And this leads me to another sentence, namely, that the Roman system is a system of divine-human management, represented and actualized by ecclesiastical management.. It is a system of Divine-human management represented and mediated by ecclesiastical management.
Now first the purpose: The purpose is to give eternal blessedness to man and to save him from eternal punishment. The alternative is eternal suffering in Hell or eternal pleasure in Heaven. This is the purpose of the whole thing. Now the way to do is the way which we have described when we discussed the Catholic sacraments, in which a magic giving of grace is the one side, and moral freedom which produces merits is the other side – magic grace completed by active law; active law completed by magic grace.
The quantitative character comes through also in terms of the ethical commands.
There are two groups: commandments and counsels — commandments for every Christian; counsels, the full yoke of Christ, only for the monks and partly for the priests. For instance, love toward the enemy is a counsel of perfection but not a commandment for everybody. Asceticism is a counsel of perfection but not a, commandment. for everybody.
There is a difference between two types of degrees, moral demands. There is also a quantitative character in the Divine punishments There is eternal punishments for mortal sins; there is Purgatory for light sins; there is Heaven for fully purged people in Purgatory, and sometimes, as saints, already on earth. All these are quantitative and relative elements. Under these conditions nobody ever knew whether ‘he could be certain of his salvation, because you never could do enough, you never could receive enough grace of a magical character, nor could you ever do enough in terms of merits and asceticism. The result of this was a tremendous amount of anxiety at the end of the Middle Ages. In my “Courage to Be” I have described, as one of the three great types of anxiety, the anxiety of guilt, and I have related this anxiety of guilt socially and historically to the end of the Middle Ages, It is always present, of course, but at that time it was predominant and almost like a contagious sickness. People couldn’t do enough in order to get a merciful God, in order to get over their bad conscience. There was a tremendous amount of anxiety expressed in the art of that time, expressed in the demand for ever and ever more pilgrimages, in the collection and adoration of relics, in prayers of “Our Fathers,” in giving of money, buying indulgences, self-torturing asceticism – and doing everything possible in order to get over one’s guilt Now it is interesting to look into this time. We are almost unable to understand it. Now with the same anxiety of guilt and condemnation, Luther was in the cloister. Out of it he went into it, and out of it he experienced what he experienced, namely, that no amount of asceticism is ever able to give us, in the system of relativities, quantities, and things, a real certainty of salvation. He always was in fear of the threatening God, of the punishing and destroying God. And he asked: how can I get a merciful God? Out of this question and the anxiety behind this question, the Reformation arose.
Now what does Luther say against the Roman quantitative, objective, and relative point of view?: The relation to God is personal. It is an ego-thou relationship, not mediated by anybody or anything – only by accepting the message of acceptance, which is the content of the Bible. This is not an objective status in which you are, but this is a personal relationship, which he called “faith”; but not faith in something which one can believe, but acceptance that you are accepted: this is what he meant.