Vainio on Deification

Olli-Pekka Vainio continues the Finnish interest on Luther and deification. See his abstract above and the full article at

In the most general terms, deification means participation in the divine nature, which starts the process where the believer is supposed to transform into the likeness of Christ. This article applies analytic tools to Lutheran theology in order to make sense of its central features. I aim to construct a model for the anthropology of deification which aims to function within these parameters to provide an account which satisfies the desiderata Lutheran theology has for the idea of deification and which does not commit itself to views that are obviously philosophically problematic. I offer arguments for a particular metaphysical construal of Luther’s idea of deification, while acknowledging that it leaves some questions unanswered. Finally, I make a suggestion for Lutherans as well as theologians from other traditions, to consider a metaphysical model developed by Peter van Inwagen as a possible parsimonious way of thinking about deification.

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Ruokanen on The Bondage of the Will

Professor Emeritus of Dogmatics, Miikka Ruokanen has published the results of his studies on the Bondage of the Will in his monograph Trinitarian Grace in Martin Luther’s the Bondage of the Will. Ruokanen argues that despite extensive studies on this work, the kernel of Luther’s thought has hitherto been unrevealed.

Ruokanen’s main argument is that the Reformer’s

“specific and comprehensive understanding of the Trinitarian theology of grace, with special emphasis on Pneumatology, alonside with more obvious Christology, strongly linked with the theology of creation, is the fundamental thought structure of his magnum opus.”

Ruokanen sees his study as a Pneumatological and Trinitarian corrective to many earlier studies on Luther’s theology, including the ones carried out by Finnish scholars. At the same time it continues and amends the results on research done by Tuomo Mannermaa and others.

The study is published by Oxford University Press.


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Sini Mikkola on Luther, Gender and Bodiliness

A new perspective on Luther’s antropology will be opened, as Sini Mikkola defends a doctoral thesis ‘In Our Body the Scripture Becomes Fulfilled’ : Gendered Bodiliness and the Making of the Gender System in Martin Luther’s Anthropology (1520–1530). The defense takes place December 16th in the Faculty of Theology (University of Helsinki).

From the abstract:

The study first asks how gendered bodiliness was treated in Luther’s discussions on femininity and masculinity, and, consequently, in what way he constructed proper feminine and masculine ways of being and developed the gender system. Under scrutiny are the ideals, norms, and expectations that he framed on the grounds of the gendered body. Thirdly, it is asked whether Luther’s views varied according to historical and textual context, and especially if there are differences between his views of female and male ways of being that are presented in theory, on the one hand, and in practical situations, on the other.

Associate Professor Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen from Århus University will serve as opponent. Thesis is available as pdf-file here:

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Updates in the bibliography

Risto Saarinen has updated his extensive bibliography on Finnish Luther studies. This may be the last update for reasons noted in the blog:

I do not have plans to follow this documention beyond 2017. As Finnish Luther studies have meanwhile become mainline research, it does not make sense to treat them as distinct school any longer. In its very many entries, the new Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther (2017) offers abundant discussion on various features of the Finnish school, integrating them to mainline research.


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Finns in Wittenberg

A number of Finnish scholars are currently participating the 13th International Congress for Luther Research in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany. Today, (August 1st 2017) Dr. Kärkkäinen delivered one of the plenary lectures.

Tomorrow several Finnish scholars give short papers on their research topics: Ilmari Karimies, “The Influence of Augustinian Platonism on Luther’s Understanding of Faith and Reality between 1513 and 1521” (Section 2); Sini Mikkola, “Martin Luther’s Anthropology 1520-1530: Bodiliness as the Basis of the Gender System” (Section 5); Antti Raunio, “Luther on Christian Unanimity” (S. 5); Eriikka Jankko, “Luther and Children – Conceptual Distinctions” (S. 5); Jukka Kääriäinen, “Luther’s theology missiological deficiency?” (S. 8) and Paulos Huang, “Chinese Contextual Righteousness in the Light of Luther” (S. 10).

Among the Finns, Karimies, Risto Saarinen and Kirsi Stjerna have been leading seminars, and many Finnish scholars have been involved in Oxford Reseach Encyclopedia on Martin Luther, also discussed among short presentations tomorrow.

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MOOC on Luther

Among the many contributions to the Reformation Anniversary 2017 I would like to highlight the course “Luther and the West”, prepared by Professor Christine Helmer from the Northwestern University, USA. The course is formed as massive open online course (MOOC) and hosted on Coursera platform:

From the description of the course:

In this course we will discuss the history of some ideas that have been hugely influential in the modern west and that were taken out to the rest of the world. The discussion centers on an extraordinary and historically important figure, a sixteenth century German man named Martin Luther. Luther is recognized today as the originator of many of the most significant ideas that continue to affect and shape who we as modern people are and how we see the world and ourselves for better and for worse.

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Ilmari Karimies and his doctoral thesis

Ilmari Karimies will be defending his doctoral thesis “In your Light we see the Light – Martin Luther’s Understanding of Faith and Reality between 1513 and 1521” on 27th January 2017 at 12 o’clock at the University of Helsinki.

The opponent will be Professor Anna Vind from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Those of you, who cannot join the audience, can still read the thesis, which is available online here:

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Finnish scholars in Oxford Research Encyclopedia on Martin Luther

Several contributions from Finnish Luther scholars have been published in the online version of a new encyclopedia from the Oxford University Press. These include Martin Luther’s Concept of the Human Being by Ilmari Karimies, Martin Luther and Justification by Olli-Pekka Vainio, Martin Luther and Love by Antti Raunio and Emotions and Experience in Martin Luther by Pekka Kärkkäinen. However, there are still more waiting to be published (see the list of forthcoming items here).

For more information on the the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion / Martin Luther, which will come out in printed form during the Reformation year 2017, see

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Vainio and Karimies on Finnish Luther studies

Current issue of Pro Ecclesia offers two interestingly different contributions from the Finnish Luther scholarship. Dr. Olli-Pekka Vainio addresses several recent criticisms against the Finnish positions and offers many helpful clarifications.

Mr. Ilmari Karimies, who will soon be defending his doctoral thesis on Luther, focuses on Luther’s view of God, challenging nothing less than some interpretations of Prof. Mannermaa.

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Luther on Perception and Theological Knowledge

Olli-Pekka Vainio’s contribution in the recent issue of Neue Zeitschrift plunges into Luther’s use of epistemological and psychological theories of his time: 10.1515/nzsth-2015-0005

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