Monday, October 15, 2018

Luther"s Antisemitism: "We are at fault in not slaying them!"

In their article, "Martin Luther and antisemitism," Wikipedia currently links to my old article, Martin Luther's Attitude Toward the Jews.  While I appreciate their nod to my paper, there is a quote used that I would like to explore and demonstrate misuse, Luther's antisemitic comment, "we are at fault in not slaying them." Wikipedia currently states,
On the Jews and Their Lies
In 1543 Luther published On the Jews and Their Lies in which he says that the Jews are a "base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth."[14] They are full of the "devil's feces ... which they wallow in like swine."[15] The synagogue was a "defiled bride, yes, an incorrigible whore and an evil slut ..."[16] He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness,[17] afforded no legal protection,[18] and these "poisonous envenomed worms" should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.[19] He also seems to advocate their murder, writing "[w]e are at fault in not slaying them".[20] Luther claims that Jewish history was "assailed by much heresy", and that Christ swept away the Jewish heresy and goes on to do so, "as it still does daily before our eyes." He stigmatizes Jewish Prayer as being "blasphemous" (sic) and a lie, and vilifies Jews in general as being spiritually "blind" and "surely possessed by all devils." Luther has a special spiritual problem with Jewish circumcision.[21][22] The full context in which Martin Luther advocated that Jews be slain in On the Jews and Their Lies is as follows in Luther's own words: 
There is no other explanation for this than the one cited earlier from Moses - namely, that God has struck [the Jews] with 'madness and blindness and confusion of mind' [Deuteronomy 28:28]. So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them.[23]
Notice "We are at fault in not slaying them" is quoted twice in this excerpt. In the first occurrence, Wikipedia states Luther "seems" to advocate murdering the Jews. In the second occurrence, Wikipedia prefaces the quote stating, "Martin Luther advocated that Jews be slain." The first occurrence dates back to the original 2008 Wikipedia entry where the quote appears at the beginning of their synopsis, stating, "He also seemed to sanction their murder, writing 'We are at fault in not slaying them.'" Over time the article was expanded. This comment and quote changed to, "He also seems to advocate their murder, writing '[w]e are at fault in not slaying them.'" This was later moved into a new subsection covering Luther's book, On The Jews and Their Lies.  The second occurrence was added in September 2016 in the same subsection. It appears someone was attempting to provide "the full context" of the quote "in which Martin Luther advocated that Jews be slain."

There were too many hands in the Wikipedia cookie jar: note the incoherence which happens when multiple people edit an entry.  Did Luther "seem" to sanction exterminating Jewish people or did he actually actively "advocate" the Jews be slain? Whoever added the alleged "full context" does not appear to have proofed the entry for internal consistency.

While Luther's comment is atrocious and can be classified as antisemitic, I will argue this comment, placed in context, is not actively advocating the murder of Jews. Lest there be any misunderstanding: I am not arguing that Luther's comment, "we are at fault in not slaying them" is not blatantly antisemitic or that Luther should be excused for the comment. Rather, what I think is happening with the quote is that it's being used to make Luther worse than he was: yes, he's guilty of harsh rhetoric against the Jews, yes he's guilty of advocating societal cruelty on the Jews, but he is not guilty of calling for their extermination in this quote.

For the first use of the quote, Wikipedia cites, "Luther, Martin. On the Jews and Their Lies, cited in Michael, Robert. 'Luther, Luther Scholars, and the Jews,' Encounter 46 (Autumn 1985) No. 4:343–344." The first part of the reference refers to Luther's treatise, though no page location is given. The second part of the reference is to an article by historian Robert Michael, who specialized in the study of antisemitism. Michael states,

For his Luther quotes, Michael provides a footnote referring to LW 47, 242, 265, 167. Page 242 refers to  "archthieves. . . who should rightly be hanged on the gallows seven times higher than other thieves." Page 265 refers to the bulk of the quote provided, save the last line, "We are at fault for not slaying them," which is supposed to be on page 167; Michael though made error, the quote is found on page 267.

The second reference provided by Wikipedia is "Luther, Martin. On the Jews and Their Lies, translated by Martin H. Bertram, in Luther's Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 47:267." The reference is accurate. There are two minor additions to the quote as presented by Wikipedia: "them" has been replaced with [the Jews], and the reference, "[Deuteronomy 28:28]" is not found on page 267 at this location in this English text.

Now behold what a fine, thick, fat lie they pronounce when they say that they are held captive by us. Jerusalem was destroyed over fourteen hundred years ago, and at that time we Christians were harassed and persecuted by the Jews throughout the world for about three hundred years, as we said earlier. We might well complain that during that time they held us Christians captive and killed us, which is the plain truth. Furthermore, we do not know to the present day which devil brought them into our country. We surely did not bring them from Jerusalem.
In addition, no one is holding them here now. The country and the roads are open for them to proceed to their land whenever they wish. If they did so, we would be glad to present gifts to them on the occasion; it would be good riddance. For they are a heavy burden, a plague, a pestilence, a sheer misfortune for our country. Proof for this is found in the fact that they have often been expelled forcibly from a country, far from being held captive in it. Thus they were banished from France (which they call Tsorfath, from Obadiah), which was an especially fine nest. Very recently they were banished by our dear Emperor Charles from Spain, the very best nest of all (which they called Sefarad, also on the basis of Obadiah). This year they were expelled from the entire Bohemian crownland, where they had one of the best nests, in Prague. Likewise, during my lifetime they have been driven from Regensburg, Magdeburg, and other places.
If you cannot tolerate a person in a country or home, does that constitute holding him in captivity? In fact, they hold us Christians captive in our own country. They let us work in the sweat of our brow to earn money and property while they sit behind the stove, idle away the time, fart, and roast pears. They stuff themselves, guzzle, and live in luxury and ease from our hard-earned goods. With their accursed usury they hold us and our property captive. Moreover, they mock and deride us because we work and let them play the role of lazy squires at our expense and in our land. Thus they are our masters and we are their servants, with our property, our sweat, and our labor. And by way of reward and thanks they curse our Lord and us! Should the devil not laugh and dance if he can enjoy such a fine paradise at the expense of us Christians? He devours what is ours through his saints, the Jews, and repays us by insulting us, in addition to mocking and cursing both God and man.
They could not have enjoyed such good times in Jerusalem under David and Solomon with their own possessions as they now do with ours, which they daily steal and rob. And yet they wail that we have taken them captive. Indeed, we have captured them and hold them in captivity just as I hold captive my gallstone, my bloody tumor, and all the other ailments and misfortunes which I have to nurse and take care of with money and goods and all that I have. Alas, I wish that they were in Jerusalem with the Jews and whomever else they would like to have there.
Since it has now been established that we do not hold them captive, how does it happen that we deserve the enmity of such noble and great saints? We do not call their women whores as they do Mary, Jesus’ mother. We do not call them children of whores as they do our Lord Jesus. We do not say that they were conceived at the time of cleansing and were thus born as idiots, as they say of our Lord. We do not say that their women are haria, as they do with regard to our dear Mary. We do not curse them but wish them well, physically and spiritually. We lodge them, we let them eat and drink with us. We do not kidnap their children and pierce them through; we do not poison their wells; we do not thirst for their blood. How, then, do we incur such terrible anger, envy, and hatred on the part of such great and holy children of God?
There is no other explanation for this than the one cited earlier from Moses—namely, that God has struck them with “madness and blindness and confusion of mind.” So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them. Rather we allow them to live freely in our midst despite all their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying, and defaming; we protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property. In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us boldly of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such a great sin, and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope). Now tell me whether they do not have every reason to be the enemies of us accursed Goyim, to curse us and to strive for our final, complete, and eternal ruin! (LW 265-267)

Luther in context is bombastically arguing against the oppression of the Jews, saying rather that the Jews are oppressing the Germans! He presents the ludicrous argument that it is they that are benefiting off German land, at the expense of the Germans.  He further takes as true the the rumors that the Jews were killing German children and poisoning wells. "We are at fault in not slaying them" is part of a ridiculous rhetorical argument in which Luther accepts the negative Jewish stereotypes of his day, then he attempts to present the case that despite these Jewish crimes, the Germans were gracious and kind to the Jews. The argument is absurd.

Recall Wikipedia claimed to be giving, "the full context."Notice that the quote continues after the point where Wikipedia stops. Luther is not saying that the Germans should go out and kill the Jews. He's saying that if all the negative things are true about the Jews are true (as he previously stated, like killing children, poisoning wells, etc.), the Germans were at moral fault for allowing them to live. Rather, Germany has allowed them "to live freely in our midst despite all their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying, and defaming; we protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property. In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us boldly of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such a great sin, and robbing us of all our property..." This is a rhetorical descriptive argument. It is not a prescription to go out and kill Jews. 

Luther goes on to say a few pages later... not to "harm their persons": 
And you, my dear gentlemen and friends who are pastors and preachers, I wish to remind very faithfully of your official duty, so that you too may warn your parishioners concerning their eternal harm, as you know how to do—namely, that they be on their guard against the Jews and avoid them so far as possible. They should not curse them or harm their persons, however. For the Jews have cursed and harmed themselves more than enough by cursing the Man Jesus of Nazareth, Mary’s son, which they unfortunately have been doing for over fourteen hundred years. Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew. (LW 47:274)
While Luther may be acquitted here from advocating murder, he is not vindicated for his antisemitism by the context of The Jews and Their Lies. He did make sinful comments against the Jews, some of which did advocate violence and oppression. For instance, he was so against Judaism by this point that he advocated that "they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country" (LW 47:286).  Some scholars have argued there were theological reasons why he made such harsh comments against the Jews,  but I've found none of them to be so compelling as to exonerate him from the charge of antisemitism. Advocating cruelty to human beings, particularly basing it on unfounded rumors, is truly a dark spot on Luther's career. On the other hand, making Luther worse than he was by saying in the quote explored above that he wanted the Jews slain... this is presenting a contextual error. What the quote shows in its "full context" is that Luther presented an argument based on accepting unsubstantiated and slanderous rumors about the Jews.   

Monday, October 08, 2018

Luther: "Pure devilry is urging on the peasants…Therefore let all who are able, mow them down, slaughter and stab them..."

Here's something from the CARM Lutheran discussion forum, submitted by someone against Lutherans and Martin Luther:

If Only The Good Old Days Were Here Today
The founder of your religion would not tolerate people disagreeing with him.........don’t you Lutherans long for the good old days ?
Regarding peasants opposed to him and the leaders that favored him, notice what Martin Luther advised:
Pure devilry is urging on the peasants…Therefore let all who are able, mow them down, slaughter and stab them, openly or in secret, and remember that there is nothing more poisonous, noxious and utterly devilish than a rebel. You must kill him as you would a mad dog… 
The authorities must resolve to chastise and slay as long as they can raise a finger…It may be that those who are killed on the side of the authorities is really a martyr in God’s cause. A happier death no man could die. The present time is so strange that a prince can gain Heaven easier by spilling blood than by praying (Luther M. Against the Murderous and Rapacious Hordes of the Peasants, May 4, 1525-Erl, 24, 287, ff. As cited in O’Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, p. 232).
This concoction of quotes blames Martin Luther for killing the peasants during their revolt. The detractor takes it one step further by sniping, "...don't you Lutherans long for the good old days?" as if, modern-day Lutherans long for the medieval mentality of suppressing civil disobedience and rebellion with severe force. Let's take a look at these quotes and the historical situation that surrounds them. We'll see that these quotes we're culled together from a much larger context, a context that was ignored, as was the historical events that provoked them.

Two quotes are provided, both are said to come from "Erl, 24, 287, ff, As cited in O’Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, p. 232." "O'Hare PF" refers to Father Patrick O'Hare, author of the book, The Facts About Luther. Father O'Hare belongs to the Roman Catholic tradition of destructive criticism of the Protestant Reformation. I doubt the person who posted the quotes actually utilized O'Hare's book. A simple Google search reveals a few web-pages use the same exact quotes and documentation. I suspect the web-page which originally mined these quotes (with this documentation) was either this one or this one.

There's actually a typo in the quote, consistent on all the web-pages I found using it: "devilry" should actually be, "deviltry" (according to O'Hare, that's the word he used, though he himself made a typo here, see below).  The source provided refers to the 1987 reprint of Patrick O'Hare, The Facts About Luther (Illinois: Tan Publishers). There,  Father O'Hare states (cf. earlier edition),
At this juncture he wrote a terrible tract entitled, "Against the Murderous and Rapacious Hordes of the Peasants" (Erl. 24, 287, ff.) to urge the civil authorities to crush the revolution. This tract was issued about May 4, 1525. In a copy preserved at the British Museum, London, we find these heartless words: "Pure deviltry is urging on the peasants; they rob and rage and behave like mad dogs." "Therefore let all who are able, mow them down, slaughter and stab them, openly or in secret, and remember that there is nothing more poisonous, noxious and utterly devilish than a rebel. You must kill him as you would a mad dog; if you do not fall upon him, he will fall upon you and the whole land."
In this tract Luther claims that the peasants are not fighting for his new teaching, nor serving the evangel. "They," he says, "serve the devil under the appearance of the evangel ... I believe that the devil feels the approach of the Last Day and therefore has recourse to such unheard of trickery . . . Behold what a powerful prince the devil is, how he holds the world in his hands, and can knead it as he pleases." "I think there is not a single devil now left in Hell, but they have all gone into the peasants, The raging is exceedingly great and beyond all measure."
He therefore calls upon the princes to exert their authority with all their might. "Whatever peasants," he says, "are killed in the fray, are lost body and soul and are the devil's own for all eternity. The authorities must resolve to chastise and slay so long as they can raise a finger: Thou, O God, must judge and act. It may be that whoever is killed on the side of the authorities is really a martyr in God's cause. A happier death no man could die. The present time is so strange that a prince can gain Heaven by spilling blood easier than another person can by praying."
Father O'Hare cites "Erl. 24, 287, ff." This refers to volume 24 of  Dr. Martin Luther's Sämmtliche werke. Page 287 can be found here.  The "ff" refers to the beginning of the treatise (Against the Murderous and Rapacious Hordes of the Peasants, May 4, 1525), not the exact location of the quotes. The reason why O'Hare used this vague reference is that he may have unintentionally plagiarized a long section from the English translation of Hartmann Grisar's Luther biography, almost word for word, yet leaving out Grisar's extensive documentation. For more on O'Hare's use of Grisar, see Addendum #1 below.

In order to demonstrate the spurious nature of the quotes presented on the CARM boards, we'll work through it line by line, demonstrating the sentences were sifted from seven pages of text, then boiled down into two small paragraphs. The first phrase, "Pure deviltry is urging on the peasants" appears to be from the first paragraph of the treatise on page 288. Luther is actually referring to Thomas Müntzer as the archdevil (Erzteufel) stirring up the peasants. The next two sentences of the quote ("Therefore let all who are able... You must kill him as you would a mad dog") are on page 290:

The next sentence is interesting: "The authorities must resolve to chastise and slay as long as they can raise a finger." O'Hare cites it as a direct statement from Luther. However, he appears to have made an error in using Grisar. Grisar says, "The authorities must resolve to 'chastise and slay' so long as they can raise a finger..." The only actual words Grisar cites from Luther here are "chastise and slay." Grisar appears to have based this on page 291, probably providing a summary statement of his interpretation of Luther's words. In this section Luther is referring to secular rulers who have a duty to maintain civil order and punish rebels. It appears to me Grisar may be citing "Therefore I will punish and smite as long as my heart beats. You will be the judge and make things right” (LW 46:53), because the very next section is in regard to martyrdom.

The sentence, "It may be that those who are killed on the side of the authorities is really a martyr in God’s cause" is found  on page 293:

The sentence, "A happier death no man could die" is found on page 294:

The sentence, "The present time is so strange that a prince can gain Heaven easier by spilling blood than by praying" can be found on page 293 (a page earlier than the previous sentence!):

This German text all of this comes from is entitled, Wider die räuberischen und mörderischen Rotten der Bauern (1525). It can also be found in WA 18:344-361. It has been translated into English, entitled, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants. It can be found in the Philadelphia Edition Volume 4,  and also in LW 46:43-55. Below is the entire translation from the Philadelphia edition, pp. 245-254.

In the former book I did not venture to judge the peasants, since they had offered to be set right and to be instructed, and Christ’s commands, in Matthew 7:1, says that we are not to judge. But before I look around they go on, and, forgetting their offer, they betake themselves to violence, and rob and rage and act like mad dogs. By this it is easy to see what they had in their false minds, and that the pretenses which they made in their twelve articles, under the name of the Gospel, were nothing but lies. It is the devil’s work that they are at, and in particular it is the work of the archdevil who rules at Muhlhausen, and does nothing else than stir up robbery, murder, and bloodshed; as Christ says of him in John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning.” Since, then, these peasants and wretched folk have let themselves be led astray, and do otherwise than they have promised, I too must write of them otherwise than I have written, and begin by setting their sin before them, as God commands Isaiah and Ezekiel, on the chance that some of them may learn to know themselves. Then I must instruct the rulers how they are to conduct themselves in these circumstances.

The peasants have taken on themselves the burden of three terrible sins against God and man, by which they have abundantly merited death in body and soul. In the first place they have sworn to be true and faithful, submissive and obedient, to their rulers, as Christ commands, when He says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” and in Romans 13:2, “Let everyone be subject unto the higher powers.” Because they are breaking this obedience, and are setting themselves against the higher powers, willfully and with violence, they have forfeited body and soul, as faithless, perjured, lying, disobedient knaves and scoundrels are wont to do. St. Paul passed this judgment on them in Romans 13, when he said, that they who resist the power will bring a judgment upon themselves. This saying will smite the peasants sooner or later, for it is God’s will that faith be kept and duty done.

In the second place, they are starting a rebellion, and violently robbing and plundering monasteries and castles which are not theirs, by which they have a second time deserved death in body and soul, if only as highwaymen and murderers. Besides, any man against whom it can be proved that he is a maker of sedition is outside the law of God and Empire, so that the first who can slay him is doing right and well. For if a man is an open rebel every man is his judge and executioner, just as when a fire starts, the first to put it out is the best man. For rebellion is not simple murder, but is like a great fire, which attacks and lays waste a whole land. Thus rebellion brings with it a land full of murder and bloodshed, makes widows and orphans, and turns everything upside down, like the greatest disaster. Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel. It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him, he will strike you, and a whole land with you.

In the third place, they cloak this terrible and horrible sin with the Gospel, call themselves “Christian brethren,” receive oaths and homage, and compel people to hold with them to these abominations. Thus they become the greatest of all blasphemers of God and slanderers of His holy Name, serving the devil, under the outward appearance of the Gospel, thus earning death in body and soul ten times over. I have never heard of more hideous sin. I suspect that the devil feels the Last Day coming and therefore undertakes such an unheard-of act, as though saying to himself, “This is the last, therefore it shall be the worst; I will stir up the dregs and knock out the bottom.” God will guard us against him! See what a mighty prince the devil is, how he has the world in his hands and can throw everything into confusion, when he can so quickly catch so many thousands of peasants, deceive them, blind them, harden them, and throw them into revolt, and do with them whatever his raging fury undertakes.

It does not help the peasants, when they pretend that, according to Genesis 1 and 2, all things were created free and common, and that all of us alike have been baptized. For under the New Testament Moses does not count; for there stands our Master, Christ, and subjects us, with our bodies and our property, to the emperor and the law of this world, when He says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Paul, too, says, in Romans 13:1, to all baptized Christians, “Let every man be subject to the power,” and Peter says, “Be subject to every ordinance of man.” By this doctrine of Christ we are bound to live, as the Father commands from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son; hear him.” For baptism does not make men free in body and property, but in soul; and the Gospel does not make goods common, except in the case of those who do of their own free will what the apostles and disciples did in Acts 4:32. They did not demand, as do our insane peasants in their raging, that the goods of others, — of a Pilate and a Herod, — should be common, but only their own goods. Our peasants, however, would have other men’s goods common, and keep their own goods for themselves. Fine Christians these! I think there is not a devil left in hell; they have all gone into the peasants. Their raving has gone beyond all measure.

Since the peasants, then, have brought both God and man down upon them and are already so many times guilty of death in body and soul, since they submit to no court and wait for no verdict, but only rage on, I must instruct the worldly governors how they are to act in the matter with a clear conscience.

First. I will not oppose a ruler who, even though he does not tolerate the Gospel, will smite and punish these peasants without offering to submit the case to judgment. For he is within his rights, since the peasants are not contending any longer for the Gospel, but have become faithless, perjured, disobedient, rebellious murderers, robbers, and blasphemers, whom even heathen rulers have the right and power to punish; nay, it is their duty to punish them, for it is just for this purpose that they bear the sword, and are “the ministers of God upon him that doeth evil.”

But if the ruler is a Christian and tolerates the Gospel, so that the peasants have no appearance of a case against him, he should proceed with fear. First he must take the matter to God, confessing that we have deserved these things, and remembering that God may, perhaps, have thus aroused the devil as a punishment upon all Germany. Then he should humbly pray for help against the devil, for “we are battling not only against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in the air,” and this must be attacked with prayer. Then, when our hearts are so turned to God that we are ready to let His divine will be done, whether He will or will not have us to be princes and lords, we must go beyond our duty, and offer the mad peasants an opportunity to come to terms, even though they are not worthy of it. Finally, if that does not help, then swiftly grasp the sword.

For a prince and lord must remember in this case that he is God’s minister and the servant of His wrath ( Romans 13:4), to whom the sword is committeed for use upon such fellows, and that he sins as greatly against God, if he does not punish and protect and does not fulfill the duties of his office, as does one to whom the sword has not been committed when he commits a murder. If he can punish and does not — even though the punishment consist in the taking of life and the shedding of blood — then he is guilty of all the murder and all the evil which these fellows commit, because, by willful neglect of the divine command, he permits them to practice their wickedness, though he can prevent it, and is in duty bound to do so. Here, then, there is no time for sleeping; no place for patience or mercy. It is the time of the sword, not the day of grace.

The rulers, then, should go on unconcerned, and with a good conscience lay about them as long as their hearts still beat. It is to their advantage that the peasants have a bad conscience and an unjust cause, and that any peasant who is killed is lost in body and soul and is eternally the devil’s.

But the rulers have a good conscience and a just cause; and can, therefore, say to God with all assurance of heart, “Behold, my God, you have appointed me prince or lord, of this I can have no doubt; and Thou hast committed to me the sword over the evildoers ( Romans 13:4). It is Thy Word, and cannot lie. I must fulfill my office, or forfeit Thy grace. It is also plain that these peasants have deserved death many times over, in Thine eyes and the eyes of the world, and have been committed to me for punishment. If it be Thy will that I be slain by them, and that my rulership be taken from me and destroyed, so be it: Thy will be done. So shall I die and be destroyed fulfilling Thy commandment and Thy Word, and shall be found obedient to Thy commandment and my office. Therefore will I punish and smite as long as my heart beats. Thou wilt judge and make things right.”

Thus it may be that one who is killed fighting on the ruler’s side may be a true martyr in the eyes of God, if he fights with such a conscience as I have just described, for he is in God’s Word and is obedient to Him. On the other hand, one who perishes on the peasants’ side is an eternal brand of hell, for he bears the sword against God’s Word and is disobedient to Him, and is a member of the devil. And even though it happen that the peasants gain the upper hand (which God forbid!) — for to God all things are possible, and we do not know whether it may be His will, through the devil, to destroy all order and rule and cast the world upon a desolate heap, as a prelude to the Last Day, which cannot be far off — nevertheless, they may die without worry and go to the scaffold with a good conscience, who are found exercising their office of the sword. They may leave to the devil the kingdom of the world, and take in exchange the everlasting kingdom. Strange times, these, when a prince can win heaven with bloodshed, better than other men with prayer!
Finally, there is another thing that ought to move the rulers. The peasants are not content to be themselves the devil’s own, but they force and compel many good people against their wills to join their devilish league, and so make them partakers of all of their own wickedness and damnation.
For anyone who consents to what they do, goes to the devil with them, and is guilty of all the evil deeds that they commit; though he has to do this because he is so weak in faith that he does not resist them. A pious Christian ought to suffer a hundred deaths, rather than give a hair’s breadth of consent to the peasants’ cause. O how many martyrs could now be made by the bloodthirsty peasants and the murdering prophets! Now the rulers ought to have mercy on these prisoners of the peasants, and if they had no other reason to use the sword, with a good conscience, against the peasants, and to risk their own lives and property in fighting them, there would be reason enough, and more than enough, in this — that thus they would be rescuing and helping these souls, whom the peasants have forced into their devilish league and who, without willing it, are sinning so horribly, and who must be damned. For truly these souls are in purgatory; nay, in the bonds of hell and the devil.
Therefore, dear lords, here is a place where you can release, rescue, help. Have mercy on these poor people! Stab, smite, slay, whoever can. If you die in doing it, well for you! A more blessed death can never be yours, for you die in obeying the divine Word and commandment in Romans 13, and in loving service of your neighbor, whom you are rescuing from the bonds of hell and of the devil. And so I beg everyone who can to flee from the peasants as from the devil himself; those who do not flee, I pray that God will enlighten and convert. As for those who are not to be converted, God grant that they may have neither fortune nor success. To this let every pious Christian say Amen! For this prayer is right and good, and pleases God; this I know. If anyone think this too hard, let him remember that rebellion is intolerable and that the destruction of the world is to be expected every hour.
The above analysis reveals the two quotes were culled from the entire treatise, spanning all seven pages of Erl. 24. Some of the words quoted by O'Hare were not even Luther's, but rather those of Hartmann Grisar ("The authorities must resolve to...  so long as they can raise a finger...").  The last sentence cited by O'Hare ("The present time is so strange that a prince can gain Heaven easier by spilling blood than by praying") actually occurs in the text previous to the one cited before it ( "A happier death no man could die").

This charge of plagiarism is not tangential. O'Hare's book is pure propaganda. I could provide a number of instances in which this source mis-cites and misquotes Luther. O'Hare bludgeons history, presenting a ridiculous caricature of Luther and the Reformation. Along then comes someone using this tainted source, sifting out a few sentences, then placarding them as direct quotes on a web-page. completely unaware of the nefarious construction of the material, and further perpetuating poor history.

In regard to the historical events surrounding this quote: Luther's harsh advise in this treatise came out after the rebellion had begun. "Against The Robbing And Murdering Mobs of Peasants" was delayed in printing. The princes were already in progress of using their force to kill the peasants to suppress their revolt. Luther's intent was to have this book published in one volume along with the earlier treatise, the Admonition To Peace. This earlier treatise considered the plight of the peasants, and exhorted the princes to consider the unstable state of affairs their rule helped create. The Admonition was directed towards good peasants, while the newer treatise was directed toward the bad peasants. In Against the Robbing and Murdering Mobs of Peasants, Luther states: "...any man against whom it can be proved that he is a maker of sedition is outside the law of God and Empire, so that the first who can slay him is doing right and well" or as LW 46:50 states similarly, "...anyone who can be proved to be a seditious person is an outlaw before God and the emperor..." Luther's intent therefore, was not simply to have the authorities suppress all the peasants, but rather, those that were breaking the law.  

Richard Marius stated in his book Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death, "The nobles did not require Luther to urge them to massacre; they were entirely capable of inspiring themselves to the bloody business that they pursued for several months" (p.432). Marius goes on to state, "Luther was not responsible for these atrocities. Yet to many people, the timing of his diatribe against the peasants made him seem a cause of the slaughter that followed." (p.432). Marius also points out that in Luther's follow-up defense of his harsh book, he condemned the killing of both the guilty and innocent together after the princes were already victorious. "Luther raged against the tyranny of the nobles in books and pamphlets over the next year or so and blamed their merciless conduct for continued peasant unrest" (p.433).

That Luther's Admonition To Peace is rarely brought up by cyber-criticizers of Luther is a good indication of bias. That is, why don't rulers get blamed for not following Luther's points in this earlier treatise? If Luther's words had the power of life and death over the peasants, why was the Admonition To Peace so ineffective in controlling those rulers who are said to be so motivated by Luther words? Obviously, Luther's words were not as crucial and important to the rulers as some make them out to be.

If one wants to chastise Luther, it would be for the harshness of his words against the peasants. Yes, I'm sure certain rulers found it comforting that Luther agreed with their cause to suppress the peasants (like Philip of Hesse). On the other hand, one must seriously ask what would've happened to the peasants had not Luther wrote against them? My gut feeling is they would've been slaughtered all the same. So, if they were to be killed anyway, what then was the actual force of Luther's harsh book?

Some argue, guilt by association. Luther agreed the peasants should be suppressed, and they were, so Luther was part of the problem, rather than the solution. It's a bit naive though to think somehow a person living in a peaceful country, hundreds of years later, can actually determine the guilt of Luther's writings in the entire peasants revolt. I would love to have the ability to stick these people back in 1524-1525, to see what they would think of the peasants 
while the peasants ransacked their house, or killed their family members, and threatened the stability of the land. I would posit the same people criticizing Luther now, would be the first to buy his book Against the Robbing and Murdering Mobs of Peasants, and ask Luther to autograph it. It is indeed ironic that we can be extremely critical of a situation we have never faced, but then, thrust into such a situation, we learn what it is to actually be in that situation.

Addendum #1 O"Hare's Use of Hartmann Grisar
While checking O'Hare's book it was blatantly obvious he heavily utilized a large section of text from volume 2 of the English edition of Hartmann Grisar's massive biography of Luther. O'Hare mentions and directly cites Grisar on the top of page 236 and  also mentions his use of Grisar on page 238. He begins his extensive use of Grisar at the bottom of the page beginning with the words, "Pure deviltry..." (Grisar though, used the word, "devilry"). Simply compare O'Hare page 236 and following with Grisar, the bottom of page 201 and following. At one point, O'Hare attempted to change a few words of Grisar's. For instance, Grisar says on page 202, "He therefore invites the authorities to intervene with all their strength." O'Hare changes this to, "He therefore calls upon the princes to exert their authority with all their might" (p.237).

Addendum #2
The discussion on CARM that provoked this entry was deleted by the moderators. The person who began the discussion was suspended and banned for bad behavior. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

Mrs. John Wesley Says, "Me Too!"

Even though John Wesley wasn't a sixteenth century Reformer, I thought I would seize the current zeitgeist and discuss the difficult life of Mrs. John Wesley.

John Wesley married Mary (Molly) Vazeille in 1751. Mary was 41 years old at the time. She was "originally a domestic servant," and also a widow. She brought four children with her to her new marriage. John Wesley was seven years older than Mary.

There are a number of disparaging comments about this woman that all stem from her marriage to John Wesley. This link refers to her as a "veritable vixen." Note how The Encyclopedia of World Methodism describes her:

Remaining at the Foundery, she served as a kind of secretary for John Wesley, but soon became very jealous as she read the many letters from women Methodists to him, especially those from Sarah Ryan. In 1758 she left him, vowing to see him no more, yet continued to dog his footsteps. From time to time she returned, and he did not turn her away, although for thirty years (to use his own words) she had "torn the flesh off my bones by her fretting and murmuring."

Granted that he could give no woman that all-absorbing attention that had already been given to God, the springs of his genuine affection were dried up by his wife's perverseness, which was probably worsened by a streak of mental unsoundness, and it remained for him only to show what infinite stores of fortitude and forbearance he possessed. She died on Oct. 8, 1781, aged seventy-one, but Wesley was not informed of the event until after his return to London from a preaching journey on the day of her burial.

Mary was quite the woman according to this Methodist source: she was jealous, a murmurer capable of metaphorically tearing the flesh of a man's bones, perverse, and mentally unsound. John Wesley (of course!) can be excused for his part of their relationship because his "all-absorbing attention... had already been given to God..."  Further, whatever affection John may have had for her was "dried up" because of Mary's negative personal attributes. With the former excuse, a false either / or argument is put forth (either God or marriage). In the later, one find a clear example of blaming the victim (if Mary wasn't this or that, John would love her).

How did John end up with Mary? As the story goes, Wesley fell on some ice and was taken to Mary's house to recuperate. About a week later they decided to get married. Of the accounts I read, their relationship fell apart in 1758 when Mary intercepted John's personal mail. She became enraged towards her husband when she came across a letter from another woman. One account says Mary "dragged her husband by the hair." Things then went quickly downhill. They separated a few times, and Wesley didn't attend her funeral.

I suspect that previous to this event things weren't going well. As I've been able to navigate this tale, it appears to me that John Wesley traveled extensively without his wife. Sure, she tried to accompany him for a time, but it was too hard on her. She eventually stayed home becoming something like Wesley's secretary, reading letters from his fans, including his female fans. In terms of healthy relationships, prolonged absence usually does more harm than good. Reading fan mail from women to your absent husband simply fueled the fire.

Rather than reinvent the wheel,  I came across a sympathetic treatment of Mrs. Wesley entitled, John Wesley's Intimate Disconnections 1755-1764.  The author notes that Wesley's typical letters addressed to his wife were somewhat impersonal.  On the other hand, "John Wesley’s private letters show that he had in fact become very intimate in conversation and in correspondence with a few younger married women associated with Methodist societies." Enter Sarah Ryan, a woman who may have had somewhat of a sordid past, at least that's what Mary believed. Wesley's letters to Sarah "reveal a depth of spiritual intimacy that is simply unmatched by anything in John Wesley’s correspondence with his wife." Wesley wrote to Sarah:
The conversing with you, either by speaking or writing, is an unspeakable blessing to me. I cannot think of you without thinking of God. Others often lead me to Him; but it is, as it were, going round about: you bring me straight into His presence. Therefore, whoever warns me against trusting you, I cannot refrain, as I am clearly convinced He calls me to it.
This was the letter that Mary came across. John said he left the letter in his pocket, and while snooping through his clothes she found it. Wesley wrote Sarah to tell her of the fight with his wife, "While she read it, God broke her heart; and I afterwards found her in such a temper as I have not seen her in for several years. She has continued in the same ever since." The author of the article rightly asks,
Was it God who broke Mary’s heart, or was it John Wesley himself? Mary Wesley could not have failed to recognize the difference in tone from the way in which her husband typically wrote to her, that is, she must have recognized that he expressed a conversational intimacy with Sarah Ryan that he did not share with Mary. 
The article goes on to describe the further difficulties between Mr. and Mrs. Wesley, and is well worth reading. Whatever faults Mary Vazeille may have had, be it anger,  jealousy, or even rage towards her husband, I can't help but feel saddened for this woman, particularly the way she's been portrayed throughout history. I'm not the only one to sympathize with Mary. There are a number of articles and books on-line also sympathetic. 

There's a Bible verse that comes  to mind...  loving your wife like... Christ loved the church... While I'm sympathetic to those who have spiritual callings, I'm unsympathetic to those who think those callings give one permission to love their wives less than striving for the ideal of Ephesians 5:25.  Wesley commented on Ephesians 5:25 , "Even as Christ loved the church - Here is the true model of conjugal affection. With this kind of affection, with this degree of it, and to this end, should husbands love their wives." True, there are two sides to every story. Perhaps a Wesley apologist can stop by and defend John's actions in his marriage. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Calvin: We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself

Here's a curious Roman Catholic use of a quote from John Calvin:
We all know obedience is a bad word in Protestantism. People LOVE doing what they want to do and not being told they can't. That's the heart of Protestantism. "Nobody tells me what to do or think, even about my own salvation." It's devilishly attractive too. (link)
You should obey John Calvin and your pastors. He said so. "We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself." (Calvin's letter to Sadoleto) (link)
In the context of the discussion, all Protestants are portrayed as blatant antinomians, heeding no one but their own inner feelings. John Calvin's words are then put forth to demonstrate that authority-denying Protestants should heed the words of a founding Protestant and submit to church authority.  Let's take a look at this quote and see what exactly Calvin was saying.

The documentation provided is "Calvin's letter to Sadoleto." It's odd to find one of Rome's defenders citing this treatise. Sadoleto was the archbishop of Carpentras. He was seeking to sway Geneva back to Roman Catholicism. Calvin had been ejected from Geneva, but was requested to respond on their behalf. Calvin's entire tract is a strong argument against Rome and stands as one of the Reformation's most popular writings. It's ironic, therefore, to find one of Rome's defenders sifting this tract to find material for polemical use.

I found two English versions of this sentence with one minor difference. Some texts use "We admit therefore, that..."  for instance in the Selected Works of John Calvin, vol. 1, p.114 (pdf). There is also another version with an extra comma: "We admit, therefore, that..." as in this text.  While this  other Roman blogger uses the quote here, there does not appear to be heavy Roman Catholic use of this quote. I mention this because It may actually be that the defender of Rome utilizing this quote actually sifted it himself, which is somewhat of a rare occurrence. Rome's cyber-defenders typically do not read Calvin. They simply utilize secondary sources.

Calvin actually argues against the absolute authority of the Roman church. He states, "That I may altogether disarm you [Sadoleto] of the authority of the Church, which, as your shield of Ajax, you ever and anon oppose to us, I will show, by some additional examples, how widely you differ from that holy antiquity." He then goes on to list numerous examples of why the Roman church does not have the pedigree of authority,  juxtaposing this against the true authority of the universal church:
Ours be the humility, which, beginning with the lowest, and paying respect to each in his degree, yields the highest honor and respect to the Church, in subordination, however, to Christ the Church's head; ours the obedience, which, while it disposes us to listen to our elders and superiors, tests all obedience by the word of God; in fine, ours the Church, whose supreme-care it is humbly and religiously to venerate the word of God, and submit to its authority (link).
Calvin then contrasts the Roman church with the Protestant church:
But whatever the character of the men, still you say it is written, "What they tell you, do." No doubt, if they sit in the chair of Moses. But when, from the chair of verity, they intoxicate the people with folly it is written, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," (Matthew 16:6.) It is not ours, Sadolet to rob the Church of any right which the goodness of God not only has conceded to her, but strictly guarded for her by numerous prohibition. For, as pastors are not sent forth by Him to rule the Church with a licentious and lawless authority, but are astricted to a certain rule of duty which they must not exceed, so the Church is ordered (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1) to see that those who are appointed over her on these terms faithfully accord with their vocation. But we must either hold the testimony of Christ of little moment, or must hold it impious to infringe in the least degree on the authority of those whom he has invested with such splendid titles! Nay, it is you who are mistaken in supposing that the Lord set tyrants over his people to rule them at pleasure, when he bestowed so much authority on those whom he sent to promulgate the gospel. Your error lies here, viz., in not reflecting that their power, before they were furnished with it, was circumscribed within certain limits. We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself, but they must be pastors who execute the office entrusted to them. And this office, we maintain, is not presumptuously to introduce whatever their own pleasure has rashly devised, but religiously and in good faith to deliver the oracles which they have received at the mouth of the Lord. For within these boundaries Christ confined the reverence which he required to be paid to the Apostles; nor does Peter (1 Peter 4:11) either claim for himself or allow to others anything more than that, as often as they speak among the faithful, they speak as from the mouth of the Lord. Paul, indeed, justly extols (2 Corinthians 12:10) the spiritual power with which he was invested, but with this proviso, that it was to avail only for edification, was to wear no semblance of domination, was not to be employed in subjugating faith (link).
From the context, one can see that Calvin is careful to distinguish Rome's alleged authority over against the actual authority of the church as derived from Scripture. Notice that the sentence being used was not cited in full: "We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself, but they must be pastors who execute the office entrusted to them." Calvin is arguing that one is not to blindly bow down to the authority of the church. Her authority is to be followed if the offices are obedient to Christ, and are not corrupt and abusive. Calvin goes on to say that even if the pope could be proven to have been the successor of Peter, it wouldn't matter if the pope did not maintain his fidelity to Christ and the purity of the gospel. Rome's defenders, particularly many of them in the sixteenth century, were defending the alleged infallible authority of a corrupt institution. It's simply unfair to rip Calvin's words from their context and apply them to the current condition of the Protestant church.

Rome's defender though does have a valid point with his Calvin quote in one sense: there are indeed "Protestants" (for lack of a better word), that are a law unto themselves. They are the type I refer to as, "Me in the woods, under a shady tree, with my Bible, waiting to hear directly from the Holy Spirit." For such people, confessions of faith, pastors, elders, deacons, any sort of organized structure, is inconsequential. Even more abhorrent is to suggest to such a person that church history is a beneficial enterprise, documenting the ways in which the Spirit of God has worked with His church.  For people like this, I consider them more the in the vein of Anabaptism and the radical Reformation, or as Luther referred to them, Schwärmer, rather than in the tradition of the magisterial Reformers.

On the other hand, Rome's defender does not have a valid point, presenting merely a caricature and strawman. I've been involved with various Protestant churches my entire life: baptist, non-denominational, mildly charismatic, and Reformed. I have friends and acquaintances in all of these traditions. All of them have authority structures in place. It's simply unfair for Rome's defenders to lump all of Protestantism into the category of antinomian radicals. In my experience, these people do not represent the majority of contemporary Protestantism.

With Roman Catholics, always keep a look out for the double standard.  Are there not Roman Catholics who disagree with the Papacy? Are there not Roman Catholics that pick and choose what they want to believe? I know Roman Catholics that do not show full obedience to what their church teaches. They are in the category I refer to as "Antinomian Roman Catholics." I was friends with one Roman Catholic that went to Mass regularly, but said he didn't believe in Purgatory. I've met more than one Roman Catholic that denies their church's stance on abortion. I've met more than one Roman Catholic that follows a different paradigm in regard to divorce and remarriage. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Luther: The Pope is not Subject to God's Commandments?

Rome's defenders often voice severe disapproval with Luther's private counsel to Jerome Weller. Weller, a man plagued by despair and depression, was instructed by Luther in a letter to "put the whole law entirely out of our eyes and hearts." A review of this letter and advice can be found here. Older generations of Rome's polemicists typically used the Weller letter to demonstrate Luther was an antinomian. Despite this myth being debunked for centuries, it still circulates in cyberspace, used by not only Rome's defenders, but just about anyone with an an ax to grind against Luther or the Reformation.

I'm so accustomed to seeing this argument against Luther that I was surprised to find a very similar argument being made by Luther himself about the papacy. In his tract, Why the Books of the Pope and His followers Were Burned by Doctor Martin Luther, 1520, the very first reason Luther gives is that they teach the following:
It is not required of the pope and his adherents that they be subject to God's commandments and obey them." He clearly writes this abominable teaching in the chapter 'Solitae", de majoritate et obedientia* where he expounds Peter's words You ought to be subject to every authority, by declaring that St. Peter did not mean himself nor his own successors, but their subjects. [Bertram Lee Wolf, Reformation Writings of Martin Luther Vol. II (London: Lutterworth Press, 1956), p. 78]. 
Did the Papacy really say that they, as an institution, were not subject to God's commands, or was Luther making it up? Who is the true antinominan... Luther or the papacy? Let's take a closer look.

The version of this text being utilized was that done by Bertram Lee Wolf. Wolf provides a footnote (*): "A quotation from the corpus juris canonici.... Here the reference is to Solitae, 6, de majoritate et obedientia, tit.33. lib. I." For the same text, Luther's Works likewise references, "Solitae, Decretalium Gregorii IX i. tit. XXXIII: De maioritate et obedientia, cap. 6. Corpus Iuris Canonici, ed. Aemilius Friedberg (Graz, 1955), II, cols. 196–198" (LW 31:385, fn. 2). Both of these sources are referring to Corpus Iuris Canonici, or Canon Law. The particulars being referred to by Luther are the Decretales Gregorii IX. These were ordered by Pope Gregory IX. According to Luther's Works, here was Canon Law as Luther new it:
In Luther’s time canon law consisted of three parts: (1) the Decretum Gratiani, named after the monk Gratian who issued a collection in Bologna in 1150; (2) the Decretalium Gregorii IX. libri quinque, five books named after Pope Gregory IX, who continued the first collection between 1230 and 1234; and (3) the Liber sextus, the “sixth book” issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298 as a supplement to the five books. Finally, the extravagantes, and appendix, were added to the whole collection by Clement V in 1313. This addition was also called the “seventh book” (liber septimus) or “Clementine constitutions” (constitutiones Clementinae) (LW 39:281, fn. 34).
I could find no full English translation of this canon law text. This link though includes the section of canon law being referred to by Luther (in Latin). When Luther cites, "Solitae," he appears to be citing the first word of the lengthy paragraph below.  The phrase, "de majoritate et obedientia" is included in the title:

D e c r e t a l i u m
G r e g o r i i  p a p a e  I X
c o m p i l a t i o n i s
 l i b e r  I
 T i t u l u s    X X X I I I
 De maioritate et obedientia.

Capitulum VI.

Imperium non praeest sacerdotio, sed subest, et ei obedire tenetur. Vel sic: Episcopus non debet subesse principibus, sed praeesse. H. d. et est multum allegabile.
Idem illustrissimo Constantinopolitano Imperatori.

Solitae benignitatis affectu +recepimus literas, quas per dilectum filium archidiaconum Durachii, virum providum et fidelem, imperialis nobis excellentia destinavit, per quas intelleximus, quod literae, quas per dilectum filium I. capellanum nostrum, tunc apostolicae sedis legatum, tibi transmisimus, imperio tuo praesentatae fuerant et perlectae. §. 1. Mirata est autem imperialis sublimitas, sicut per easdem nobis literas destinasti, quod te nisi fuimus in nostris literis aliquantulum increpare, licet non increpandi animo, sed affectu potius commonendi quod scripsimus meminerimus nos scripsisse. Huic autem tuae admirationi non causam, sed occasionem praebuit, sicut ex eisdem coniecimus literis, quod legisti, beatum Petrum Apostolorum principem sic scripsisse: «Subditi estote omni humanae creaturae propter Deum, sive regi, tanquam praecellenti, sive ducibus, tanquam ab eo missis, ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum.» +Volens enim, de quo nos rationabilius admiramur, imperatoria celsitudo per haec et alia, quae induxit, imperium sacerdotio dignitate ac potestate praeferre, ex auctoritate praemissa triplex trahere voluit argumentum, primum ex eo, quod legitur: «subditi estote;» secundum ex eo, quod sequitur: «regi tanquam praecellenti;» tertium ex eo, quod est adiectum subsequenter: «ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum;» per primum subesse sacerdotium, per secundum imperium praeeminere, per tertium imperatorem tam in sacerdotes quam laicos iurisdictionem, immo etiam gladii potestatem accepisse praesumens. Quum enim et boni quidam sint sacerdotes, et quidam eorum malefactores exsistant, is, qui secundum Apostolum gladium portat ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum, in malefacientes presbyteros excessus praesumptos potest ultore gladio vindicare, quum inter presbyteros et alios Apostolus non distinguat. §. 2. Verum si etpersonam loquentis, et eorum, ad quos loquebatur, ac vim locutionis diligentius attendisses, scribentis non expressisses taliter intellectum. Scribebat enim Apostolus subditis suis, et eos ad humilitatis meritum provocabat. Nam si per hoc, quod dixit: «subditi estote,» sacerdotibus voluit imponere iugum subiectionis, et eis praelationis auctoritatem afferre, quibus eos subiectos esse monebat, sequeretur ex hoc, quod etiam servus quilibet in sacerdotes imperium accepisset, quum dicatur: «omni humanae creaturae.» Quod autem sequitur, «regi tanquam praecellenti,» non negamus, quin praecellat imperator in temporalibus illos duntaxat, qui ab eo suscipiunt temporalia. Sed Pontifex in spiritualibus antecellit, quae tanto sunt temporalibus digniora, quanto anima praefertur corpori, licet non simpliciter dictum fuerit: «subditi estote,» sed additum fuerit: «propter Deum,» nec pure sit subscriptum: «regi praecellenti,» sed interpositum forsitan fuit non sine causa, «tanquam.» Quod autem sequitur: «ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum,» intelligendum non est, quod rex vel imperator super omnes et bonos et malos gladii acceperit potestatem, sed in eos solummodo, qui utentes gladio eius sunt iurisdictioni commissi, +iuxta quod Veritas ait: «Omnes, qui acceperint gladium, gladio peribunt.» Non enim potest aut debet quisquam servum alterius iudicare, quum servus domino suo secundum Apostolum stet aut cadat. Ad id etiam induxisti, quod, licet Moyses et Aaron secundum carnem fratres exstiterint, Moyses tamen princeps populi, et Aaron sacerdotii potestate praeerat, et Iesus successor ipsius imperium in sacerdotes accepit. David quoque rex Abiathar pontifici praeeminebat. Ceterum licet Moyses dux populi fuerit, fuit etiam et sacerdos, qui Aaron in sacerdotem unxit, et cui Propheta sacerdotium recognoscens: «Moyses» inquit «et Aaron in sacerdotibus eius.» Quod vero de Iesu, id est Iosue, ad commendandam praelationem eius scripsisti, magis secundum spiritum, quam literam debet intelligi, quia secundum Apostolum litera occidit, spiritus autem vivificat, pro eo, quod ipse veri Iesu figuram expressit, qui populum suum in terram promissionis induxit. David etiam quamvis diadema regium obtineret, Abiathar sacerdoti non tam ex dignitate regia, quam auctoritate prophetica imperabat. Verum quicquid olim fuerit in veteri testamento, nunc aliud est in novo, ex quo Christus factus est sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech, qui se non ut rex, sed ut sacerdos in ara crucis hostiam obtulit Deo Patri, per quam genus redemit humanum, circa illum praecipue, qui successor est Apostoli Petri et vicarius Iesu Christi. §. 3. Potuisses autem praerogativam sacerdotii ex eo potius intelligere, quod dictum est: non a quolibet, sed a Deo; non regi, sed sacerdoti; non de regia stirpe, sed de sacerdotali prosapia descendenti, de sacerdotibus videlicet, qui erant in Anathot: «Ecce constitui te super gentes et regna, ut evellas et dissipes, aedifices et plantes» +Dictum est etiam in divina lege: «Diis non detrahes, et principem populi tui non maledices» quae sacerdotes regibus anteponens istos Deos et alios principes appellavit. §. 4. Praeterea nosse debueras, quod fecit Deus duo magna luminaria in firmamento coeli; luminare maius, ut praeesset diei, et luminare minus, ut praeesset nocti; utrumque magnum, sed alterum maius, quia nomine coeli designatur ecclesia, iuxta quod Veritas ait: «Simile est regnum coelorum homini patri familias, qui summo mane conduxit operarios in vineam suam.» Per diem vero spiritualis accipitur, per noctem carnalis secundum propheticum testimonium: «dies diei eructat verbum, et nox nocti indicat scientiam.» Ad firmamentum igitur coeli, hoc est universalis ecclesiae, fecit Deus duo magna luminaria, id est, duas magnas instituit dignitates, quae sunt pontificalis auctoritas, et regalis potestas. Sed illa, quae praeest diebus, id est spiritualibus, maior est; quae vero [noctibus, id est] carnalibus, minor, ut, quanta est inter solem et lunam, tanta inter pontifices et reges differentia cognoscatur. Haec autem si prudenter attenderet imperatoria celsitudo, non faceret aut permitteret venerabilem fratrem nostrum Constantinopolitanum patriarcham, magnum quidem et honorabile membrum ecclesiae, iuxta scabellum pedum suorum in sinistra parte sedere, quum alii reges et principes archiepiscopis et episcopis suis, sicut debent, reverenter assurgant, et eis iuxta se venerabilem sedem assignent. +Nam et piissimus Constantinus quantum honoris exhibuerit sacerdotibus, tua sicut credimus, discretio non ignorat. §. 5. Nos autem etsi non increpando scripserimus, potuissemus tamen rationabiliter increpare, +quum B. Paulus Apostolus episcopum instruens ad Timotheum scripisse legatur. «Praedica verbum, insta opportune, importune, argue, obsecra, increpa in omni patientia et doctrina.» Non enim os nostrum debet esse ligatum, sed patere debet ad omnes, ne secundum propheticum verbum simus canes muti, non valentes latrare. Unde correctio nostra tibi non debuit esse molesta, sed magis accepta, quia pater filium, quem diligit, corripit, et Deus quos amat arguit et castigat. Debitum igitur pastoralis officii exsequimur, quum obsecramus, arguimus, increpamus, et non solum alios, sed imperatores et reges opportune et importune ad ea studemus inducere, quae divinae sunt placita voluntati. §. 6. Nobis autem in B. Petro sunt oves Christi commissae; dicente Domino: «Pasce oves meas,» non distinguens inter has oves et alias, ut alienum a suo demonstraret ovili, qui Petrum et successores ipsius magistros non recognosceret et pastores; ut illud tanquam notissimum omittamus, quod Dominus dixit ad Petrum, et in Petro dixit ad successores ipsius: «Quodcunque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum et in coelis etc.,» nihil excipiens, qui dixit: «quodcunque.» +Verum his diutius insistere nolumus, ne vel contendere videamur, vel in huiusmodi delectari, quum, si gloriari expediat, non in honore, sed in onere, non in magnitudine, sed in sollicitudine sit potius gloriandum, quum et Apostolus in infirmitatibus glorietur. Novimus esse scriptum: «Omnis qui se exaltat, humiliabitur, et qui se humiliat, exaltabitur;» et iterum: «Quanto maior es, humilia te in omnibus;» et alibi: «Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam.» Propter quod exaltationem nostram in humilitate ponimus, et humilitatem nostram exaltationem maximam reputamus. Unde etiam servos non solum Dei, sed etiam servorum Dei nos esse scribimus et fatemur, et tam sapientibus quam insipientibus secundum Apostolum sumus debitores. §. 7. Utrum autem imperatoriam excellentiam ad bonum et utile per literas nostras duxerimus invitandam, utrum tibi iusta suggesserimus et honesta, tua sollicitudo discernat, quum non nisi ad utilitatem ecclesiae et terrae Hierosolymitanae subsidium nos te meminerimus invitasse. [Inspiret igitur etc.

At first, it appears that Luther first overstates what this text actually says. He says, "The pope and his men are not bound to be subject and obedient to God's commands" (LW 31:385). Left like this, the actual text from Canon Law does not support this, so Luther would be guilty of misusing the text. The text is not saying that the pope and papacy are not subject to all of God's commands found in Scripture, like for instance, the Decalogue. Luther though refines his point and explains which command he means:
He records this atrocious teaching clearly in the chapter where he explains the words of St. Peter, who says, "Be subject to every human institution," [1 Peter 2:13] thus: St. Peter did not thereby refer to himself or his successors, but rather to his subjects" (LW 31:385).
The text does comment on the application of 1 Peter 2:13 ("Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme..."), and says that the secular government is not above the pope and papacy in regard to authority. The Papacy need not obey secular authorities. In essence, this is a denial of a Biblical commandment, and accordingly, against God's law. The text states, "Imperium non praeest sacerdotio, sed subest, et ei obedire tenetur," and also:
Huic autem tuae admirationi non causam, sed occasionem praebuit, sicut ex eisdem coniecimus literis, quod legisti, beatum Petrum Apostolorum principem sic scripsisse: «Subditi estote omni humanae creaturae propter Deum, sive regi, tanquam praecellenti, sive ducibus, tanquam ab eo missis, ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum... 
...Verum si etpersonam loquentis, et eorum, ad quos loquebatur, ac vim locutionis diligentius attendisses, scribentis non expressisses taliter intellectum. Scribebat enim Apostolus subditis suis, et eos ad humilitatis meritum provocabat. Nam si per hoc, quod dixit: «subditi estote,» sacerdotibus voluit imponere iugum subiectionis, et eis praelationis auctoritatem afferre, quibus eos subiectos esse monebat, sequeretur ex hoc, quod etiam servus quilibet in sacerdotes imperium accepisset, quum dicatur: «omni humanae creaturae.» Quod autem sequitur, «regi tanquam praecellenti,» non negamus, quin praecellat imperator in temporalibus illos duntaxat, qui ab eo suscipiunt temporalia. Sed Pontifex in spiritualibus antecellit, quae tanto sunt temporalibus digniora, quanto anima praefertur corpori, licet non simpliciter dictum fuerit: «subditi estote,» sed additum fuerit: «propter Deum,» nec pure sit subscriptum: «regi praecellenti,» sed interpositum forsitan fuit non sine causa, «tanquam.» Quod autem sequitur: «ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum,» intelligendum non est, quod rex vel imperator super omnes et bonos et malos gladii acceperit potestatem, sed in eos solummodo, qui utentes gladio eius sunt iurisdictioni commissi...
Luther went on to provide a number of other reasons taken from canon law as to why he had it burned. That Luther burned papal documents was in response to the bonfires that burned his books.  John Warwick Montgomery stated that Rome's defender Hartmann Grisar "...argued that his symbolic burning of the canon law reflected a deep-seated antinomianism on the Reformer’s part: Luther was allegedly jettisoning law in favor of personal, individual spiritual experience" (Luther and Canon Law, Bibliotheca Sacra, 158, 218). I don't know where Grisar actually stated that, but it would not surprise me.  Montgomery counters, 
Luther was anything but a sixteenth-century charismatic mystic opposing the ordered structure of corporate Christianity to his inner spiritual vision. What led Luther to desire that the existing canon law be “utterly blotted out” was his studied conviction that the canon law of his day functioned chiefly to support a theologically corrupt church authority that operated at cross-purposes to the gospel itself ( Luther and Canon Law. Bibliotheca Sacra, 158, 223–224).

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Concerning the Prevention of Boredom During Sermons That Are All Too Long.

Her'e's a tidbit from Jerome Weller's, Luther's Guide for the Proper Study of Theology, 1561. Weller was a pupil and friend of Luther's. The document is a short read (7 pages), but has some interesting tips, and even some humorous stuff. For instance:
Fifth: concerning the prevention of just boredom during sermons that are all too long.
Fifth, he should always pay attention that he not preach longwinded sermons and overburden the hearers through the treatment of many points, so that they be filled with boredom of the Word. I remember that Dr. Luther had said to a theologian, who was accustomed to preaching two hours long, "You arouse boredom of the Word." In addition, Melanchthon had once made this remark, which was already spoken by a speaker at the table, "A speaker, both a secular and ecclesiastical one, must speak in a very captivating and lovely manner, in order to avoid the boredom of his hearers, if he speaks longer than a half an hour. None of the senses, he said, will tire faster than hearing." This is excellently spoken about by both Luther and Melanchthon. Just as those are counted as the most skilled musicians, who stop when the song is the most beautiful, in order to make a stronger desire for listening in their hearers, so too those are recognized as the best speakers, who know what is sufficient, i.e., who understand how to begin and stop. No one can do this better than he who observes method in speaking. One cannot say again how necessary method is for teaching. It causes the hearers always to take home something out of the sermon. Although it is of great praise for a preacher to set the subject of his speech in a proper clear light, and to make an impression on the hearts of his hearers, he also cannot still bring this about, if he does not properly apply himself to method as also is evident in the writings of Luther and the greatest speakers. There are still more directions that could be given concerning the virtues of a preacher, which you can hear from others in due course. Therefore, this short list pleases me. He lives well in the Lord who wants to give you his tongue and wisdom both for preaching and confessing Christ. Live well in the Lord.
I was having lunch with a pastor a few years back, and he told me that one congregant would hold up his arm with his watch on it if he went beyond the allotted time. There is a tradition I've seen (particularly among some Reformed Baptists) that long sermons represent a zeal and love for God over and above shorter sermons, and by extension, those who want to hear long sermons are those who really want to hear the Word of God.

Perhaps. I suspect the length of a sermon falls under the category of adiaphora. I read an interesting theory that the Book of Hebrews was actually an early Christian sermon. The book was said to take about an hour to read. Long orations though can also have some interesting consequences (Acts 20:7-12). So for those who enjoy long sermons, enjoy them. I realize there are some people gifted to captivate an audience. Frankly, I'm with Weller and Luther on this one, unless a speaker has a true gift. 

Addendum #1
There are some long sermons from Luther, for instance, his lengthy sermon on 1 john 4 16-21 (WA 36:416 - 477). More often than not, Luther's sermons are shorter, and easily read in one sitting.

Addendum #2
I posted this same snippet some time back on the CARM discussion boards. One of Rome's defenders decided to use it as an opportunity to attack Luther via his advice given to Jerome Weller, that he "encouraged him to sin and to set aside the commandments of God." I will post that discussion sometime in the future. 

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Luther Admitted He Was Not Following the Rules of Language When He Translated Romans 3:28?

Here's a Martin Luther-tidbit from one of Rome's defenders on the CARM boards:
You do realize that Luther admits that he didn't add the word alone due to the rules of language but because he said that is what Paul meant to say. That's Luther's own admission, so yes, Luther added the word alone so that it read like what he thought is should say. So much for a person who held Scripture in such high regard.
And also:
In his An Open Letter on Translating: "So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it." Luther inserted his own theology into the text.
And also:
As I have stated already, Luther admits he did not use the rules of language as the basis for adding the word alone. "However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it."
And also:
All of your appeals to the German language mean nothing because Luther freely admits, as I have quoted, that he was not following the rules of language when he inserted the word alone. He did it because he believed that Paul meant to say alone.
The polemic is blatant: Luther is said to have simply added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 to fit his theological agenda. The basis for this is a statement Luther himself made,  "I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself." let's take a look at this quote and see if it substantiates this typical Roman Catholic narrative.

The sentence is said to come from Luther's An Open Letter on Translating. This refers to a document Luther wrote in 1530 which covered the topics of justification by faith alone, his methodology in regard to his German translation of the Bible, and the intercession and prayer to the saints. This document was originally written in German, "Ein sendbrieff D. M. Luthers. Von Dolmetzschen und Fürbit der heiligenn" (WA 30 II, 627-646). The comment can be found on page 640:

As far as I can tell, the English rendering of the sentence being utilized was taken from a version originally put up on the Project Wittenberg website. Project Wittenberg has been around for quite a few years now. This website was up and running years before the onslaught of Google Books. At one time, it was one of the few places one could go to read Luther's writings online in English. Some of the versions of Luther's texts on Project Wittenberg appear to be unique to their website. Their version of An Open Letter on Translating, was put together by Gary Mann, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Religion/Theology Augustana College Rock Island, Illinois. Mann's translation reads,
So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it. 
Mann's English translation is not the only one available. One of the most enduring translations was that done by Charles Michael Jacobs in the Philadelphia Edition of Luther's Works (PE 5:10-27). This translation was revised by LW 35:175-200. In PE 5, the comment can be found on page 20. In LW 35, page 195. For the context, Mann's translation will be used below.

So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it. He is dealing with the main point of Christian doctrine in this passage - namely that we are justified by faith in Christ without any works of the Law. In fact, he rejects all works so completely as to say that the works of the Law, though it is God's law and word, do not aid us in justification. Using Abraham as an example, he argues that Abraham was so justified without works that even the highest work, which had been commanded by God, over and above all others, namely circumcision, did not aid him in justification. Instead, Abraham was justified without circumcision and without any works, but by faith, as he says in Chapter 4: "If Abraham is justified by works, he may boast, but not before God." However, when all works are so completely rejected - which must mean faith alone justifies - whoever would speak plainly and clearly about this rejection of works would have to say "Faith alone justifies and not works." The matter itself and the nature of language necessitates it.
Whatever English translation one uses, Luther does provide reasons as to why he used the word solum in his German translation. Luther's intention was to translate the Bible into an easily comprehended form of popular German. His translation at times employed dynamic equivalence (as many translations do). Word-for-word translations can be cumbersome and awkward, and can miss the thrust of the original thought. Rather, many translations seek to maximize readability with a minimum of verbal distortion by translating according to “concept.” In translating Romans, Luther tried to present the impact of what the original Greek had on its first readers, and to present the German style and idiom equivalent for his readers.

An honest translator, Luther freely admitted the word “only” does not appear in the original Greek at Romans 3:28. He states, 

Here, in Romans 3[:28], I knew very well that the word solum is not in the Greek or Latin text; the papists did not have to teach me that. It is a fact that these four letters s o l a are not there. And these blockheads stare at them like cows at a new gate. At the same time they do not see that it conveys the sense of the text; it belongs there if the translation is to be clear and vigorous. I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since it was German I had undertaken to speak in the translation. But it is the nature of our German language that in speaking of two things, one of which is affirmed and the other denied, we use the word solum (allein) along with the word nicht [not] or kein [no]. For example, we say, “The farmer brings allein grain and kein money”; “No, really I have now nicht money, but allein grain”; “I have allein eaten and nicht yet drunk”; “Did you allein write it, and nicht read it over?” There are innumerable cases of this kind in daily use.
In all these phrases, this is the German usage, even though it is not the Latin or Greek usage. It is the nature of the German language to add the word allein in order that the word nicht or kein may be clearer and more complete. To be sure, I can also say, “The farmer brings grain and kein money,” but the words “kein money” do not sound as full and clear as if I were to say, “The farmer brings allein grain and kein money.” Here the word allein helps the word kein so much that it becomes a complete, clear German expression. (LW 35:188-189).
Granted though, Rome's defender has seized upon Luther's seeming admission that he "was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3." This does seem like a blatant denial of the syntax and grammar of the original text. The solution comes by looking carefully at the original German text and other English translations. The German text of this sentence reads in part, "Aber nu hab ich nicht allein der sprachen art vertraut und gefolgt, daß ich Röm. 3, 28. solum (allein) hab hinzugesezt; sondern der Tert und die Meinung Pauli fodern und erzwingen es mit Gewalt." (WA 30 II:640). LW 35:195 translates this as, "Now I was not relying on and following the nature of the languages alone, however, when, in Roman 3[:28] I inserted the word solum (alone)." PE 5:20 translates similarly, "Now however, I was not only relying on the nature of the languages and following that when, in Romans iii, I inserted the word solum, 'only,' but the text itself and the sense of St. Paul demanded it and forced it upon me." Luther is saying that he did not only follow the nature of the language, but also saw the thrust of the text demands using "alone."

The need for "alone" in Romans 3:28 was not unique to Luther. Luther mentions others before him translated Romans 3:28 as he did (for example, Ambrose and Augustine). The Roman Catholic writer Joseph Fitzmyer verified Luther’s claim and also presented quite an extensive list of those previous to Luther doing likewise. Even some Roman Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.” It is entirely possible Luther’s understanding of “faith alone” differs from those before him, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the thrust of Romans 3:28 implies “alone.” Others previous to Luther may have differed in theological interpretation, yet saw the thrust of the words implied “alone.” Hence, as a translator, Luther holds company with others, and cannot be charged with a mistranslation. If he’s guilty of such a charge, so are many before him.