Finding Comfort in the Hidden God

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Nathan Laird Runham


I have written this paper as a result of an investigation and evaluation into the purpose and means of the Deus absconditus the hidden God in the thought of Martin Luther. The Deus absconditus is a relatively unknown contribution of Martin Luther. It has been dwarfed by his more significant contributions, such as the recovery of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and to a lesser extent, his theologia crucis. That is not to say that the hiddenness of God has travelled unnoticed in the history of theology, but to say that the discussion has remained largely within the bounds of the theological realm. The Deus absconditus therefore, has failed to provide much tangible benefit to the everyday Christian. Initially, this paper provides an overview of the Deus absconditus in Luther's thought. This paper then turns to the question of why God hides, finding that there are many practical purposes for which Luther applies the Deus absconditus. The means by which God reveals Himself as hidden the how is explored next, revealing that Luther depended greatly on the concept of masks to explain how the hidden God works out His plans in the lives of His people. Once the purpose and means of the Deus absconditus in Luther's thinking is understood, the applications are then considered, finding that the applications are fundamentally practical and pastoral. This paper then concludes with the proposition that Luther's hidden God was meant to be practical and has much to offer us in the trials of life.

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Author Biography

Nathan Laird Runham, Presbyterian Theological College

Nathan Runham is a chaplain in training with the Royal Australian Airforce, and is an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He is currently a PhD candidate, with the PTC, studying Martin Luther's theology of the cross.