Friday, July 27, 2007

Luther's Anfechtung

The terror of the Holy, the horrors of Infinitude, smote him like a new lightning bolt...Luther's tremor was augmented by the recognition of unworthiness...Before God the High and Holy Luther was stupefied...The word he used was Anfechtung, for which there is no English equivalent. It may be a trial by God to test man, or an assault by the Devil to destroy man. It is all the doubt, turmoil, pang, tremor, panic, despair, desolation, and desperation which invade the spirit of man.

In consequence the most frightful insecurities beset him. Panic invaded his spirit. The conscience became so disquieted as to start and tremble at the stirring of a windblown leaf. The horror of nightmare gripped the soul, the dread of one waking in the dusk to look into the eyes of him who has come to take his life. The heavenly champions all withdrew; the fiend beckoned with leering summons to the impotent soul

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