Friday, October 17, 2008

How to Refer to Your Theological Oppenents...or not?

When we get involved in Internet theological discussions, it's all too easy to get personal. We all fail at this. Sometimes it may be the person we're in discussion with is completely unreasonable, if not silly, and thus very difficult to take seriously. I've often stated that there is an unavoidable level of polemic.

With Luther and those writing in the Sixteenth Century (both Catholic and Protestant), using personal attack was a typical tactic. Bellow is a partial list of Luther's "pet" names for his opponents.

Dr. Emser: because he has a goat in his coat-of-arms, at once becomes himself the Leipzig goat.

Johannes Cochlaeus: (cochlea == snail; cochlear = spoon) appears suddenly as Rotzloffel (snotty)

Dr. Eck: Dr. Geek (fool) or Dreck (muck)

The Ritter Schwenckfeld: as Herr von Stenkfeld (stinkfield)

Dr. Usingen: as Dr. Unsingen

Dr.Crotus: as Dr. Krote (toad)

The Franciscan Schatzgeyer : Master Schatzfresser (treasure-eater)

The Franciscan Alveld: as the miller's grey ass that always cries "Ika, Ika"

Duke Heinrich of Brunswick- Wolfenbiittel as Jack Pudding, as sausage-devil, as a cow on a walnut-tree, as a sow twangling on a harp

The Jurists: ignorists, nequists, plank-doctors— for they cure everything with gallows-wood

Dr. N.Buch : a poodle whose coat is crawling and swarming with fleas, his "book" being full, not of printing-errors, but thinking-errors.

Source: Heinrich Boehmer, Luther & the Reformation in the Light of Modern Research (London: G. Bell and Sons, LTD., 1930) pp. 181-182

Boehmer explains:

But the reformer has a very special preference for bringing "her serene highness the white beast," the sow, on to the scene. How the dear creature gorges itself, licks its chops and scrapes in the muck, how it snorts and grunts, how it spends its mild, safe, quiet life snoring away on its " down feather bed," how it laughs through its nose at the piglets— all this he observes very prettily; but for polemical purposes he sometimes teaches the sow special tricks. It appears like a clown now with a lemon in its mouth, now with a string of pearls round its neck, now wearing a coat of mail, now with a spinning-wheel, now with a harp.

Luther the polemical writer cannot therefore be understood at all unless one has a feeling for the humour of the sixteenth century. This humour was not a subtle humour. In Luther's hands it often turns very rudely against his own person, for often enough he mocks at himself unsparingly as " fat Doctor," "lazy stinking carcase," and "sack full of rotten flesh." But in spite of all its wild somersaults it never, in his case, takes the form of obscenity for its own sake as it does with Emser, Cochlaeus and Lemnius. Luther may indeed be cited as a proof that a German can be coarse and vulgar to the point of grossness, without ever becoming wantonly licentious


L P Cruz said...

Agree with this. You can not understand Luther if you have no sense of humor.

He has so many classic quips, just read his Large Catechism...

Here is a sample from his exposition of the 7th Commandment, Thou shalt not steal...
230] Yes, here we might be silent about the trifling individual thieves if we were to attack the great, powerful arch-thieves with whom lords and princes keep company, who daily plunder not only a city or two, but all Germany. Yea, where should we place the head and supreme protector of all thieves, the Holy Chair at Rome with all its retinue, which has grabbed by theft the wealth of all the world, and holds it to this day?

231] This is, in short, the course of the world: whoever can steal and rob openly goes free and secure, unmolested by any one, and even demands that he be honored. Meanwhile the little sneak-thieves, who have once trespassed, must bear the shame and punishment to render the former godly and honorable. But let them know that in the sight of God they are the greatest thieves, and that He will punish them as they are worthy and deserve.

I cracked up when I read that portion I highlighted.

I wish his enemies had the same sense of humor but unfortunately, they are no fun to read.


Frank Luciani said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
L P Cruz said...

The last comment is a wonderful illustration of how sourpussies in the anti-Luther camp behave.

The only thing funny in his comment was this... "Is lp cruz a guy or a women[sic]?"

The answer? --- "not a women".


L P Cruz said...

BTW, you are absolutely correct we won't make a pimple in the ass of the Pope.

Do you know why?

Because you guys are already occupying that space.


webdevnoobs said...

BTW, why do you have a picture of Joel Osteen on this article? I did not see his name mentioned in it? Did I miss something?


Frank Luciani said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Turretinfan said...

wow - he's wearing out his shovel - anyone want to loan Frank a front end loader?

James Swan said...

My apologies to lp Cruz for not catching Frank Luciani's comments earlier attacking you personally. I appreciate lp's readership and comments. In the future if something like this happens again, please e-mail me.

I don't have the time these days to babysit the comments section watching for insulting comments from zealous papists.

L P Cruz said...


It is not your fault, no apologies needed bro. I have been in the blog business for a number of years and I encounter his kind very often.

Because their kind have such poverty of arguments they have to resort to ad hominem when cornered.

Carry on the good work.