Luther has a fourth meaning of the word of God, namely the word of preaching, but this is only number four, and if somebody speaks of the “Church of the word,” thinking of the predominance of preaching, in the services, then he is certainly not a follower of Luther in this respect.
Luther’s doctrine of incarnation has a very special character. He emphasizes again and again the smallness of God, in the Incarnation. Man cannot stand the naked Absolute, God; he is driven to despair if he deals with it directly. Therefore He has given the Christ, in whom He has made Himself small. “In the other works, God is recognized according to the greatness of His power, wisdom, and justice, and His works appear too terrible. But here, in Christ, appears His sweetness, mercy, and charity.” Without knowing Him we are not able to stand God’s majesty and are driven to insanity and hate. This is the reason why Luther was so much interested in Christmas, and has written some of the most beautiful Christmas hymns and poems. The reason is that he emphasizes the small God in Christ, and Christ is smallest in the cradle. And so this paradox, that he who is in the cradle is He who is Almighty God at the same time, was for Luther the real understanding of Christmas. This was Christmas for him, this mystical paradox of the smallest and most helpless of all beings, having in himself the center of Divinity. And this is something which we must understand, out of his thinking in the paradoxical nature of God’s Self-revelation, that the slowest and weakest is the strongest, because God acts paradoxically.
Luther’s doctrine of the Church: Here we ask the question, which nobody can omit asking who knows the Reformation: Is it possible that on the basis of these principles of the Reformation, which I have developed, that a Church can live? Doesn’t a Church mean something else, namely a community, organized, authoritarian, with fixed rules, traditions, etc? Isn’t a Church necessarily Catholic, and is not the Protestant principle that God alone is everything and man’s acceptance of God is only the secondary thing, doesn’t this Protestant principle contradict the possibility of having a Church? Now there is no doubt that Luther’s doctrine of the Church is his weakest point, and that the Church problem was the most unsolved problem which the Reformation left to further generations. And the reason is that the Catholic system was not replaced and could not be replaced definitively by a Protestant system of equal power, because of the anti -authoritarian and anti-hierarchical form of Protestant thinking.