"I don't share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be
damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves
but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are
like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber.
However, this ought not be taught to the common people,
lest Satan be given an opportunity to cause slaughter, and I
recommend that the popular custom be strictly adhered to
according to which it [the suicide's corpse] is not carried
over the threshold, etc. Such persons do not die by free
choice or by law, but our Lord God will dispatch them as
He executes a person through a robber. Magistrates should
treat them quite strictly, although it is not plain that their
souls are damned. However, they are examples by which
our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and
also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these
examples we would not fear God. Hence He must teach us
in this way."
Martin Luther, "Suicides Are Not Necessarily Damned"
(April 7, 1532, No. 222), Luther's Works: American
Edition, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann, 55
vols. (S 1, Louis: Concordia Publishing House; Minneapolis:
Fortress Press, 1955-1986)' 54, ed. and trans. by Theodore
G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967), p. 29.
Got it? God randomly executes people by suicide in order to 1) teach us to fear Him; 2) give us an appreciation of the power of Satan; and, 3) keep us diligent in prayer. The victims of suicide are blameless, but we should act as if they are sinners in order to keep people on the right path.
Let's hope that Pastor Rick Warren and his family find solace in something other than Luther's writings.