Saturday, December 22, 2007

Quote Hunting...Continued.

I'm still looking through my library for any information on the oft-quoted saying from Luther:

"If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith." Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423)"

Here are just a few quick tidbits of what I've uncovered so far.

1. As far as I've been able to determine, there are not any letters from Luther to Zwingli. If anyone comes across even a secondary reference to such a letter, I'd like to see it. I'm actually quite amazed at this, considering both men met in person, and did compose writings directed toward each other. I'm still looking, but the more sources I check, the more I'm dissuaded as to such existing. Note also, in this earlier blog entry, none of the citations provided seem to refer to a letter, but rather to a treatise.

2. Luther wrote many pages against Zwingli, but didn't seem to write many treatises specifically against Zwingli. I was looking through The Life Of Luther by Julius Kostlin (1911). Kostlin notes Luther's first writing against Zwingli was in 1526 in Luther's preface to the Syngramma or treatise of the fourteen Swabian ministers. This was followed up by the treatise I mentioned a few days ago, That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics(1527). Lastly, Luther published Confession concerning the Lord's Supper in 1528. Kostlin notes, "Luther, after reading the last-mentioned treatise of Zwingli and Oecolampadius, resolved to publish one answer more, the last; for Satan, he said, must not be suffered to hinder him further in the prosecution of other and more important matters" (p.382). Of course, Luther mentioned Zwingli throughout his writings, even after these main writings. I will continue to look for more on this- as I've always assumed much more was written by Luther against Zwingli.

3. If no such letter from Luther to Zwingli exists, The quote in question then, probably comes from one of these writings mentioned above. I'm of the opinion that I'm correct in asserting the Luther quote used by those dedicated to Rome is from That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics(1527). What appears to have happened is the Latin translation of the earlier German has rendered the quote somewhat different, yet making the same point.

4. I checked my saved computer files of Catholic apologist Hartmann Grisar's books on Luther. Even Grisar states Luther was trying to "...plead the cause of the Catholic principle of authority" in That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics. Well, Grisar is wrong, for reasons I've already noted earlier this week. Here is what Grisar states:

"In his controversy with Zwingli, Luther even came to plead the cause of the Catholic principle of authority. In his tract of 1527, " Das diese Wort Christi, Das ist mein Leib noch fest stehen," he declared that Zwingli s interpretation of the Bible had already given rise to " many opinions, many factions and much dissension." Such arbitrary exegesis neither can nor may go any further. " And if the world is to last much longer, we shall on account of such dissensions again be obliged, like the ancients, to seek for human contrivances and to set up new laws and ordinances in order to preserve the people in the unity of the faith. This will succeed as it succeeded before. In fine, the devil is too clever and powerful for us. He hinders us and stops the way everywhere. If we wish to study Scripture he raises up so much strife and dissension that we tire of it. ... He is, and is called, Satan, i.e. an adversary." He here attributes to the devil the defects of his own Scriptural system, and puts away as something wrong even the very thought that it contained faults, another trait to his psychological picture : " The devil is a conjurer." " Unless God assists us, our work and counsel is of no avail. We may think of it as we like, he still remains the Prince of this world. Whoever does not believe this, let him simply try and see. Of this I have experienced something. But let no one believe me until he has himself experienced it." There is no doubt, that, in 1527, Luther did have to go through some severe struggles of conscience."

Source: Grisar, Luther Volume IV, p.410.

It has been suggested that the burden of proof to provide a context for this "shock" quote lies on me. I would like to point out, if my reasoning above is cogent, I have met that demand. What we have here is a few hundred years of Catholic apologists mis-citing Luther, even smart ones like Grisar. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

“I'm still looking through my library for any information on the oft-quoted saying from Luther”

Why are you in a hurry to disagree? Why not do your research first before protesting or is it simply in your blood to protest?


"As I continue to do the work that my Catholic apologist friends should be doing, I think what I'm eventually going to find is that the quote as I've cited it from LW 37 is a translation from the German original, whereas the quote, as it is being used by the Catholic apologists is from a Latin source."

You are till chasing the wild goose. You have not done your homework yet but somehow you are confident the other party is wrong. You seem also to determine what you are going to find before finding any data supporting your conclusion. This is a fine Protestant way of doing historical research. I wish you had some respect for time - for yourself and for your readers.

It is interesting to note that anyone visiting your blog site will immediately know what you think about Catholicism. What is not even remotely clear is what your church believes and teaches. I am not sure it is even clear you belong to any church. You spend 99.9 percent of your time promoting Catholicism.

James Swan said...

I wish you had some respect for time - for yourself and for your readers.

I have very little free time. I'm usually on-line less than an hour a day, if that, so I post what i can, when I can.

No one is making you read this blog. in fact, It would be fine if no one reads it, as I am not a theologian of glory. I write what interests me.

If you don't like what I write, or the way I write, go somewhere else.

In this particular situation, I'm posting my research as I go along. I really don't care if you like this or not.