Friday, December 26, 2008
References That Miss The Mark
Here's some of those obscure Luther passages that led me on a good 'ol wild goose chase:
"Imputed righteousness led Luther to say such absurd, ridiculous things as the following: "One and the same act may be accepted before God and not accepted, be good and not good." "The gospel is a teaching having no connection whatever with reason, whereas the teaching of the law can be understood by reason . . . reason cannot grasp an extraneous righteousness." [in Hartmann Grisar, Luther, vol. 1 of 6 (tr. E.M. Lamond, ed. Luigi Capadelta, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 2nd ed., 1914, pp. 216-217; from Commentary on Romans]" [source]
It's fairly ironic how I wound up with the above. I was actually reseaching some pro "word of faith" (WOF) citations of Luther. One of the WOF pages citing Luther linked over to this, which is more-a-less the same as the source above. So, I wanted to see the context of these "absurd, ridiculous things." First, I went and pulled out Grisar's Luther Volume 1, and yes, these quotes are there. Then, I went and got my two copies of Luther's Commentary on Romans (both have similar content, but also some unique content not found in the other). And, then, well, a lot of hours went by. I basically read through my entire Kregel edition of Luther's Commentary on Romans- then I began trudging through the Concordia edition.Then, I gave up looking for the contexts of these "absurd, ridiculous things." I found some similarities, but nothing exact enough to warrant a context.
Hartmann Grisar is typically precise with his references, so I went back and took a closer look at what he stated. After going through many citations from Luther's commentary on Romans, Grisar states:
Thus the outlines of the strongest assertions which [Luther] makes later as to the imputing of the righteousness of Christ are already apparent in his interpretation of the Epistle to the Romans. Christ alone has assumed the place of what the Catholic calls saving grace. He already teaches what he was to sum up later in the short formula : "Christ Himself is my quality and my formal righteousness," or, again, what he was to say to Melanchthon in 1536: "Born of God and at the same time a sinner; this is a contradiction ; but in the things of God we must not hearken to reason." His Commentary on Romans prepares us for his later assertions : "The gospel is a teaching having no connection whatever with reason, whereas the teaching of the law can be understood by reason . . . reason cannot grasp an extraneous righteousness and, even in the saints, this belief is not sufficiently strong."1 "The enduring sin is admitted by God as non-existent ; one and the same act may be accepted before God and not accepted, be good and not good." "Whoever terms this mere cavilling ("cavillatio") is desirous of measuring the Divine by purblind human reason and understands nothing of Holy Scripture."2
1 " Opp. Lat. exeg.," 23, p. 160. By "saints," Luther means the
pious folk who follow his teaching.
2 " Werke," Weim. ed., 2, p. 420 (in the year 1519).
The reason I couldn't find the contexts of these "absurd, ridiculous things" is because I don't think they are found in Luther's Commentary on Romans, nor does Grisar say they are. Grisar cites Luther's Commentary on Romans typically as "Schol. Rom." Note, the references above are from "Opp. Lat. exeg" and "Werke". If I recall correctly, neither of these sources contained Luther's Commentary on Romans at the time Grisar's Luther 1 was published. My Kregel edition notes the Romans Commentary was published in 1908, and this was the edition Grisar used (The Ficker edition). In footnote 2, the date "1519" should've tipped me off, as Luther's work on Romans dates from a few years earlier.
I'm not exactly sure what particular Luther documents these quotes are from, as I haven't had a chance to do further investigation. This is again what happens when one doesn't do good research, but rather does a cut-and-paste of someone else's work- and then to make matters worse, actually goes and publishes the material. After citing these same Luther quotes and Grisar, the same author states in his book, Martin Luther:Catholic Critical Analysis and Praise , "In the same Commentary on Romans, completed five years before he was excommunicated (1516), he goes onto what might be regarded as morbid and bizarre heights, when discussing damnation and predestination." One wonders if the author of these words read or owns Luther's Commentary on Romans, and more importantly, one must ask if the contexts of these alleged "absurd, ridiculous things" really bear out the statements are indeed as claimed. Perhaps it is more true that the person making this charge is guilty of an absurd and ridiculous unverified conclusion.
Here are my copies (Yes, some people actually still have the books in question!)