2017 offered a reason to celebrate and compare two great theologians. In April 2017, Hindus celebrated the 1000th anniversary of Śri Rāmānujācārya. In October, Christians celebrated the 500th anniversary of Luther’s reformation. The occasion to compare was also an opportunity to show that the ideas of Rāmānuja and Luther converge in certain ways. This paper explains that Rāmānuja’s teachings on proper acts prefigure Luther’s commentary on good works. This echo is threefold in nature. First, the idea of merit or reward-inspired actions preoccupied and shaped their respective theologies. Second, their teachings on merit reflect a shared interest in placing the work of a gracious God at the center of soteriology. Third, their occupation with the idea of merit inspired them to differentiate good or proper acts from improper acts. I further explain that this convergence is more than an accident. Rather, Luther echoes Rāmānuja on works because both theologians faced a common quandary – what should I do to be saved? – to which their responses were shaped by a shared set of theological commitments. Both asserted the importance of proper acts or good works even as they exhorted a dependence on God for liberation.
Dass, Rakesh Peter
"Act Properly: Rāmānuja and Luther on Works,"
Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies:
Vol. 31, Article 6.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.7825/2164-6279.1698