 2 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); and Oswald Bayer, Promissio: Geschichte der reformatischen Wende in Luthers Theologie, 2d ed. (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1989), and Martin Luther’s Theology.

(111.) Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Theodrama: The Action, vol. 4 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994); Jürgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992); and Eberhard Jüngel, God as Mystery of the World: On the Foundation of the Theology of the Crucified One in the Dispute between Theism and Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983).

(112.) Leopoldo Sánchez, Receiver, Bearer, and Giver of God’s Spirit: Jesus Life in the Spirit as a Lens for Theology and Life (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2015).

(113.) See, e.g., Pekka Kärkkäinen, Luthers Trinitarische Theologie des Heiligen Geistes; and Christine Helmer, The Trinity and Martin Luther: A Study on the Relationship between Genre, Language and the Trinity in Luther’s Works (1523–1546) (Mainz: Zabern, 1999).

(114.) See, e.g., Johannes Schwankes, “Luther on Creation,” Lutheran Quarterly 16.1 (Spring 2002): 1–20. See also Gustav Wingren’s earlier emphasis on creation and “recapitulation” in Gospel and Church, trans. Ross Mackenzie (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1964) and Joseph Sittler, Essays on Nature and Grace (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972).

(115.) See, e.g., Robert Jenson, “The Hidden and Triune God,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 2.1 (March 2000): 5–12, and “Luther’s Contemporary Theological Significance,” in The Cambridge Companion to Luther, 278–281. See also Oswald Bayer, Living by Faith: Justification and Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), and Martin Luther’s Theology.

(116.) Compare, e.g., Bayer, Living by Faith, and Theodor Dieter, “Why Does Luther’s Doctrine of Justification Matter Today?” in The Global Luther: A Theologian for Modern Times, ed. Christine Helmer (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009), 189–209.

(117.) Compare, e.g., Jane Strohl, “Luther’s Spiritual Journey,” in The Cambridge Companion to Luther, 149–164; and David S. Yeago, “‘A Christian, Holy People’: Martin Luther on Salvation and the Church,” in Spirituality and Embodiment, eds. L. Gregory Jones and James J. Buckley (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1997), 101–120.

(118.) See, e.g., Paul R. Hinlicky, Luther and the Beloved Community: A Path for Christian Theology after Christendom (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010). See also his “Spirit of Christ Amid the Spirits of the Post-Modern World: The Crumley Lecture,” Lutheran Quarterly 14 (2000): 433–458.

(119.) See, e.g., Paul Chung, The Spirit of God Transforming Life: The Reformation and the Theology of the Spirit (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

(120.) See, e.g., Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology, 122–126.

(121.) See Krister Stendahl’s classic essay, “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West,” Harvard Theological Review 56.3 (July 1963): 199–215; and Risto Saarinen, “The Pauline Luther and the Law: Lutheran Theology Reengages the Study of Paul,” Pro Ecclesia 15.1 (Winter 2006): 64–86, for a discussion of this literature.

(122.) See, e.g., Olli-Pekka Vainio, Engaging Luther: A (New) Theological Assessment (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2010).

(123.) See, e.g., the essays in Lutherans Respond to Pentecostalism, ed. Karen Bloomquist (Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2008). See also Simeon Zahl, Pneumatology and Theology of the Cross in the Preaching of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt: The Holy Spirit between Wittenberg and Azusa Street (London: T&T Clark, 2010).

(124.) On the philosophical interest in theological themes, see Graham Ward, “Theology and Postmodernism: Is It All Over?” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80.2 (June 2012): 466–484. See also Jennifer Hockenberry Dragseth, ed., The Devil’s Whore: Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011).

(125.) For a discussion of this literature in light of Luther’s theology, see Berndt Hamm, “Martin Luther’s Revolutionary Theology of Pure Gift without Reciprocation,” Lutheran Quarterly 29 (2015): 125–161. See also Gregory Walter, Being Promised: Theology, Gift, and Practice (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013); and Risto Saarinen, God and the Gift: An Ecumenical Theology of Giving (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005), among others.

(126.) Walter, Being Promised, 42–43.