Thursday, April 16, 2009

Solomon and Luther: Don't Be Too Righteous

"Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?" -Ecclesiastes 7:16

Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, writes a post around a quote of Martin Luther on the remedy for nagging legalisms that plague us. Luther's quote:

“Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” -Martin Luther

Adding CS Lewis into the mix, iMonk continues:

"But Lewis (and Luther) were especially aware of the spiritual dangers of trying to not sin. Yes…trying to not sin. Since encouraging people to try and not sin is a major occupation of confused evangelicalism, Luther sounds strange."


  1. I stood in Wartburg castle and listened to great stories of Luther.

    He's my hero.

    I understand his attitude about "SIN".

    It was great to read this.

  2. This is great news! It turns out I have been unwittingly following Luther's advice for years.

  3. Luther's reasoning is almost child-like - do something because the devil tells you not to...too much listening to the devil in the first place if you ask me (lol).

    But I will not oblige someone like Luther - personally cannot stand his words - but I will oblige the passage from Solomon.

    "Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?" -Ecclesiastes 7:16"

    This is a really interesting piece of advice - all things in moderation of course. It is the people that 'know too much' that end up isolating themselves from others (or it can happen). Why do this when the payoff is so poor? We lose friends and what have you - we lose connection to everyone else. Even wisdom in moderation is a good thing (or can be seen that way).

    My example is me and my wife - I do a lot of religious blogging and she does not one iota of it - has very little interest in the subject to be honest (as per getting into deep convo's about it). This actually helped/helps create a wedge between me and her - knowing too much about a subject can be harmful in some circles. The other person kind of just doesn't get where u are going with the info u know - and connection can be lost.

  4. Horrible advice for the Christian, though :)