Saturday, April 11, 2009
Luther said, "To the gallows with Moses!"
Here are a few odd Luther quotes provided by Roman Catholic Ben M from another blog:
Heaven knows heresy and error can never be rational! Matter of fact, when obstinately persisted in, they can actually affect both one's reason and common sense. Consider, for example, just a couple of these bizarre sayings from Luther (A. D. 1538 ):
“The Decalogue belongs in the Townhall, not on the pulpit.” “Decalogus gehört auf das Rathaus, nicht auf den Predigtstuhl.”
Or how about this goofy one:
“All who consort with Moses, will eventually sell out to the Devil. Let Moses be hanged!" “Alle, die mit Mose umgehen, müssen zum Teufel fahren, an Galgen mit Mose.”
"Let Moses be hanged" (“an Galgen mit Mose”), literally, “to the gallows with Moses!.
Ben gives his first source for these quotes as, Faith and Sanctification, G. C. Berkouwer, Eerdmans, 1952, ISBN-10: 0802848176, p. 164. Ben goes on to find these quotes in Latin sources as well. Such detailed research!
Now, I've read quite a few odd Luther quotes, but some of these I did not recall. The only one that jumped out was "to the gallows with Moses." So, I visited Berkouwer's book, as directed by Ben. According to Berkouwer, the quotes were from Johannes Agricola, not Luther. Berkouwer points out, Luther fought against these statements from Agricola. If I recall, Ben has had some not-so-kind things to say about my Luther research in the past. Way to go, Ben! Perhaps in his zeal to slander Luther, Ben should first locate the target, then aim at it. Then shoot.
In fact, Agricola may be the source for Patrick O'Hare's statement attributed to Luther, "To the gallows with Moses." So, perhaps Ben inadvertently helped me put another nail in O'Hare's coffin:
As might be expected from one who strove to minimize the importance and influence of the Law in the lives of men, Luther had scant respect for him whom God selected to proclaim His will to the peoples and the nations from Sion's Mount. This mouth-piece of God became the special subject of his untiring and ceaseless abuse and vituperation. He not only acknowledges his opposition to Moses, but he urges it with all the vehemence he is master of. He went so far in his antagonism that he proclaimed the Law-giver a most dangerous man and the embodiment of everything that can torment the soul. His hatred of the Prophet was so deep-rooted that on one occasion he cried out: "To the gallows with Moses." He disliked him because he thought that he insisted too strongly on the Law and its observance. In order to minimize his mission and destroy his influence he boldly and untruthfully asserted that Moses "was sent to the Jewish people only and had nothing whatever to do with Gentiles and Christians." His advice to all who bothered themselves with the Law-giver was to "chase that stammering and stuttering Moses," as he called him, "with his law to the Jews and not allow his terrible threats to intimidate them." "Moses must ever be looked upon," he says, "with suspicion, even as upon a heretic, excommunicated, damned, worse than the Pope and the Devil." (Comment, in Gal.) The scurrilous language applied to God's messenger reaches its depths of infamy when he says further: "I will not have Moses with his law, for he is the enemy of the Lord Christ ... we must put away thoughts and disputes about the law, whenever the conscience becomes terrified and feels God's anger against sin. Instead of that it will be better to sing, to eat, to drink, to sleep, to be merry in spite of the devil." (Tischr. L. C. 12. Â§. 17.) "No greater insult can be offered to Christ than to suppose that He has come to give commandments, to make a sort of Moses of him." (Tischr. S. 66). "Only the mad and blind Papists do such a thing." (Wittenb. V. 292 B.) "Christ's work consists in this: to fulfill the law for us, not to give laws to us and to redeem us." (Ibid.) "The devil makes of Christ a mere Moses." (Walch, VIII. 58.)
So, O'Hare strikes again. This time, it's very likely he attributed something to Luther that Luther never said.
I've dealt with Luther's view of the Law here
Luther And The Law: Did Martin Luther Abhor God's Law? (Part One) A look at four Luther quotes used by Roman Catholics to prove Luther hatred God's Law. The quotes are given contexts and explanations to prove misuse by Roman Catholics.
Luther And The Law: Did Martin Luther Abhor God's Law? (Part Two) A look at Luther's understanding of the Law and its place in the Christian life.