Saturday, August 18, 2018

Calvin: Arrested and Imprisoned Jerome Bolsec, Then Wanted Him “Rotting in a Ditch"?

Here's a tidbit from a blog entry entitled, John Calvin: Heresy Hunter with an Axe to Grind:

In addition to Servetus, Jerome Bolsec was arrested and imprisoned for challenging Calvin during a lecture, then banished from the city. Calvin wrote privately about the matter saying that he wished Bolsec were “rotting in a ditch.”

Documentation
The documentation provided is, "Quoted in History of the Christian Church Volume VIII. p. 137 See online here. " This link doesn't go to the exact spot where Schaff discusses this. Here is the discussion in Schaff. 

Historical Context Via Schaff
Schaff explains that Jerome Bolsec actually interrupted John de St. André who was speaking that day (hence, a public disturbance), and challenged this minister, not Calvin. According to Schaff,
On the 16th of October, 1551, Bolsec attended the religious conference, which was held every Friday at St. Peter's. John de St. André preached from John 8: 47 on predestination, and inferred from the text that those who are not of God, oppose him to the last, because God grants the grace of obedience only to the elect. Bolsec suddenly interrupted the speaker, and argued that men are not saved because they are elected, but that they are elected because they have faith. He denounced, as false and godless, the notion that God decides the fate of man before his birth, consigning some to sin and punishment, others to virtue and eternal happiness. He loaded the clergy with abuse, and warned the congregation not to be led astray.
Calvin was in attendance, though Schaff says he “entered the church unobserved.” Calvin waited until Bolsec was finished, then had an impromptu debate with Bolsec, and refuted him. Schaff does not say Calvin had Bolsec arrested, nor was Bolsec arrested for challenging Calvin. Other church leaders were in attendance (for instance, Schaff says William Farel was also present). Schaff says, “The lieutenant of police apprehended Bolsec for abusing the ministers and disturbing the public peace.

Schaff says the ministers of Geneva "drew up seventeen articles against Bolsec." Yes, Bolsec was eventually banished, but only after a number of other churches were asked to weigh in on what should be done with Bolsec (and not all of those churches were favorable to Calvin). Because of the collected work of all these churches, the milder sentence of banishment was imposed.

Rotting in a Ditch?
I’m not sure where the exact form of "Calvin wrote privately about the matter saying that he wished Bolsec were 'rotting in a ditch'" comes from. It’s similar to this from Called to Communion:
In 1551, Bolsec, a physician and convert to Protestantism, entered Geneva and attended a lecture on theology. The topic was Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, the teaching that God predetermines the eternal fate of every soul. Bolsec, who believed firmly in “Scripture alone” and “faith alone,” did not like what he heard. He thought it made God into a tyrant. When he stood up to challenge Calvin’s views, he was arrested and imprisoned.
What makes Bolsec’s case interesting is that it quickly evolved into a referendum on Church authority and the interpretation of Scripture. Bolsec, just like most Evangelicals today, argued that he was a Christian, that he had the Holy Spirit and that, therefore, he had as much right as Calvin to interpret the Bible. He promised to recant if Calvin would only prove his doctrine from the Scriptures. But Calvin would have none of it. He ridiculed Bolsec as a trouble maker (Bolsec generated a fair amount of public sympathy), rejected his appeal to Scripture, and called on the council to be harsh. He wrote privately to a friend that he wished Bolsec were “rotting in a ditch.”2
2 Letter to Madame de Cany, 1552.
This Called to Communion snippet is fascinating. Notice how the author, David Anders, restates the facts to give off the appearance that Bolsec interrupted Calvin's lecture. It was also not simply "Calvin's view's," but rather, the view of  John de St. André (the person lecturing), and the collective ministers of Geneva. Anders also leaves out that the entire affair was presented to a number of churches to weigh in on. Anders also presents the straw-man argument that Protestants have no right to church authority or discipline without an infallible church.

Anders does though provide a reference, "Letter to Madame de Cany, 1552." This letter can be found here. Calvin writes,
Madame,—I am very sorry that the praiseworthy act which you did about half a year ago, has met with no better return. This is because no good and true servant of God found himself within reach of such help, as that received by as wicked and unhappy a creature as the world contains. Knowing partly the man he was, I could have wished that he were rotting in some ditch; and his arrival gave me as much pleasure as the piercing my heart with a poniard would have done. But never could I have deemed him to be such a monster of all impiety and contempt of God, as he has proved himself in this. And I assure you, Madame, that had he not so soon escaped, I should, by way of discharging my duty, have done my best to bring him to the stake. 
Note the actual English translation is,  “I could have wished that he were rotting in some ditch.”  Note also, Bolsec is not named in this private correspondence. Bonnet, the translator of this letter, says
Who is the personage to whom these words refer, stamped at once by the inflexible spirit of the time and the stern rigour of the Reformer? The historian can only offer conjectures: can it be Jerome Bolsec? But a regular sentence had banished him from Geneva, and Calvin himself does not appear to have called for a more severe judgment against this innovator whom resentment bad transformed into a vile pamphleteer. "That fellow, Jerome, is driven out into perpetual exile by a public sentence. Certain revilers have spread abroad the falsehood, that we earnestly desired a much severer punishment, and foolishly, it is believed."—(Calvin to Bullinger, in the month of January 1552.) In that age of inexorable severity against unsound doctrine, Servetus only appeared at Geneva to expire at the stake, and Gentili only escaped the scaffold for a time, by the voluntary retraction of his opinions. To name Gentili, Servetus, Bolsoc, is to recall the principal victims of Calvinistic intolerance in the sixteenth century, but not to solve the mystery which attaches to the personage designated in the letter of Calvin to Madame de Cany.
Bonnet says that “The historian can only offer conjecture” as to who is meant. Bonnet then goes on to say, "… can it be Jerome Bolsec? But a regular sentence had banished him from Geneva, and Calvin himself does not appear to have called for a more severe judgment against this innovator whom resentment had transformed into a vile pamphleteer.

Conclusion
In this age of "fake news" is it any surprise that the internet is filled with fake history as well? A closer look at the facts show that Bolsec was not "arrested and imprisoned for challenging Calvin during a lecture." Yes, Bolsec was banished, but it was not simply at the whim of Calvin. Nor is it a certainty that Calvin "wished Bolsec were 'rotting in a ditch'.'"

It is shocking to our modern scruples that a person could be banished for a perceived heretical view. Calvin and Bolsec were part of a world in which this happened. There are still churches to today (though few probably few in number!) that practice a form of banishment: excommunication. While a person is not ostracized from an entire society, they could be ostracized from certain aspects of a spiritual community.

Yes, Calvin had an important influence in Geneva, yes he could be intolerant, yes, there were tragedies in Geneva that Calvin played a part in.  While Calvin had his faults, flaws, and sins, this closer look shows there are those who wish to vilify Calvin and make him the tyrant of Geneva. The question though is... why? Why is it so important to characterize Calvin as a blood-thirsty dictator?  That's a topic for a future blog entry!

Addendum
For further reading, see: Robert Godfrey, Calvin, Bolsec and the Reformation. Godfrey says:
Jerome Bolsec, who was a Carmelite monk and doctor of theology in Paris, was drawn to the Reformation and so forced to leave France. By early 1551 he had settled in the canton of Geneva working as a physician. From early on he became a critic of Calvin's doctrine of predestination in a variety of ways and settings.
And also:
The trial of Bolsec proceeded despite such advice, especially charging Bolsec with attacking the religious establishment of Geneva and bringing scurrilous charges against its doctrine. On December 23, 1551 he was banished permanently from Geneva. He eventually returned to the Roman Church and in 1577 wrote a vicious biography of Calvin which propagated many false stories about Calvin. Bolsec died in 1584.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Luther: "Idiots, the Lame, the blind, the Dumb, are Men in Whom the Devils have Established Themselves"

Here's a Martin Luther quote that appeared on the CARM discussion boards:

“Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads….”

This quote appears to have been posted by someone with sympathies to the Mormon church in response to a Lutheran participant (see my previous entry for details). The point for using it is to defend Mormonism. In another place the same person states, "...demons causing diseases, etc. like much of Christendom used to believe.? I dunno if there is an official LDS doctrine on that. Maybe we are allowed to have opinions on it. But if you wanna talk about Luther, the founder of the Reformation, he certainly believed that demons were responsible for all kinds of stuff that most today would call wacky superstition."

Did Luther think the Devil was responsible for the condition of "idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb"?  Let's take a look at this Luther quote to determine its authenticity.

Documentation
No documentation was provided, but the same person posted the quote here also claiming, "As quoted by John Mark Ministries." I found two web-pages from John Mark Ministries using this quote. The first page, Quotes From Luther (2003) appears to have been written by the founder of JMM, Rowland Croucher (but I'm not entirely sure). What's interesting is that Croucher(?) listed a number of undocumented Luther quotes taken from someone who had posted them on an open newsgroup. Croucher(?) determined the quotes probably came via this page, from a person that said he "didn't keep track of the exact citations" because he compiled them for his own "amusement." Croucher(?) then goes on to defend Luther, saying at one point, "...we see that these quotes were not collected out of serious or honest interest, but merely for someone’s careless amusement. Thus, the sincerity and reasonableness of both the compilers of the quotes page and the users of these quotes is called into question."  The second JMM page is simply entitled, Martin Luther (2005). This page also contains a number of "shock" undocumented Luther quotes that appear to have been originally posted by someone going by the moniker,"Mark T." The page simply ends with this vague comment, "Despite the previous posts which discredit Martin Luther, all the good that he did for the Christian faith in the first half of the 1500’s. must be remembered." No documentation is provided for the quotes in question from this other web page.

There are a number of books using this quote (simply try a quick Google search).  I contend that the main English source for this quote is William Hazlitt's translation of  Jules Michelet, The Life of Luther Written By Himself, p. 321 . Michelet's English text reads,
Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom devils have established themselves; and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads, who know nothing about the power of the demon." (14th July, 1528.) 
Michelet's text was originally in French:
Les fous, les boiteux, les aveugles, les muets sont des hommes chez qui les démons se sont établis. Les médecins qui traitent ces infirmités, comme ayant des causes naturelles, sont des ignorans qui ne connaissent point toute la puissance du démon. » (14 juillet 1528.) 
The French text provides documentation:  "Il y a des lieux. — Ibid. 212." The "Ibid." refers to the Tischreden, or Table Talk. I suspect Michelet used an early copy. Here is page 212  from the 1568 edition.  The text reads, 


The same text can be found in Sämtliche Werke 60:31 and also in WATR 2:387. To my knowledge, this complete Table Talk comment has not been translated into English. 

Conclusion
A minor issue with the quote is that it is a statement Luther is purported to have made. It is not something he actually wrote as part of a detailed treatise or exposition. The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death. 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. 

The major problem with the quote is that it appears Michelet took liberties with the text. Certainly Luther is recorded as saying, "Also muß ich auck sagen, daß viel Taube, Lahme, Blinde :c. aus Bosheit des Teufels also seien" in the second paragraph. The next sentence though, "and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads…" is a little harder to find in the context. Nothing immediately jumps out as this being the context Michelet used in the continuing paragraphs. In fact, in the third paragraph, Luther says  that evil angels inflict the human race with diseases, but God in his mercy provides medicines to alleviate suffering.

The solution appears to be that Michelet utilized the first paragraph for the later part of the quote.  Luther opens by saying that physicians often attribute everything to natural causes, ignoring the fact that the Devil can be behind certain illnesses. They do not know how powerful the Devil actually is.  Luther says physicians even attempt to soothe the conditions with medicines, but do not realize the real cause behind such conditions: the Devil. Luther goes on to point out that this is the testimony of Scripture as well (Acts 10:38) (consider also, Luke 8:26-39; Luke 9:37-40; Matthew 12:22; Matthew 4:23-25).

I do not see in this context where Luther refers to physicians as "ignorant blockheads.  He is recorded as saying, "daß sie nicht wissen, wie mächtig und gewaltig der Teufel ift." This doesn't have the same polemical value as "ignorant blockheads." maybe "blockheads" was an interpretive English rendering from Hazlitt? Michelet's original French text says, "Les médecins qui traitent ces infirmités, comme ayant des causes naturelles, sont des ignorans qui ne connaissent point toute la puissance du démon." Hazlitt seems to have amped up the quote by using the word, "blockheads."

Michelet concocted a quote by taking a sentence from the second paragraph then following it up with a sentence from the first paragraph, and also ignored the entirety of the context. Hazlitt added "blockheads."

Luther was not entirely against medical doctors. Consider the following Table Talk statement:
No. 360: Medicine May Be Used to Cure Disease Fall, 1532
 “I believe that in all grave illnesses the devil is present as the author and cause. First, he is the author of death. Second, Peter says in Acts that those who were oppressed by the devil were healed by Christ. Moreover, Christ cured not only the oppressed but also the paralytics, the blind, etc. Generally speaking, therefore, I think that all dangerous diseases are blows of the devil. For this, however, he employs the instruments of nature. So a thief dies by the sword, Satan corrupts the qualities and humors of the body, etc. God also employs means for the preservation of health, such as sleep, food, and drink, for he does nothing except through instruments. So the devil also injures through appropriate means. When a fence leans over a little, he knocks it all the way down to the ground.
 “Accordingly a physician is our Lord God’s mender of the body, as we theologians are his healers of the spirit; we are to restore what the devil has damaged. So a physician administers theriaca [antidote] when Satan gives poison. Healing comes from the application of nature to the creature, for medicine is divinely revealed and not derived from books, even as knowledge of law is not from books but is drawn from nature. It’s remarkable that a prince is sure to find effective the medicines which he administers to himself but finds ineffective what his physician prescribes. So both electors have eye drops which help when they take them, no matter whether their affliction is caused by heat or cold, but a physician wouldn’t dare prescribe the drops. It’s so in theology too. Philip lifts up my spirit with a mere word. If Eck or Zwingli said the same thing, it would dash me to the ground. It’s our Lord God who created all things, and they are good. Wherefore it’s permissible to use medicine, for it is a creature of God. 
“Thus I replied to Hohndorf, who inquired of me when he heard from Karlstadt that it’s not permissible to make use of medicine. I said to him, ‘Do you eat when you’re hungry?’ (LW 54:53-54) 
Addendum
In researching this quote, I  came across a discussion from 2012. A blogger going by "The Cartesian Theist" called out an atheist for using this undocumented quote in a video. The atheist responded. Neither of these bloggers found the source in their respected entries (though it may be buried in their comments section).

Monday, July 23, 2018

Calvin's Own Step-Daughter and Son-in-Law Were Among Those Condemned for Adultery and Executed in Geneva

A person going by the moniker "Clement Li" contends John Calvin was "a serial killer, mass murderer and a terrorist." Here's an example of one of the facts entered as supporting evidence:

CALVIN’S OWN STEP-DAUGHTER AND SON-IN-LAW WERE AMONG THOSE CONDEMNED FOR ADULTERY AND EXECUTED.
This is but one fact among many (part of a cumulative case line of reasoning). The assumption appears to be that John Calvin's presence in Geneva was so ruthlessly despotic, it resulted in his own family members being executed for adultery. This little John Calvin tidbit has traveled around cyberspace, for instance, see this link, this link,  this link, etc.
"Clement Li" thinks facts like these demonstrate John Calvin was "a psychopath." Subsequently, "Calvinist followers" should "pick up a book and do a little research on their spiritual leader they would know that they’re following the beliefs of a serial killer, mass murderer and a terrorist." Those "Calvinist followers" may be "decent people," but, says Li,  "I don’t think Calvinists are Christian."

I did not locate any information as to exactly who this person is. Ironically, the phrase "Clement Li" has an entry in the online Urban Dictionary,  "Clement Li: One who exaggerates all things to the highest degree. Exaggeration cannot pass this point, because it is at max." I mention this at the outset because perhaps this person's written corpus is intended to be farcical (if so, the spirit of Andy Kaufman lives on).

Well then, let's pick up the book this fact is said to come from and do a little research as directed. Yes, there was an adultery scandal in Calvin's family, but we'll see that John Calvin didn't have a son-in-law, nor were any of his family members executed.

Documentation
Documentation for this information is provided via a book: Will Durant, The Reformation, pp. 472-476  (a few links are also provided, but are not relevant to this specific quote). There's a blatant irony to this documentation. "Clement Li" didn't actually put this documentation together, but rather plagiarized it word-for-word from another web-page (a page no longer extant, but I can prove it, if need be). In fact, every historical tidbit (in the exact order) that "Clement Li" put forth in the blog entry was plagiarized from another web page. The blatant irony, therefore, is that Calvinists are being directed to pick up a book and do a little research by someone who didn't bother to pick up a book and do a little research!

The purported information is found in Will Durant's book on page 476. Durant says:
The extant records of the Council for this period do not quite agree with this report: they reveal a high percentage of illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages, and sentences of death. (47) Calvin's son-in-law and his stepdaughter were among those condemned for adultery.(48)
(47) Beard, The Reformation, 252; Muir, John Knox, 108.
(48) Smith, Reformation, 174-
The first part of this segment is evaluated here. One thing to notice immediately: Durant does not say John Calvin's relatives were executed, but were rather, "condemned for adultery." It appears, someone, at some point, simply made the assumption that "condemned" means "executed." This does not necessarily follow. Durant is not saying the extant records prove these people were executed.

Second, Durant is actually not citing the "extant records." Rather, he is citing another secondary source, yet another secondary presentation of Reformation history: Preserved Smith, The Age of the Reformationpage 174. In that context, Preserved Smith explains how there were some who viewed Geneva during Calvin's era most favorably. He counters this in part by saying,
But if we turn from these personal impressions to an examination of the acts of the Consistory, we get a very different impression. The records of Geneva show more cases of vice after the Reformation than before. The continually increasing severity of the penalties enacted against vice and frivolity seem to prove that the government was helpless to suppress them. Among those convicted of adultery were two of Calvin's own female relatives, his brother's wife and his step-daughter Judith.
This source does not say what Durant says it does. Durant says, "Calvin's son-in-law and his stepdaughter were among those condemned for adultery." Preserved Smith though says it was "his brother's wife and his step-daughter Judith." There is no mention of a "son-in-law." Durant appears to have done some factual blundering (again!) when extracting the information from his sources.

One other thing to mention is that previous to the records of the consistory during Calvin's era, there were not any records of the consistory. Preserved Smith's comparison therefore, may be unjustified. There were no factual  records of "before" to make a comparison to, if Smith has the Consistory's actions in mind. If Smith simply means the extant records of Geneva, the Consistory put forth a myriad of new punishable offenses when it came into relevance as a societal governing body, and these offenses were at times forwarded to the secular governing authorities in Geneva. Of course there would be "more cases of vice" simply because there were now more rules against particular vices and an effort to enforce those rules because of the Consistory. The way Smith presents the facts, one gets the impression that Geneva was more sanitized previous to Calvin and the Consistory. This does not necessarily follow.

The Adultery Case of John Calvin's Brother's Wife, Anne Le Fert
Calvin's brother Antoine lived in John Calvin's house in Geneva along with his wife Anne. Reading in-between the lines of what is known about this brother and his wife Anne, it doesn't appear they were a happy couple. Calvin's brother wanted out of the relationship (and it may be Anne also wanted out). As the events unfolded, it appears John Calvin used his position to try and secure a legal divorce for his brother.

Anne was charged twice with adultery. The first occurred in 1548. The evidence does suggest that something peculiar was going on between Anne and Jean Chautempts. The two were interrogated and held for a short period of time, but nothing was ever conclusively proven. It does not appear these people were tortured (as was legally customary during this time period), but they were subjected to intense questioning. Anne never admitted to the charges against her.

Because the adultery charge was not proven, Antoine was not granted a divorce. Rather, the Small Council of Geneva gave orders to the Consistory that Antoine was to go through a ceremony of reconciliation with Anne. In the ceremony, Anne, on her knees, begged for forgiveness from both brothers (John Calvin's name had been slandered due to the scandal). The forgiveness was for the appearance of an inappropriate relationship. She was forgiven by both. For a detailed account of this incident, see: Robert Kingdon, Adultery and Divorce in Calvin's Geneva, pp. 71-79. It is certainly odd (actually, blatantly odd from our contemporary standards!), that a person not proven guilty still had to beg forgiveness. Kingdon contends that during this incident, John Calvin attempted to secure a divorce for his brother, but was not successful (p.79)... so much for John Calvin's despotic authority in Geneva! Kingdon states,
...[T]he leaders of the government of Geneva had demonstrated that they still clung to the traditional belief that marriage should ordinarily be an irrevocable lifetime contract. They did not wish to consider a divorce except in the most extreme circumstances, accompanied with truly decisive proof of serious misconduct.(Klingdon, p.78). 
Fast forward eight years, and Anne found herself in trouble again. She had taken up responsibility running the entire Calvin household. Klingdon states, "...she had displayed far too much familiarity with one of the servants employed for her husband's business" (Klingdon, p. 79). The servant was named Pierre Daguet. According to Klingdon, the Calvin brothers were the suspicious parties and were those who brought complaint against Anne, which landed her in prison. Once again, the Calvin brothers appear to have been looking for grounds for divorce. The trial was not done by the Consistory, but was forwarded to the Genevan secular authorities. This time, Anne was tortured as part of her interrogation,  but again she did not confess. Despite her lack of confession,  the divorce was granted, and Anne was banished from Geneva. Both Antoine and Anne eventually remarried.

While the facts of the scandal in no way prove John Calvin was a "psychopath" or despotically ruling Geneva, a little extra research on the part of Calvin's detractors would've given them a few lesser tidbits to accurately disparage Calvin's character. Anne appears to have been railroaded by the Calvin brothers and unjustly convicted of adultery with circumstantial evidence at best. Klingdon states:
It is hard for a modern reader going through this dossier to feel confident that justice was actually done in this case. Clearly Anne Le Fert had been imprudent in her friendship with other men. Clearly she and her husband had come to dislike each other and wanted to escape from this marriage. Clearly her husband's powerful brother found her offensive and wanted her thrown out of his house. But the evidence in both of these cases for actual adultery is very thin. And Anne's persistent denial of the charges, even under two rounds of torture, make one very uneasy. If she was not innocent, she was physically far more courageous and resilient than most people of her period. Torture could make even the innocent confess. The Calvin brothers, however, were determined to avoid even the hint of impropriety in their household, even the possibility of malicious gossip about anyone under their roof. So Anne Le Fert had to go (Klingdon, 87-88).

The Adultery Case of John Calvin's Step-Daughter, Judith
Calvin's step-daughter Judith was one the two children of Idelette Stordeur brought into the Calvin household. I found very little information about Judith's adultery case.  This source simply states, "In 1562, his step-daughter, Judith, fell into similar disgrace,—a matter which Calvin felt so keenly that he left the city to seek the solitude of the country for a few days after the misdeed became public knowledge." This source states, "Calvin's step-daughter, who had lived with Calvin and his wife in Geneva prior to her marriage, was also found guilty of adultery." This source states, "Idelette's premature death in 1549 devastated Calvin. His pain was doubled by Idelette's premature death and his stepdaughter Judith's 'lustful rush' into marriage and divorce a few years later on account of her adultery."

One of the main sources of proof used above for these assertions is a letter Calvin wrote to Bullinger (March 12, 1562). The text can be found in Opera XIX, 327 (PDF).  Calvin opens the letter saying,

Translated, this text states in part:
When I wrote lately to our friend Blaurer I was prevented from doing so to you, because, before I was quite recovered from an attack of fever, a domestic sorrow, occasioned by the dishonour of my step-daughter, compelled me to seek the privacy of solitude for a few days. When I was in my rustic cottage your letter was presented to me, with the contents of which many rumours from other quarters perfectly agree. We have, then, good reason to be afraid. But how to take measures of precaution is difficult. How great the confusion is in France, you will learn partly from a letter of our brother Beza, of which I send you a copy, and I will myself partly briefly allude to it.
Here we see the source for Calvin's emotional state over Judith that historians have pulled from. The "lustful rush" comment appears to come from Richard Stauffer, L'humanité de Calvin (I have this book on order, and will revise this entry when it arrives). I could find no verifiable information proving Judith was executed for adultery. This source (p.159) states,
Judith was married docilely to a good man of her father's choice. Guillaume Farel wrote a note of congratulation to his friend about the girl of whom he, too, was very fond, "I congratulate her and because of her, her husband."
Geneva was aghast when seven years later the stepdaughter of Jean, Judith, had to be banished for adultery. The laws of Calvin knew no exception to the rule. Her father, who had always loved her, was crushed by her sin. 

Conclusion
The facts do not support the entire assertion, "Calvin's own step-daughter and son-in-law were among those condemned for adultery and executed." Calvin did not have a son-in-law, nor were Calvin's relatives executed for adultery. True, I did not locate conclusive proof  as to the exact fate of Judith, but I find it unlikely that she was executed. Had she been, I find it unlikely that Calvin's detractors throughout the centuries simply ignored it.  Anne Le Fert's legal troubles demonstrate that Calvin was far from being Geneva's ruthless dictator. Rather, Calvin had to jump through hoops over a long period of time to finally secure a divorce for his brother.

John Calvin though is not completely vindicated, particularly from a contemporary perspective.  His "evil" (for lack of a better word), was using his influence to a secure a divorce for his brother, from a woman (it appears) that he didn't like and wanted out of his household. Anne Le Fert was not convicted by facts, but rather insinuation, insinuation that John Calvin approved of and used to his advantage. This conviction included torture and banishment. While these atrocities were typical of sixteenth century society, what makes them all the worse is that Anne suffered them without actually being proven absolutely guilty.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Debate on Indulgences

Dr. James White recently debated Roman Catholic Peter D. Williams on Indulgences.  Another one of the lay Roman apologists "who do the heavy lifting" (Matthew Schultz rightly wrote).

"The refrain of lay Catholic apologists is that Protestants must submit to the Magisterium. Yet if the primary lens of theological inquiry is authority, why is so much of the heavy lifting done by Catholic laypersons?"  (Matthew Schultz) 


Addendum: (June 30, 2018)   The debate goes to the nature of the gospel in the way Protestants and Roman Catholics disagree with each other, and they also touched on issues like purgatory, church history, Semi-Pelagianism, Augustine, Gottschalk, the development of doctrine, the wrath of God, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and Sola Scriptura and the Canon. Rich in content.



Monday, June 18, 2018

Why Stay Protestant? by Matthew Schultz

https://medium.com/@MatthewSchultz/why-stay-protestant-435b5e1006a0

A very good overview of the issues that touches on other areas in life (social, arts, music, aesthetics, etc.) that apologists and theologians usually don't mention in this whole issue of Roman Catholicism vs. Protestantism.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Calvin's Geneva: A High Percentage of Illegitimate Children, Abandoned Infants, Forced Marriages, and Sentences of Death

A person going by the moniker "Clement Li" contends John Calvin was "a serial killer, mass murderer and a terrorist." Here's an example of one of the facts entered as supporting evidence:
In Geneva,there was little distinction between religion and morality. The existing records of the Council for this period reveal a high percentage of illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages, and sentences of death. 
This is but one fact among many (part of a cumulative case line of reasoning). The assumption appears to be that Calvin's presence in Geneva was so negative, it resulted in illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages, and the final coup de grâce, death.

"Clement Li" thinks facts like these demonstrate John Calvin was "a psychopath." Subsequently, "Calvinist followers" should "pick up a book and do a little research on their spiritual leader they would know that they’re following the beliefs of a serial killer, mass murderer and a terrorist." Those "Calvinist followers" may be "decent people," but, says Li,  "I don’t think Calvinists are Christian."

I did not locate any information as to exactly who this person is. Ironically, the phrase "Clement Li" has an entry in the online Urban Dictionary,  "Clement Li: One who exaggerates all things to the highest degree. Exaggeration cannot pass this point, because it is at max." I mention this at the outset because perhaps this person's written corpus is intended to be farcical (if so, the spirit of Andy Kaufman lives on).

Well then, let's pick up the book this fact is said to come from and do a little research as directed. We'll see with this quote, finding the exact genesis of these facts is not an easy task. We'll see also, the "high percentage" aspect was a later addition.

Documentation
Documentation for the quote is provided: Will Durant, The Reformation, pp. 472-476  (a few links are also provided, but are not relevant to this specific quote). There's a blatant irony to this documentation. "Clement Li" didn't actually put this documentation together, but rather plagiarized it word-for-word from another web-page. In fact, every historical tidbit (in the exact order) that "Clement Li" put forth in the blog entry was plagiarized from another web page. The blatant irony, therefore, is that Calvinists are being directed to pick up a book and do a little research by someone who didn't bother to pick up a book and do a little research.

The quote (or at least part of it) is found in Durant's book on page 476. Durant first cites an eyewitness account in favor of Genevan society:
Cursing and swearing, unchastity, sacrilege, adultery, and impure living, such as prevail in many places where I have lived, are here unknown. There are no pimps and harlots. The people do not know what rouge is, and they are all clad in seemly fashion. Games of chance are not customary. Benevolence is so great that the poor need not beg. The people admonish one another in brotherly fashion, as Christ prescribes. Lawsuits are banished from the city, nor is there any simony, murder, or party spirit, but only peace and charity. On the other hand, there are no organs here, no voice of bells, no showy songs, no burning candles or lamps [in the churches], no relics, pictures, statues, canopies, or splendid robes, no farces or cold ceremonies. The churches are quite free from idolatry.
 Durant counters this positive presentation by saying,
The extant records of the Council for this period do not quite agree with this report: they reveal a high percentage of illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages, and sentences of death. (47) Calvin's son-in-law and his stepdaughter were among those condemned for adultery.(48)
(47) Beard, The Reformation, 252; Muir, John Knox, 108.
(48) Smith, Reformation, 174-
For the "extant records of the Council for this period," Durant does not directly cite the extant records of the Council for this period. Rather, he first cites Charles Beard, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (1885), p. 252. There isn't anything specific to verify the "high percentage of illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages, and sentences of death" on this page,  other than a footnote which sort of says the same thing:


Beard's footnote is citing a biography of Calvin, Paul Henry, Das Leben Johann Calvins des grossen Reformators, Volume 2, p. 78, not the extant records. The English translation of this page from Henry's text can be found here. When one consults Henry, this author is not relying on the extant records, but is rather summarizing a comment from the preface (xv) of Jacques Augustin Galiffe Notices généalogiques sur les familles Genevoises vol. III (Genealogical Notices of Genevan Families) (this footnote is not found in the English translation of Henry).  That text says,


This comment from Galiffe is also not providing statistics from the extant records. Galiffe is saying he could build a negative case against Calvin and the success of Geneva, mentioning some of the key phrases found in Durant's quote. Galiffe says,
To those who imagine that Calvin did nothing but good, I could produce our registers, covered with records of illegitimate children, which were exposed in all parts of the town and country; hideous trials for obscenity; wills, in which fathers and mothers accuse their children not only of errors but of crimes; agreements before notaries between young women and their lovers, in which the latter, even in the presence of the parents of their paramours, make them an allowance for the education of their illegitimate offspring; I could instance multitudes of forced marriages, in which the delinquents were conducted from the prison to the church; mothers who abandoned their children to the hospital, whilst they themselves lived in abundance with a second husband; bundles of law-suits between brothers; heaps of secret negotiations; men and women burnt for witchcraft; sentences of death in frightful numbers; and all these things among the generation nourished by the mystic manna of Calvin. [link]
The next source referenced is Edwin Muir, John Knox, Portrait of a Calvinist, 108. This appears to be the source Durant used for "sentences of death." The author states, "Yet, between the years 1542 and 1546, fifty-eight people were executed in it and seventy-six banished... In sixty years one hundred and fifty heretics were burnt in Geneva." Durant again is citing a biography, not the extant records. Muir also says the following, without any documentation;
The severity of this rule, which made Geneva the admiration of the faithful and earned for it the name of ‘The City of God,’ had the disadvantage of making new crimes spring up wherever an old one was eradicated. Vice concealed itself and throve underground; in spite of the magistrates’ watchfulness there was an inexplicably large number of illegitimate children whom their horrified mothers were forced by terror to expose in the streets; while through fear or sycophancy many people added to the general tyranny: fathers and mothers accused their children not of minor offences merely, but of crimes, and informers were everywhere. 
I suspect Muir's source for these words was also Galiffe. His work was popular among those that were against Calvinism. For instance, Jean M. Vincent Audin, a Roman Catholic author, quotes from the same pages here. Audin states, "M. Galiffe, who intends to die in the bosom of Protestantism will be believed, at least! Behold how he already, with the whole energy of his soul, rejects all communion with that mean, bastard, intolerant reformation which Calvin sought to impose on his fellow citizens!"

Audin may be wrong about "the bosom of Protestantism." This source claims Galiffe converted to Roman Catholicism. Interestingly, while Paul Henry (sympathetic to Calvin)  utilizes Galiffe, elsewhere in his biography of Calvin he alludes to him as a tainted source against Calvin. Others say likewise. This source includes his work on Calvin with those whose interpretation "is replete with unhistorical orientation."

Conclusion
I know Durant is considered a fine historian. Look though at the trail that had to be followed. Durant cited Beard. Beard cited Henry. Henry cited Galiffe. Most of Durant's comment originated from Galiffe, and Galiffe was not actually providing evidence from the extant records to prove his point. In Durant's second reference (Muir), no actual proof or documentation is put forth.  

One thing also to notice is a comparison of Durant's version with all the suspected original source, Galiffe. Durant says the extant records "reveal a high percentage." He may have taken this from Muir who says, "inexplicably large number." I suspect Muir also used Galiffe's comment. Galiffe though uses neither description. 

Neither source cited by Durant had definitive proof for to solidify Durant's assertions. Neither cites the extant records when making their specific points. Sure, they allude to the Genevan records in their respective books, but not at the specific places Durant cited them. While certainly Calvin had influence in Geneva, how is it possible to prove that the "high percentage of illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages and sentences of death" were the necessary and direct result of Calvin? Simply because Durant wrote it (he simply did the equivalent of a cut-and-paste from other sources, some hostile sources) doesn't make it true.   

If, according to "Clemet Li" the mere presence of John Calvin resulted in high percentage of illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages and sentences of death, the burden of proof falls on the person making the assertion, to prove a necessary connection.  Quoting attributes of Genevan society (via Durant) and linking them necessarily to Calvin is not good history. The error is known as the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. The reasoning is "Because Calvin was in Geneva, therefore all these things happened." Well, maybe some of the things were the direct influence of Calvin, maybe they were not.  If it was Calvin's influence in Geneva that produced all of those unfortunate things, then so be it. However, I would need to see a bit more proof. Certainly Calvin had influence in Geneva. Certainly Calvin believed in capital punishment. Certainly Calvin was concerned about the morality of Geneva. Certainly Calvin believed in maintaining Genevan laws. To blame him though for illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages...  these are charges that require more than, "this historian said this... this historian said that..."

Friday, June 01, 2018

Luther: The Devil Can So Completely Assume the Human Form...'Tis Only the Devil in the Shape of a Woman

Here are a few Martin Luther quotes that appeared on the CARM discussion boards. Luther is said to have believed humans are engaging in sex with devil and producing offspring:
“The Devil can so completely assume the human form, when he wants to deceive us, that we may well lie with what seems to be a woman, of real flesh and blood, and yet all the while ’tis only the Devil in the shape of a woman. ‘Tis the same with women, who may think that a man is in bed with them, yet ’tis only the Devil; and…the result of this connection is oftentimes an imp of darkness, half mortal, half devil….”
“How often have not the demons called ‘Nix’ drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, with fearful consequences.” 
Why would someone post these quotes? They appear to have been posted by someone with sympathies to the Mormon church in response to a Lutheran participant. A Lutheran applied 2 Tim. 3:3-4 to Mormonism, saying her members prefer "myths to the truth."  The Mormon then prefaced these Luther quotes by saying,
Before you throw too many more rocks through your glass house in a vain attempt to hit the house next door, a question for you: Are you expecting people to believe that people in YOUR church didn't refer the following myths as the truth? I mean, antis whose own church's founder taught that men and women often have sex with the devil and produce half-human, half-demon children-----isn't that a textbook case of rocks from a glass house, or of criticizing a mote in someone else's eye while the accuser has a phone-pole-sized log in her own eye?????
The argument here is that Lutherans should not criticize Mormon beliefs as myths or tales if in fact the originator of Lutheranism (Martin Luther) believed in myths as well. The argument appears to be that since Luther believed in mythical changelings having sex with humans and producing offspring, there's no basis to criticize anything similarly strange in Mormonism. The argument though doesn't follow: the "myths" being referred to in Mormonism are those found in their books of divine revelation. Luther's "myth" holds no such divine pedigree. Search through the official documents of the Lutheran church, and one will not find doctrinal approval for changelings, Nixes, or half-human-half-demon children. 

What though of these quotes? Did Martin Luther really write the words cited above? Did he really believe that the devil was masquerading as human and producing offspring? Let's take a look at these Luther quotes to determine their authenticity.

Documentation
No documentation was provided, but the same person posted the quotes here also claiming, "As quoted by John Mark Ministries." I found two web-pages from John Mark Ministries using these quotes. The first page, Quotes From Luther (2003) appears to have been written by the founder of JMM, Rowland Croucher (but I'm not entirely sure). What's interesting is that Croucher(?) listed a number of undocumented Luther quotes taken from someone who had posted them on an open newsgroup. Croucher(?) determined the quotes probably came via this page, from a person that said he "didn't keep track of the exact citations" because he compiled them for his own "amusement." Croucher(?) then goes on to defend Luther, saying at one point, "...we see that these quotes were not collected out of serious or honest interest, but merely for someone’s careless amusement. Thus, the sincerity and reasonableness of both the compilers of the quotes page and the users of these quotes is called into question."  The second JMM page is simply entitled, Martin Luther (2005). This page also contains a number of "shock" undocumented Luther quotes that appear to have been originally posted by someone going by the moniker,"Mark T." The page simply ends with this vague comment, "Despite the previous posts which discredit Martin Luther, all the good that he did for the Christian faith in the first half of the 1500’s. must be remembered." No documentation is provided for the quotes in question from this other web page.

There are a number of books using forms of this quote (example #1, example #2, example #3, example #4, example #5). Based on the form of the quotes and their usage, I suspect they originally came from the English version of  Jules Michelet's nineteenth-century book, The Life of Luther Written By Himself. This book quotes Luther saying,
"The devil can so completely assume the human form, when he wants to deceive us, that we may very well lie with what seems to us a woman, of real flesh and blood, and yet all the while 'tis only the devil in the shape of a woman: Satan, according to St. Paul, has great power over the children of unrighteousness. 'Tis the same with women, who may think it is a man in bed with them, yet 'tis only the devil; and when it is considered that the result of this connexion it oftentimes an imp of darkness, half mortal, half devil, such cases are peculiarly horrible and appalling. How often have not the demons called Nix, drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, with like fearful consequences. The devil, too, sometimes steals human children; it is not unfrequent for him to carry away infants within the first six weeks after their birth, and to substitute in their place imps, called in Latin supposititii, and by the Saxons kilkropff. 
The English version of Michelet does not document this material. In this section, of the sparse documentation given, most of it points to the Tischreden (Table Talk). I suspect Michelet took this quote from one of the earliest published version of the Table Talk, Tischreden oder Colloquia Doct. Mart. Luthers (1566). Elsewhere in the book (French also), Michelet mentions "Tischreden (Table Talk) (Frankfort, 1568)." Here is the 1568 edition. These early editions were put together by someone who knew Luther,  John Aurifaber. LW points out "In this form the Table Talk became widely known" (LW 54, Introduction), so it would make sense that this was the version used by Michelet.  On page 213 of the 1568 edition, the following appears to be the text Michelet drew from:



The same text is found on page 300 in the 1566 edition; the 1570 edition has a clearer scan (see page 272), see also Sämtliche Werke, Volume 60, 37-39, and WATR 3, 517-518.

Almost the entirety of this version of the Table Talk was translated into English by Captain Henry Bell (1652): Dris Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia: Or, Dr Martin Luther's Divine Discourses at His Table, etc. The page in question can be found here (minus the first paragraph). Bell's version of the Table Talk was republished as a two-volume set in the nineteenth century with updated English, but this section was curiously left out (it should fall on pages 128-129). A revised English version of this section though was published in 1827: Table Talk: Or, Selections from the Ana. Containing Extracts from the Different Collections of Ana, French, English, Italian, and German. With Bibliographical Notices. The statement can be found here (also leaving out the first paragraph), and is reproduced below.

The Table Talk was not written by Luther. It's a compilation of remarks Luther is purported to have stated.  I'm not sure Aurifaber actually heard Luther make the comments in question. Aurifaber did not have a lot of personally recorded remarks of Luther's. To publish his edition of the Tischreden, he relied heavily on the notes of others, particularly Anthony Lauterbach's redactions  (see Smith's discussion here). WATR 3, 515-516 (3676) includes a Latin / German entry that has similar characteristics to that presented by Aurifaber, but the source is "Math. L" and also includes a possible date: November or December, 1537. Aurifaber did not begin recording remarks he heard Luther utter until 1545. It is possible though Luther made the same sort of comments twice (if he made them at all), yet Aurifaber's version was heavily redacted and edited. This section appears more like polished narrative.    

Both Aurifaber's version and the parallel statement found in WATR 3 (3676) have been popular because of the strange story the entry relays, a version of the Mélusine myth / or succubus story. The paragraph from Aurifaber (left out of the English translations) specifically says "wie denn die Melusine zu Lucelburg auch ein solcher succubus oder Teufel gewesen ist." That story forms the first part of the Table Talk comment below. A comparison of the collected Mélusine myths though show that the Table Talk version has significant differences, making the comparison seem forced. The majority of the Mélusine stories I found typically denote her as hiding her serpent form. In the Table Talk story, the woman is deceased, but appears to returns to life, then disappears after a particular set of words are spoken.  The similarity appears to be that the Mélusine was considered to be a type of demonic succubus, as was the deceased woman. 

Context
A Gentleman had a fair young wife which died, and was also buried. Not long after, the Gentleman and his servant lying together in one chamber, his dead wife in the night time approached into the chamber, and leaned herself upon the Gentleman's bed, like as if she had been desirous to speak with him. The servant (seeing the same two or three nights one after another) asked his master, whether he knew, that every night a woman, in white apparel, came unto his bed? The Gentleman said. No: I sleep soundly (said he) and see nothing. When night approached, the Gentleman, considering the same, lay waking in bed. Then the woman appeared unto him, and came hard to his bed-side. The Gentleman demanded who she was? She answered, I am your wife. He said. My wife is dead and buried. She said. True: by reason of your swearing and sins I died; but if you would take me again, and would also abstain from swearing one particular oath, which commonly you use, then would I be your wife again. He said, I am content to perform what you desire. Whereupon his dead wife remained with him, ruled his house, lay with him, ate and drank with him, and had children together. Now it fell out, that on a time the Gentleman had guests, and his wife after supper was to fetch out of his chest some banqueting stuff: she staying somewhat long, her husband (forgetting himself) was moved thereby to swear his accustomed oath; whereupon the woman vanished that instant. Now seeing she returned not again, they went up into the chamber to see what was become of her. There they found the gown which she wore, half lying within the chest, and half without; but she was never seen afterwards. This did the Devil, (said Luther) he can transform himself into the shape of a man or woman.
The Prince Elector of Saxony (John Frederick,) having received advertisement of this strange accident, sent thereupon presently unto me (said Luther,) to have my opinion what I held of that woman, and of the children which were begotten of these two persons? Whereupon I wrote to his Highness, that in my opinion, neither that woman, nor those children, were right human creatures, but devils; for the devil casteth before the eyes a blaze, or a mist, and so deceiveth the people; insomuch that one thinketh he lieth by a right woman, and yet is no such matter; for, as St Paul saith, the devil is strong by the children of unbelief. But inasmuch as children, or devils, are conceived in such sort, the same are very horrible and fearful examples, in that Satan can plague and so torment people, as to beget children. Like unto this is it also with that which they call the Nix, in the water, who draweth people unto him, as maids and virgins, of whom he begetteth (devils) children. The devil can also steal children away, (as sometimes children within the space of six weeks after their birth are lost,) and other children, called Supposititii, or Changelings, laid in their places. Of the Saxons they are called Killcrops.
Conclusion
There is a tedious fact about the first quote worth mentioning. From an examination of Aurifaber's German text, the English Table Talk translations, and Michelet's original French version,  it appears the English translator of Michelet, William Hazlitt,  took some liberties with the French text by adding a sentence. The French text reads,
Le diable peut se changer en homme ou en femme pour tromper, de telle manière qu'on croit être couché avec une femme en chair et en os, et qu'il n'en est rien; car, suivant le mot de saint Paul, le diable est bien fort avec les fils de l'impiété. Comme il en résulte souvent des enfans ou des diables, ces exemples sont effrayans et horribles. C'est ainsi que ce qu'on appelle le nix, attire dans l'eau les vierges ou les femmes pour créer des diablotins. Le diable peut aussi dérober des enfans; quelquefois dans les six premières semaines de leur naissance, il enlève à leur mère ces pauvres créatures pour en substituer à leur place d'autres, nommés supposititii, et par les Saxons, kilkropff.
The English translator (Hazlitt) appears to have added, "'Tis the same with women, who may think it is a man in bed with them, yet 'tis only the devil." This addition does no actual harm to the gist of the French text (Hazlitt does say he added to Michelet's work), but this sentence is also not found in Aurifaber's German account.  In regard to the overall account, Aurifaber's version of the Table Talk was already heavily edited and pieced together (see Smith's explanation of this redacted version), so Hazlitt has added yet another layer to an already suspect narrative. Interestingly, Hazlitt included the Mélusine tale / Succubus Myth in his English version of the Table Talk, minus Luther's comments (see Addendum #1 below).

There is another tedious problem. I see some ambiguity as to whose story it actually is. The German text states, "Doctor Martin Luther sagte, „daß er selbs von H. Johanns Friederich, Kurfürsten zu Sachsen, eine Historien geHort hätte." Bell's translation states, "In Germanie (faid Luther) was heretofore a Noble Familie, which were born of a succubus, and fell out thus..." Hazlitt states, "Dr. Luther said he had heard from the elector of Saxony, John Frederic, that a powerful family in Germany was descended from the devil, the founder having been born of a succubus. He added this story..." Is the story from John Frederick or Luther?

I've actually been through some of these quotes previously (2013), probably because of comments from the same Mormon-leaning CARM participant. In 2013, one of the sources being used was the Internet article, Changelings An Essay by D. L. Ashliman, 1997. This author stated,  "Luther was very much a product of his own times with respect to superstitious beliefs and practices." This should come as no surprise. For instance, a "Nix" appears to be a type of water-demon, something a German boy would learn about as a child. Luther held to a lot of odd beliefs that were part of the medieval culture in which he lived. 

Is it possible Luther made the comments reported in the Table Talk? Yes, but the version in the Table Talk appears heavily edited to form a compelling account woven together with a folk tale (especially when compared to WATR 3, 3676). While Luther may have had medieval views like those found in Aurifaber's Tischreden account, it's interesting to see the caution Luther had in interpreting the "sons of God" and the Nephilim of Genesis 6. This would be the perfect opportunity to speculate on beings from the spiritual realm cohabiting humans.  Luther refers to the "sons of God" being those who "fell away from the worship and Word of God and became entirely worldly, with the result that they corrupted not only the church but also the state and the home" (LW 2:32). The "giants" that were born were "arrogant men who usurped both the government and the priesthood" (Ibid.). They were giants in the sense of being "not men of huge mass of body, as in the passage in Numbers, but unruly and mischievous men, the way the poets depict the Cyclopes, who fear neither God nor men but pursue only their own desires and rely on their own power and strength" (LW 2:34). There is also a contrast with "the true sons of God, namely, Noah with his children" (LW 2:37).

As I've looked at this, the majority of proof for Luther's view relies solely on the Table TalkThe Table Talk is not something Luther wrote, it's statements Luther is purported to have said. Often, the contexts do not say enough to establish Luther's dogmatic lifelong opinion on a particular subject. Luther does make passing comments about changelings elsewhere (LW 47:254, 260, and LW 24:92-93). To simply demonstrate the incongruity with the second-hand nature of the Table Talk and more legitimate texts from Luther, note the following. In the quotes under scrutiny, the union of devil and human is said to produce "an imp of darkness, half mortal, half devil…." Elsewhere though,  Luther denies the Devil can beget human children. In his exposition of Genesis 6, Luther stated:
Moses simply calls the sons of the patriarchs, to whom the promise of the Seed was given, "sons of God"; they were the true church. When they yielded to the seductions of the Cainite church, they also proceeded to gratify the desires of the flesh and to take wives from the Cainite race, likewise concubines, as many as they wanted and whomever they chose. Lamech and Noah observed this with grief; and for this reason, perhaps, they married rather late (LW 2:10).
Here, too, the Jews come up with a variety of foolish ideas. They describe the sons of God as incubi from which that notorious and ungodly race was begotten; they further maintain that the sons of God are given this name because of their spiritual nature. The less extreme among them, on the other hand, prove these foolish ideas to be false and describe the 'sons of God' as the sons of the mighty. Lyra neatly disposes also of this idea by pointing out that the punishment of the Flood was not a punishment upon the mighty alone, but upon all flesh, just as the punishment of the Last Day will be.
So far as incubi and succubi are concerned, I do not deny, but believe, that the devil may happen to be either a succubus or an incubus; for I have heard many relate their very own experiences. Augustine, too, declares that he heard the same sort of story from trustworthy people whom he felt compelled to believe. It delights Satan if he can delude us by taking on the appearance either of a young man or of a woman. But that anything can be born from the union of a devil and a human being is simply untrue. Such an assertion is sometimes made about hideous infants that resemble demons very much. I have seen some of these. But I am convinced either that these were deformed, but not begotten, by the devil, or that they are actual devils with flesh that they have either counterfeited or stolen from somewhere else. If with God's permission the devil can take possession of an entire human being and change his disposition, what would be so remarkable about his misshaping the body and bringing about the birth of either blind or crippled children?" (LW 2:10-11) (alternate English text).
Addendum #1: William Hazlitt's Table Talk Version of the Succubus Myth
Dr. Luther said he had heard from the elector of Saxony, John Frederic, that a powerful family in Germany was descended from the devil, the founder having been born of a succubus. He added this story: A gentleman had a young and beautiful wife, who, dying, was buried. Shortly afterwards, this gentleman and one of his servants sleeping in the same chamber, the wife, who was dead, came at night, bent over the bed of the gentleman, as though she were conversing with him, and, after awhile, went away again. The servant, having twice observed this circumstance, asked his master whether he knew that, every night, a woman, clothed in white, stood by his bed-side. The master replied, that he had slept soundly, and had observed nothing of the sort. The next night, he took care to remain awake. The woman came, and he asked her who she was, and what she wanted. She answered, that she was his wife. He returned: my wife is dead and buried. She answered, she had died by reason of his sins, but that if he would receive her again, she would return to him in life. He said, if it were possible, he should be well content. She told him he must undertake not to swear, as he was wont to do; for that if he ever did so, she should once more die, and permanently quit him. He promised this, and the dead woman, returning to seeming life, dwelt with him, ate, drank, and slept with him, and had children by him. One day that he had guests, his wife went to fetch some cakes from an adjoining apartment, and remained a long time absent. The gentleman grew impatient, and broke out into his old oaths. The wife not returning, the gentleman, with his friends, went to seek her, but she had disappeared; only, the clothes she had worn lay on the floor. She was never again seen. (link)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Luther: Whoever First Brewed Beer Has Prepared a Pest for Germany

Above: A product from the LutherBiere line. 

Cyberspace is replete with descriptions of Martin Luther as the beer-guzzling antinomian. Here's a rare instance of the opposite description. Luther is reported to have stated,
Whoever first brewed beer has prepared a pest for Germany. I have prayed to God that he would destroy the whole growing industry. I have often pronounced a curse on the brewer. All Germany could live on the barley that is spoiled and turned into a curse by the brewer.
Multiple sources have used this quote, typically undocumented, particularly in support of Prohibition. It appears versions of this Luther quote only gained popularity around the time of Prohibition in the United States For instance:



And also:
We are told that Martin Luther, who lived four hundred years ago, foresaw the great evil of the beer business and prayed to God for deliverance for Germany from its curse. He is quoted as having said: “Whoever first brewed beer has prepared a pest for Germany.”Then he added: “I have prayed to God that He would destroy the whole brewing industry. . . . . . . All Germany could live on the barley that is spoiled and turned into a curse by the brewer.”
Martin Luther saw a long way ahead when he made that prayer, but it is not yet too late for God to answer and destroy the whole brewing business. It is indeed a curse to the human family and needs to be put out of the way. No doubt many a brewer has laughed in his sleeve at Martin Luther's prayer for the destruction of this great evil, fully believing that because it was not answered immediately, it would never be. It is now most likely that the man is now living who will see the day when Martin Luther's prayer will be answered and the brewing business destroyed. It looks that way now—the nations are turning against “the jolly old brewer.”

There is also an alternate version:
The man who first brewed beer was a pest for Germany. Food must be dear in all our land, for the horses eat up all our oats, and the peasants drink up all our barley in the form of beer. I have survived the end of genuine beer, for it has now become small beer in every sense, and I have prayed to God that He might destroy the whole beer-brewing business, and the first beer-brewer I have often cursed. There is enough barley destroyed in the breweries to feed all Germany. 

Documentation
The quote is typically undocumented. This source claims it is from "Martin Luther in his Table Talks.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. It is a popular source because the comments are witty, and often stand alone, in fact they most often stand alone because the actual historical context of the purported remarks is unknown. 

A version of this particular beer-bashing comment can be found in the TischredenWATR 1:23 states,

This particular saying was recorded by John Schlaginhaufen (he recorded statements of Luther from 1531-1532). LW explains his collections was not published until 1888 (LW 54:125) by Wilhelm Preger. When WATR refers to "Schlag. 49," they are referring to entry 49 found here. "CLM. 943" refers to the Munich codex that Grisar says was the primary source "used by Preger." It was a copy of  Schlaginhaufen's notes ("made by some unknown person about 1551...").  "233b" and "234" then refer to the entry numbers in that handwritten manuscript.  Notice at the bottom WATR 1 refers to "Nr. 2344 (Cord. 442)." This refers also to one of the compilers of the Table TalkConrad Cordatus was one of the earliest to take notes on Luther's incidental statements. Here is statement 442 from Cordatus:
Notice how sparse the comment recorded by Cordatus actually is, basically repeating the sentiment about the first beer brewer being the pest of Germany.  But like many of the Table Talk statements, multiple versions exist. Note the similarities in this Table Talk statement  and this statement!

The English edition of Luther's Works did include Schlaginhaufen's comment (WATR 1:23;1281). It can be found at LW 54:132. They also included the comment from Cordatus (WATR 3:5; 2810b), found at LW 54:172, which had been attached to another comment about Adam. Cordatus took Luther's comments from other sources. He later revised his Table Talk notes, making stylistic changes. Because of this, Luther's Works (English edition) includes only a small sampling of those statements compiled by Cordatus.

Context

No. 1281: Large Proportion of Grain Used to Make Beer
Between December 28 and 31, 1531
“Whoever it was who invented the brewing of beer has been a curse for Germany. Prices must be high in our lands. Horses devour the greatest part of the grain, for we grow more oats than rye. Then the good peasants and townspeople drink up almost as much of the grain in the form of beer. On this account the farmers in noble Thuringia, where the land is very fertile, have learned the rascality of growing woad where good and noble grain used to be cultivated, and this has so burned and exhausted the soil that it is beyond all reason.” (LW 54:132)

No. 2810b: Adam Must Have Lived a Simple Life
Between November 24 and December 8, 1532
“Adam was a very simple and unassuming man, [said Luther]. I don’t think he lighted candles. He didn’t know that the ox has suet in his body, for he wasn’t as yet slaughtering cattle. I wonder where he got the hides. Beyond this, Adam was undoubtedly a handsome man. He lived so long that he saw the eighth generation of his descendants, up to the time of Noah. No doubt he was a very sensible man and well practiced in a variety of trials. He lived most temperately and drank neither wine nor beer.
“I wish the brewing of beer had never been invented, for a great deal of grain is consumed to make it, and nothing good is brewed.” (LW 54:172)
Conclusion
Because there are so many quotes from Luther that prove he drank and enjoyed beer, one may be tempted to conclude that Luther was being inconsistent. If the statement was really made by Luther, I do not think he was inconsistent, because his general concern throughout his life was in regard to the excess of alcohol. There are a great many legitimate comments from Luther about drunkenness. Consider particularly, Luther's 1539 Sermon on Soberness and Moderation (LW 51:289-299). Consider one excerpt:
Eating and drinking are not forbidden, but rather all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one’s pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19–21] (LW 51:293).
Luther preached and wrote against drunkenness throughout his entire life with vigor and force. As biographer Heinrich Boehmer notes, “Luther attacked the craving for drink with word and pen more vigorously than any German of his time. He told even princes his opinion of it, in private and public, blamed the elector himself publicly for this vice, and read the elector’s courtiers an astonishingly drastic lecture” [Heinrich Boehmer, Luther and the Reformation in the Light of Modern Research (London: G. Bell and Sons LTD, 1930), 198]. It appears to me that those in support of Prohibition took one Table Talk comment and ran with it, attempting to make Luther into something he was not.