The significance of participation in transcendence in Luther and Przywara

Knut Alfsvåg in Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie.

Plato and Aristotle understood phenomena to be knowable to the extent that they participate in the reality of the unchangeable, and this attitude was appropriated by the church fathers as a way of exploring the world’s dependence on its Creator. Luther’s insistence on the world’s sinfulness and on salvation as one-sidedly dependent on divine agency has been criticized as a rejection of this understanding of the inherent goodness of the world, thus paving the way for the secularized world view of modernity. Among these critics is Erich Przywara in his works up to and including his book Analogia Entis from 1932. However, in 1952 Przywara published an article where he found Luther’s theology of exchange to be a close parallel to his own doctrine of analogia entis, the implication being that Luther is closer to a Catholic understanding of the world’s relationship with God than mainstream post-Enlightenment Protestantism, and this article is an attempt to substantiate that claim.