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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 04:00

When it comes to incorruptibles, Rome isn't the only game in town:

Scientists try to solve mystery of Hambo Lama Itigilov in Buryatia
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "incorruptibles, Saints"
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Date: Sunday, 21 Sep 2014 04:00
Recently on the CARM boards, a defender of Rome did a cut-and-paste of a typical selection of Luther quotes about Mary. This cut-and-paste begins as many of them do: with proof that Luther believed in Mary's perpetual virginity. I did a basic overview on this some years back, but in reviewing the cut-and-paste I noticed I had never presented the context for some of these quotes. I offer them here for those searching them out looking to see the broader context.

Here's the first set of quotes presented from the CARM board:

Christ. .was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him... "brothers" really means "cousins" here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. (Sermons on John, chapters 1-4.1537-39).

He, Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb.. .This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. (Ibid.)

God says... "Mary's Son is My only Son." Thus Mary is the Mother of God. (Ibid.).

Documentation
Whoever compiled these quotes did a substandard job of documenting them. If you look closely, you'll notice no actual page numbers are given, and no helpful edition of the text is specified. In fairness, some of the versions of this cut-and paste do have better documentation. It's interesting though that the popular version of this cut-and-paste has the substandard references. Some Roman apologists have their articles published without any documentation- consider this apologist who included a good chunk of this quote (along with others) with no references at all.   It turns out that these quotes are from LW 22.

Christ. .was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him... "brothers" really means "cousins" here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. (Sermons on John, chapters 1-4.1537-39).

This one is found on page 214. Note how whoever compiled this quote used severe editing:
Now the question may occupy us how Christ could have brothers, since He was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him. Some say that Joseph had been married before his marriage to Mary, and that the children of this first wife were later called Christ’s brothers. Others say that Joseph had another wife simultaneously with Mary, for it was permissible for the Jews to have two wives. In the Book of Ruth we hear that a poor daughter was often left on the shelf (Ruth 3:10 ff.). This displeased God; therefore He commanded that such daughters be provided for. Thus it became incumbent upon the nearest relative or friend to marry such a poor orphan girl. Mary, too, was a poor little orphan, whom Joseph was obligated to marry. She was so poor that no one else wanted her. Any children born to Joseph by other wives would have been half brothers of Christ. This is the explanation offered by some. But I am inclined to agree with those who declare that “brothers” really means “cousins” here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. Be that as it may, it matters little. It neither adds to nor detracts from faith. It is immaterial whether these men were Christ’s cousins or His brothers begotten by Joseph. In any event, they moved to Capernaum with Christ, where they took charge of the parish. We may infer from this text that they were a poor little group. After Joseph’s death they probably found it impossible to support themselves in Nazareth and for this reason left and moved to Capernaum. But just how and why this happened is a moot question. Christ was born in Bethlehem and reared in Nazareth, and now He is residing as a pastor in Capernaum. This town is His parish. He chose it as the place where He was to reside as bishop and as burgher, just as our pastor dwells here and is our bishop. Christ did not remain in Capernaum permanently. No, He wandered about. He returned to Nazareth and journeyed through all of Galilee, preaching and performing miracles; and then He would return to His abode in Capernaum. The other prophets did the same. Samuel lived in Ramah, and from there he “went on a circuit” to preach in the adjacent countryside (1 Sam. 7:16–17). 
He, Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb.. .This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. (Ibid.)

This second quote is found almost 200 pages before on page 22:
The devil is doing his worst against this article of the divinity and the humanity of Christ, which he finds intolerable. Christ must be true God, in accord with the powerful testimony of Scripture and particularly of St. Paul, who declares that in Him the whole fullness of the Deity dwells bodily (Col. 2:9); otherwise we are damned forever. But in His humanity He must also be a true and natural son of the Virgin Mary, from whom He inherited flesh and blood as any other child does from its mother. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, who came upon her and overshadowed her with the power of the Most High, according to Luke 1:35. However, Mary, the pure virgin, had to contribute of her seed and of the natural blood that coursed from her heart. From her He derived everything, except sin, that a child naturally and normally receives from its mother. This we must believe if we are not to be lost. If, as the Manichaeans allege, He is not a real and natural man, born of Mary, then He is not of our flesh and blood. Then He has nothing in common with us; then we can derive no comfort from Him. However, we do not let ourselves be troubled by the blasphemies which the devil, through the mouths of his lying servants, speaks against Christ the Lord—now against His divinity, now against His humanity—and by the attacks which he then makes against Christ’s office and work. But we cling to the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles, who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Their testimony about Christ is clear. He is our Brother; we are members of His body, flesh and bone of His flesh and bone. According to His humanity, He, Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb (of which Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to her in Luke 1:42: “Blessed is the fruit of your womb!”). This was without the co-operation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. Everything else that a mother imparts to a child was imparted by Mary, the mother of God’s eternal Son. Even the milk He sucked had no other source than the breasts of this holy and pure mother. 

God says... "Mary's Son is My only Son." Thus Mary is the Mother of God. (Ibid.).

For the last part of the quote, jump about 300 pages further into the text to page 323:
We must hold to this faith in opposition to the heretics. The Turk contends that Mary was not the mother of the Son of God. The Nestorians said that Mary was not the mother of God but only of the man Jesus, who by nature was only her son. They made two sons out of one. But there is only one Son; and yet there are two natures, which gave Mary the right to say: “This Son Jesus, whom I bore and suckled on my breasts, is the eternal God, born of the Father in eternity, and also my Son.” And God says likewise: “Mary’s Son is My only Son.” Thus Mary is the mother of God. And Christ, together with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, is very God from eternity who became man in time. So God the Father does not have a son apart from Mary’s, nor does Mary have a son apart from God the Father’s. This is the foundation on which our faith rests: that Jesus Christ has two natures even though He is one indivisible Person. There are not two sons and two persons; there is one Son and one Person.

Conclusion
The last quote appears to be highlighting the use of the phrase "mother of God." Luther did not shy away from using this phrase, and he was fully cognizant of its correct theological usage. The question to be asked is if Luther used the term for the same purpose the defenders of Rome use it. For instance, in regard to "mother of God," the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs.... This very special devotion ...differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Yet if one goes through the same volume of Luther's Works all the above quotes come from, Luther repeatedly denies that one should seek Mary for safety. Luther states,
“I believe in the Son, who was given into death for me.” The papists, to be sure, hear these words too; for they possess the Bible as we do. But they slumber and snore over them; they have eyes and do not see, ears and do not hear. They say: “Oh, if only I had done what St. Augustine or St. Francis commanded!” The laity call upon the Virgin Mary to intercede for them with her Son. (LW 22:368)
The devil is very assiduous in trying to divert us from Christ. To invoke the Virgin Mary and the saints may make a beautiful show of holiness; but we must stay together under the Head, or we are eternally damned. What will become of those who rely on St. Barbara and St. George, or those who crawl for shelter under Mary’s cloak? To be sure, such people present a fine semblance of worship, but they transform the Son and His love into a judge. Why, then, did God grant Him to us as Mediator and High Priest? The pope has definitely endorsed the invocation of the saints, and by means of false teachers and evil temptations the devil does not cease to rob us of consolation. (LW 22:490-491)
The other quotes are geared toward perpetual virginity. It's certainly true that Luther believed in Mary's perpetual virginity, and there's no need to be embarrassed by such an historical fact. Luther never appears to waver on Mary's perpetual virginity. Note though these strong words from Luther as to the intent of perpetual virginity:
Now just take a look at the perverse lauders of the mother of God. If you ask them why they hold so strongly to the virginity of Mary, they truly could not say. These stupid idolators do nothing more than to glorify only the mother of God; they extol her for her virginity and practically make a false deity of her. But Scripture does not praise this virginity at all for the sake of the mother; neither was she saved on account of her virginity. Indeed, cursed be this and every other virginity if it exists for its own sake, and accomplishes nothing better than its own profit and praise.
The Spirit extols this virginity, however, because it was needful for the conceiving and bearing of this blessed fruit. Because of the corruption of our flesh, such blessed fruit could not come, except through a virgin. Thus this tender virginity existed in the service of others to the glory of God, not to its own glory. If it had been possible for him to have come from a [married] woman, he would not have selected a virgin for this, since virginity is contrary to the physical nature within us, was condemned of old in the law, and is extolled here solely because the flesh is tainted and its built-in physical nature cannot bestow her fruit except by means of an accursed act. Hence we see that St. Paul nowhere calls the mother of God a virgin, but only a woman, as he says in Galatians 3 [4:4], “The Son of God was born of a woman.” He did not mean to say she was not a virgin, but to extol her virginity to the highest with the praise that is proper to it, as much as to say: In this birth none but a woman was involved, no man participated; that is, everything connected with it was reserved to the woman, the conceiving, bearing, suckling, and nourishing of the child were functions no man can perform. It is therefore the child of a woman only; hence, she must certainly be a virgin. But a virgin may also be a man; a mother can be none other than a woman.
For this reason, too, Scripture does not quibble or speak about the virginity of Mary after the birth of Christ, a matter about which the hypocrites are greatly concerned, as if it were something of the utmost importance on which our whole salvation depended. Actually, we should be satisfied simply to hold that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ because Scripture does not state or indicate that she later lost her virginity. We certainly need not be so terribly afraid that someone will demonstrate, out of his own head apart from Scripture, that she did not remain a virgin. But the Scripture stops with this, that she was a virgin before and at the birth of Christ; for up to this point God had need of her virginity in order to give us the promised blessed seed without sin. (LW 45:205-206).
In my opinion, Roman apologetic use of Luther's Mariology doesn't have the same popularity it once did. I can recall the regular occurrence on discussion boards and blog entries where a defender of Rome would present Luther's comments about Mary as proof that he was devoted to her, and then it was suggested that Protestants have either ignored, forgotten, didn't know, or covered up this revealing information.  Over the years I've sought out the context of these quotes, and it's often been the case that the contexts don't support what's being presented. Such is not the case for Luther's belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary or that he used the phrase "mother of God." however, I would argue that Luther didn't have the same thing in mind that many of Rome's defenders do.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Luther's Mariology"
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Date: Saturday, 20 Sep 2014 04:00
Here's a post from the Catholic Answers forums that actually makes sense: The Wisdom of Personal Attacks on Martin Luther.  The entire thing is worth reading, but here is the snippet that caught my attention:

I wonder at the idea that if they show that Martin Luther is so bad, they will then become Catholic. This is certainly a negative tactic that suggests that those pursuing this agenda really have no better arguments for Catholicism than that Luther was bad, so therefore Lutherans should become Catholic. I find this extremely unconvincing. Isn't there anything good in Catholicism? Did these Luther-bashers really become Catholic because they took a dislike to Luther? That is like preferring God to Satan because you don't like Satan - never mind what God is like. Faint praise, there.


Addendum:
I've had this post in draft since Sept. 14. By September 16 the thread was shut down for "lack of charity."







Above: One of Luther’s first Roman Catholic biographers was also a great adversary with lasting impact: Johannes Cochlaeus. Cochlaeus best expressed his campaign against Luther by portraying him as a seven-headed monster. Cochlaeus divided up the life of Luther into seven distinct periods, each represented by one of the heads on the monster. Each head held a contradictory opinion to the other. He explains what each head represents:

“Thus all brothers emerge from the womb of one and the same cowl by a birth so monstrous, that none is like the other in either behavior, shape, face or character. The elder brothers, Doctor and Martinus, come closest to the opinion of the Church, and they are to be believed above all the others, if anything anywhere in Luther's books can be believed with any certainty at all. Lutherus, however, according to his surname, plays a wicked game just like Ismael. Ecclesiastes tells the people who are always keen on novelties, pleasant things. Svermerns rages furiously and errs in the manner of Phaeton throughout the skies. Barrabas is looking for violence and sedition everywhere. And at the last, Visitator, adorned with a new mitre and ambitious for a new papacy, prescribes new laws of ceremonies, and many old ones which he had previously abolished—revokes, removes, reduces.”
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers, Luther Discussions"
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 13:36
Red Alert for Rome's apologists:





Pope Francis says:
Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs. "We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing."

This story has been around for a while. I found it represented here:

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1403144.htm

http://www.catholicregister.org/faith/item/18548-pope-francis-reveals-top-10-secrets-to-happiness

I really like this Pope!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "News from Rome"
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 04:00
Back when Mr. Camping was predicting the end of the world, a group called eBible fellowship was right in step with his eschatological conclusions. One of the eBible folks was actually a featured speaker on Family Radio during the end of the world countdown.

 I still visit their site from time to time.  These folks are convinced that on May 21, 2011, God "shut the door of Heaven" and since then no one else can be saved. And therefore: "There is a strong likelihood that the spiritual judgment now upon the world will continue for 1600 days and then conclude with the literal destruction of all unsaved people and the end of the world on October 7, 2015." (source)
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Eschatology, Harold Camping"
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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 04:00
Here's one from the CARM boards:

I think you might want to re-check your history resources.. it is an historical fact that Martin Luther threw out four or five books... and after his death his church elders put them back in....

This is interesting to me because it's a new spin on an old myth. The usual myth is that Melanchthon stopped him from removing certain books, not that "church elders put them back in." Note the argument from Rome's defender, Steve Ray:

Martin Luther understood the place of the Church in establishing the canon... He realized that if he could jettison the Church, or at least redefine it as “invisible” and “intangible”, he was free to reevaluate and regulate the content of the canon for himself. He actually began to function as his own pope and council. If it weren’t for his theologian Philip Melanchthon, Protestants would no longer consider James, Revelation, Hebrews, Jude and a few other books as inspired Scripture. - Steve Ray: Who Has the Correct Bible: Catholics or Protestants?
When Martin Luther rejected “popes and councils” he also realized that the canon was again up for grabs. He didn’t like James as we know, but he also placed Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation at the back of the book, not with the inspired books. It was only later that Philipp Melanchthon convinced him to defer to long tradition and place the books back in the New Testament, back in the recognized order. How did Luther fail to recognize the self-authenticating writings?- Steve Ray, Are the Books of the New Testament “Self-Authenticating” or was the Catholic Church Necessary to Define the Canon of Scripture?

I went through these two quotes some years back: Steve Ray and Melanchthon on Keeping Books in the New Testament Canon. I've never come across any meaningful evidence that Melanchthon did this, nor have I ever heard that Luther's "church elders" put books back into Luther's Bible.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Luther and the Canon, Steve Ray"
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 04:00
I came across an interesting blog post about which books Martin Luther recommended.  The post gave some helpful secondary source information. Here's what Luther said (or is purported to have said) based on the secondary references given in the blog entry:
Regarding [the plan] to collect my writings in volumes, I am quite cool and not at all eager about it because, roused by a Saturnian hunger, I would rather see them all devoured. For I acknowledge none of them to be really a book of mine, except perhaps the one On the Bound Will and the Catechism. (LW 50:172-173)
If anybody wishes to become a theologian, he has a great advantage, first of all, in having the Bible. This is now so clear that he can read it without any trouble. Afterward he should read Philip’s Loci Communes. This he should read diligently and well, until he has its contents fixed in his head. If he has these two he is a theologian, and neither the devil nor a heretic can shake him. The whole of theology is open to him, and afterward he can read whatever he wishes for edification. If he wishes, he can read, in addition, Melanchthon’s Romans71 and my Galatians and Deuteronomy. These will give him the art of speaking and a copious vocabulary. “There’s no book under the sun in which the whole of theology is so compactly presented as in the Loci Communes. If you read all the fathers and sententiaries you have nothing. No better book has been written after the Holy Scriptures than Philip’s. He expresses himself more concisely than I do when he argues and instructs. I’m garrulous and more rhetorical. “If my advice were taken, only the books of mine that contain doctrine would be printed, such as my Galatians, Deuteronomy, and John. The rest [of my books] should be read merely for the history, in order to see how it all began, for it was not so easy at first as it is now.” (LW 54:439-440 Tabletalk) 
Indeed, you say so much less, and attribute so much more to free choice than the Sophists have hitherto done (a point on which I shall have more to say later) that it really seemed superfluous to answer the arguments you use. They have been refuted already so often by me, and beaten down and completely pulverized in Philip Melanchthon’s Commonplaces—an unanswerable little book which in my judgment deserves not only to be immortalized but even canonized. Compared with it, your book struck me as so cheap and paltry that I felt profoundly sorry for you, defiling as you were your very elegant and ingenious style with such trash, and quite disgusted at the utterly unworthy matter that was being conveyed in such rich ornaments of eloquence, like refuse or ordure being carried in gold and silver vases. (LW 33:16)
Luther praised the fables of Aesop highly: “They are worthy of translation and of being put into a proper order and arrangement. It is not a book that was written by one man only, but it was diligently assembled by many men in different centuries. It would be very useful therefore if somebody would translate the book well and put it into proper order. The important fables that are pithy, smack of antiquity, and are useful to the commonwealth ought to be gathered into a first book; then those that are more elegant ought to be placed apart in a second book, and the rest ought to be reserved for a third. “It is a result of God’s providence that the writings of Cato and Aesop have remained in the schools, for both are significant books. Cato contains the most useful sayings and precepts. Aesop contains the most delightful stories and descriptions. Moral teachings, if offered to young people, will contribute much to their edification. In short, next to the Bible the writings of Cato and Aesop are in my opinion the best, better than the mangled utterances of all the philosophers and jurists, just as Donatus is the best grammarian.” (LW 54:210-211, Tabletalk)

While all these are interesting to see what Luther valued (there are probably more comments like this), this comment was not referenced by the blog post, and I think it's the most telling. Looking over his life's work, Luther said:

“I would have been quite content to see my books, one and all, remain in obscurity and go by the board. Among other reasons, I shudder to think of the example I am giving, for I am well aware how little the church has been profited since they have begun to collect many books and large libraries, in addition to and besides the Holy Scriptures, and especially since they have stored up, without discrimination, all sorts of writings by the church fathers, the councils, and teachers. Through this practice not only is precious time lost, which could be used for studying the Scriptures, but in the end the pure knowledge of the divine Word is also lost, so that the Bible lies forgotten in the dust under the bench (as happened to the book of Deuteronomy, in the time of the kings of Judah)…

I cannot, however, prevent them from wanting to collect and publish my works through the press (small honor to me), although it is not my will. I have no choice but to let them risk the labor and the expense of this project. My consolation is that, in time, my books will lie forgotten in the dust anyhow, especially if I (by God’s grace) have written anything good. Non ere melior Patribus meis.  He who comes second should indeed be the first one forgotten. Inasmuch as they have been capable of leaving the Bible itself lying under the bench, and have also forgotten the fathers and the councils—the better ones all the faster—accordingly there is a good hope, once the overzealousness of this time has abeted, that my books also will not last long. There is especially good hope of this, since it has begun to rain and snow books and teachers, many of which already lie there forgotten and moldering. Even their names are not remembered any more, despite their confident hope that they would eternally be on sale in the market and rule churches.” (LW 34:283-284).
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Books, Martin Luther"
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Date: Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 04:00
Here's one from the Catholic Answers Forums in which a person who often claimed to be doing research presented a plagiarized rewording of  Patrick O'Hare's Facts About Luther (and also two sentences from John Osborne's play on Luther).  The person claims to have not read O'Hare's book, but says it was taken from a source that can no longer be found (so this unknown source plagiarized The Facts About Luther). I post it here in the event of tracking down the real culprit.

In school Luther met with the same severity that was meted out at home.

O'Hare: In school he met with the same severity that was meted out to him at home (36)

The schoolmaster of that time was generally a harsh disciplinarian and inspired a fear in his pupils, which was difficult to remove afterwards.

O'Hare: The schoolmaster of that day was generally a harsh disciplinarian and inspired a fear in pupils which was difficult to remove ever afterward. (36)

Under this harsh environment Luther said" It shattered his nervous system for life."

O'Hare: "This severity," he says later on, ''shattered his nervous system for life." (37)

When Luther entered the Augustinian Order, he decided to work out his salvation , making this decision, without due consideration of his disposition.

O'Hare: He was on his way to become an excellent professor and an accomplished advocate, when, unfortunately for himself he resolved, without due consideration of his natural disposition, to become a friar. (42)

His closest friends tried to persuade him to reconsider (incomplete sentence)

O'Hare: His guests, knowing how unfitted he seemed for the monastic career, and sorry to lose a jovial companion, pleaded with him to reconsider his decision (43)

his earliest days he was subject to fits of depression and sudden mood swings.

O'Hare: From his earliest days he was subject to fits of depression and melancholy. (46)

He fell victim to excessive scrupulosity, and he was self-opinionated and stubborn minded and he relied altogether too much on his own righteousness and disregarded the remedies most effectual for his spiritual condition. Like all those who trusted in themselves, he rushed from extreme timidity to excessive rashness.

O'Hare: He fell a victim to excessive scrupulousness, and, as he was self-opinionated and stubborn-minded, he relied altogether too much on his own righteousness and disregarded the remedies most effectual for his spiritual condition. Like all those who trust in themselves, he rushed from extreme timidity to excessive rashness.

Luther saw himself, nothing but sin, more sin than he felt he could atone for by trying any works of penance.

O'Hare: He saw in himself nothing but sin, more sin than he felt he could atone for by any works of penance. (57-58)

In all his prayers and fastings the conception of God he placed before his mind was very much that of a God of avenging justice and very little that of a God of mercy.

O'Hare: In all his prayers and fastings the conception of God he placed before his mind was very much that of a God of avenging justice and very little that of a God of'mercy. (58)

The fear of the divine wrath made him abnormally apprehensive and prevented him from experiencing comfort and help.

O'Hare: The fear of the divine wrath made him abnormally apprehensive and prevented him from experiencing comfort and help in the performance of religious exercises. (58)

Instead of trusting with childlike confidence in the pardoning mercy of God and the merits of Christ, as the CC always exhorted the sourly tried to do, he gave himself to black despair.

O'Hare: His sorrow for sin was devoid of humble charity and instead of trusting with childlike confidence in the pardoning mercy of God and in the merits of Christ, as the Church always exhorted the sorely tried to do, he gave himself up to black despair. (58)

His singularity brought on distress of his soul, and his anxiety increased on the verge of madness.

O'Hare: His singularity brought on distress of soul and his anxiety increased until wakefulness became a confirmed habit. His condition became so sad that at times his fellow-monks feared he was on the verge of madness. (58)

All of these troubles may have been due to his having chosen the religious state of life, especially inasmuch as he entered upon it without due consideration.

O'Hare: He was on his way to become an excellent professor and an accomplished advocate, when, un- fortunately for himself he resolved, without due consideration of his natural disposition, to become a friar. (42)

More importantly it is felt that if he had not disregarded the monastic regulations by those of his own devising, and had put into practice the wise directions of his spiritual directors, his troubles would have been greatly mitigated and considerably surmounted.

O'Hare: But passing this consideration over, we feel that had he not disregarded the monastic regulations for those of his own devising and had he put into practise the wise directions of his spiritual guides, his troubles of soul would certainly have been much mitigated and considerably surmounted. (58)

Like most victims of scrupulosity he saw nothing in himself but wickidness and corruption.

O'Hare: Like most victims of scrupulosity he saw nothing in himself but wickedness and corruption.(58)

Since Luther was not content with the ordinary spiritual exercises prescribed by the Rule of St. Augustine, he set out on an independent path of righteousness. Luther decided he was going to do it his own way, which is usual for all stubborn minds, instead of by accepted means by those who could give him the help he needed by those who had experience and knowledge. Luther in his attempt to relieve his situation by his own means, the condition only worsened. Luther said that" I prescribed special tasks to myself and had my own ways. My superiors fought against this singularity."

O'Hare: Not content with the ordinary spiritual exercises prescribed by the rule of the Order, he marked out for himself an independent path of righteousness. He wanted to have his own way, and, as is usual in the case of all stubborn minds, the arbitrary means he resorted to for relief only made his condition worse.I prescribed," he says, "special tasks to myself and had my own ways. My superiors fought against this singularity and they did so rightly. (58-59)

His extreme behavior continued, passing from timidity to rashness. So from one absurdity he passed to another with the greatest ease.

O'Hare: From extreme timidity he passed to excessive rashness. (60)

Luther's scrupulosity and arrogance led one to say" I beg you Martin not to believe that you, and you alone, understand the meaning of the Gospels. Don't rate your own opinions so highly, so far beyond that of many other sincere and eminent men."

This one is not from O'Hare- it's from John Osborne's play about Luther (Act Three, 103). "I beg you, Martin, not to believe that you, and you alone, understand the meaning of the Gospels. Don't rate your own opinion so highly, so far beyond that of many other sincere and eminent men."

Luther's writings make it quite clear and obvious in his arguments that he believes that only he had the true interpretation of Scripture.

Unknown

It has been long considered among the ill-informed that Luther inaugurated his movement against the CC from a desire to reform.

O'Hare: It has long been considered amongst the ill-informed that Luther inaugurated his movement against the Church of his forefathers from a desire of reform. (60)

This view is not borne out by facts when one examines the nature of Luther. External causes played little or no part in his change of religion. The impelling motive centered in his own nature, which demanded a teaching able to assure his tormented mind of pardon of sin and the ultimate salvation.

O'Hare: This view-point is not borne out by the facts in the case. External causes played little or no part in his change of religion. The impelling motive centered in his own nature, which demanded a teaching able to assure his tormented soul of pardon of sin and ultimate salvation. (60-61)

Troubled by doubts as to his vocation and oppressed by violent elements of hatred, envy, quarrelsomeness and pride, his singular self-esteem and self- reliance would not suffer him to make intelligent and enlightened use of the remedies most effectual for the cure of his abnormal spiritual life.

O'Hare: Troubled with doubts as to his vocation and oppressed by "violent movements of hatred, envy, quarrelsomeness and pride," his singular self-esteem and self-reliance would not suffer him to make intelligent and enlightened use of the remedies most effectual for the cure of his abnormal spiritual maladies.(61)

He formulated and proclaimed pronouncements that the CC was unable to by her teachings and sacramental system to reconcile souls with God and bring comfort to those thirsting after salvation.

O'Hare: Led on by a spirit that was not of God, he formulated and proclaimed the blasphemous pronouncement that the Catholic Church was unable by her teaching and sacramental system to reconcile souls with God and bring comfort to those thirsting after salvation. (64)

Luther passed from error to error in quick succession. Luther came by degrees to believe that by reason on inherited sin, man had become totally depraved and possessed no liberty of the will.

O'Hare: From error to error he passed in quick succession until we find him unblushingly upholding the utter corruption of human nature because of original sin, denying the freedom of the will, defending the rights of reason against dogmatic authority and declaring that "reason speaks nothing but madness and foolishness." (64)

He then concluded that all human action whatsoever, even that which is directed towards good, being an amanation from our corrupt nature, is in the sight of God, nothing more or less than deadly sin. Therefore one's actions have no influence on one's salvation, and one is saved by faith alone without good works.

O'Hare: He then concluded that all human action whatever, even that which is directed towards good, being an emanation from our corrupt nature, is, in the sight of God, nothing more or less than deadly sin: therefore our actions have no influence on our salvation; we are saved "by faith alone without good works." (60)
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers, Patrick O'Hare, The Fa..."
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 04:00
To the left: "The "Incombustible Luther" of 1689. A number of printed images of Luther were thought to be impervious to destruction by fire. This one was found in the house where Luther had been born after it was badly damaged by fire in 1689. The earliest examples of the belief in incombustible Luther images date back to the earliest years of the Reformation. They are testimony both to the profound influence of the Reformation on the image culture of the late Middle Ages and to the persistence of pre-Reformation beliefs and religious practices in Protestant lands (source)."

Where are the Miracles of Luther?
Over on the Catholic Answers forums someone asked this about Luther, "Where are his miracles? Where are the miracles of any person who set up a Church against the True Church?”

This is an argument that has been used by the defenders of Rome for quite a long time (I've tackled it before: Hey Reformers: Got Miracles? If Not, You Were Not Called By God). The argument is old. For example, Francis de Sales made the argument in The Catholic Controversy. A 1622 pamphlet Lutheri Manes, das ist D. Martin Luthers abgeleibter Geist Amno raised the issue to confront the 1617 celebration of Luther. Here's an interesting excerpt from the late 1800's:

At the time of Martin Luther, a certain man, named William, was drowned. Luther was requested to raise him again to life as a proof of the truth of his doctrine. He commanded him repeatedly to rise from the dead. It was all in vain. (Bredenbach, L. vii., c. 1.) Calvin wished to prove the truth of his doctrine by a miracle. So he begged a man to feign death and have himself carried as a corpse to the church, and then rise at his bidding, so that the people might believe he had been raised again to life by the prayer of Calvin, as a proof of the truth of his doctrine. That man complied with Calvin's request. He was carried to the church, apparently dead. Calvin approached the coffin and said in a loud voice: I command you to rise in the name of Christ, whose Gospel I preach. But alas! the man never arose again. He was dead. God had punished him, and by the sudden death of this deceiver God manifested his detestation of Calvin's heresies, and the truth of the Catholic religion. (Franc-Torrianus, L. i. De Dogmatibus.) Thus Almighty God has never permitted, and will never permit, a real miracle in confirmation of an heretical doctrine; should he bestow the gift of miracles even on an impious man, yet he will never permit him to use this gift in confirmation of a false doctrine. Were god to perform a real miracle in support of an heretical doctrine he would thereby lead the people into error, and become guilty of the sin of wilful lying and deception.

In more recent times, one can find things like this traditionalist website that goes into great detail with this argument (using deSales): ProtestantErrors.com.  And finally, here's a modern example from pop-Roman defender Taylor Marshall:

You can start with Martin Luther. Did Luther perform any miracles? Did he make prophecies that came to pass. No, not at all. Yet at the same time period, the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe (a public miracle) did occur to St Juan Diego and millions of Aztecs. Also during this time period, the Catholic missionary Saint Francis Xavier was miraculously preaching to the people of India, Indonesia, etc. in their native tongues without study.


The Miracles of Luther?
Interestingly, there is actually a tradition of alleged miracles and prophecies attributed to Luther. For an intriguing study of this, see: R.W. Scribner, Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (London: The Hambledon Press, 1987). Chapter 15 is entitled, "Incombustible Luther: the Image of the Reformer in Early Modern Germany" (Much of this chapter is available via a free preview, but reading the chapter in its entirety is well worth it).

Scribner points out that the quality of incombustibility is rooted in the Roman cult of the saints myths (Scribner, 328). The notion of the incombustible Luther comes from 18th century stories of multiple fires in the 17th Century in which paintings of Luther were found in the ashes intact and unharmed. The actual genesis of Luther and fire appears to go back to a pamphlet from 1521 (Scribner, 324), and it picked up various other Luther miracles as the years progressed.  Scribner mentions that in 1583 Antonius Probus made the very argument our friend from Catholic Answers is making, that "God did not send great prophets and doctors of the church unless miracles accompanied them" (Scribner, 336), and then Scribner documents a number of 17th Century miraculous Luther stories (Scribner, 336-338).  Scribner also mentions that seven years before Probus, Johann Lapaeus produced a list of Luther's prophecies and miracles (Scribner, 349).

No, I don't believe the miracles attributed to Luther are true, but it is a fascinating, if not funny study. There are guidelines set up as to how to become a saint in Romanism, so perhaps if someone wanted to play with Rome's rules, you could make a case for Luther. Rome's defenders have a seemingly countless number of official and unofficial miracles, so someone with creativity could argue for the beatification of Saint Luther. The flaw though in going in this direction is that it assumes Rome's worldview is true.

I'm always a bit surprised when this argument is raised because based on the criteria of miracle = "sent by God", there are a fair amount of Pentecostal folks that are more than willing to claim they have the credentials required. Then also there's the problem that those who substantiate their message with an alleged miracle include non-Christian religions. Let us never forget the sobering words of  Matthew 7:21-23:
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
But if someone really wanted to turn the tables on Rome's argument, place the argument in a Protestant, Biblical, and sola scriptura worldview. Yes, miracles certainly proved the divine message of the Biblical authors. Keep in mind though, the magisterial reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.), did not believe they were receiving new revelation from God. Rather, they believed they were testifying to what was in the Bible. If you were to ask them "where are your miracles to prove your message?" A good way for them to respond would be to say: "Between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21."

Luther's Test
What's interesting to me about all this is Luther and the early magisterial Reformers faced a very similar problem with a dissident group of people they called the Schwärmer. These were the radicals that were made up of the peasants, Anabaptists, spiritualists, and all the others that couldn't be classified as papists or Lutherans. Early in the 1520's, Luther and the Wittenbergers came into conflict with some men claiming to be modern-day prophets, known as the Zwickau Prophets. What characterized these men was that the authority of Scripture was second to their private revelations from the Holy Spirit. Their subjective experience trumped the testimony of the scriptures, and it was no wonder to Luther that their ideas led to societal and political unrest and rebellion.

There was a difference between the Reformers and those like the  Zwickau Prophets- the Reformers found their doctrines in the Scriptures, relying on exegesis and devout study. The modern-day prophets came with a message not from the Scriptures, but from the inner revelation of the Holy Spirit. In fact, when Luther discussed these prophets via correspondence with Melanchthon, he asked the same question about their miracles... did they have them to establish their new revelation? He also wanted to know that if they really were prophets in the Biblical sense, did they demonstrate the fear and suffering similar to what the Biblical prophets experienced?:

Now let me deal with the “prophets.” Before I say anything else, I do not approve of your timidity, since you are stronger in spirit and learning than I. First of all, since they bear witness to themselves, one need not immediately accept them; according to John’s counsel, the spirits are to be tested. If you cannot test them, then you have the advice of Gamaliel that you postpone judgment. Thus far I hear of nothing said or done by them that Satan could not also do or imitate. Yet find out for me whether they can prove [that they are called by God], for God has never sent anyone, not even the Son himself, unless he was called through men or attested by signs. In the old days the prophets had their authority from the Law and the prophetic order, as we now receive authority through men. I definitely do not want the “prophets” to be accepted if they state that they were called by mere revelation, since God did not even wish to speak to Samuel except through the authority and knowledge of Eli. This is the first thing that belongs to teaching in public.
In order to explore their individual spirit, too, you should inquire whether they have experienced spiritual distress and the divine birth, death, and hell. If you should hear that all [their experiences] are pleasant, quiet, devout (as they say), and spiritual, then don’t approve of them, even if they should say that they were caught up to the third heaven. The sign of the Son of Man is then missing, which is the only touchstone of Christians and a certain differentiator between the spirits. Do you want to know the place, time, and manner of [true] conversations with God? Listen: “Like a lion has he broken all my bones”; “I am cast out from before your eyes”: “My soul is filled with grief, and my life has approached hell.” The [Divine] Majesty (as they call it) does not speak in such a direct way to man that man could [actually] see it; but rather, “Man shall not see me and live.” [Our] nature cannot bear even a small glimmer of God’s [direct] speaking. As a result God speaks through men [indirectly], because not all can endure his speaking. The angel frightened even the Virgin, and also Daniel. And Jeremiah pleads, “Correct me [O Lord] but in just measure,” and, “Be not a terror to me.” Why should I say more? As if the [Divine] Majesty could speak familiarly with the Old Adam without first killing him and drying him out so that his horrible stench would not be so foul, since God is a consuming fire! The dreams and visions of the saints are horrifying, too, at least after they are understood. Therefore examine [them] and do not even listen if they speak of the glorified Jesus, unless you have first heard of the crucified Jesus. (LW 48:365-367)
A few years later writing to Duke John of Saxony Luther stated,
Now it is an especial joy that our followers did not begin this heresy, as the sectaries themselves boast that they did not learn it from us, but directly from Heaven, and that they hear God speak to them immediately as to the angels. It is a simple fact that at Wittenberg only faith, love, and the Cross of Christ are taught. God's voice, they say, you must hear yourself, and suffer and feel God's work in you to know your own weight; aye, they make nothing of the Scripture, which they call "Bible-bubble-Babel." To judge by what they say their cross and passion is greater than Christ's and more to be prized. . . .
Secondly, their boasting about the spirit counts for nothing, for we have the saying of St. John, bidding us "prove the spirits, whether they be of God." Now this spirit has not yet been proved, and goes about with turbulence and makes a disturbance according to his own sweet will. If he were a good spirit he would first humbly submit to be proved and Judged, as does the Spirit of Christ. It would be a fine fruit of the spirit, by which he could be proved, if he did not creep into the corners and flee the light, but would stand out publicly before his enemies and opponents and make his confession and give his answers. But the spirit of Allstedt shuns that sort of thing as the devil shuns the Cross, and yet in his own nest he speaks the most unterrified language, as though he were full of three Holy Ghosts, and this unseemly boasting is a fine proof of who this spirit is. For in his book he offers to make answer in the presence of a harmless assembly, and to stake life and soul upon it, but not in a corner, but in the presence of two or three persons. Tell me, who is this bold and confident Holy Spirit who sets himself such narrow limits and will not appear except before a "harmless assembly," and will not make answer in a corner before two or three persons? What kind of a spirit is that who is afraid of two or three people and cannot endure an assembly that may do him harm? I shall tell you. He smells the roast; he has been with me once or twice in my cloister at Wittenberg and has had his nose punched; so he does not like the soup and will not appear except where his own followers are present who will say Yes to his swelling words. If I, who have no spirit and hear no heavenly voices, had used such words against my papists, how they would have shouted Victory, and stopped my mouth!
In the same letter Luther states that these prophets should submit in a proper manner, even if it's to "the papists":
I have said these things to your Graces, so that your Graces may not be afraid of this spirit or delay action, but enjoin them strictly to refrain from violence and stop their destroying of monasteries and churches and their burning of saints, commanding them, if they wish to prove their spirit, to do so in a proper manner, and first submit to investigation, either by us or by the papists, for, thank God! they consider us worse enemies than the papists.
I'm not going to speculate too much on this comment, other than saying that I think Luther realized these prophets wouldn't submit to anybody's scrutiny, and even if they did get scrutinized by "the papists" they would fail their test as well.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Combustible Luther, Francis deSales, Mar..."
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Date: Sunday, 14 Sep 2014 04:00
Here's one from the Catholic Answers Forums:

Heiko Oberman states: “Luther’s reminiscences permit one to conclude that he was the very sort of person to fall into the fearful self-doubt the handbooks describe as the sickness of scrupulosity. A man with these proclivities should not have become a monk and certainly not an Observant mendicant monk, one would assume today.” Pg, 177

-snip-

Obviously Martin was not the picture of mental stability during his days in the monastery. As Reformed Biographer Heiko Oberman points out, he should not have become a monk.

Is this what Oberman says? Here's the full quote from Oberman's Luther: Man Between God and the Devil (note the sentence in bold):

“Even the earliest sources demonstrate Luther's awareness of God's holiness and His wrath against sin. Luther’s reminiscences permit one to conclude that he was the very sort of person to fall into the fearful self-doubt the handbooks describe as the sickness of scrupulosity. A man with these proclivities should not have become a monk and certainly not an Observant mendicant monk, one would assume today. But in Luther's time the contrary was the case: so unsettled a person, it was thought, should chose the safe path and enter a monastery. Luther was really able to try out the salutary and salvational methods of his time, to the point of desperation. He endeavored to observe the Augustinian rule by means of extreme self-discipline, fasting, prayer, study, and vigils. When he had done what he could to be a worthy recipient of the sacraments of penance and the Lord's Supper, God would not deny him grace" (p.178).
The sentence in bold was left out when presented via the Catholic Answers Forums. I asked for some clarification on this, but was ignored.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers, Heiko Oberman"
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Date: Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 04:00
Here's an interesting comparison of two English translations of a section from an open letter Luther wrote to the Christians at Strassburg (Dec. 1524). The letter was primarily about Luther ex-colleague Karlstadt and his radical theology. Note the difference in the second translation. Luther's words are far more revealing- in which Luther was tempted to think of the Sacrament as "but mere bread and wine."

Luther's Works vol. 40 states:
I confess that if Dr. Karlstadt, or anyone else, could have convinced me five years ago that only bread and wine were in the sacrament he would have done me a great service. At that time I suffered such severe conflicts and inner strife and torment that I would gladly have been delivered from them. I realized that at this point I could best resist the papacy. There were two who then wrote me, with much more skill than Dr. Karlstadt has, and who did not torture the Word with their own preconceived notions. But I am a captive and cannot free myself. The text is too powerfully present, and will not allow itself to be torn from its meaning by mere verbiage. Even if someone in these days might try more persuasively to prove that only bread and wine are present, it would not be necessary that he attack me in bitter spirit—which I, unfortunately, am altogether inclined to do, if I assess the nature of the old Adam in me correctly. But the way Dr. Karlstadt carries on in this question affects me so little that my position is only fortified the more by him. [LW 40:68]

Now compare this translation to that to this done by Preserved Smith in Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary letters vol. 2:

I freely confess that if Carlstadt or any other could have convinced me five years ago that there was nothing in the sacrament but mere bread and wine, he would have done me a great service. I was sorely tempted on this point, and wrestled with myself and strove to believe that it was so, for I saw that I could thereby give the hardest rap to the papacy. I read treatises by two men who wrote more ably in defence of the theory than Dr. Carlstadt and who did not so torture the Word to their own imagination. But I am bound, I cannot believe as they do; the text is too powerful and will not let itself be wrenched from the plain sense by argument. But even if it could happen that today anyone should prove on reasonable grounds that the sacrament was mere bread and wine, he would not much anger me. (Alas, I am too much inclined that way myself when I feel the old Adam!) But Dr. Carlstadt's ranting only confirms me in the opposite belief.
Luther's Works 40 relies on WA 15, 391-397 for their translation. The translation was done by Conrad Bergendoff. The quote can be found on page 394.  Smith cites Enders v, 83; DeWette, ii, 574, German. As far as I can tell,  WA 15 and DeWette ii are the same German text.

The LW 40 version doesn't flow in a coherent way.  One odd thing I found was that if one compares the two translations up to the point in question, they compliment each other nicely.  They both say basically the same thing. Then, at the point in question comes two different sets of train tracks:


LW: I confess that if Dr. Karlstadt, or anyone else, could have convinced me five years ago that only bread and wine were in the sacrament he would have done me a great service.

Smith: I freely confess that if Carlstadt or any other could have convinced me five years ago that there was nothing in the sacrament but mere bread and wine, he would have done me a great service

LW: At that time I suffered such severe conflicts and inner strife and torment that I would gladly have been delivered from them.

Smith: I was sorely tempted on this point, and wrestled with myself and strove to believe that it was so

LW: I realized that at this point I could best resist the papacy.

Smith: for I saw that I could thereby give the hardest rap to the papacy.

LW: There were two who then wrote me, with much more skill than Dr. Karlstadt has, and who did not torture the Word with their own preconceived notions.

Smith: I read treatises by two men who wrote more ably in defense of the theory than Dr. Carlstadt and who did not so torture the Word to their own imagination.

LW: But I am a captive and cannot free myself. The text is too powerfully present, and will not allow itself to be torn from its meaning by mere verbiage.

Smith: But I am bound, I cannot believe as they do; the text is too powerful and will not let Itself be wrenched from the plain sense by argument

LW: Even if someone in these days might try more persuasively to prove that only bread and wine are present, it would not be necessary that he attack me in bitter spirit—which I, unfortunately, am altogether inclined to do, if I assess the nature of the old Adam in me correctly.

Smith: But even if it could happen that today anyone should prove on reasonable grounds that the sacrament was mere bread and wine, he would not much anger me. (Alas, I am too much inclined that way myself when I feel the old Adam!)

LW: But the way Dr. Karlstadt carries on in this question affects me so little that my position is only fortified the more by him. 

Smith: But Carlstadt's ranting only confirms me in the opposite belief 

LW: If I had not previously been of this opinion, such loose, lame, empty talk, set forth on the basis of his own reason and idiosyncrasy without scriptural foundation, would lead me to believe first of all that his opinions amount to nothing. 

Smith: if I had no opinion on the subject to start with, his light, unstable buffoonery, without any appeal to Scripture, would give my reason a prejudice against whatever he urged.


I'm not into conspiracies, but, Smith's translation makes a lot more sense. Obviously, Luther consistently held that the sacrament was the body and blood of Christ, so no, Luther could not be convinced otherwise. I do find it interesting that if Smith's translation is more accurate, this would be one of the first significant examples I've found that a translator of LW took liberties with a text to downplay what it was actually saying.


Addendum
For an interesting look  at the significance of the life and work of Conrad  Bergendoff, see this long pdf file that reminisces over his long career. A short bio page mentions he "was above all an ecumenicist." Now, I don't know his opinion on Rome, but I did find this other omission interesting- that he left out "Antichrist" which is clearly in the German text, and it's not too far of a stretch that Luther meant the papacy:

Smith: Dearest brethren, I greatly rejoice and thank God the Father of all mercy for His rich grace in calling you to His wonderful light and to the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ For now through His wholesome Word you know Him and joyously call Him Father Who has freed us from the horrible darkness of the Antichrist and from the iron furnace of Egyptian sin and death and has led us into a large, safe, free, good and promised land.

LW 40(Bergendoff):Dear sirs and brethren. I greatly rejoice and thank God the Father of mercy for the riches of his grace bestowed upon you, in that he has called you into his wonderful light and let you come into the participation of all the treasures of his Son, Jesus Christ. Now through his salutary Word you can recognize and acknowledge with joyful hearts the true Father, who has redeemed us from the iron furnace of Egyptian sin and death and brought us into the broad, secure, free and veritable Promised Land.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Conrad Bergendoff, Eucharist, Preserved ..."
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 04:00
Here's one from the Catholic Answers forums that demonstrates why it's important to read out of the meaning of a text rather than reading something in to the text.

Scholars have debated for quite a while as to whether or not Tetzel preached something like, "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings,  the soul from purgatory springs." The better scholarship says there's no proof from Tetzel's extant writings that he either coined this phrase or used this phrase (see here for more information). On the other hand, it does appear that he did teach something like the sentiment of this during his indulgence preaching.  In the following excerpt, note how the historical discussion as to whether Tetzel said "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs" is read into a section from Martin Brecht's first volume on Luther, whereas Brecht is talking about something entirely different:

First of all, how, specifically and exactly (of course), did Tetzel actually ‘provoke’ Luther? A few pages earlier Brecht reviews, in general, the 95 Theses. He mentions Thesis # 27, which is as follows: “27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.” Luther, “95 Theses” “The phrase ‘as soon as the coin in the coffer rings the soul from purgatory springs’ is also extremely questionable.” Brecht, pg. 194 Here Brecht admits what virtually every reputable Scholar (Protestant and otherwise) now understands, that Tetzel never said ‘as soon as the coin…….”. This means that Luther was mistaken about how Tetzel was preaching the Indulgence. Had he not gone off half-cocked but had bothered to actually make sure of the facts of the matter, he would not have made this mistake, and maybe, just maybe, without the misperception [sic] of a ‘provocation’ by Tetzel, possibly Luther might not have started the ‘Reformation’.


This is a mis-reading of page 194. Brecht isn't saying this at all. He isn't discussing whether or not Tetzel said, "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings,  the soul from purgatory springs." Rather, Brecht is describing what Luther is saying in Theses 27-29 of the 95 Theses.  Luther states:

27.There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.
28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.
29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful).

Brecht is describing Luther's points section by section in the 95 Theses. It's Luther saying that the phrase " the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest" is questionable.

 On page 182 Brecht explains that the phrase, "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs" had been around as early as 1482. I don't recall a discussion from Brecht in this section exactly as to whether Tetzel said it or not. Regardless, while Tetzel may not have coined the phrase, he taught it's sentiment.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers, johann tetzel, martin ..."
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 04:00
I hadn't visited Art Sippo's blog in some time. He posted the following entry some time ago: The best book on Martin Luther now available on Google Play Books!  He then links to and reviews the book, Martin Luther: The Man and the Image By Herbert David Rix. Some years back I interacted with Sippo on various Luther biographies, particularly those having to do with psychological explanations (Sippo said, "These are not just my conclusions. Fr. Denifle, Fr. Grisar, Preserved Smith, Reiter, Ericcson [sic], Marius, and Rix all are in agreement that Luther was mentally ill and that this contributed to his theology").  At the time, I did not have access to the book by Rix, so I passed over interacting with Sippo on it.

From what I remember of my interaction with Sippo, he basically defended all the books that presented a psychological interpretation of Luther. What's interesting is that there simply isn't one psychological approach, there are quite few, and they contradict each other. In the preview of the Rix book available, the author takes the opportunity to point out the flaws in some of those psychological approaches that came before his.   I found Rix's short overview on Eric Erikson's Young Man Luther to be quite interesting.



One could argue that Rix is simply eliminating the competition to his view. On the other hand, one of the most significant and consistent critiques of Erikson is his poor use of the source material. Rix, with whatever his view will turn out to be (I have not read the book beyond the preview), is on the right track if his approach includes scrutinizing primary sources.

To my knowledge, Erikson refused to answer his many critics of Young Man Luther, in print.  
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Art Sippo, Eric Erikson, Herbert Rix"
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 04:01
Well, it only took me 10 years to get suspended.

Old Today, 7:52 pm
Suspended
Join Date: May 19, 2004
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Religion: Reformed
Default Re: Who is Martin Luther and why was he excommunicated?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spina1953 View Post
I think that I am smart enough to know the difference between facts and uncouth remarks and spin.
If this is about me, which I think it is, I am not the subject of this discussion, nor have I made any of you the subject of this discussion. Rather, I've asked factual questions about the material being posted, and a lot of these factual questions I've raised, if not most of them, have been ignored.

Yes, I'm sure you all think it was some sort of anti-catholic rant I went on to receive this badge of honor. Nope, I got it for asking the moderator about 3 or 4 times why he allowed personal attacks against me that were off-topic to the actual discussion. He never responded, unless of course you count being suspended.

 Here's one of the notes I sent him:

Since I've contacted you now a few times about these personal attacks, am I going to get another infraction for abusing the alert system?

I would hope not. Frankly, if you have a moment, I would appreciate you letting me know why you allow personal negative comments about me to be posted. Perhaps you have a good reason, or perhaps I don't understand the rules. An explanation from you would probably cut down on me sending you these alerts. I know I've pointed out 3 previous posts that were about me personally, and not the subject matter of the topic at hand. All are still visible on the forums.

Elsewhere on CA I found the following:

"It should also be noted that Catholics are NOT given preference because of their religious affiliation. In fact, Catholics are often held to a higher standard. As our Lord cautioned, "To whom much is given, of him will much be required" (Luke 12:48). Here at CAF, we believe that the truth will take care of itself. Our job is to reveal it as charitably as we can."

I can  understand Catholic Answers suspending me for some severe violation of the rules, but what it really comes down to is that they don't quite know what to do with someone who plays by their rules that they don't like. They'll allow someone they don't like to get lynched by their Lord of the Flies mob mentality.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 04:00
I entitled this blog Beggars All: Reformation and Apologetics because the emphasis of what's posted is geared toward presenting a defense of the Protestant Reformation. When I come across an argument, often I end up tracing it back to books or articles written by the defenders of Rome. Below is a list of Roman Catholics books (and a few articles) that are available on-line, as well as some others that I refer to (perhaps they'll be online someday). The majority of the Roman Catholic authors below I would classify as hostile to Luther particularly and the Reformation in general, many of them belonging to the pre-Lortz period of Roman Catholic scholarship.

Many of these sources below are written by very able historians, and not everything presented is erroneous. Most often it is not the facts that are wrong but rather the interpretation of the facts. A particular worldview and underlying presuppositions will determine the interpretation of history. I've found valuable information in many of the books listed below. The list will be updated as I come across more resources.


Belloc, Hilaire (1870-1953)
The Great Heresies
What Was the Reformation?


Cochlaeus, Johannes (1479-1552)
The Deeds and Writings of Martin Luther 1517-1546

Denifle, Heinrich (1844-1905)
Luther and Lutherdom  Part 1(1917)

deSales, Francis (1567-1622)
The Catholic Controversy

Döllinger , Johann Joseph Ignaz von (1799-1890)
A History of the Church vol. I (1840)
A History of the Church vol. II (1840)
A History of the Church vol. III (1841)
A History of the Church vol. IV (1842)

Eck, Johann (1486-1543)
Enchiridion of Commonplaces of John Eck Against Martin Luther and His Followers

Erasmus, Desiderius (1466-1536)
Discourse on Free Will
Hyperaspistes 2, Vol. 2

Ganss, George (1855-1912)
Catholic Encyclopedia article on Luther
Lutheranism entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia

Graham, Henry
Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church


Grisar, Hartmann (1845-1932)
Luther Vol. I (London, 1914) (English)
Luther Vol. II (London, 1913) (English)
Luther Vol. III (London, 1914) (English)
Luther Vol. IV (London, 1915) (English)
Luther Vol. V (London, 1916) (English)
Luther Vol. VI (London, 1917) (English)

Henry VIII (1491-1547)
Defense of the Seven Sacraments (1521)

Hughes, Philip (1985-1967)
A History of the Church vol. I
A History of the Church Vol. III The Revolt Against the Church

Janssen, Johannes (1829-1891)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 1)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 2)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 3)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 4)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 5)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 6)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 7)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 8)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 9)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 10)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 11)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 12)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 13)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 14)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 15)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Volume 16)
History of the German people at the close of the Middle Ages (Index)

Kirsch, Johann Peter (1861-1941)
Reformation entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia

Maritain, Jacques (1882-1973)
Three Reformers (1936)

O'Connor, Henry
Luther's own statements concerning his teaching and its results: Taken exclusively from the earliest and best editions of Luther's German and Latin works (1885)

O'Hare, Patrick (1848-1926)
The Facts About Luther (1916)

Pope Leo X (1475-1521)
Exurge Domine (1520)

Rumble, Leslie (1892-1975)
Radio Replies vol. I (1938)
Radio Replies vol. II (1940)
Radio Replies vol. III (1942)
Radio Replies vol. IV (1954)
Radio Replies vol. V (1972)

Tetzel, Johann (1465-1519)
Rebuttal Against Luther's Sermon on Indulgences and Grace (Vorlegung wider einen vermessenen Sermon)

Wilhelm, J
Protestantism entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Interpreters of Luther"
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Date: Monday, 08 Sep 2014 06:22
Martin Luther's book, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants  is sometimes cited as evidence that Luther had the peasants killed. That is, his writing directed the princes to slay the peasants, so on his order, they did. This common caricature views Luther as somehow in charge of Germany. The princes simply waited for Luther's command and then followed this advise he gave: "Stab, smite, slay, whoever can. If you die in doing it, well for you! A more blessed death can never be yours, for you die obeying the divine Word and commandment in Romans XIII." According to some scholars,  The book though was published too late, and the stage had already been set for the princes of Germany to slaughter the peasants. There is some ambiguity as to the actual publication, Brecht sees it as early as May 10, while others place it more toward the 15th. My own opinion is that regardless of what Luther said in this book, the peasants were on their way to be put down by the rulers. Whether each German ruler had a copy of it or not, the peasants were going to be forcefully subdued.

The defenders of Rome have a history of charging Luther for being responsible for the Peasant's War (1524-26). Roland Bainton notes that  "Catholic princes held Luther responsible for the whole outbreak" (Here I Stand, 281) and "The Catholic princes never ceased to hold Luther responsible for the uprising, and the Catholic historian Janssen has in modern times endeavored to prove that Luther was actually the author of the movement which he so vehemently repudiated" (Here I Stand, 271). At the time Luther's antagonist Jerome Emser wrote How Luther Has Promoted Rebellion in His Books.

 From a recent Catholic Answers discussion thread, a defender of Rome using the book, Martin Luther, The Christian Between God and Death by Richard Marius, argues the following (red emphasis in the original) in order to get around the possible late publication of Luther's treatise. First quoting Marius, then commenting, he states :

“In mid-April, before publication of the [sic], Luther went to Eisleben and preached in several churches in the region. He called for order and tranquility and blasted form enters of unrest. He privately exhorted rulers to strike the peasants hard,to kill them without mercy if they revolted. His sermons were greeted by sullen congregations and visible anger. One congregation rang bells while he preached so he could not be heard. He retuned [sic] to Wittenberg convinced that the peasants now wished him personal harm, and he prepared again to be a martyr should their forces take the city. He was also fiercely angry.” Marius, pg. 428 So, when Swan says that the treatise was delayed and did not have an immediate role during the war, that is not exactly the whole truth. The truth is that Luther wanted “Against” to result in the slaughter of the peasants, that he did recommend prior to the carnage that they be slaughtered, and that he took credit for his role in their slaughter a few months later." [source]

"Your comments seemed designed to relieve Luther of as much of the responsibility for the slaughter of the 100,000 as possible. I would like to know if you were aware of Luther's private exhortation to the princes to slaughter the peasants BEFORE the war began, PRIOR to the comments that you made that I quoted." [source]

The argument: The assertion above posits that Luther's influence was of such great merit that this private exhortation took the German rulers from indecision to suppressing the peasants revolt. Hence Luther's influence on these rulers played a significant role. This assertion is arrived at because Luther's treatise Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants  may have been  delayed in being published in which Luther explicitly exhorts the rulers to suppress the revolt, and this particular defender of Rome has concocted an alternate way to charge Luther with pushing the authorities to slaughter the peasants.

Reply #1
Unless it's been deleted by the CAF moderators, my response can be found here. Marius was cited as proof that Luther was responsible for slaughtering the peasants. He says though contrarily that Luther wasn't responsible. He states, "The nobles did not require Luther to urge them to massacre; they were entirely capable of inspiring themselves to the bloody business that they pursued for several months" (p.432). Marius goes on to state, "Luther was not responsible for these atrocities. Yet to many people, the timing of his diatribe against the peasants made him seem a cause of the slaughter that followed." (p.432). Marius also points out that in Luther's follow-up defense of his harsh book, he condemned the killing of both the guilty and innocent together after the princes were already victorious. "Luther raged against the tyranny of the nobles in books and pamphlets over the next year or so and blamed their merciless conduct for continued peasant unrest" (p.433).

Reply #2
It occurred to me to actually go look at the documentation Marius provided for the assertion, "He privately exhorted rulers to strike the peasants hard, to kill them without mercy if they revolted. " Marius gives no documentation of this private exhortation previous to the peasants uprising, specifically the date. Popularly, the Peasant's War proper dates as early as 1524, but I don't think either Marius or this particular defender of Rome has this private exhortation going back that far.

According to Marius, Luther was in Eisleben in mid-April, 1525. That's true. LW 49 says he traveled there on April 16, 1525, and from there he wrote his Admontion for Peace. He left on April 21. According to LW 49:106, he then traveled through Thuringia in which he preached to the peasants that they should avoid violence and strive for peace, and this preaching was met with scorn. LW 47 states that by the end of April in the south "There the peasants had launched full-scale attacks upon their landlords and rulers, plundering and destroying castles, monasteries, and churches" (LW 46:47). During this time LW 46:47 states "The cities of Erfurt and Salzungen, among others, surrendered to the foe." PE IV:247 states, " Almost at the same time disturbances began in the neighborhood of Rothenburg and before May 1st most of Franconia was at the mercy of the peasant bands, led byFlorian Geyer and Goetz von Berlichingen." Sometime while traveling though Thuringia, Luther became aware of the extent of all this. LW 46 states the aproximate date of writing of Luther's treatise Against the Robing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants may have been May 4, 1525. It isn't certain of the exact date of composition, but it must have been some time in early May. As I've mentioned before, some scholars say there was a delay in the actual publication of this treatise.

Both Marius and this particular defender of Rome probably place the private exhortation sometime before the Battle of Frankenhausen, May 15, 1525 (of course, previous to May 15, battle forces were already en route). So this private exhortation must have come some time between April 21 and May 15. As far as I can tell, there wasn't any sort of in-person meeting in which Luther met with the German princes to discuss this during this time period. The only evidence I've found thus far to substantiate what Marius claimed is a letter written from Luther to John Rühel, May 4 (5?), 1525, and Martin Brecht says Luther counselled Duke John on May 1 and "encouraged him to resist the peasants" (Brecht 2, p.197) .  Here is the letter in which Luther addresses Count Albrecht through Rühel:

Grace and peace in Christ Honored, dear Doctor and Relative: During this whole trip I have constantly been mulling over the news which you told me in parting; therefore I must write to you now from here concerning this matter. To begin with, I urge you not to influence my gracious Lord, Count Albrecht, to be soft in this affair. Let His Grace continue as he has begun, even though the devil becomes angrier as a result and rages more through the demonic members of his body. For we have God’s Word, which does not lie; it says in Romans 13 [:4]: “He does not bear the sword in vain,” etc. So there can never be any doubt that the count’s office was decreed and ordained by God. Therefore, as long as life is in him, His Grace ought to use his sword for punishing the wicked. Should the sword be forcibly struck from His Grace’s hand, then we must endure this and leave it in God’s hands; he first gave the sword and he may take it back when and by what means he wishes. As a result His Grace may have a good conscience, and until death pursue and be dedicated to the duties of his office for the sake of God’s Word; God’s Word has ordained this office for as long as the Word is valid. This is the same as the fact that no one is to abandon any good work unless it is knocked from his hands by force, and no one is to forego an advantage in battle, or stop fighting unless he is overcome.
If there were thousands more of the peasants, they would still be altogether robbers and murderers, who take the sword simply because of their own insolence and wickedness, and who want to expel sovereigns [and] lords, and [to destroy] everything, and to establish a new order in this world. But for this they have neither God’s commandment, authority, right, or injunction, as the lords have it now. In addition, the peasants are faithless and are committing perjury toward their lords. Above all this, they borrow the authority of the divine Word and gospel [for covering up] their great sins, and thus disgrace and slander [God’s name]. If God in his wrath really lets them reach their goal (for which they by no means have God’s authority or command) then we shall have to endure it, just as when in other circumstances someone endures, or has to endure, injustice, but does not agree that they [who are making him suffer] are doing the right thing. I still firmly hope that the peasants will not be victorious, or at least not remain so, although God occasionally plagues the world with the most desperate characters, as he has done and is still doing with the Turks.
It is a mockery on the devil’s part when the peasants pretend that they do not hurt or harm anyone. Is it not doing harm when they drive out and kill their lords? If they do not wish to hurt anyone, why do they gather in hordes and demand that one yield to their demands? To hurt no one and yet to take everything—that’s the way the devil too would do good and hurt no one, if one would let him do as he pleases. Pure insolence is the [peasants’] only reason for driving out their lords. Why does one not rather improve what is wrong [with the system]? Look at the government of the S. It also began this way, and is now worse than it has ever been. There is no discipline or obedience [among the S.], and they are nothing but mercenaries.
In short: if God wants to pour out his wrath upon us and devastate Germany, then these enemies of God, these blasphemers, robbers, and murderers, these unfaithful and perjuring peasants are suitable for this. In that case we [will] endure this and call them lords, as Scripture calls the devil a sovereign and lord. But may God protect all devout Christians from consenting to something like this, or worshipping it—as he tempted Christ to do, Matthew 4:1 ff.—but [rather make us] resist [the peasants] in word and deed as long as we are able to do so, and die for this in God’s name. If the peasants should offer not to harm anyone as long as we yield to them, then we, in turn, should offer to surrender to them, and if necessary to state publicly that they rule over us as unfaithful, lying blasphemers and robbers, and that they do not have God’s right on their side, but only inspiration from the sovereign of this world. [For] the devil boasts in Matthew 4 [:8 f.], that he holds the entire world’s power and glory, and is able to give it to whom he wishes. Both are true, if God ordains it and does not prevent it.
I (for whom this is also meant, since the devil definitely wants to have me dead) am well aware that the devil is angry, since up to now he has been unable to accomplish anything, either by fraud or force. He is set to get rid of me, even if he has to attempt the worst and confound the whole world altogether. I almost believe and think that it is because of me that the devil is making such a mess in the world, in order that God might vex the world. Well, if I get home I shall prepare for death with God’s help, and await my new lords, the murderers and robbers, who tell me they will not harm anyone. They are like the highway robber who said to the good coachman: “I shall do you no harm, but give me all you have and drive where I tell you; and if you don’t you will die!” Beautiful innocence! How magnificently the devil decorates himself and his murderers! But I would rather lose my neck a hundred times than approve of and justify the peasants’ actions; may God help me with his grace to do this. If I can manage it, before I die I will still marry my Katie to spite the devil, should I hear that the peasants continue. I trust they will not steal my courage and joy. Their own god, and no one else, may believe their statement that they are not like Münzer.
I am writing this so that you may be comforted and can comfort others, especially my gracious lord, Count Albrecht. Encourage His Grace to continue courageously, to entrust this matter to God, and to act according to God’s divine command in using the sword for as long as he can. For the conscience is on firm ground in this case, even if one has to perish for it. On the other hand, even if the peasants served God’s wrath in punishing and destroying the sovereigns, God would nevertheless reward them with the fire of hell. In a short while the true judge will come, who will meet both the peasants and us: us with grace if we endure their violence and wickedness; them with wrath, since on their own they take up the sword, by which they will also perish, as Christ has already pronounced the judgment [in] Matthew 26 [:52]. Indeed, their actions and success cannot remain nor stand for long. Give my greetings to your dear Rib. Written at Seeburg, May 4, 1525 (LW 49:108-112)
Yes, the letter does suggest that Luther exhorted Albrecht (through Rühel) to continue to suppress the peasants ("Let His Grace continue as he has begun") and not "to be soft in this affair." As to Luther's counsel to Duke John, I have to check into that further beyond Brecht.  There's nothing in either of these statements inconsistent with what Luther said earlier in his Admonition to Peace in addressing both the rulers and the peasants.

Overall, I think what is being postulated about the impact of Luther's private exhortation is naive, to put it bluntly. Whatever Luther said or didn't say, the peasants would have been killed. Rulers intending to protect their lands and their power generally will take and use whatever they want to, and ignore whatever they want to. If Luther's words had the power of life and death over the peasants, why was the Admonition To Peace so ineffective in controlling those rulers who are said to be so motivated by Luther words? Obviously, Luther's words were not as crucial and important to the rulers as is being made out to be by this defender of Rome.  I don't believe Luther's words or opinion about suppressing the peasants actually provoked the killing of the peasants. On the other hand, his words, whether late off the press or not,  didn't help them either.

Addendum #1: "The lords needed no encouragement from a preacher. When Luther's nasty little tractate appeared, they were already butchering peasants by the thousand." Richard Marius, Luther, a Biography (New York: J.B. Lippencott company, 1974) pp. 200-201.

Addendum #2: Luther wrote Duke John of Saxony July, 1524 and presented the same position he maintained throughout 1525- that ruler's have a right to keep order in society by suppressing revolts.
So, although I am aware that your Graces will understand how to act in this matter better than I can advise you, nevertheless it is my humble duty to do my part, and humbly to pray and warn your Graces to fulfill your duty as civil governors by preventing mischief and forestalling rebellion. Your Graces may rest assured in your consciences that your power and rule was given and commended to you by God, that you might preserve the peace and punish those who break it, as St. Paul teaches in Romans. Therefore your Graces should neither sleep nor be idle, for God will demand an answer and reckoning from you for a careless or spiritless use of the sword. Moreover your Graces could not excuse yourselves before the people and the world if you allowed rebellion and crimes of violence to make headway.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers, Richard Marius, the pe..."
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Date: Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 21:13



....And now back to our regularly scheduled program
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)"
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Date: Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 17:26

Previous to the explosion of information the Internet has brought, those of us wishing to do research had to use university libraries and purchase rare expensive books. My own research into the Reformation began this way. Now, what was once costly and obscure is often seconds away at the touch of a mouse click. Often these books are found in the "public domain." These books can be well over one hundred years old, and while often containing otherwise obscure information, a significant flaw is that investigative scholarship does not stand still, and what may have been good scholarship one hundred years ago has been surpassed. Think of some of these books as Windows 95 or 98 and compare what those systems could do to what's available today on an average cell phone. 

One of the most popular sources for quoting Luther is the Tischreden, in English known as the Table Talk. The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death. Probably half of my Roman Catholic Luther studies involve tracking down obscure Luther quotes, and more often than not, these quotes find their way back to the Table Talk. It often appears to fall on deaf ears when I point out to the defenders of Rome that Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written. It was wonderful to find a recent Roman Catholic scholar pointing out that the Table Talk does not qualify unconditionally as a primary source. He stated "the real distortion of the Luther image occurred with the Table Talk" and that the Table Talk should be read for entertainment rather than as a serious historical guide.

The Table Talk is a source that's available in multiple versions spanning the course of history since the Reformation. Within Luther research, studying its contents and the history of its publication has a life all its own. One can spend quite a long time attempting to grasp how this Frankenstein's monster was put together. Even after multiple years of using this source, when I come across an obscure Luther quote taken from the Table Talk, it usually takes more time to research. Who recorded Luther's utterance? Are there similar utterances? What is it's pedigree of reliability?  Has it been translated correctly or fully from the original language? Which version of the Table Talk did it first appear in? What do we know of the context? What do we know of the date? What was going on at the time Luther is purported to have made the comment? These are the typical problems that each statement of the Table Talk brings to the table.

For those not willing to purchase Luther's Works vol. 54 (Table Talk) in English, the Internet provides a number of free alternate versions. Here's a partial list of what's available:

The Familiar Discourses of Dr. Martin Luther (1818)

Luther's Table Talk; or, Some Other Choice Fragments... (1832) Full

Martin Luther's Colloquia Mensalia Vol. 1 (1840) Full

Martin Luther's Colloquia Mensalia Vol. 2 (1840) Full

The Table Talk or Familiar discourses... (Hazlitt) (1848)

The Table Talk of Martin Luther (Hazlitt) (1857) Full

The Table Talk of Martin Luther (Hazlitt) (1872) Full

The Table Talk of Martin Luther (Hazlitt) (1875) Full

The Table Talk of Martin Luther (Hazlitt) (1878) no preview

Luther's Table Talk. Extracts Selected by Dr. Macaulay (1883)

The Table Talk of Martin Luther (Hazlitt) (1884) Snippet

Luther's Table Talk. Extracts Selected by Dr. Macaulay (1885)

Selections From the Table Talk (1886) Full

The Table Talk of Doctor Martin Luther (1893)

The Table Talk of Martin Luther (Hazlitt) (1902) Full

Conversations With Luther (Smith) (1915)

Selections From the Table Talk (2011) Limited Preview


With maybe the exception of Preserved Smith's 1915 publication, the rest are inferior to Luther's Works vol. 54. In fact, the majority of the editions above contain what appears to be a less than historical account of how the Table Talk was translated into English by Captain Henry Bell. The story put forth is that Luther's Tischreden was being sought out and destroyed  by the authorities, but one copy was discovered in 1626 "in a deep obscure hole" and eventually translated by Bell. The story takes twists and turns of what it took for Bell to eventually get the book translated and published, including false arrest, years of incarceration, and political subterfuge. The crowning moment of its publication was the House of Commons in 1646 noticed that in the book Luther "revok[ed] his opinion, formerly held, touching Consubstantiation in the Sacrament."

For a critical evaluation of Bell's claims, see: Preserved Smith, Luther's Table Talk, A Critical Study (1907) pp. 76-81. Smith challenges the notion that the German text was so obscure to find, or that it was ever under order to be destroyed on such a grand scale. Bell's ten year prison term is thought to be improbable. According to Smith, there isn't any evidence of Luther's changing view on the Sacrament in the text. The actual German text was probably from one of Aufifaber's editions, perhaps 1571, and what Bell put together was an incomplete translation (two-thirds may have been omitted from the German). Smith states, "The omissions were made with the purpose of pleasing the theologians of that day and place." The translation was also later attached to what Smith calls "the good old-fashioned style of invective" against Rome.

It appears there were at least three English translations: Bell, an unnamed translator, and that done by William Hazlitt. The unnamed translator is responsible for those volumes above entitled, Choice Fragments from the discourses of Luther. According to Smith, 1832's "Choice Fragments" "suppressed with the greatest care whatever really showed the free, joyous and somewhat coarse character of Luther, and in his translation we see him transformed into an English clergyman with an unctuous regard for the proprieties, polished, well brought-up, grave and formal in his conversation."

Hazlitt's translation (1848) seems to be the most readily available on the Internet. Hazlitt's preface takes parts of Bell's introduction and part of a French translation (Brunet) and includes the errors found in the French version.

For a good list of the English versions of the Table Talk previous to 1915, see Smith's compilation.

Best bet for English speakers: stick with Luther's Works vol; 54. While it's wonderful to have all these old editions of the Table Talk, having the more critical and careful edition shows a critical and careful love of history.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Table Talk"
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Date: Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 04:00
The way it usually plays out: Tetzel gets thrown under the bus for his significant role in the indulgence controversy. But what about Rome? Were they at fault as well? Below are some sobering words from Roman historian Jospeh Lortz on the culpability of the pope and Rome:

The full disintegrating power of the abuse of indulgences was revealed in that affair which became the occasion of Luther's first public appearance. 

In 1513 the twenty-three-year-old Albrecht of Brandenburg, youngest brother of the prince elector Joachim, was elected archbishop of the important diocese of Magdeburg by the cathedral chapter. (Albrecht's predecessor had been a Saxon, who also occupied the see of Mainz.) It was an old tradition that the same young man be installed as administrator of the collegiate church in Halberstadt. Finally, in 1514, Albrecht was elected by the cathedral chapter of Mainz to be archbishop of this diocese also, and prince elector. He had undertaken to support the collegiate prebend at his own expense. We have already learned how Mainz was in need of cutting down its expenditure. Within the space of  ten years the archepiscopal see had thrice fallen vacant, and each time the confirmation dues to Rome for the see and the pallium had amounted to 14,000 ducats. 

Now Albrecht had to apply to the pope not only for confirmation of his election to Mainz but also for permission to occupy this see while retaining that of Magdeburg and the administration of Halberstadt. Such an accumulation of benefices was unheard of, in Germany at least, and was in fact forbidden by canon law. But Leo X was not going to be hindered too much by canon law when political and financial advantage was at stake. With his decisive connivance the ambassadors from Brandenburg were granted confirmation on payment of an additional 10,000 ducats. Moreover it was the curia who made this proposal acceptable to the ambassadors, for they suggested a method by which Albrecht might raise all or part of the sum to be paid. They would make over to the archbishop of Mainz the sale of the St Peter's indulgence in the archdiocese of Mainz and in the Brandenburg territories, allowing him a half share in the proceeds. The contract was perfect; a deal was made with the Fuggers who, in return for a share in the income from the indulgence, advanced the archbishop 29,000 Rhenish guilders - and the whole shameful business was complete. 

That this let loose the Reformation storm is highly symbolic and an expression of historical retribution, for all the corruption in the Church of that time had its chief cause in the fiscalism of the curia, which was rotten with simony. In the case just mentioned, the curia, contrary to canon law, in return for cash, and in the hope of gaining political advantage, were allowing a young, worldly man to hold an irresponsible accumulation of benefices. In so doing they turned indulgences into a means of exchange in big business. The executive organ of this business carried on between the custodian of the merits won by Christ's blood and a worldly prince of the Church was a bank. Corruption could scarcely have been more blatantly expressed. We are struck with amazement to discover that Catholic theologians are still so hide-bound by formalism that they can discuss whether or not this affair was simony according to the strict letter of canon law. Even to raise such a question is to create religious confusion. Anyone can see that the whole affair is utterly at war with the Spirit of Christ. 

 As a result of various delays, it turned out that the preaching of the indulgence, taken over by the prince elector of Mainz, did not start until the beginning of 1517. For the most part the monetary yield was little enough. The indulgence preachers of the elector of Mainz based their sermons upon his instructio summaria. This short guide provides an exact illustration of what has just been said about the abuses of the indulgence system. Its theory can be justified; but the tendency has to be sharply rejected, for, by the use of pious formulae, it was rapidly turning the indulgence sermon into sheer commercial advertising. Money, which was of secondary importance, became the central thing; the atmosphere of the sale-room prevailed everywhere; there were pompous and solemn openings, and then bargain clearances at the end. 

The Dominican, Tetzel, subcommissar general of the archbishop of Mainz, faithfully followed out the spirit of this instruction. There is no doubt that he taught: As soon as your money clinks in the bowl Out of purgatory jumps the soul. Admittedly it is also certain that he never claimed that an indulgence could expiate future sins. This calumny was first set going by Luther in his pamphlet Against Hans Worst in 1541. Tetzel was very weil paid; but he cannot be charged with any serious misdemeanours. He was not one of those indulgence preachers of whom Eck compliained that they paid their mistresses with certificates of indulgence and confession. But he was one of those, piloried by Emser, for whom repentance and contrition had become eclipsed by money. In fact, for the sake of financial gain he stressed in a dangerous way the mitigation of the demands of the gospel of redemption. 

Joseph Lortz, The Reformation in Germany vol. 1(New York: Herder and Herder, 1949) pp. 225-227.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Indulgences, johann tetzel"
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 03:41
How widespread was that taught by Tetzel in regard to indulgences for the dead?


The old Catholic Encyclopedia says:

As much cannot be said about his teaching regarding indulgences for the dead. The couplet attributed to him — As soon as the gold in the casket rings The rescued soul to heaven springs, like that attributed to Luther, Who loves not wine and wife and song Remains a fool his life long; though verbally spurious, can in both instances be in substance unfailingly traced to the writings of their respective authors. By Tetzel they are substantially acknowledged in his Frankfort theses. Here he accepted the mere school opinion of a few obscure writers, which overstepped the contents of papal indulgence Bulls. This opinion found no recognition but actual condemnation at the hands of authoritative writers, and was rejected in explicit terms by Cardinal Cajetan as late as 1517-19.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia says:

Tetzel was orthodox in regard to indulgences for the living. In regard to those for the dead, however, he followed the teaching contained in the Mainz Instruction issued to preachers of indulgences. That is, he taught the then widespread, erroneous theological opinion that indulgences for the dead were gained independently of dispositions of contrition in the person seeking the indulgence, who also had the right to apply them absolutely to a specific soul in purgatory. Cajetan condemned this teaching at Rome.

Now that's historical clarity!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "johann tetzel"
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