Sunday, December 19, 2010

Luther on the Immaculate Conception: A Response to Scott Windsor (Part One)

I. Introduction
Roman Catholic apologist Scott Windsor has put forth a response to my view that Luther did not hold a lifelong belief in Mary's immaculate conception. I appreciate that Scott took some time to look into this topic. It appears he actually did work through at least some of the evidence surrounding this issue. For that, I'm grateful. Many other Roman Catholic bloggers / apologists simply cut-and-paste citations from Luther or other apologists. Often these citations are poorly documented, an obvious sign the actual contexts from which the quotes were taken were never read. It appears Mr. Windsor did attempt to go beyond this usual approach, at least by interacting with some of my writing on this subject. I've saved a copy of what he posted on his blog as of 12/19/10, and it is to that which this response is based.

This is a complicated matter, one in which I've spent considerable time on. I have, not because it actually has any important significance as to Luther studies. Whether Luther did or did not hold to a lifelong belief in the immaculate conception really doesn't matter to me. Luther held to many things in which I would disagree. If it so happens he held to lifelong belief in Mary's immaculate conception, this would be simply another point in which I would disagree with Luther.

Rather, I've studied Luther's alleged Marian beliefs because of their polemical use by Roman Catholics. The very article Mr. Windsor is now revising stated "the Marian teachings and preachings of the Reformers have been 'covered up' by their most zealous followers - with damaging theological and practical consequences." Typically Luther is vilified by many Roman apologists. When it comes to the topic of Mary, Roman Catholic sentiment towards Luther shifts considerably. Luther becomes the staunch supporter of Mary; a leader that all contemporary Protestants should learn a great lesson in Mariology from. This drastic shift is puzzling; particularly since Luther’s abandoning of the intercession of the saints and his doctrine of justification significantly changes his Marian approach. With Luther's Mariology, I've studied and written on this topic often only to demonstrate Romanists do not go deep into history, and that articles (like the one Mr. Windsor is now revising) serve as propaganda.

For all his efforts, Mr. Windsor is mistaken in his conclusion that Luther held to a life long belief in Mary's immaculate conception.

II. Sources
My initial reading of Mr. Windsor's article left me wondering if Scott actually took the time to read Luther in context or if he simply relied on the work of others. For instance, I noted that Scott cited Luther via my articles (LW 31:172-173; LW 32:79-80;Martin Luther, D.Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung Werke 45:51 quoted in Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Vol. I, 152). That's flattering, but how does Scott know if I cited any of these sources correctly? This is a major problem with many of Rome's apologists. They simply don't take the time to track down the sources and read them for themselves. He also cited William Ullathorne, The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (Benziger Bros., 1904) for a snippet of Luther's 1527 sermon "On The Day of Conception of the Mother of God." In a recent blog article (in which I made Scott aware of) I noted many primary sources this sermon could be found in (including an entire English translation). Why not track down the sermon and read the entire context? For a religion whose apologists claim to go "deep in history" they often certainly don't when it comes to reading Luther's writings in context for themselves.

III. Scott's View of Luther and the Immaculate Conception
Mr. Windsor believes that Luther did not abandon a belief in the immaculate conception: "what we have seen here, even using Mr. Swan's own citations, is that Luther did indeed have a life-long belief in the Immaculate Conception." Unfortunately, Scott has committed the same error that some of his fellow apologists have made. He's mis-read contexts, not considered all the evidence, and not presented any clear positive proof that Luther held to the immaculate conception for his entire career. This evidence was fully available to him via blog entries I gave him links for. It appears he looked at a few of them, and ignored the rest.

A. The 1527 sermon by Luther on "The Day of Conception of the Mother of God"
I've written extensively on this sermon here: Luther: the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin. It is beyond dispute that Luther actually deleted his comments on Mary's immaculate conception that Romanists are so fond of quoting. Commenting on this, the editors of Luther's Works state:

Originally, Luther may have held something similar to the Thomist position, put forward in the Festival Postil (1527), sermon on the conception of Mary, WA 17/2:287-288, though the material in question seems to be solely the responsibility of its editor, Stephan Roth (d.1546), and was removed from the 1528 and subsequent editions: see StL 11:959-961; Baseley 1:50-51. In his later preaching, Luther affirmed that Mary had been both conceived and born in sin and connected her purification from sin with the work of the Holy Spirit at the time of Christ's conception: see e.g., Luther's sermons for Christmas Eve 1539, WA 47:860, and 1540 WA 49:173; Dufel, Luther's Stellung zur Marienverehrung, pp. 163-174, 196-97; Kreitzer, Reforming Mary, pp. 110-11 [LW 58:434-435].

Not only was the relevant section deleted (which may not have been written by Luther at all), it was actually re-written by Luther (a translation which can be found in Joel Baseley, the Festival Sermons of Martin Luther [Michigan: Mark V Publications, 2005] pp. 42-51). Thus, the only clear positive evidence that Luther believed in Mary's immaculate conception was deleted and revised by Luther himself.

When one reads the revised sermon in full, Luther's view of "two conceptions" isn't at all certain. In fact, the sermon is quite harmonious with Luther's earlier comments that belief in the immaculate conception isn't clear or necessary: "Today we celebrate the feast of how the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin, a feast that has created a great deal of apathy, quarrelling and discord among the monks, without any benefit or good, since there is not one letter about it in the Gospel or anywhere else in Scripture." Mary's immaculate conception may be interesting speculation , but it "was not commanded of us nor needful for us to know."

After spending the majority of the sermon on the topic of sin, Luther closes the sermon by speculating on how some people have approached the topic of original sin and how Mary could've possibly been exempt from it, outlining a speculative view on two conceptions. At the end of the revised sermon, Baseley's translation reads, "But that God did anything unique in her conception is not revealed to us in the Scriptures and so there is also nothing here to be definitively believed or preached. But speculation concerning this will go on." There the sermon ends, as Luther intended it. That specualation Luther saw as destracting to important biblical topics- he stated this in this very sermon. In fact, Luther went on to reject the festivals of Mary's Immaculate Conception, December 8, and her Assumption, August 15.

True, as Windsor states "Abandoning the statements cannot be equivocated to denying the statements." What would verify that the deleted comments remained Luther's view would be corroborating evidence from his later writings. As I've stated to Romanists repeatedly, I've not seen any such clear evidence. Rather, the evidence proves something quite different, in fact in one writing, Luther agrees with Staupitz' comment that the Immaculate Conception is a fraud.

B. Luther's view: Christ was conceived of a virgin without sin
The remainder of Scott's evidence looks at Luther's later comments and interpreting them to be speaking of Mary's purification rather than Mary being purified at Christ's conception. Isn't there simply a clear statement from Luther which conception he's talking about? Why indeed there is, and it was cited in one of the very web pages of mine Scott read and cited from. I also provided him with another link addressing the same information.

Luther's later view appears to be that at Christ's conception the Holy Spirit sanctified Mary so that the child would be born with non-sinful flesh and blood. Here's an extended selection from Luther that I think should clearly present my view. This selection is from Luther's lectures on Genesis. The editors of LW hold the majority of material pertaining to Luther's exposition of Genesis 38-44 dates from 1544, it is possible though some of the material may have been presented in November 1543. Luther is commenting on Genesis 38 and the account of Judah and Tamar. He expounds on the reasons the Bible includes such scandalous accounts. One of the reasons he states as follows:

In the second place, the Holy Spirit considered the Messiah and the birth of the Son of God; and this is the more important reason. For it was necessary for this lapse to take place in the very line in which the Son of God was to be born. Judah, the very eminent patriarch, a father of Christ, committed this unspeakable act of incest in order that Christ might be born from a flesh outstandingly sinful and contaminated by a most disgraceful sin. For he begets twins by an incestuous harlot, his own daughter-in-law, and from this source the line of the Savior is later derived. Here Christ must become a sinner in His flesh, as disgraceful as He ever can become. The flesh of Christ comes forth from an incestuous union; likewise, the flesh of the Virgin, His mother, and of all the descendants of Judah, in such a way that the ineffable plan of God’s mercy may be pointed out, because He assumed the flesh or the human nature from flesh that was contaminated and horribly polluted.

The scholastic doctors argue about whether Christ was born from sinful or clean flesh, or whether from the foundation of the world God preserved a pure bit of flesh from which Christ was to be born. I reply, therefore, that Christ was truly born from true and natural flesh and human blood which was corrupted by original sin in Adam, but in such a way that it could be healed. Thus we, who are encompassed by sinful flesh, believe and hope that on the day of our redemption the flesh will be purged of and separated from all infirmities, from death, and from disgrace; for sin and death are separable evils. Accordingly, when it came to the Virgin and that drop of virginal blood, what the angel said was fulfilled: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). To be sure, the Messiah was not born by the power of flesh and blood, as is stated in John ( cf. 1:13): “Not of blood nor of the will of a man, etc.” Nevertheless, He wanted to be born from the mass of the flesh and from that corrupted blood. But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person. Therefore it is truly human nature no different from what it is in us. And Christ is the Son of Adam and of his seed and flesh, but, as has been stated, with the Holy Spirit overshadowing it, active in it, and purging it, in order that it might be fit for this most innocent conception and the pure and holy birth by which we were to be purged and freed from sin. [LW 7:12]

The name of the wife was Tamar... it is necessary to mention her, and this chapter is written for her sake alone; for she is a mother of the Savior, God’s Son, for whose sake all Holy Scripture has been given, in order that He might become known and be celebrated. From this Tamar, then, the Messiah was descended, even though through an incestuous defilement. Him we must seek and acknowledge in this book...Christ alone is a son of the flesh without the sin of the flesh. Concerning all the rest the statement “who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh” (cf. John 1:13) remains immovable.[LW 7:17]

But Judah begs that he may be permitted to go in to Tamar, that is, to have intercourse with her—for thus Holy Scripture is accustomed to speak—and nothing is added as to where they perpetrated the incest, since Moses said that she sat in an open place and in sight of passersby. I do not think that they cohabited in public like the Cynics; but I suppose that perhaps they withdrew into a small house, a cave, or a nearby wood. And there she was made pregnant by the most shameful act of incest, and the flesh from which Christ was to be born was poured from the loins of Judah and was propagated, carried about, and contaminated with sin right up to the conception of Christ. That is how our Lord God treats our Savior. God allows Him to be conceived in most disgraceful incest, in order that He may assume the truest flesh, just as our flesh is poured forth, conceived, and nourished in sins. But later, when the time for assuming the flesh in the womb of the Virgin came, it was purified and sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to Luke 1:35: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and will overshadow you.” Nevertheless, it was truly flesh polluted from Judah and Tamar.


Therefore all these things have been described for Christ’s sake, in order that it might be certain that He really had to be born from sinful flesh, but without sin. Accordingly, David says this of himself in Ps. 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity.” This is said correctly also of the flesh of Christ as it was in the womb of Tamar, before it was assumed and purged. But this flesh He assumed later, after it had been purged, in order that He might be able to bear the punishment for sin in His own body.[LW 7:31]

Here, therefore, the Blessed Seed is described. It is descended from the accursed, lost, and condemned seed and flesh. Nevertheless, It Itself is without sin and corruption. According to nature, Christ has the same flesh that we have; but in His conception the Holy Spirit came and overshadowed and purified the mass which He received from the Virgin that He might be united with the divine nature. In Christ, therefore, there is the holiest, purest, and cleanest flesh; but in us and in all human beings it is altogether corrupt, except insofar as it is restored in Christ. [LW 7:36]


Conclusion
I recently went through this citation battle with another Roman Catholic apologist. I was mocked, insulted, accused of distorting facts, charged with blasphemy, and even the evidence I provided deemed "correct" was compared to a broken clock correct twice a day. All this until I presented the quote above from LW 7. Then, all went silent, and a sparse admission was written that my detractor's view had "changed."

The above extended section from Luther was enough to silence this other apologist on this topic. Scott needs to read this selection closely, and then return back to the comments in which he attributes the purifying to Mary at her conception. Scott's position simply is a mis-reading of the texts. I think if he goes back and rereads the texts and looks closer with Christ as the subject, he'll see that (according to Luther) it's at Christ's conception that Mary is purified.

I have no doubt that Scott is a man of integrity, and that he'll make the necessary corrections to his entries. I don't find him to be anything like the other apologist, who, when confronted with this information, has simply kept calling me names while benefiting from my research.

28 comments:

James Swan said...

For Scott:

I made some very slight changes around 6:25 PM (typos, word structure), but added no new materials.

SGcer said...

Excellent piece James. Scott should really shut-up with this.

CathApol said...

I should "shut up with this?" No, I don't think so. SGcer, did you look at what I wrote?

I believe James is ready to "agree to disagree," and we may have to end the discussion with that. The work James presents in this article focuses on Jesus' heritage, and I do not dispute the heritage in the least - however - Luther conflicts with his own statements when it comes to both the conception of Mary and that of Jesus. My article demonstrates a life-long acceptance of the Immaculate Conception (for those in Hooterville, that's Mary's conception) at least up until just 2 years from his death. The piece which James covers here contradicts what Luther said about Mary's "second conception" wherein the very "moment it (she) began to live" she was cleansed of all sin (from 1527 sermon). It is also in conflict where he said "But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them" (in 1538). James himself quoted this "But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin" (1544).

So James may feel the need to "agree to disagree" - but he's not disagreeing with me, but with Luther's own words which James himself cited from just 2 years before Luther died!

I would also concur with another commentator on Luther - he is extremely hard to pin down on some issues, and the IC is certainly one of those. He does make some contradictory statements regarding it, this I do not deny. However, it was my goal to demonstrate that he did indeed write/publish works throughout his life in support of the IC. Granted, in his Catholic days and even early Protestant days it was much easier to find him in full and explicit support of the IC and though he did write some seemingly contradictory pieces to it - Luther does not ever come out and flatly deny the Immaculate Conception and (I repeat) just two years from his death he writes in support of it (and again, not as forceful as earlier in his life, but it is supported nonetheless).

Keep in mind, in Luther's day one could be a wholly faithful Catholic and NOT believe in the Immaculate Conception, but Luther DOES believe in it.

Scott<<<

John Lollard said...

Hooterville? I hope that's a reference to people who stand on the sidelines and "hoot" as opposed to the hot wings venue :P

Scott, I know absolutely nothing about Luther besides what James wrote and your comments, but something isn't clear in what you just wrote. You have stated that Luther has put out numerous conflicting and contradicting statements on the IC. So if James' piece contradicts other statements from Luther that allegedly support the IC, isn't that evidence that Luther 1) wasn't fully convinced of it or 2) changed his mind at some point on the doctrine?

Like every other Prot to comment has said, I'm really not interested in Luther's beliefs at all. He could have believed the Buddha was the Islamic Mahdi for all it matters, I get my beliefs from Scripture.

Still, and maybe this is showing how ignorant I am of Luther, your most recent comment seems to contain a tacit admission that Luther did undergo a change in mind or a wavering mind on the IC.

Or did I miss something?

Love in Christ,
John Lollard

CathApol said...

Hi John,
Perhaps I am dating myself, but "Hooterville" is actually a fictitious town from the old TV show "Petticoat Junction."

As for Luther's "waivering" on this point, I'm not really seeing that. James has produced at least one contradictory statement (I perhaps overspoke when I implied there are more) on the matter of the IC. My point was that both before and after that statement Luther makes statements supportive of a belief in the IC. So, to focus on minimal negative commentary from Luther on this matter and ignore other positive statements and then to state that Luther rejected the IC based solely on the negative comments (sandwiched by positive ones) is not an objective view of what Luther really wrote/taught on this subject.

I must say, I too have grown through this discussion with James. Even being born and raised a Lutheran does not mean one truly knows what Luther believed or preached on all given topics. Some are more obvious than others. On this matter of the Immaculate Conception I admit to my previous ignorance. I had accepted a copy/paste job from a friend (about 10 years ago) and not really looked into it further. This experience has not been without its humility for me here too.

Scott<<<

James Swan said...

I should "shut up with this?" No, I don't think so. SGcer, did you look at what I wrote?

Hi Scott- I at least looked at what you wrote, and was rather disappointed in your findings. I can't make you read things in context or work through history with care, utilizing all the evidence.

Before we agree to disagree, I have a few final questions / comments.

Luther conflicts with his own statements when it comes to both the conception of Mary and that of Jesus. My article demonstrates a life-long acceptance of the Immaculate Conception...The piece which James covers here contradicts what Luther said about Mary's "second conception" wherein the very "moment it (she) began to live" she was cleansed of all sin (from 1527 sermon).

Actually, the only conflict is between what appears to be his earlier view. However, there is some question if he was even the author of the section of the 1527 sermon that he later deleted. It is my view (and also that of others), that Luther expresses his later view (which I've outlined in numerous blog posts) quite consistently. That is, if one doesn't approach his later texts with a speculative "two conception" theory, his words are quite consistent. If one approaches the contexts I've cited with the understanding that Mary was purified by the Holy spirit at the conception of Christ, all the quotes I've ever seen from the Later Luther on this say almost exactly the same thing.

It is also in conflict where he said "But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them" (in 1538).

Could it be Scott, that Luther either abandoned the alleged "two conception" view or never held it to begin with? Again, if you read Luther's revised 1527 sermon, he leaves this stuff in the realm of speculation. He saw fit to delete it, yet you nail it to him as his lifelong view. This is totally unfair.

James himself quoted this "But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin" (1544).

For the sake of argument, try reading this text the way I've suggested, that at the conception of Christ, Mary's was purified:

"But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them; and thence He creates the body of the Son of God. This is why it is said that 'He was conceived by the Holy Ghost.' Thus He assumed a genuine body from His mother Mary, but this body was cleansed from sin by the Holy Spirit. If this were not the case, we could not be saved."

Scott, do you see the word "thence"? He's not saying some time in the distant future. He's talking about the time of the conception of Christ.

-continued-

James Swan said...

James himself quoted this "But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin" (1544). So James may feel the need to "agree to disagree" - but he's not disagreeing with me, but with Luther's own words which James himself cited from just 2 years before Luther died!

You also quote this in your blog article as proof of Luther's lifelong view in the immaculate conception. However, I cited a much larger context of this very quote, which again is consistent with my view at every turn. I even highlighted the following from the SAME context:

"And there she was made pregnant by the most shameful act of incest, and the flesh from which Christ was to be born was poured from the loins of Judah and was propagated, carried about, and contaminated with sin right up to the conception of Christ."

Scott, what's going on with you? Why are you ignoring the entire context? Are you doing so because this doesn't fit with your view? What are you going to say.... Luther contradicted himself in the same context? That would be absurd when the interpretive paradigm I've outlined says exactly the same thing in each of his later quotes.

We appear to do history very differently. I allow a historical figure to simply say everything he said, wherever it leads. You pick and choose in order to make him say what you want him to. Scott, you're not letting Luther be Luther. Your ignoring facts which don't fit your view.

I'm only agreeing to disagree with you as a last resort, so as to not waste my time or yours. Had I known you would simply ignore an entire context so as to avoid facts that don't fit your theory, I would have never begun interacting with you on this.

Once again, this little interaction proves that Romanists read history the way they need it to be.

CathApol said...

I have no doubt that Scott is a man of integrity, and that he'll make the necessary corrections to his entries. I don't find him to be anything like the other apologist, who, when confronted with this information, has simply kept calling me names while benefiting from my research.

And then...

Once again, this little interaction proves that Romanists read history the way they need it to be. (emphasis added)

James, why make a point of how I have not resorted to calling you names - which is true, I have not done so - and then you have to throw in "Romanists" which you know to be a slur against Catholics?

I have openly stated that Luther contradicts himself - and yes, I would say within this same context he does so. Even if, for the sake of argument, we give you the 1544 statement - in 1538, just six years prior, he's still affirming the possibility of his earlier "two conceptions" concept.

Could it be Scott, that Luther either abandoned the alleged "two conception" view or never held it to begin with?

I am not oblivious to the possibility - but "could it be" James that though he didn't speak of the IC in as forceful terms as he did earlier in his, that he still maintained a belief in it?

Scott, do you see the word "thence"? He's not saying some time in the distant future. He's talking about the time of the conception of Christ.

"Thence" does not necessarily mean it happened at the same time. Not that I'm into evolution, but it is said that there were fish first, then came amphibians, then came reptiles then came mammals and birds... etc. "Then" (which is the modern equivalent of "thence") can be quite separated in time. Mary was purified, then she was capable of being conceived of by the Holy Ghost. It doesn't have to have happened at the same time. I said in one of my initial responses to you though that I could see how those who reject the IC could impute their belief into Luther's "thence." I don't; I am content to "let Luther be Luther," and accept his word that at Mary's second conception, at the infusion of her soul, that she was made clean from sin. Unless you have an explicit statement from Luther saying, "I was wrong in 1527, the Virgin Mary was not preserved from sin at her second conception, and while this did happen, it only happened at the conception of Jesus." Such a statement, however, would contradict the Angel Gabriel's addressing her as "Full of Grace" PRIOR to the conception of Jesus. However, now we're getting into arguments beyond Luther's statements. The point is, we don't see him retracting what he said earlier.

James Swan said...

James, why make a point of how I have not resorted to calling you names - which is true, I have not done so - and then you have to throw in "Romanists" which you know to be a slur against Catholics?

Scott, I consider any people under the authority of Rome as Romanists. I've used this term for years, and never apologized for it. I reluctantly use the words "Roman Catholic," as that word "Catholic" no longer applies to the Roman sect.

I have openly stated that Luther contradicts himself - and yes, I would say within this same context he does so. Even if, for the sake of argument, we give you the 1544 statement - in 1538, just six years prior, he's still affirming the possibility of his earlier "two conceptions" concept.

So you'll give me the 1544 statement from LW 7? LOL. Let's now gain more years by comparing statements. In 1544, which you now will give me, Luther stated,

"But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin."

Now compare that to Luther in 1540:

"all that flesh and blood of Mary's has been purified in conception, so that nothing sinful remains."

Now compare that to Luther in 1538:

"But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them."

Now, read LW 7:

The flesh of Christ comes forth from an incestuous union; likewise, the flesh of the Virgin, His mother, and of all the descendants of Judah, in such a way that the ineffable plan of God’s mercy may be pointed out, because He assumed the flesh or the human nature from flesh that was contaminated and horribly polluted.

The scholastic doctors argue about whether Christ was born from sinful or clean flesh, or whether from the foundation of the world God preserved a pure bit of flesh from which Christ was to be born. I reply, therefore, that Christ was truly born from true and natural flesh and human blood which was corrupted by original sin in Adam, but in such a way that it could be healed. Thus we, who are encompassed by sinful flesh, believe and hope that on the day of our redemption the flesh will be purged of and separated from all infirmities, from death, and from disgrace; for sin and death are separable evils. Accordingly, when it came to the Virgin and that drop of virginal blood, what the angel said was fulfilled: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). To be sure, the Messiah was not born by the power of flesh and blood, as is stated in John ( cf. 1:13): “Not of blood nor of the will of a man, etc.” Nevertheless, He wanted to be born from the mass of the flesh and from that corrupted blood. But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person. Therefore it is truly human nature no different from what it is in us. And Christ is the Son of Adam and of his seed and flesh, but, as has been stated, with the Holy Spirit overshadowing it, active in it, and purging it, in order that it might be fit for this most innocent conception and the pure and holy birth by which we were to be purged and freed from sin. [LW 7:12]

-continued-

James Swan said...

Notice the ambiguity as to which conception is being referred to is no longer... an ambiguity! TurretinFan has rightly commented on this:

"As you can see, context is key. "Mary's conception," or "the conception of Mary" (or replace "Mary" with "Virgin") can refer to two very different things: it can refer to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, and it can refer to the conception of Jesus (or any of his ἀδελφοὶ - look up its etymology). In the latter case, Mary is doing the conceiving, in the former case she is receiving the conceiving. The difference in meaning is significant and - in English - the difference can only be determined by looking at the context." [source]

Now add to the fact that the later Luther states, "Every man is corrupted by original sin, with the exception of Christ" (1540). "Christ alone is a son of the flesh without the sin of the flesh" (1544).


"could it be" James that though he didn't speak of the IC in as forceful terms as he did earlier in his, that he still maintained a belief in it?

Again Scott, even what you consider Luther speaking in forecful terms wasn't so. But, you've never bothered to track down Luther's revised sermon, so how would you know? If you had some sort of similar statement about two conceptions from Luther, then you'd have something. I've never seen any such statement after the 1527 sermon. I have though seen Luther agree that the immaculate conception is a fraud, but the date is uncertain.

-continued-

James Swan said...

I said in one of my initial responses to you though that I could see how those who reject the IC could impute their belief into Luther's "thence."

Scott, you're reading Luther with immaculate conception glasses on. The context from the 1538 quote is about the conception of Christ, in fact each line is about the conception of Christ:

“In our Christian Creed we confess that Christ was conceived and became man or was incarnate (if I may so speak),that He became a real human being by assuming a body"- about the conception of Christ

"We confess that He assumed genuine flesh and blood from the Virgin Mary that He did not pass through her as the sun shines through a glass but brought her virgin flesh and blood with Him."- about the conception of Christ

"If this had taken place only with the co-operation of Mary, the Babe would not have been pure."- about the conception of Christ

But though Mary has been conceived in sin, the Holy Spirit takes her flesh and blood and purifies them; and thence He creates the body of the Son of God.- about the conception of Christ

This is why it is said that "He was conceived by the Holy Ghost."- about the conception of Christ

Thus He assumed a genuine body from His mother Mary, but this body was cleansed from sin by the Holy Spirit. If this were not the case, we could not be saved.”- about the conception of Christ

I am content to "let Luther be Luther," and accept his word that at Mary's second conception, at the infusion of her soul, that she was made clean from sin.

So, he has a section he may not haveeven written deteled, and you want to hold him to it? That's letting Luther be Luther? C'mon Scott, you can't really be serious.

Unless you have an explicit statement from Luther saying, "I was wrong in 1527, the Virgin Mary was not preserved from sin at her second conception, and while this did happen, it only happened at the conception of Jesus."

That's a shoddy way of doing history, and I stand by my statement that "this little interaction proves that Romanists read history the way they need it to be." I've given you evidence of Luther's later view, and he's not contradicting himself, even with his 1527 revised sermon (where' he leaves the "two conception stuff in the realm of speculation).

I still say Scott that you are a man of integrity. I've seen that you will look at evidence and change your mind, as you did with at least some of our recent exchanges. The excuse "Luther contradicts himself" doesn't work here. In his post 1527 writings, he says the same thing, over and over again.

James Swan said...

By the way, for the three people interested in Luther's Mariology (LOL)- here's a very interesting one year old discussion from a Lutheran blog:

The Problem of Mary

There's a man commenting on this post, Carl Vehse, who mops up the place. I don't know who he is, but he appears to know the subject of Luther's Mariology.

Brigitte said...

Scott, I've read the sermon in questions numerous times now in various versions in German, English and bits of Latin. Any references to the immaculate conception of Mary are not definitely expressing Luther's opinion. The only thing that matters to him is that Jesus himself was conceived without original sin, lust or concupiscence. The two conceptions with the cleaning of the soul during it's infusion, is just the presentation of someone's point of view, which one may take or leave without hurting one's conscience. Just read the entire sermon.

Brigitte said...

Scott, I also need to insert something about Rome, when speaking about Roman Catholics, since it is those who hold and confess the orthodox biblical teaching of the Gospel of Christ, who are "Catholic". These people of course are found in all and various times and places throughout the Christian church. Since the teaching of Mary's immaculate conception is not biblical it is also not Catholic, though it is Roman.

CathApol said...

OK, there was way too much to try to fit into a combox response so my reply to the what James has stated is here:

http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2010/12/luther-on-immaculate-conception-2.html

As for my earlier comments using adjectives of "fraudulent, impostor and schismatic," I do not see that language as fruitful, and I hereby retract them and I am deleting that comment entirely from this combox. The only point I wanted to make was the continued use of insulting terminology when in direct discussion with Catholics.

CathApol said...

I deleted my earlier comment, but then Brigitte's comments don't make sense, so let me put back this edited form of that comment:

When it comes to the True Christian Faith, it is truly the Catholic Faith which is universal (throughout the world) and is not a schismatic faith. You (James) can use what ever justifications you want - you're still deliberately using insulting terminology.

Enough said here.

Brigitte said...

Scott, the question is really: "Who is really the schismatic?"

Everyone might enjoy this lecture given by the RC Bishop of Saskatoon, Sakatchewan, Canada, in November at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton. It is about 2 hours long and I am very impressed by the bishop. Dr. Maxfield, the Lutheran jumped in last minute because Dr. Kraemer was in the final stages of battling cancer. But he also makes important points.

The lecture starts at the 16 min. point and deals with interfaith dialogue and the emerging RC view of Luther.

http://www.livestream.com/concordialutheranseminary/video?clipId=pla_4ad51c69-86d7-4d3c-b502-3113f33d18b6

CathApol said...

Scott, the question is really: "Who is really the schismatic?"

If the key word here is "really" then in reality Martin Luther left that which he once belonged to and started a new group with a new name. In this thread we've been discussing the Immaculate Conception, a belief, I maintain, Luther held throughout his life, however there were other things which he abandoned from his previous beliefs - things still which continue on in the Church he left - that makes him the one in schism.

Now yes, I know the Lutheran (and other Protestants) would say that the Catholic Church schismed from the faith at some point prior to Luther, and Luther was just bringing it back. Of course I disagree with this approach, as Luther remained a Catholic even after the nailing of the 95 Theses to the Castle Church door at Wittenberg and wasn't as aggressively anti-Catholic until after he was excommunicated. Yes, he vehemently opposed the methodology of indulgences - and there were indeed abuses here, which were later corrected. Where Luther "schismed" was in developing concepts directly contrary to Church doctrine, as opposed to Church disciplines.

James Swan said...

Brigitte said...
Scott, I've read the sermon in questions numerous times now in various versions in German, English and bits of Latin. Any references to the immaculate conception of Mary are not definitely expressing Luther's opinion. The only thing that matters to him is that Jesus himself was conceived without original sin, lust or concupiscence. The two conceptions with the cleaning of the soul during it's infusion, is just the presentation of someone's point of view, which one may take or leave without hurting one's conscience. Just read the entire sermon.


Brigitte makes an excellent point Scott. She's read the sermon in German, and also helped me with some translation issues. What I find odd is that you'll converse on a subject without actually reading the primary sources from which specific quotes are drawn. Why? I know you purchased Grisar's book, but why not spend a few bucks and pick up the actual contexts of quotes you're exegeting?

James Swan said...

The lecture starts at the 16 min. point and deals with interfaith dialogue and the emerging RC view of Luther.

Thanks for this link, I'll listen to it sometime this week.

James Swan said...

OK, there was way too much to try to fit into a combox response so my reply to the what James has stated is here

With it being Christmas week, I'm not sure when I'll get to this.

Despite my use of the word "Romanist" I don't have any problems with you personally Scott, and I stand by my other comments about you in our recent exchange. I do appreciate that you've at least looked at some of what I've written.

That being said, I do think you are entirely misconstruing the contexts of the quotes in question. I do think you're ignoring specific facts that don't fit your paradigm. I do think we're doing history differently. I do think you are not letting Luther be Luther. And, I do still wonder if our interaction on this will be fruitful. This tends to be a description of many of my other encounters with those from your ken. I'm sorry if you find any of this insulting.

James Swan said...

Scott from your recent article:

One frustration I have had with James in the IC series is that he has, more than once, referred to "online sources" but does not provide a link, as if he wants me to "work" at it. This could, however, be perceived as him not wishing to share these sources because perhaps I (or others) will find things in these sources which may not be in James' favor and he's deliberately not sharing sources for that reason. Whatever the reason - I've found sufficient sources and cited them as I go.

Often, simply for time. Like, with Grisar's books Scott, it should've taken you all of about a minute to put "Hartmann Grisar" + Luther into Google or the Internet Archive search engine. I'm assuming, given your years of work defending Rome, you're familiar with the Internet Archive search engine. Grisar's books are easily available, last I checked.

And yes, on another level, I've been in countless discussions with people disagreeing with me or challenging me that want me to do all the grunt work for them of looking up sources and extracting quotes. My blog has two search engines, and each will provide a lot of the material in question. Use it. My Reformation research / hobby goes beyond the Internet. I purchase sources when I need to. If someone wants to challenge me, they shouldn't expect me to hand over the materials I've paid for so they can be used to challenge my position. They should simply go buy them, read them, then challenge my position. I simply refuse to do work for someone else.

As to not wanting to share sources so as not to have information exposed that will deliberately contradict my opinions, nonsense. I look forward to any quotes from Luther or the Reformers you can pull out from his writings. But, as is often the case, those from your perspective don't read Luther in context. Or, Luther is only read if a web page is available. That's not the way I do things. In fact, I typically buy more Roman Catholic books than Protestant. If I'm going to challenge some aspect of Romanism, I invest time and money.

CathApol said...

My responses, including yours James, are on my blog in the combox area. I can understand when a reply necessitates a new blog entry to create one on your own blog - but when you make references to an article on another blog - and post a "response" to that article in the combox here instead of in the combox where the actual context is - that doesn't make a lot of sense.

James Swan said...

My responses, including yours James, are on my blog in the combox area. I can understand when a reply necessitates a new blog entry to create one on your own blog - but when you make references to an article on another blog - and post a "response" to that article in the combox here instead of in the combox where the actual context is - that doesn't make a lot of sense.

Hi Scott, Thanks for your responses. For personal reasons, I will not be leaving any comments on that particular blog post of yours. I certainly can understand why this wouldn't make any sense to you. I don't care to explain either. If you'd like these comments to be left on another of your blog entries, please let me know which one. That being said, I do have a few comments.

First of all, lest you miss this, here's a link for you.

2. As stated previously, due to the holidays, your second post on Luther & the IC will have to sit on the back burner for a while. I do have about 10 completed blog posts in draft (some dating back months), so if you see them posted, don't think I'm ignoring you.

3. As to locating Hartmann Grisar sources, I mentioned two methods: Google & the Internet Archive service. Based on your response (or lack thereof), here's the link to the Internet Text Archive. I assumed, based on your apologetic endeavours you would've be familiar with this. My apologies for this assumption.

-continued-

James Swan said...

4. As to my "vague reference" about Luther removing the ending of the 1527 sermon, I'm sure I've already recently linked you to my extensive blog article on this (it's also linked in my response to you). If you've chosen not to read it, that's not my problem. You also now have Grisar's Luther IV, and he mentions the same thing, providing a reference for you to look up. In fact, on your recent entry you state: "This quote actually comes from a sermon preached by Luther ("On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527) and was published with his permission, but prior to the end of his life it is not found in published editions of his works." I took Grisar's reference, and looked it up. He was right. I then read Luther's revised sermon, it wasn't there and had the ending re-written where the IC quote in question would've been.

5. You point out that my responsibility is to document my assertions. Which ones? Let me know which assertions in this blog entry lack documentation. I cited LW 59 and LW 7, and I also provided links to other entries in which I tediously document certain things. In my recent response to you, I cited a lengthy excerpt from LW 7. If you think I've taken Luther out of context, I would say, it's your responsibility to track down LW 7. As to Luther's comment in my response agreeing the immaculate conception is a fraud, this is from a link I've already provided you, but the actual source is WA 48, 692 in case you missed it.

-continued-

James Swan said...

6. As to my "hanging on to Luther denying the IC" when both you and Lutheran pastor take the opposing view, I would rather be convinced by exegeted evidence. So far, you haven't convinced me, as I'll explain why in my next blog entry response to you. By the way, did you read the comment I posted from LW 59? The editor of Luther's Works takes my side (they happen to be the guys who translate and put together the official English edition of Luther's works).

7. As to you thinking I'm being condescending when I state "as is often the case, those from your perspective don't read Luther in context"- You state, "I've read the context"... Well have you? Have you read Luther's sermons on the quotes in question? They aren't long. Have you read Luther's 1527 sermon on the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God? Have you read The Explanation of the 95 Theses from LW 31? Have you read the Defense and explanation of all the Articles from LW 32? Did you read Luther's short sermon from 1538 which you cited as "Martin Luther, D.Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung Werke 45:51 quoted in Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Vol. I, 152"? Did you read LW 7? These are documents you cite in your response to me. Did you actually read any of them? Did you simply rely on what I posted? How do you know if I cited Luther correctly? How do you know the next line in any of these sources doesn't say, "I Martin Luther will believe in the Immaculate Conception till the day I die"? Scott, if you haven't actually read these sources, you haven't read them in context. If you have read all the sources before your response to me, I withdraw this criticism in your case, and will apologize.

James Swan said...

Correction:

did you read the comment I posted from LW 59?

That's LW 58. My mistake.

James Swan said...

OK Scott, I took the comments and turned them into a blog post for you. Feel free to respond to them wherever you want.