Luther on the Dangers of a “Perfect Record”

In re-reading Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton, I was amused by Luther’s comments on the dangers of an impeccable religious record. As counsel to his overly scrupulous friend Melancthon, Bainton says that Luther suggested “that one sin is needed as medicine to cure another. An unblemished record engenders the worst of all sins, pride. Hence a failure now and then is conducive to humility. But the only sins which Luther actually recommended as record spoilers were overeating, overdrinking, and oversleeping. Such controlled excesses might be utilized as the antidote to arrogance” (p. 175). I think Luther said this somewhat tongue in cheek, but his warning about the dangers of pride that can result from our perceived impeccable obedience is wise to heed.

2 thoughts on “Luther on the Dangers of a “Perfect Record””

  1. Thanks for the post on Luther. I have always enjoyed studying the works by and about Luther. A few years ago, I finished reading through a book entitled, “LUTHER: Letters of Spiritual Counsel.” It’s a very helpful book, especially for leaders. The section of the book that I found the most benefitial were the letters under the category called Cheer for the Anxious and Despondent (III) and Suggestions for Problems Facing Clergymen (X). The spiritual direction found in his letters is very Christ centered. Luther, even with all his faults, loved Jesus Christ!

  2. Luther’s “spoiler” might have been his excessive flatulence.

    On a more serious note; however, it is interesting to think of occasional failure as a grace from God. Interesting.

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