Malysz, Piotr J. 2011. “Polish Lutherans Facing Their Communist Past.” Lutheran Forum 41 (2): 36-41.
Beyond Mere Negations: Luther and Dionysius
Malysz, Piotr J. 2009. “Beyond Mere Negations: Luther and Dionysius.” Rethinking Dionysius the Areopagite. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Publisher's Version Abstract

In this chapter I argue that common ground may be found between Dionysius and Luther if one goes beyond the customary "mystical" framework for analyzing Dionysius' work and views Luther (despite his dismissal of Dionysius as an impostor) as standing in a long line of interpreters who had sought to give Dionysian ideas a more explicitly Christological focus. Specifically, I argue, the similarities lie in Luther's conceptualization of God's hidden presence and the reformer's strongly ontological doctrine of justification. The latter has a procession-return structure within which the status of the justified person, qua justified, is expressed in terms reminiscent of the Dionysian analogia.


This article seeks to demonstrate that Barth radically misunderstands the Lutheran doctrine of the communication of attributes, with its centerpiece the genus maiestaticum. However, misdirected as Barth's criticism is, the doctrine is not without its own problems and, instead of giving expression to the integrity of Christ's person and the co-presence of his natures, is in danger of subverting itself. After showing that Barth's Christology actually employs what for all practical purposes is the majestic genus of the Lutherans, I propose that the Swiss theologian's thought may offer ways of resolving the tensions inherent in the Lutheran tenet, and that by means of resources that the Lutherans already possess.

This article seeks to uphold a consistently legal reading of Luther’s conception of temporal authority. Far from a premature dismissal or milieu-motivated relativization of the reformer’s precepts, it shows that such an analysis need degenerate neither into casuistry nor naïve pre-Enlightenment authoritarianism. Rather, I argue that what drives Luther’s esteem for temporal authority—which he views primarily in light of its social and vocational expression in civil law—is the ancient legal maxim that no one be judge in one’s own case, nemo iudex in causa sua. On this basis Luther proposes a noncasuistic theory of the law and, in so doing, destabilizes the relation between the Christian and temporal authority while at the same time keeping at bay the threat of self-serving individualism and anarchy. I argue, moreover, that the maxim underlies Luther’s conception not only of the political use of the law but also, by exposing its shortcomings, of the law’s theological, accusatory, function. As such, to push the argument further still, I also propose that the maxim may be viewed as the very foundation of Luther’s mature understanding of justification and Christian life. God reveals that he is a righteous judge by consistently not being judge in his own case and so being free to justify humanity. In keeping with the maxim, this in turn makes the believer, as a justified sinner, uniquely able to uphold civil law with a view to according the neighbor justice. In doing so, the believer actually justifies God, who has first justified the believer.


It is frequently alleged that Martin Luther's doctrine of justification by grace through faith posits absolute human passivity vis-à-vis God and, on account of the past completion of Christ's sacrifice, disconnects Christians from the cross. This article takes issue with this view. Specifically, it disputes the claim that, through his doctrine of justification, Luther became an unwitting advocate of the conceptual juxtaposition of gift and exchange and thus also an ideologue of the shift from an organic to a contractual view of society. Instead, I argue, Luther's eucharistic theology anticipates the concerns of Radical Orthodoxy's critique of gift and sacrifice. It does so, however, in a more forceful manner, in that for Luther gift and exchange are so bound together in his doctrine of justification that the eucharist, instead of being a mere paradigm for social relationships (as Radical Orthodoxy would have it), radically restructures those relationships in the all-embracing unfolding of its participatory gratuity. An additional merit of Luther's vision lies in its systematic description of the eucharist's gift-character in terms of socially and vocationally construed delay and non-identical repetition, actively involving both God and humans – a description not afforded by Radical Orthodoxy's critique.