Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weekly “wisdom” from Martin Luther = Propaganda #1

Recently I was forwarded a Luther quote being used by an ex-Lutheran turned agnostic. The quote was one of many in a blog series entitled, Weekly “wisdom” from Martin Luther. The quote was one of those obscure quotes that's been floating around the Internet without a context, or in many instances, documentation:

“Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them.

Now, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out Luther actually wrote this or believed this. What I found interesting was that a person who researched the Bible and concluded " there is no validity to Jesus" was quite content to host a series of out-of-context Luther quotes. So I left the following comment:

Before I quote someone, I make sure to have a context for the quote to verify why they said what they said. Do you have a context for your quote… or even a reference to Luther’s Works? If not, perhaps you should revise your blog entry to reflect the lack of research that went in to posting the quote. If you do have a context, please provide it. Propaganda is not effective when proper documentation is given.

The response was, "The post has been updated with the source." The source given was none other than the elusive Tabletalk. I then stated,

Thank you for adding a source, “Table Talk, from The Collected Works of Martin Luther.” Which “Collected Works of Martin Luther” are you referring to? English? German? Latin? I can assure you, your quote is not in the current English edition of Luther’s Works. The Tabletalk is divided by number. That is, each particular saying has its own number. Which number is this quote?

Am I correct that you haven’t read the context, nor are you familiar with the background to the Tabletalk? Luther didn’t even write the Tabletalk, and the volume has changed quite dramatically over the years.

The Tabletalk purports to be what Luther said, based on eyewitness accounts. However, if you read the introduction to the Tabletalk found in LW 54, you’ll note many of the “utterances” are not reliable, nor even included in the current edition. I find it quite suspicious that the current edition of the Tabletalk doesn’t include the “snakes and monkeys” comment. There isn’t a cover up either. The editors of Luther’s Works made sure to include many of the most controversial sayings.

I’ve never visited your blog here before, but I did take a moment to look over your “about me” link. You say, “the Bible is too flawed to be a valid record.” If your research into the Bible is similar to your research into Luther, I suggest you start over. Quoting Luther out of context via the Tabletalk (not even something Luther wrote) is, frankly, propaganda.

The response: "The authors of the Gospels wrote “eye-witness” accounts of events they didn’t even witness. Every quote of Jesus is out of context by unreliable and unknown authors. That is, frankly, propaganda."

Ah, the honesty of the religious sceptic! When backed into a corner, shift gears. So, I responded:

The title of your blog includes, “happy are those who ask questions.” I’ve asked a few questions on the material you’ve posted, and haven’t gotten any satisfying answers.

There are those of us that really do pursue truth from a theistic worldview. We find it fascinating, if not absurd, when non-theists infer that belief in a Christian worldview is done at the expense of truth, and then they’ll post quotes (like the one you’ve used) without having a context or even reading the context, from a book that the person being quoted didn’t even write.

I find it fascinating that you will admit candidly admit:

I am no longer a believer in Jesus or the god of the Bible. Through my recent experience, it has become undeniably obvious that the Bible is too flawed to be a valid record. Without the validity of scripture, there is no validity to Jesus. And with the evidence that prayers aren’t answered, miracles don’t happen, bad things happen to good people, and evil things are done by Christians throughout the world, I couldn’t be a sheep any longer.”

On the other hand, you won’t candidly admit you haven’t even read the context of the Luther quote you’ve used, you don’t know where to find it, and you weren’t even aware the Tabletalk wasn’t written by Luther.

If you really believe “happy are those who ask questions” as a means of arriving at truth, then you should be quite pleased with admitting you’ve used Luther quotes far less than honestly.

If on such a basic level as admitting your poor methods of using a source and documenting it correctly is beyond your ability, I can’t help but question how honestly you’ve done your alleged Biblical “research.”

I'll update this, time allowing, for any further responses. The issue isn't even the Luther quote. The issue is demonstrating that from the heart the mouth speaks. This person is committed to attacking the Christian worldview with whatever is available. Whether it's true or not doesn't matter. As long as it serves the campaign against Christian theism, it's good research to be posted in cyberspace.

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