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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 04:00
Here's an interesting post I found on the"King James Only" CARM discussion board, relating to the idea that particular translations of the Bible receive divine approval. Apparently, some of the KJV only folks argue that Luther's German Bible was God's approved German translation. I'm sure Luther would have been flattered by that! The point being addressed is if Luther's German translation was divinely approved of and the KJV was divinely approved of, why are there differences?

If according to KJV-only reasoning Luther’s German Bible and the KJV are equal to the same underlying texts, it suggests that they are equal to each other. When the water of the Received text was poured out into Luther’s German Bible, did it not remain the same water according to KJV-only reasoning? If according to KJV-only reasoning Luther’s German Bible and the KJV are equal to the same thing [the self-attesting, self-authenticating word of God], it again indicates that they are equal to each other. J. J. Ray maintained that “things equal to the same thing are equal to each other” (God Wrote Only One Bible, p. 29). Likewise, D. A. Waite acknowledged that “things equal to the same thing are equal to each other” (Fundamentalist Deception, p. 84). Waite wrote: “As in geometry, two things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other” (Critical Answer to Michael, p. 119). According to the KJV-only view’s own tree, Luther’s German Bible and the KJV are branches on the same tree. This would also seem to imply that they are equal to each other. In his book Biblical Scholarship, Ruckman referred to the “Luther‘s Bible and the King James Bible” (p. 56), “Receptus of King James and Martin Luther” (p. 94), “Martin Luther’s German Bible and the King James Bible” (p. 142), and “Martin Luther’s German Bible and the King James Authorized English Bible” (p. 390), seeming to make them equal. According to a consistent application of KJV-only claims and reasoning, Luther’s German Bible and the KJV would have equal authority, and one of these translations cannot have greater authority than the other. If a standard and consensus English translation of the Received text is supposed to be self-attesting and self-authenticating, a standard and consensus German translation of that same text would also need to be self-attesting and self-authenticating. Is Luther's German Bible the consensus and sole final authority for believers that speak German? Can there be two varying and different consensus sole and final authorities for any believers that speak both English and German? Based on what greater authority or standard can it be claimed that one of these translations is greater than or superior to the other? If there are any differences between them, it is valid evidence of the need a greater authority than either of these translations to determine which is more accurate.

All the editions of Luther's Bible published during Luther's lifetime did not include 1 John 5:7, Mark 11:26, and Luke 17:36 in addition to many other differences when compared to the KJV. When compared to the KJV, Luther's Bible was also missing phrases at John 19:38, James 4:6, 1 John 2:23, Revelation 18:23, and Revelation 21:26. Glenn Conjurske observed: "The fact is, (in addition to numerous other differences) there are whole verses in the King James Version which neither are nor ever have been in Luther's German" (Olde Paths, Sept., 1997, p. 212). Preserved Smith reported that 1 John 5:7 was first placed in the German Bible in 1575 (Age of Reformation, p. 570). Conjurske also pointed out that Luther omitted 1 John 5:7 from the revised edition of the Latin Vulgate that he published in 1529 (March, 1997, p. 72).

KJV-only author Peter Ruckman seemed to suggest that “Luther’s German Bible is nearly identical” to the KJV (Bible Babel, p. 91). Ruckman recommended “Martin Luther's German version" (Scholarship Only Controversy, p. 1). In his commentary on the book of Revelation, Ruckman wrote: “Martin Luther’s German Bible is the same text as the King James, 1611” (p. 80). In his same commentary, Ruckman asserted: “Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible is a monument in the German language, exactly as the King James Bible is a monument in the English language” (p. 82). Ruckman wrote: “Martin’s German Bible is the German King James Bible. It is the equivalent of the ‘King’s English,’ and so all affirm” (Biblical Scholarship, p. 146). Ruckman wrote: “God produced a German Textus Receptus for the Continent” (p. 230). Ruckman asserted: “Never hesitate to correct any Greek text with the text of the ‘Reichstext’” (Monarch of the Books, p. 19). Bradley stated that Luther's Bible "is still considered the preserved Word of God for the German-speaking world” and that it “was produced from the same reliable text as the King James Bible" (Purified Seven Times, p. 36).

The Argument
I don't have the KJV only books mentioned above to check the references to see if the authors had Luther's Bible in mind (J.J. Ray, D.A. Waite, Peter Ruckman), but it appears the argument is presented correctly. Ruckman states,
"One of the most asinine things you ever heard in your life is a modern, present-day evangelist, standing in the pulpit, talking about great revivals to come, when he no longer believes the Authorized Version is the word of God. Martin Luther's German Bible is the same text as the King James, 1611. Subsequently, all Bibles in Europe and the United States, from these translations, are Textus Receptus, Greek Byzantine text, Syrian type text, and they are NOT the text of the North African Latin Church - in other words today, the Roman Catholic Church."
 This website states:
As an interesting aside, the Martin Luther Bible has a lot to do with the King James Version only debate. Those that hold to KJV only have to provide a Bible in all languages, not just English. They have chosen Luther's 1545 edition as their German champion. The problem is that the passage about three bearing witness in heaven is one of their main arguing points, and Martin Luther did not include it in his Bible. The Martin Luther Bible now contains it, but it was added in 1574 by a Frankfurt publisher (Schaff, cited in text, VII:4:62)
If the KJV only position has been put forth accurately, then the refutation is sound. Dr. White points out that the KJV only advocates claim the Textus Receptus is the "text of the Reformation." It would not surprise me at all to discover KJV only advocates molding history to fit their paradigm.

Tedium: The References
The reference to Preserved Smith can be found here. Smith was a knowledgeable Reformation scholar and not one to defend the Reformers at all costs. One will find that in this text one page earlier Smith describes Luther's Bible: "Among the great vernacular Protestant versions of the Bible that of Luther stands first in every sense of the word." A paragraph later he states, "All too much Luther read his own ideas into the Bible." Of the reference in question, Smith states, "Also, following the Erasmian text, he omitted the 'comma johanneum' (1 John v, 7); this was first insinuated into the German Bible in 1575."

The quotes from Glenn Conjurske (1947-2001) are curious. The September 1997 was a passing comment in an article in which neither KJV onlyism or Luther's Bible was the topic. The quote from March 1997 is more relevant:
We have informed our readers in these pages before that Luther omitted I John 5:7 from every edition of his German New Testament which he published during his lifetime. I have recently learned that he also omitted it from the revised edition of the Latin Vulgate which he published in 1529. This edition is printed in the large German edition of D. Martin Luthers Werke (Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1914)----no indication in the book which volume this is of the whole set, but it is Fünfter Band of D. Martin Luthers Deutsche Bibel. The text of I John 5:7-8 appears thus: Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant, Spiritus, Aqua et Sanguis, et hi tres simul sunt. The common Vulgate text (Clementine edition), on the other hand, reads thus (with the words omitted by Luther in bold type): Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in cælo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus; et hi tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra: spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis; et hi tres unum sunt. This omission was a bold step on Luther's part, for, as Scrivener informs us, the verse is found “in perhaps 49 out of every 50”[manuscripts of the Vulgate, but the very boldness of the step proves beyond cavil, if any further proof were wanted, that Luther did not believe in the genuineness of the verse.

The Bible Verses
The information about Luther's Bible not including 1 John 5:7, Mark 11:26, and Luke 17:36 appears on various websites, (typically discussion boards) debunking KJV only arguments like this one: "the fact that Luther's German Bible did not include Mark 11:26, Luke 17:36, 1 John 5:7, and many other clauses and phrases in the KJV is ignored."

Luther's treatment of 1 John 5:7 is a well-known fact. This old Sunday School newspaper mentions that it was the printer Feyerabeud who inserted 1 John 5:7 into Luther's Bible in 1574, and this old source says it was in Frankfort 1574, but later in Frankfort in 1583, it was taken out again.

The information about the other verses isn't as easy to locate. This website claims to have a 1545 Luther Bible. Luke 17:36 is missing, while Mark 11:26 is included, but is actually what we know to be the later part of Mark 11:25: "auf daß auch euer Vater im Himmel euch vergebe eure Feile." Other online 1545 Luther Bible's have the missing verse 26.

It is also asserted that "Luther's Bible was also missing phrases at John 19:38, James 4:6, 1 John 2:23, Revelation 18:23, and Revelation 21:26." If you Google search this, it appears to me it's probably the same person that's responsible for all the hits. I would be interested to know who originally did the research.  I took the time to compare the online 1545 Luther Bible to the 1912 online Luther Bible.

John 19:38
1545: Darnach bat den Pilatus Joseph von Arimathia, der ein Jünger Jesu war, doch heimlich aus Furcht vor den Juden, daß er möchte abnehmen den Leichnam Jesu. Und Pilatus erlaubte es.

1912: Darnach bat den Pilatus Joseph von Arimathia, der ein Jünger Jesu war, doch heimlich aus Furcht vor den Juden, daß er möchte abnehmen den Leichnam Jesu. Und Pilatus erlaubte es. Da kam er und nahm den Leichnam Jesu herab.

James 4:6
1545: und gibt reichlich gnade.

1912: Er gibt aber desto reichlicher Gnade. Darum sagt sie: "Gott widersteht den Hoffärtigen, aber den Demütigen gibt er Gnade."

1 John 2:23
1545: Wer den Son leugnet  Der hat auch den Vater nicht.

1912: Wer den Sohn leugnet, der hat auch den Vater nicht; wer den Sohn bekennt, der hat auch den Vater

Revelation 18:23
1545:  und die tim des Breutigams und der Braut ol nicht mehr in dir gehöret werden Denn deine Kauffleute waren Fürten auff erden Denn durch deine Zeuberey ind verirret worden alle Heiden

1912: und das Licht der Leuchte soll nicht mehr in dir leuchten, und die Stimme des Bräutigams und der Braut soll nicht mehr in dir gehört werden! Denn deine Kaufleute waren Fürsten auf Erden; denn durch deine Zauberei sind verführt worden alle Heiden.

Revelation 21:26
1545: und wird nicht hineingehen irgend ein Gemeines und das da Greuel tut und Lüge Sondern die geschrieben sind in dem lebendigen Buch des Lambs

1912: Und man wird die Herrlichkeit und die Ehre der Heiden in sie bringen.

The only error here is that of Revelation 21:26. According to the online 1545 version I utilized, verses 26-27 constitute one verse.  The 1912 version is two separate verses: 

26 Und man wird die Herrlichkeit und die Ehre der Heiden in sie bringen.
27 Und es wird nicht hineingehen irgend ein Gemeines und das da Greuel tut und Lüge, sondern die geschrieben sind in dem Lebensbuch des Lammes
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "king james only, Luther and the Canon, P..."
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 05:30
Those of you keeping up with Roman Catholic apologetics may have come across Dr. White's recent entry, Jason Stellman’s Unmitigated Disaster.

Mr. Stellman's entry documented his hardship since joining Rome, and then ends with his own version of Here I Stand, I can do no other.

Then throughout the few hundred comments, this sort of sentiment is repeated often:

"I don’t have any great words of wisdom that you don’t already know as well as anyone, that your reward will be great in heaven. I know that is often of little consolation when our temporal challenges (what you called “humanly speaking”) seem so overwhelming. But we receive our salvation “humanly speaking” as well; it is our humanness that is redeemed!"

"Jason Stellman, You are not alone. We all have to suffer friend. Count your blessings and look to heaven. You never know what God has in store for you next."

"However, we all need these times in our life to be tested, tried and prepared… It takes suffering to bring forth joy. It takes labor to have a baby, it takes time, effort and so much pain to win a race. It took the stations of the cross for us to have salvation… So just be sure this is all for your benefit (Rom 8,28), you will handle it and you’ll be stronger and wiser."

"You have my greatest respect, Jason. Since my husband and I converted several years ago we have heard from a number of fellow Protestant ministers who admit they feel called to Rome, but they don’t follow the call out of fear for their finances. I have almost given up hope for most of them and fear for their souls since they seem to be saying no to Christ in this way. I hope they will turn in time. But you did not count the cost. You saw Jesus in the blessed sacrament and followed Him. He is our life and hope. I know He will lead you into greener pastures."

And these comments go on and on.

A few years ago a friend of mine struggled for years to take care of his family and pay his bills. After years of struggling in the ministry, he finally landed a decent job as an assistant pastor in a non-denominational church. Then after a few years, the senior pastor retired, and named him as his successor. If I recall correctly, the job paid somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000. It included a nice house, health insurance, and a retirement package. This wasn't a mega church, but a small congregation in a nice area. And he lived happily ever after...

No, he didn't live happily ever after. Things were going smoothly until after studying a particular theological issue, he ended up preaching heresy from the pulpit. The church fired him, and the entire thing ravaged the small congregation. He did not go willingly, but rather convinced he was being persecuted for the truth. With the particular heresy he embraced, he found himself a new set of friends that gave him the same sort of sentiment documented above. He began writing for this heretical movement- even giving his testimony (for lack of a better word) of how he was booted unjustly from his church for embracing the "truth." He had a podcast. He had a blog (actually a few blogs). He was part of a radio network embracing this particular heresy, etc.

Suffering is a tricky thing. I have a friend of mine at church who has severe health problems, as does his wife. It's amazing they're still alive. He rarely mentions it. In fact, I have to pry it out of him at times to find out how he's doing. On the other hand, Stellman says: "To be honest, I don’t really know why I am posting this. I know for a fact that much of the information I am divulging will be received with glee from many in the Calvinistic world." I think it's fairly obvious why it was posted.

I don't consider myself gleeful about anything Mr. Stellman posted. I don't wish for my friend, the heretic he is- to be without income, unable to provide for his family, or excommunicated from the church. Neither do I wish those things for Mr. Stellman. But, my basic point is that struggle and hardship as the result of theological convictions do not equal truth. People have been persecuted for religious beliefs for hundreds of years- and some of these people were not even within the realm of Christian theism. I don't think my friend was thrown out of his church unjustly. Nor do I think Mr. Stellman's congregation excommunicated him unjustly.  Wherever my friend is now, with whatever struggle he's having- these are not because of the truth.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Conversion Issues, Conversion S..."
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 21:59
One popular theological tidbit circulating is that Calvin did not produce a commentary on the Book of Revelation because he admitted he couldn't understand it:

One of the few books in the Bible that Calvin never wrote a commentary on was the Book of Revelation - he acknowledged that he couldn't understand it. (source)

Even John Calvin, who wrote commentaries on every book of the Bible, skipped Revelation because he did not understand it. (source)

It appears this notion has a long history, being traced back at least to The dictionary historical and critical of Mr. Peter Bayle, Volume 2, There Bayle says:

Scaliger, among other things, commended him for not commenting on the Revelations. He owned him however for the happiest of all the Commentators, in apprehending the Sense of the Prophets. O quam Calvinus bene assequitur mentem Prophetarumm? nemo melius — 'Oh how well Calvin has followed the mind of the Prophets! none better.' [Scaligerana p. 41.]. Since then he adds, Sapit quod in Apocalypsim non scripsit, that is to say, He was in the right not to attempt the Revelations; he must be of Opinion, that there was nothing to be done on that Book. I have read in Bodin what I am going to relate: 'In oraculis interpretandis, malui judiciorum illam formulam, NON LIQUET, usurpare, quam temere ex aliorum opinione non intellecta cuiquam assentiri. Ac valde mihi probatur Calvini non minus urbana quam prudens oratio: qui de libro Apocalypseos sententiam rogatus, ingenue respondit, se penitus ignorare quid velit tam obscurus scriptor: qui qualisque fuerit nondum constat inter eruditos. [Methodus historica cap. VII, p. 416] - In interpreting the Scriptures, I had rather use that judicial Form, IT DOES NOT APPEAR, than rashly subscribe to the Opinion of another which I do not understand. And I am very much pleased with that Saying of Calvin's, which was no less candid than discreet, who, being asked his Opinion of the Book of the Revelations, replied ingenuously, that he was not able to understand anything in so obscure a Writer, whose Name and History were not yet settled among the learned.' I should be glad to know whether Calvin said this in any of his Writings, or only in Conversation; I am more apt to believe the Latter; for it would not have become a Man of his Character to declare, that the learned were not yet agreed who was the Author of the Revelations. [source.]
I found this citation in T.H.L. Parker, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, pp. 117-118. Parker points out that the evidence provided by Scaliger is no more than an opinion. Parker then questions whether or not Jean Bodin (1533-96) ever had any contact with Calvin, and then dismisses his comment as gossip.

The bottom line is there appears to be no credible historical evidence John Calvin said he did not produce a commentary on Revelation because he could not understand it.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "John Calvin, Peter Bayle, Revelation, Sc..."
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Date: Sunday, 05 Oct 2014 12:34

Find out here.

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "R.C. Sproul, satan"
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Date: Saturday, 04 Oct 2014 04:20
Here's a tract offered by Catholic Answers: The Great Heresies. The tract outlines all the popular heresies, like, Gnosticism, Montanism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, to name a few... and included in their list is that dastardly sect, Protestantism.

Here's one of the key points:
To commit heresy, one must refuse to be corrected. A person who is ready to be corrected or who is unaware that what he has been saying is against Church teaching is not a heretic.
Depending on which defender of Rome you're talking to, you may be OK believing your Protestant heresy. I've come across some Romanists that say you are only committing heresy if you know that Rome is the true church, but still choose to believe something contrary to what she says. So according to these folks I'm not committing heresy because I don't believe Rome is the true church. Then there are those zealous defenders of Rome who long for the old days and realize the absurd qualifier just described is just that... absurd.

It's interesting to watch one of the less-ecumenical defenders of Rome on the Catholic Answers Apologetics forum clean up the ecumenical mess of recent Roman history:
That's for people who are absolutely clueless. They have to be innocently ignorant of this topic to qualify. It doesn't cover those who are NOT innocently ignorant. i.e. put little effort to learn the truth, or refuses to learn, or pretend to be ignorant, or are just hard of heart, or just plain stubborn, ( 1791 , 1859 ) they are NOT considered ignorant but culpable for their state. That's why the CCC states that Once someone "knows" 846 then they are required to act. And this knowlege is easy to find today. It's never been easier. (source)
For clarification Protestants are NOT the Catholic Church, no matter their stripe. Protestantism regardless the stripe, is listed in The Great Heresies "for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity". We talked about the following just the other day. For those born outside the Catholic Church, aren't guilty of schism. But when they come to the knowledge of the Catholic Church, her founder, and necessity for being in the Catholic Church for salvation, would refuse to enter the Catholic Church, THEN they become guilty of that sin. Their Ignorance is no longer innocent. (source)
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers, heresy"
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 04:00
This warmed my heart: When Catholic Books Were... Catholic Books from the Catholic Champion website.
There is a section of the book speaking of Protestants in general, which as we know often attack the Catholic Church, strongly opposes their errors. Unfortunately most of today's Catholic apologists have no where near the knowledge or spine to speak plainly as the Catholics of old have done.
"Protestants being thus impious enough to make liars of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and of the apostles, need we wonder if they continually slander Catholics, telling and believing worse absurdities about them than the heathens did?... All these grievous transgressions are another source of their reprobation."
The Catholic Champion does a fine job demonstrating that within the category of those that defend Rome against Protestantism, there is not always an apparent unity or even a real unity. The Champion is correct that if one visits Roman Catholic books from 100 years ago, the arguments against Protestantism were presented in a different (and often harsher) tone. Now, it's not uncommon to find shows like that which is found regularly on Catholic Answers in which the entire program is dedicated to a cordial chat with "non-Catholics."
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Best Blog Refuting Roman Catholic Apolog..."
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 04:00
One popular theological tidbit circulating in Reformed circles is the revelation that Calvin did not produce a commentary on the Book of Revelation.  T.H.L Parker gives some interesting facts about this:

1. In John Bale's commentary on Revelation (The Image of Both Churches, 1547), he lists the commentaries on Revelation that he's seen, and those that are thought to exist that he has not seen. He includes Calvin in his list.

2. In the Marloratus commentary on Revelation, he mention Calvin as having produced a commentary. He cites Calvin on Revelation, but these Calvin citations are from known works of Calvin.

3. "The catalogue of the Bibliotheque publique et universitaire de Geneve ascribes an anonymously published commentary on Revelation to Calvin: Familiere et briefve exposition sur l'Apocalypse de Sainct Jehan l'Apostre. Geneve. Jehan Gerard 1539 " (Parker, 117).

All three of these instances appear to be spurious. Parker examined the anonymous publication and determined  that the method and exegesis were not Calvin's.

4. A second-hand report (at best) suggests Calvin did not write on Revelation because he said he could not understand the book. This quote is republished by Parker on pages 117-18, and Parker says he's "apt to believe he did not say it at all" (118).

5. Parker suggests that Calvin did not write on Revelation due to a theological reason. Calvin saw the Old Testament as concealing Christ, but the New Testament presented Christ clearly. "...[H]e may have considered that apocalyptic is foreign to the New Testament as if it involved a re-veiling of the clear and unambiguous Gospel" (Parker, 119).  
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "John Calvin, Revelation"
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 04:00
"On a more frivolous note- although it was meant to be taken quite seriously- Luther's supporter Johann Brenz attempted a novel refutation of Zwingli's insistence that the body of Christ is physically present at the right hand of God in heaven. Brenz computed the distance between the earth and heaven by means of his own, and arrived at the distance of 16,338,562 German miles. Given the speed of Jesus' ascent from the Mount of Olives, as Brenz estimated it, Brenz concluded that the body of Jesus could not yet have reached heaven by the sixteenth century" (Harold O.J. Brown, Heresies (Grand rapids: Baker books, 1984), 325).
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Eucharist, Johann Brenz, real presence"
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 04:00
See: Mother who prayed to Fulton Sheen speaks of ‘confusion and sadness’ after Cause is suspended

As opposed to: Vatican theologians approve Fulton Sheen miracle

"In March, a seven-member board of physicians convoked by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints agreed that there was no natural explanation for why the child’s heart started beating over an hour after his birth. The child, James Fulton Engstrom, is now three years old and developing normally. His mother, Bonnie Engstrom, said she had no precomposed prayer asking for help from Archbishop Sheen. “I just kept repeating his name over and over in my head: Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen,” said Ms Engstrom."

Addendum: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 11

Q. 30. Do such then believe in Jesus the only Saviour, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?

A.They do not; for though they boast of him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Saviour; (a) for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Saviour; or that they, who by a true faith receive this Saviour, must find all things in him necessary to their salvation. (b)

(a) 1 Cor.1:13,30,31; Gal.5:4.

(b) Heb.12:2; Isa.9:6; Col.1:19,20; Col.2:10; 1 John 1:7,16.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Fulton Sheen, News from Rome, Saints"
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 04:00
Below is a Lutheran evaluation of the Reformed rejection of the real presence in the Lord's Supper (taken  from the CARM boards, emphasis in the original):

The Reformed insist that Acts 3:21 makes it IMPOSSIBLE for JESUS (the inseparable God/Man) to be anywhere but in heaven. This objection...  is(sadly) based on Calvin's unique mistranslation of the text. Here's the verse: "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:21 KJV "whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago." Acts 3:21 ESV "whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." Acts 3:21 NAB. But Calvin mistranslated the verse in his Geneva Bible of 1599, "Whome the heauen must containe vntill the time that all thinges be restored, which God had spoken by the mouth of all his holy Prophets since the world began." See http://biblehub.com/text/acts/3-21.htm

The argument being proposed is that the Reformed believe Christ now has a body that can only be in one place at a time, so he cannot be physically present in the Eucharist. Hence the Reformed commit heresy by dividing the two natures of Jesus (or limiting the divine nature of Jesus). Calvin mistranslated Acts 3:21 in the 1599 Geneva Bible using the word "contain" rather than "receive," thus locating Christ only in Heaven and therefore denying his presence in the Eucharist.

Basic Refutation: Calvin did Not Translate the 1599 Geneva Bible
What's blatantly right about this argument is that the Reformed who historically follow in the footsteps of Calvin do indeed hold that the human body of Christ is in Heaven and therefore not physically present in the Lord's Supper. What's blatantly wrong about this argument is that Calvin did not translate the Geneva Bible of 1599. It would be enough to leave this here, but there are some other historical and theological factors that need to be addressed.

The Book of Concord on "Receive"
The Lutheran argument mentioned above was probably not original, but rather appears to be a muddled version of something from the Book of Concord, or more exactly, The Formula of Concord (1577). There it states,
8. Likewise, the teaching that because of his bodily ascension to heaven Christ is so confined and circumscribed by a certain space in heaven that he is neither able nor willing to be truly and essentially present with us in the Supper, which is celebrated according to Christ’s institution on earth, but that he is as far or as distant from it as heaven and earth are separated from each other. In support of their error, some Sacramentarians have deliberately and maliciously falsified the words in Acts 3:21, “Christ must take possession of heaven,” to read “Christ must be received by heaven”—that is, Christ must be so taken in or circumscribed or comprehended by or in heaven that he in no way can or wills to be with us on earth with his human nature. [Tappert, T. G. (Ed.).  The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959) (p. 590)]
Note how The Book of Concord says part of the translating error is "received" while the CARM Lutheran argument at the top of this entry says "received" is the correct translation! Then in its place, The Book of Concord would rather the translation be, "Christ must take possession of heaven." If the charge of creating an English version to comply with theological paradigms is to be applied anywhere, it seems to me this Lutheran translation of Acts 3:21 is a more fitting example. The Lutherans argue that "Christ" is the subject of the sentence, so "Christ must take possession of heaven." The Reformed say "heaven" is the subject of the sentence. so “Christ must be received by heaven.” Grammatically, either is possible. Of the major English versions I checked, none follow the Lutheran grammatical structure- even with some putting forth "He must remain in heaven" which undercuts the Lutheran argument (see this parallel web-page, and also this parallel web-page for examples of English translations of Acts 3:21).

Chemnitz on "Receive"
What's interesting about the history of the Formula of Concord here is that this criticism of using "receive" and locating Christ in heaven may not originally have had only Calvinists in view, but rather another group of Lutherans. According to Theodore R. Jungkuntz (author of Formulators of the Formula of Concord) the initial disapproval of  "receive" was voiced by previously by Martin Chemnitz. For a good description of this Lutheran faction see Robert Kolb, Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, and Hero,  pp. 105-112. Kolb notes it's misleading to refer to these Lutherans as "Crypto-Calvinists," and rather prefers the phrase "Crypto-Philippists" (105-106).  Kolb says the doctrinal agenda of this group "developed, however, far less under Calvinist influence than through continuing adaption of insights gained from Melanchthon's Christology and sacramental theology" (106). For the exegetical view of Chemnitz on Acts 3:21, see the addendum below. The irony here is that Lutheran argument presented initially doesn't seem to realize this in-house squabble- that it wasn't simply Calvinists that were using Acts 3:21 to locate Christ's body in heaven, but Lutherans as well

Calvin, the Geneva Bible, and "Must Contain"
The question still remains as to whether or not Calvin deliberately mistranslated Acts 3:21 with the word "contain." When one does check Calvin's commentary on Acts 3:21, one finds the verse translated as "Whom heaven must contain until the time that all things be restored" and then the following commentary from Calvin:
21. Whom the heaven must contain. Because men’s senses are always bent and inclined towards the gross and earthly beholding of God and Christ, the Jews might think with themselves that Christ was preached, indeed, to be raised up from the dead, yet could they not tell where he was; for no man did show them where he was. Therefore Peter preventeth them, when he saith that he is in heaven. Whereupon it followeth that they must lift up their minds on high, to the end they may seek Christ with the eyes of faith, although he be far from them, although he dwell without the world in the heavenly glory. But this is a doubtful speech; because we may as well understand it that Christ is contained or comprehended in the heavens, as that he doth comprehend the heavens. Let us not therefore urge the word, being of a doubtful signification; but let us content ourselves with that which is certain, that we must seek for Christ nowhere else save only in heaven, whilst that we hope for the last restoring of all things; because he shall be far from us, until our minds ascend high above the world. 
The Lutheran charging Calvin with error appears to not realize that Calvin did not write this in English. This English translation is from Christopher Featherstone, 1585 (made not that long after Calvin's death, 1564). Henry Beveridge edited it and updated the English in 1844. Beveridge's English version of Featherstone is what is popularly found today.  In fact, as far as I can tell, Featherstone's (Beveridge) translation is the only complete English translation available of Calvin's Commentary on Acts (For an interesting look at Featherstone, see this link). Could it be simply that Featherstone was familiar with the Geneva Bible's rendering of Acts 3:21 when he translated Calvin's Latin? The entire Geneva Bible was published in 1560. Could this be the simple reason Calvin is translated as saying "must contain"?

The first thing I did was check the Latin version of Calvin's comments on Acts 3:21.  Corpus Reformatorum vol. 48 reads, Quem oportet coélum cape, which is literally something like, "whom the heaven must take" (p. 72). Earlier Calvin offers the following translation of Acts 3:21, "quem oportet coelum capere usque ad tempora restitutionis omnium, quae loquutus est per os omnium sanctorum prophetarum a sacculo." The phrase in question is something like "He must get to heaven." The idea is that Christ is to be received and taken into Heaven. In Latin, "Take" and "contain" both have capere as an equivalent. Capere is the present infinitive of "capio."
Capio: Verb present active capiō, present infinitive capere, perfect active cēpī, supine captum
1. I capture, seize, take.
2. I take on.
3, I take in, understand.
According to this source: "To take in, receive, hold, contain, be large enough for"

All this being said, the English translation of "must contain" is within the realm of possibility for the Latin, but does not appear to be the most concise rendering. This old source cites Wescott (who cites P. Cotton) noting "three or four instances of unfair bias in favor of Calvinistic doctrine in the English Genevan Version."  Acts 3:21 is used as an example for "must contain" and this "unfair bias."

I do not have the historical sources to determine if Featherstone followed the Geneva Bible, if he followed a Reformed translation paradigm of the times (i.e., an "unfair bias in favor of Calvinistic doctrine"), or if his English rendering of Calvin's Latin was his own. That being said, there are also a few scattered references in Calvin's writings in which the English word "contain" is used in regard to Acts 3:21, but I have neither the time, primary texts, or language skills required to look them up to compare and contrast. Calvin though had both received and contained in mind. For instance, In Book 4 of the Institutes, Calvin says:
For as we do not doubt that Christ’s body is limited by the general characteristics common to all human bodies, and is contained in heaven (where it was once for all received) until Christ return in judgment [Acts 3:21], so we deem it utterly unlawful to draw it back under these corruptible elements or to imagine it to be present everywhere (Institutes, IV,xvii,12). 

Calvin Mistranslated the Greek Text With His Latin?
The Greek word in question is dechomai. The basic meaning is "receive." In checking an earlier English translation of the section from the Formula of Concord cited above, more detail is presented, noting the alleged Latin mistranslation:
8. Again, when it is taught, that Christ, in consequence of his ascension to heaven, is so contained and circumscribed with his body, in a certain place in heaven, that with it he neither can nor will be truly and essentially present with us in the holy Supper, which is celebrated here on earth according to the institution of Christ, but that he is as far, or distant from it, as heaven and earth are from each other; as some Sacramentarians, for the confirmation of their error, have willfully perverted this text, Acts 3, 21: Oportet Christum caelum accipere; that is, It behooved Christ to receive the heaven; and instead of this translation, they have rendered it; Oportet Christum caelo capi; that is, It behooved Christ to be received by or in the heaven, or to be circumscribed and contained in heaven, so that he neither can nor will be with us on earth in any manner with his human nature [source] (alternate source).
Calvin probably began his Acts commentary in 1550, because by November of 1550, he had a large part of it finished. The commentary on chapters 1-13 were published in 1552. Chapters 14-28 came out in 1554. According to T.H.L. Parker's study of Calvin's commentaries, Calvin relied on the Greek texts available to him at that time. Parker notes, "he favoured a literal translation, even to the extent of preserving the word order where no difference between Greek and Latin forbade it" (Parker, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, p. 134). For a complete breakdown of the Greek texts thought to have been utilized by Calvin see Parker, chapter 6: "The Greek Text."

Calvin therefore did not prefer a Latin reading over the Greek text. It is believed Calvin did consult the Vulgate and the Latin text put together by Erasmus, but primarily his Latin translation was his own, directly from the Greek.  Parker says Calvin's Latin text "has therefore a decidedly eclectic character" (Parker, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, p. 190).  For Acts 3:21 the Vulgate has "quem oportet caelum quidem suscipere" (whom the heaven must receive). Erasmus has "que oportet quide coelu accipere" (which is what heaven must receive). Calvin has "quem oportet coelum capere."It appears Calvin did not literally follow either the Vulgate or Erasmus, but this doesn't imply there was devious Latin from Calvin's pen perpetuating translation bias. See Addendum #2 below for exegetical considerations as to why the Latin Lutheran rendering is to be rejected.

The question I would pose in response to the initial Lutherans argumentation is why is their translation "It behooved Christ to receive the heaven" or "Christ must take possession of heaven" not the preferred English translation? Would Lutherans be willing to argue for a cross-denominational translation conspiracy? [As an interesting aside, the NIV 1984 translates the passage as, "He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything...," whereas the 2011 NIV states "Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything..."].

I must admit that a definitive linguistic and historical study of "must contain" and the issues included here are beyond my abilities. One needs to be skilled in Biblical Greek, Latin, and French, have the historical tools to determine Featherstone's method of translation, have to survey the literature of the time period to see the use of "must contain," have access to historical studies on the translation of the Geneva Bible, have access to the primary sources of all Calvin's alleged "must contain" references,   do an analysis of early English Bibles and how they translated this verse, and if there was any change during the controversies of the late 16th Century... and the list goes on. With these caveats, I offer the following conclusions to the original Lutheran argument offered above:

1. Calvin did not translate the Geneva Bible of 1599. Certainly his was a great influence to it, but he did not translate the Geneva Bible (of any edition).

2. "Whom the heaven must receive" is not at odds with either Calvin or the Reformed tradition, but is a translation opposed to the Lutheran confessions. The Lutheran confessions are clearly opposed to it, offering instead their own curious English rendering which is at odds with the majority of English translations present today.

3. "Whom the heaven must contain" is probably an inferior English translation and appears to indicate a Reformed bias (though "contain" is within the realm of meaning).

4. Calvin did not mistranslate Acts 3:21 from Greek to Latin in his commentary on Acts 3:21.  

Addendum 1: Martin Chemnitz on Acts 3:21
The argumentation of Chemintz can be found here (see page 68).
The sequence and context of the entire speech demonstrate what the meaning of this passage in Acts 3:21 actually is. Peter is here making the point of his entire oration, namely, that the heavenly Father has adorned that Jesus who was crucified out of weakness 2 Cor. 13:41 with the highest and most incomprehensible glory and power, which He has demonstrated to some degree in the miracle of the restoration of the lame man. And by this argument he is encouraging those who denied and killed Christ that they should repent of that sin, lest they experience His vengeance. But at the same time He is showing by this very argument what those who believe can expect from that glory and power of Christ. However, because the objection can be raised that Christ did not exercise that glory and power of His in person, either in the face of His enemies or for the sake of those who believed in Him, Peter replies that Christ has received heaven itself. Moreover, there is a common Scriptural expression that God Himself is described as inhabiting the heavens, not in the sense that He is locked up there so that He cannot be on earth also, but in the sense that in the heavens He manifests Himself and His majesty and power more clearly and gloriously. For He shows that in heaven He is not to be known through means, but He reveals the quality of His majesty, glory, and power face to face for us to look at, and there He communicates His benefits without means, but He Himself fills all things with His blessing, so that there is no misery, no weakness, no confusion, no cause for sin there. . . . It is absolutely certain that this is what Scripture wants to say when it attributes to God that He dwells and has His habitation in heaven.And Peter is using this language when he describes the reign of Christ. (LS 217 f.)

Addendum 2 Exegetical Commentaries on Acts 3:21
Here are a few grammatical treatments of Acts 3:21. I plan on updating this as I come across sources. The only in-depth modern Lutheran grammatical treatment I'm aware of is that put forth by Francis Pieper: "As Pieper has pointed out, the Reformed “falsified the words” (SD VII, 119) by taking the Dexasthai as a passive instead of a middle voice; expressed in Christ was enclosed and circumscribed in heaven. For a detailed discussion of this text, see Pieper II,326–328." I do not have access to this volume yet. I'm speculating there are other Lutheran exegetical sources- perhaps my readers can provide me with some additional sources.

Source: Gloag, A critical and exegetical commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (1870)

Source: Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles (1883)

Source: Lange, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (1867)

Source: The Expositors Greek Testament
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Acts 3:21, adventures in Lutheranism, Ad..."
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Date: Sunday, 28 Sep 2014 04:00
I came across this 2010 article from Dr. Keith Mathison: We Believe the Bible and You Do Not. Mathison makes a helpful analysis based on the following:
Not too long ago, in an effort to get a better grasp of the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, I was reading the chapters on the sacraments in Francis Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics, and I ran across this statement: “The difference between the Lutheran Church and the Reformed in the doctrine of Baptism is fully and adequately defined by saying that the former believes God’s Word regarding Baptism, the latter not” (vol. 3, p. 269).
Mathison then notes how often he's seen this argument, not only from Lutherans... but just about every group on a variety of Biblical issues. The author concludes:
The problem with Pieper’s statement is that he does not allow for any conceptual distinction between the infallible and inerrant Word of God and his own fallible and potentially errant interpretation of that Word. Thus, to disagree with his interpretation is to disagree with God. But this is obviously false. Presbyterians and Baptists do not reject the Lutheran doctrine of baptism because they disbelieve God’s Word. They reject it because they think Lutherans have misinterpreted God’s Word. 
The fact of the matter is that people who believe equally in the authority and inerrancy of Scripture sometimes disagree in their interpretation of some parts of that Scripture. We know God’s Word is not wrong, but we might be. God is infallible; we are not. We are not free from sin and ignorance yet. We still see through a glass darkly. In hermeneutical and theological disputes, we need to make an exegetical case, and we need to examine the case of those who disagree with us. It proves nothing to make the bare assertion: “We believe the Bible and you don’t.”

Food for thought.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Biblical Interpretation, Francis Pieper,..."
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Date: Saturday, 27 Sep 2014 04:00

Dear Catholic Answers,

Thanks so much for this friendly reminder, but perhaps you've forgotten you've suspended TertiumQuid for a month?
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Catholic Answers"
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 04:00
The following comment was left on a previous blog entry:

James,Could you help me find a quote online that I am quite sure I read in a book about 30 years ago? At the Marburg Cooloquy where Luther and Zwingli argued about the Real Presence, before the fireworks began, both men had to prove they had an orthodox understanding of scripture by agreeing that Mary was a Perpetual Virgin despite the term "brother". I may not have it 100% correct but I think I am close. I have googled for it but to no avail. Are you familiar with this? Could you post it or email it? Thanks.

I don't recall ever hearing this before, but it sounded intriguing enough to look into. My suspicion is that the thirty-year old memory may refer to something from The Marburg Colloquy and the Marburg Articles (1529) [LW 38:3]. Luther came face to face with Zwingli in 1529 at Marburg.

In one of the reports of this meeting. a dialog between Oecolmapadius and Luther on the Lord's Supper is described. Oecolmapadius argues for a metaphorical interpretation of "This is my body," while Luther argues for a literal interpretation.  And then:
Zwingli begins to accuse Luther of prejudice because he [Luther] testifies that he is unwilling to abandon his view. In the same way Helvidius, with reference to the word “brother,” could prove [that Jesus had brothers], since it is clearly written “his brothers” [John 7:3]. We should compare one passage of Scripture with another. Therefore, if we do not have a passage which says, “This is the figure of my body,” we nevertheless have a passage which leads us away from bodily eating. For that reason [it follows] he did not give his body physically in the Supper. (LW 38:54)
Luther proves from Scripture against Helvidius that the word “brother” can be used for “cousin.” But it cannot be proved that “This is my body” is a trope. If God told me to eat a crabapple, I would eat spiritually. For wherever the word of God is, there is spiritual eating. Therefore, since he added the bodily eating by saying, “This is my body,” it is to be believed. By faith we eat this body which is given for us. The mouth receives the body of Christ, the soul believes the words that it is eating the body. (LW 38:55)
Here is another description:
Zwingli: It is prejudice if he does not want to give up his opinion. He is not willing to give it up unless a passage is cited which proves that “body” means “figure of my body.” This is the prejudice of heretics, for example, of Helvidius who denied that Jesus was the only son of Mary, because it cannot be proved from Scripture. It is necessary to compare one Scripture passage with another. Even if we do not have [a passage that says], “This is the figure of my body,” we do have [a passage] which leads us away from the bodily eating. It is the purpose of our meeting here to look at the passages, and we ought to consider the passage [in John 6] because it leads away from bodily eating. Hence it follows that in the Supper Christ did not give himself in bodily fashion. (LW 38:20)
Luther promised that they would lay aside all passions for the sake of God and the prince. What is lost, is lost. Let us hope for the future. Even if they cannot agree on everything, they might discuss at the close of the colloquy whether or not they can regard each other as brethren.—As to the argument of Helvidius: It can be proved from Scripture that the word “brother” may be used for “cousin.” But it cannot be proved that “This is my body” is a trope. What you call eating may do away with all eating; “flesh, flesh” means eating according to you. Form your own opinion, this has nothing to do with the matter itself; I would eat rotten apples or dried-up pears if God would place them before me. Where the word of God is, there is spiritual eating. Whenever God speaks to us, faith is required, and such faith means “eating.” If, however, he adds bodily eating, we are bound to obey. In faith we eat this body which is given for us. The mouth receives the body of Christ, the soul believes the words when eating the body. If I receive the body of Christ into my arms, this would be for the purpose of embracing it. You have your interpretation and mean well; but this is of no consequence. Furthermore, when you say that God does not propose to us anything incomprehensible, I could not admit this. [Consider] the virginity of Mary, the forgiveness of sins, and many similar matters. So also, “This is my body” [is incomprehensible]. “Thy path was through the great waters, yet thy footprints were unseen” [Psalm 77:19]. If we knew his ways, he who is marvelous would not be incomprehensible. (LW 38:21-22)
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Luther's Mariology, Marburg Colloquy, Zw..."
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Date: Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 04:00
In doing some digging into the history of Calvin's Commentaries, I came across a complete pdf of Calvin: Commentaries The Library of Christian Classics Volume XXIII. The library of Christian Classics is a 26 volume set put out by Westminster John Knox Press, Presbyterian Publishing.

I came across this complete pdf while searching for more contemporary translations of Calvin's Commentaries. Some of the free versions of Calvin's Commentaries are of a style that the translators of this volume state "is no longer our own." And also:

"The older translations are from the hands of a number of scholars. Their English styles are different, and not of the same quality. Besides, the exegetical and theological predilections of the several translators have understandably colored their versions of the Latin text."

This volume was included in the massive The Calvin 500 Collection from Logos.

The old versions of Calvin's Commentaries are based on Calvin's Latin and French versions. The Latin versions were taken from the Corpus Reformatorum. This appears to be a link to a good chunk of the the Corpus Reformatorum.

Joannis Calvini opera quae supersunt omnia
PublicationBrunsvigae: C.A. Schwetschke, 1863CollectionCorpus reformatorum
Description59 tomes en 58 vol. : ill. ; 27 cmNoteTomes parus entre 1863 et 1900Stable URLhttp://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:650Structures
Full text Index général (799 Kb) - public document Free access
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 Tome 1 (72.9 MB) - public document Free access
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Many of these volumes are also available here:

Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Calvin's Commentaries, Corpus Reformator..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 04:00
ht: Thank you Katie Luther

"In the first months of their marriage, when she insisted that her husband could not leave Erasmus unanswered, she had been pushed into the forefront by Camerarius, as we know. Camerarius was driven by objective reasons. The diatribe that Erasmus had published was the Humanists’ declaration of war on the Reformer. And with the prominence of both men, the battle had to be taken up and fought until there was an honorable accord or one of the combatants was defeated. Katie maybe had little understanding of such deliberations, but she understood that the opponents could easily see her husband’s stubborn silence as conceding defeat—a concern which Luther himself shared otherwise—and she didn’t stop assailing him with urgent pleas until, after he had indignantly procrastinated almost a year, he finally overcame his reluctance and wrote his reply in a few weeks."

I've never heard this before. The quote above is said to come from Ernst Kroker, The Mother of the Reformation: The Amazing Life and Story of Katharine Luther (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing, 2013). A preview of the book can be found here.

Special thanks to the Heavenly Springs blog for the information.
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Katie Luther, The Bondage of the Will"
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 04:00
Some time back (2009) I went through this quote from Luther:

I honor the Roman Church. She is pious, has God’s Word and Baptism, and is holy. (Martin Luther, from his sermon on Matt. 21:42, D. Martin Luther’s Werke, Vol. 47.425* – also know as the Weimar edition; English trans. from What Luther Says, p. 126.)

I mentioned in 2009 that this quote was scheduled to be part of a new volume of Luther's Works... and that volume arrived in my mailbox a few days ago. Here is the context of this quote:
Thus we hear which is the true Church, namely, the one that is built upon the cornerstone and becomes a spiritual house—those who are baptized, believe in Christ, praise and thank Him. The false church, however, are those who do nothing according to the Word of God, reject the cornerstone—Christ—and persecute His teaching, for example, the Roman court. In the höstel in Rome there is a German church. It is the best and has a German Pastor. But what does the pope do? He sits in his palace and makes people kiss his feet. Therefore, he is the devil's bishop. I respect the Roman Church. It is good, has God's Word and Baptism, and is holy. But the Roman court, [or] the pope, who is bishop in the court, he is the devil's bishop and the devil himself. Yes, he is the crap that the devil has s*** into the Church, for he does nothing other than that which serves worldly pride and pleasure, that he might become emperor and king and clean all the money out of the coffers. (LW  68:127)
When Luther spoke of the Roman Church, he had something much different in mind than most people do today. Luther made a sharp distinction between the Roman Church and the Papacy. For Luther, the Papacy was something from which one should flee. Luther's opinion appears to be in part that since the Roman Church was given the scriptures, sacraments, etc., in that sense she is a Christian church. However, these elements functions quite independently from the Roman magisterium. No analogy is perfect, but if I had to describe Luther's position I would do so like this: The Roman church is like a pristine ship that's been commandeered by pirates. The ship still functions, but it's crew is in bondage to her captors. Some of the crew mutinies and joins the pirates. Others though, maintain allegiance to her rightful captain.

What are the ramifications of Luther's view for Protestants today? Luther considering the Roman church to be basically Christian in some respects is not the same thing as Luther considering zealous defenders of Rome to be basically Christian. In other words, if a zealous defender of Rome selectively uses Luther's words as a basis to promote inter-faith dialog between Romanism and Protestantism, Luther would consider such a person to be a papist, and in danger of hell.

My previous discussions of this quote are here:

Luther: I honor the Roman Church. She is pious, has God’s Word and Baptism, and is holy (2009)

Luther: A Church With Corrupt Leadership Can Still Be a True Church (2009)

Myth #11: Luther thought that the Roman Church was no longer a true Christian Church (2011)

Luther: The Roman Church is Basically Christian? (2013)
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "Obscure Luther Quotes"
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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.).

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.

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.

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:



I really like this Pope!
Author: "noreply@blogger.com (James Swan)" Tags: "News from Rome"
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