In his lecture on Luther’s earlier ethical views, which was published and then re-worked between 1919 and 1923, Karl Holl wrote in a way that today could be described as ‘luminous’. The American edition of that lecture, entitled The Reconstruction of Morality (Augsburg, 1979, translated by Fred W. Meuser and Walter R. Wietzke from the seventh German edition of 1948 and edited by James Luther Adams and Walter F. Bense) is a classic exposition of the Gospel. It is dense, deep, wide-ranging, and diagnostic. It’s hard to think of another book of its kind that just hits you between the eyes.
In the following quotation from The Reconstruction of Morality (page 94), Holl describes Christian morality as ‘instinctive’ rather than deliberated. The emphases are Mockingbird’s.
“Luther did not think that the highest goal is attained where rational deliberation makes the correct choice among the various possibilities of action. Action is truly moral, truly free, only when the good has become so instinctive that the only thought that presents itself is the correct one and this is at once implemented.“