Luther and the Saints

What Luther Says What Saints Say
“We would perhaps have disregarded corruption [i.e., our own sin] and been pleased with our evil unless this other evil, which is wrath [i.e., the punishment threatened by divine anger], had refused to indulge our foolishness and had resisted it with terror and the danger of hell and death, so that we have but little peace in our wickedness. Plainly wrath is a greater evil for us than corruption, for we hate punishment more than guilt.”[1] “It is characteristic of the virtuous to flee from moral wrong because of its very nature and not because of threatened punishment. But it is characteristic of the wicked to flee from moral wrong because of threatened punishment.” Thomas Aquinas, On Evil, 1.5, ad 11
“Hence, just as wrath is a greater evil than the corruption of sin, so grace is a greater good than that health of righteousness which we have said comes from faith. Everyone would prefer – if that were possible – to be without the health of righteousness [internal holiness, truly loving God] rather than [without] the grace of God [i.e., the favor whereby he does not punish the guilty], for peace and the remission of sins are properly attributed to the grace of God, while healing from corruption is ascribed to faith.”[2]


“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love” (1 Jn 4:18).

[1] Martin Luther, Against Latomus (LW 32:224 [WA 8.104.17–21]). See the whole discussion (LW 32:223–27 [WA 8.103.35–106.28]).

[2] Martin Luther, Against Latomus (LW 32:227 [WA 8.106.4–20]).