I. IntroductionThis will be the third installment of my discussion with Scott Windsor on Luther and the immaculate conception. My first installment briefly outlined my view (that Luther indeed did not hold to a lifelong belief in Mary's immaculate conception). The second blog entry took a closer look at the methodology behind Mr. Windsor's conclusions. That entry noted Mr. Windsor's apologetic / historical methodology boils down to utilizing extracted Luther quotes from either my writings, other secondary web pages, or old secondary sources available from Google books. Scott then puts forth a harmonizing solution for some of Luther's later statements based on a sermon from 1527 (which Mr. Windsor appears to have never read, along with the other writings of Luther he cited).
Faced with counter-evidence, any statements from Luther that can't be harmonized with Windsor's interpretive framework are said to be examples of Luther contradicting himself. So as to maintain the integrity of his interpretive paradigm, Windsor actually goes as far to posit Luther contradicts himself on the immaculate conception even in the same writing.
II. Windsor's view on The Day of Conception of the Mother of GodI'd like to take a closer look at Scott's position on this key piece of historical evidence, Luther's 1527 sermon on "The Day of Conception of the Mother of God." This is the linchpin holding Mr. Windsor's view together. After citing a section of this sermon taken from a secondary source, Windsor states, "Luther's view was that of "two conceptions" - the "second conception" does align quite well to the 1854 definition of the dogmatic definition."
From Windsor's partial reading of a deleted extract from this sermon, he then interprets statements from the last nineteen years of Luther's life positing he held to a lifelong belief in Mary's immaculate conception. Windsor argues the later statements from Luther do not deny the “two conceptions” theory Luther explicitly espoused earlier [source]. He then qualifies this by stating Luther did not speak of the immaculate conception in as forceful terms as he did earlier:
My use of “forceful” is a relevant term... in later works he may not have been as explicit as in his Catholic and early Protestant days... The later works do not come out and say, “I was wrong in 1527 and earlier and I whole-heartedly renounce all belief in the Immaculate Conception.” There is no such retraction that I am aware of, and I’m sure if one existed that you would quote it and validly cite your source [source].
Windsor also states:
deletion of something is an argument from silence - the LACK of saying something cannot be equivocated to denying it, in fact in logic silence lends itself to consent - not negation.
You’re assuming by his silence (the alleged removal of this from later works) that he negates his earlier statements, but you’re the one left making an assumption which is contrary to logic - remember, in logic silence lends itself to consent, not negation [source].
For Scott, Luther's deletion of the section of sermon in question isn't an explicit denial of the immaculate conception. That the ending of this sermon was re-written (which is where the deletion was) isn't an explicit denial of the immaculate conception. For Windsor, these facts serve as proof Luther maintained a belief in the immaculate conception. Unless Luther stated "I was wrong in 1527 and earlier and I whole-heartedly renounce all belief in the Immaculate Conception," Luther's lifelong view was that expressed in a deleted portion of a 1527 sermon.
II. Avoiding Sources: The Day of Conception of the Mother of God (1527)
In my first response I provided Mr. Windsor with a bibliographic reference to an English translation of the revised sermon, which Mr. Windsor thus far has chosen to ignore (this book is in print and affordable). Mr. Windsor doesn't appear to care enough to actually read the entire context of this short sermon. Even though it plays a crucial role in his historical interpretation on this matter, Scott refuses to do basic research by actually reading that which he interprets. In previous discussions with Scott, I had provided a link (more than a few times!) to a blog entry I compiled on this very issue. I included a fair amount of bibliographic information, as well as an overview of my reading of the sermon.
Despite this provided link, Mr. Windsor makes the following comment:
Back to James, he claims to have read later copies of this sermon which have the part which explicitly mentions the IC removed, but he does not quote us that sermon nor does he cite a source of that sermon or provide a link to that alleged version of the sermon. I'm not saying it doesn't exist and/or that James is making this up - but such an unsupported statement coming from me would be utterly rejected, and thus the objective reader here must also reject James' unscholarly approach here. He claims he doesn't want to do all my work for me - but HE is the one who asserts the existence of this later publication of the sermon so it is HIS RESPONSIBILITY to adequately and validly document his claim or withdraw it from consideration. He should not expect us to do his homework for him. (And yes, I do not diminish the fact that he has already done a lot of work here - but in regard to THIS assertion his work, thus far, is deficient) [source].
Had Mr. Windsor actually read the material provided to him, he would've seen that I documented the deletion as noted in Erlangen 15, provided an overview of the entire sermon, and included the re-edited ending, as well as the deleted ending. I chose not to include this tedious documentation in my first response, assuming Scott would have read it the three times I provided the link for him. Scott says at one point, "I have looked at ALL the links you've provided and ALL you've posted directly in this exchange." My question then for Scott would be "What do you mean by..."looked"....? If Scott actually read this provided link, I either wasn't clear enough in my presentation, or Scott didn't understand it. Only Scott can explain this mystery.
II. Basing a Conclusion on a Deleted Portion of Text From Luther In my first response to Mr. Windsor, I briefly pointed out the inherent problems with utilizing this sermon to substantiate Luther's later view. The sermon was edited (in fact the very words Mr. Windsor highlights in blue bolding were deleted). The section was rewritten by Luther. Mr. Windsor should be familiar with similar problems found in the writings of the early church fathers. For instance, Augustine later retracted some of his earlier views. Other church writings have questionable sections in which their authenticity isn't certain. Mr. Windsor should be aware of the tenuousness of basing one's view on a questionable text, whether it was retracted, deleted, or edited.
In this instance, the sermon in question had deletions and was edited by Luther himself. As noted in my first response to Mr. Windsor, the very deleted section Mr. Windsor uses doesn't even have the certain pedigree of being written by Luther. I've also documented this uncertainty here, in the same link provided to Mr. Windsor.
As I've pointed out to Scott, the editors of Luther's Works hold "the material in question seems to be solely the responsibility of its editor, Stephan Roth." While this isn't certain, I do find it curious that I haven't found any other examples from Luther putting forth the view contained in this deleted section, nor do the editors of Luther's Works. If Mr. Windsor could provide corroborating evidence of Luther positing a "two conception theory," particularly later in his life, perhaps then one could authenticate the earlier deleted material as being representative of Luther's view. The question then of course would be, why did (or would) Luther delete the material, if in fact it was his view? He certainly wasn't one to hold back an opinion. In terms of positive evidence then for Luther's actual view, even in 1527, the material Scott relies on is questionable, as should be his interpretive paradigm.
So, when Mr. Windsor hosts an article that states "the Immaculate Conception was a doctrine Luther defended to his death," one needs to keep in mind his basis for such an assertion rests on a questionable section of text. Scott has recently stated, "I have conceded that there IS ROOM for the anti-IC believer to believe that Luther in his later life rejected the IC - but there can be no denying in his earlier life as a Catholic and well into the time he schismed from the Catholic Faith - that he did indeed believe and profess a belief in the IC compatible with the 1854 dogmatic definition." Only Scott can explain which statement he holds to.
III. Comments on the Context of the 1527 Sermon
In this link I went through the entire context of this short sermon. The version of the sermon in WA 17(2) opens with this summary: "Christ does not look at the honor, glory and praise of the flesh, also not that of his mother, the most holy virgin Mary. Therefore those, who proclaim nothing than the praise of Mary, should be preaching God's Word (instead)." That is actually the point of the sermon. The sermon itself is primarily about original sin, not the immaculate conception of Mary. In a blog comment, my friend Brigitte (who helped me with aspects of the German translation) made the following statement:
If someone, or everyone, were to read the sermon carefully, he, or they, would note, that Luther is only presenting various prevailing views. He is trying to calm the water and allow people their pious opinions which they are not to make into dogma since there is no scripture to go on. Secondly, he is trying to get everyone to think about their own original sin, which sticks to them even though they are redeemed Christians, and to battle their sinful flesh daily by sticking with their prayers, the creed and the Lord's prayer. (This would be more useful than speculations). Thirdly, he wants everyone to focus on the clear words of scripture about Christ and give up this useless dissension regrarding the flesh and the praise of Mary. In the course of all this he does not give his own opinion [in the immaculate conception], but rather tries to steer away from useless strife--which indeed we are having here again.
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.
I included these comments because I couldn't say it any better. Nor did Mr. Windsor respond to either of these statements (which were intended for him). This is one of the reasons I keep harping on context, and letting Luther be Luther. What would Scott's view be on this sermon if he actually read it? Only Scott can explain what his view would be.
If Scott wants to disagree with me on this sermon, I wish he would do so on historical or exegetical grounds. In this entry, I've asked Scott Windsor to explain his view three times (points I, II, & III).
I've tried to do everything possible to understand the historical considerations and context of this sermon. For instance, a few months back I found a preview of a book on Google that gave me a partial sentence that said, "the edition that this section of the sermon was expunged after 1527, until restored by Luther himself." One can imagine my pulse rate when I read a secondary source that may have been implying Luther removed the section in question, and then put it back! As documentation for this assertion, they cited: Paul F. Palmer, Mary in the Documents of the Church (Maryland: Newman Press, 1952) p. 76. I could find no Internet copy of this book, so I ordered the book. They state,
"Kirchenpostille," in Luther's Sammtliche Werke, Erlangen ed. 1828, 15, 55). The editor of this edition notes on p. 54 that after 1527 this section of Luther's sermon was expunged from later editions until restored by himself."
Well, I had already done the work of looking up Luther's Sammtliche Werke, Erlangen ed. 1828, 15, 54. Erl 15 does not say Luther restored this section of the sermon. An asterisk at the bottom of the page indicates a deletion of the end paragraphs: "From here on until the end, is only found in the edition of the year 1527." But it is true, Luther did restore this sermon, along with many others from the Kirchenpostille, by rewriting sections that needed to be fixed after Roth's publication. Luther spent a lot of time revising the Kirchenpostille to reflect his official teachings. I once again ask Mr. Windsor to simply let Luther be Luther. If he saw fit to delete a section and rewrite it, the version he intended for us is that which we should hold him to.
AddendumFor Mr. Windsor, here is copy of the page from Erl 15 noting the deletion.
Here is page 51 from Baseley's translation of the 1584 Festival Postil:
All this information was available to Mr. Windsor previously in this blog post. He needed only to read this blog entry which I provided for him numerous times.