Luther on Depression and Consolation

“When I’m morose I flee above all from solitude.  Christ was himself tempted by Satan when our Lord was alone in the wilderness….in short, spiritual anguish exceeds bodily suffering by far.  The anguish of Judas–‘you have betrayed innocent blood’–became for him the most awful death.”  Martin Luther, “Continuation of the Consolation,” Table Talk no. 3698, Luther’s Works, volume 54, p. 276. [Emphasis added]

Martin Luther believed inner turmoil to be worse than physical suffering.   He also encouraged depressed people to seek consolation in the company of friends.  However, he also understood the source of spiritual anguish to be a misunderstanding of God’s Word.  He continued the quote from above:

“This is especially so when the devil turns the gospel into law.  The teachings of the law and gospel are altogether necessary but they must be distinguished even when they are conjoined, otherwise men will despair or become presumptuous.” Ibid.


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