I mentioned earlier that Luther and Melanchthon have this disconcerting tendency of flipping much of the ancient order on its head.
You can find another particularly stunning example at the very beginning of Melanchthon’s Loci Communes (1521; for more on this work, see here).
Melanchthon begins the Loci — which is meant to be a new systematic theology — by pretty much dismissing all the standard preliminary topics for this type a work: the nature of God, unity, trinity, the incarnation, and creation. He notes, famously, that “…this is to know Christ, to wit, to know his benefits, and not as they [the scholastics] teach, to perceive his nature and the mode of his incarnation.”1
In other words: forget contemplating the Trinity and pondering Christology and the like. Attend instead to sin, grace, redemption — broadly the whole story of what Christ has done, and not who he is.
This is itself quite significant, and we’ll return to it in later posts.
But what really caught my eye is this little nugget, slipped in as part of his explanation for why we shouldn’t spend time with these traditional subjects:
…the most High God clothed his son with flesh, in order to incite us from the contemplation of his majesty to the contemplation of the flesh and indeed our own frailty.”2 [Emphasis mine.]