Friday, November 20, 2009

Luther: What is Law? (Part 1)

Over on another blog post, Roman Catholic blogger Ben has been dropping Luther bombs in the comment box but keeps missing the intended targets. He's ventured into Luther's understanding of Law and Gospel. Ben says, "Luther was clearly a very confused, very disturbed man. He did untold damage to the Church and to European society with his insane ravings and his immoral shenanigans." He's posted a mass of Luther-related rhetoric, some of it from Denifle's Luther and Lutherdom, a book that even many Roman Catholic scholars repudiate.

I'm not sure if Ben even understands what Luther means by Law and Gospel, so I've asked him in his own words, to provide a summary of Luther's understanding of it. I've asked him to provide a 100 word summary, minus rhetoric and polemic, to the best of his ability, as honestly as possible, to attempt to summarize Luther's position, from Luther's perspective. He shouldn't even quote Luther, but simply define his position. I often do this when I get in to a detailed discussion with someone. Before you try and tear down a position, it's always good to at least understand it.

In order to help Ben, here's a good chunk of Luther's sermon from John 20:21-29, found in LW 69:329-332 on the Law. In the following text, you read just how confused, disturbed, and immoral Luther actually was with his insane ravings.

YOU have heard today the first part of the Gospel, in which we are shown how we should conduct ourselves toward God. What now follows is how we should conduct ourselves toward our neighbor. When He appeared to them for the second time, He said: "Have peace! Just as the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you" [John 20:21]. Of this we wish to speak. It is said that when we preach of faith we are forbidding good works. We have never preached that. Christ, in His life, never did a good work in order to become righteous, and yet He did good works all the time. From the time He was born of the Virgin Mary He was always righteous, from the very beginning of His birth. Everything that Christ did on earth He did to serve us. He did all His works for us and for our sake.

Now we come to the same place. "Just as My Father has sent Me, so I am sending you." [Jesus says:] "How has He sent Me? He has sent Me in such a way that I take upon Myself the Law, death, hell, sin, etc., even though I have not deserved it, but I have done it for your sake. Now you also, do as I have done today." If I come to acknowledge and to love the Law, I fulfill the Law entirely, and that happens out of or through faith. Faith brings everything along with it, [faith] that says, "I have a gracious God." [Jesus says,] "As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you." There is no command there. As I have done, do likewise; if you do not do it, that is a sign that no faith is yet present."

St. Peter also admonishes us in this respect when he says,
Satagite fratres, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure through good works" [2 Pet. 1:10]. It is the things that we should do for our neighbor that are good works and are called good works by St. Peter. Just as Christ did not seek His own benefit and advantage, so we should seek our neighbor's benefit and advantage. The works done for our neighbor show that we have faith in God and love for our neighbor. However, we become neither righteous nor saved by them. Faith takes away all works, as St. Paul says in Romans 13 [:8]: Nemini quicquam
, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the Law."

Thus we must prove ourselves before the world. How? By keeping the other commandments as well: "You shall honor your father and your mother." If there is secular authority over me, I must obey it. I do this not in order to be saved or to earn heaven thereby; rather, I know that Christ was obedient, though He had no need to be, and did it for my sake. Therefore, I also want to be obedient for the sake of Christ and the good of my neighbor, and do it solely to prove my love. Obedience to parents must flow out of pure love, not to earn something by it or because the Law demands or commands it, but rather I should be free and certain in the promise that God freely made to me and freely gives to me. Thus I should do the works in such a way that I cast them out to be plundered—whoever gets hold of something can keep it. This is how the apostles admonish us to good works, not to become righteous or saved through them but to show that we are Christians.


-snip-

Cursed be that life in which someone lives for himself and not for his neighbor. And on the other hand, blessed be that life in which one lives not for himself but for his neighbor and serves him with teaching, with rebukes, with help, as it may be. When my neighbor errs, I should rebuke him; if he cannot follow me immediately, then I should wait patiently for him, as Christ did with Judas, who carried the moneybag of the Lord and had the duty of coming to the help of the poor; he always wandered from the path like a dog, yet Christ was patient with him and admonished him often, though it was no help.

Faith always speaks like this: "Christ has done that for me; why should I not for His sake also do all things freely?" Furthermore, the things we do for God are not called good works, but rather the things that we should do for our neighbor—those are good works. Whoever is a regent should not think that he is therefore a king or mayor, [nor] that he may earn heaven thereby; nor should he seek his own advantage, but he should serve the congregation, so that my flesh may be tamed and it may serve my neighbor. I take a wife and make myself captive. I do this so that I will not stain or shame the wife or daughter of my neighbor. Before, I ran wherever I wanted; now, I am captive and must be satisfied with one woman, etc.

First, [Jesus] says, "Have peace;' that is, toward God. Second, "Have peace;' that is, toward my neighbor. God demands nothing of us other than (faith and love (that is, [love] toward our neighbor); and the [works] that are useful to our neighbor are good works indeed. God grant us His help that we may love our neighbor. Amen.



Addendum
As an example for Ben of how to do a 100 word summary statement, here would be my short synopsis of law and gospel according to Luther:

Law and gospel is a key organizing distinction in Luther’s theology. The Christian needs both, but they should be sharply distinguished. The function of law is to convict of sin. It is an expression of God’s holiness, showing us how far we have fallen from his righteous standards. It directs one toward repentance, and to a recognition of helplessness, and to seek God’s mercy. The gospel is purely a word of grace, mercy, and promise: the righteousness of Christ reckoned to our account alone provides mercy and salvation. It does not contain commands or threats, only the promises of God.

Notice I didn't cite Luther, nor did I get caught up in tangents. For instance, you won't find Luther discussing the third use of law (like Calvinists do), but it's implicit in many of Luther's writings that a Christian could use the law to direct one to holy living (see the Luther quote above). Also Luther would strongly reject antinomianism, or that conversion does not produce a changed life. But most often, Luther uses the law negatively as that which shows a Christian his failure, and this drives him to seek grace and strength from the gospel.

Here are a few helpful links presenting a basic overview of Luther's Law and Gospel:

Steven Paulson, Luther For Armchair Theologians (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004) Chapter two: Law and Gospel: God's Two Words.

Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), Chapter 19: Law and Gospel.

22 comments:

bkaycee said...

Sounds like pretty good "ravings" to me.

Rhology said...

Someday I'd like to see Ben give us some info on "Why it matters if Luther was a punk like I say he is; or, Why Luther is considered to be a Protestant Pope, even if all Protestants say he's not". That'd be great.

Andrew Suttles said...

Sadly, to an idol worshiper, all the teachings of Scripture seem confused and distrubing.

I Cor 2:13-14 -
"Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

beowulf2k8 said...

JEsus denied that the Law is his in John speaking to the Jews he calls it "YOUR law" and of the Jews "THEIR law" because he is not the god of the Old Testament, for the god of the Old Testament is the god of this world who Paul says has blinded the Jews lest they should believe in Christ, for Christ is the Better God who would take their belief away from the carnal blood-thirsty god of this world that gave the carnal law of Moses, and therefore the god of this world has blinded his own special people so that he can keep them in darkness. Even in the OT the god of this world seeks to blind them, saying, "thou shalt worship no other god" for he knew that Christ existed and he forbade his people even back then from worshiping the Better God. And so also he stole the term 'Christ' and applied it to his anointed tyrant kings like David and Solomon and promised an even more tyrannical king 'Christ' to come in the future, only so he could confuse his special people into not accepting Christ when he came in the flesh.

beowulf2k8 said...

(The traditional understanding of "the god of this world" as Satan is ridiculous. If there is only one God, and the Jews are his special people, why would he allow Satan to blind them? and why would he blind them himself? This passage only makes sense from a Marcionite perspective, that there are two gods, the one who created this world (the god of this world) being evil, and the alien God, the God from outside our universe who did not create it but has his own better world, is the Good God or Better God.)

Andrew Suttles said...

"...god of the Old Testament is the god of this world who Paul says has blinded the Jews lest they should believe in Christ, for Christ is the Better God..."

Heresy! Utter foolishness!

I John 2:22 - Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

2 Cor 5:18-19 - And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself

Rom 5:8-10 - But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Who was it to whom Jesus reconciled us (us who believe)? Who was it who sent Him? To whom did He pray? I hope for the sake of your soul that you are an irreverent troll, because if you believe your ridiculous words, you stand under the condemnation of God.

beowulf2k8 said...

"Heresy!" Will you burn me at the stake as those who teach that Jesus is the genocidal god of the Old Testament have always done to Marcionites and other dualistic Christians who believe the Heavenly Father and Jesus are a different god from the malevolent god of the OT who is the god of this world???

I John 2:22 - Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

I didn't deny that Jesus is the Christ. I said the OT god stole the title 'Christ' and applied it to his tyrannical kings and promised an even more tyrannical, genocidal, and racist king to come and called him 'Christ' specifically in order to prevent the Jews from believing in Jesus Christ when he came as Saviour of the world to defeat the OT god and save us from his hell which he intended for all men righteous and unrighteous alike.

As for your other quotations, I do not believe the CATHOLIC canon is perfect. There are many interpolations they have added to the original New Testament of Marcion. Have you ever read Romans 13? Do you really believe that rulers are never a terror to good works? You think Paul really wrote that rulers are never a terror to good works? You're crazy if you do. The Catholics added this, for Catholicism was wedded to the Roman Empire during the days of the most despotic emperors who indeed were terrors to good works. If the devil is the god of this world, then how is it that Paul says that all political power is established by God and not to be opposed? How is the devil the god of this world if he does not control the evil political powers that oppress the truth and burn Christians at the stake? If God (I mean the Heavenly Father) appoints these powers then why do they oppress Christians? why are they terrors to good works? So then, the devil, not God, appoints political powers. And the devil is the god of this world, i.e. the OT god who created this world of sorrow and woe, this world which Jesus as Son of the Better God (the Heavenly Father) saves us from.

beowulf2k8 said...

It is funny also, Andrew Suttles, what you refer to as 'utter foolishness.' For you use this phrase against where I said "Christ is the Better God." That is 'heresy' and 'utter foolishness'? Is not the love of Christ better than the genocidamania of the OT god? Is not Christ's grace better than the OT god's rotten law that commanded the killing of everyone in the nations against they went to war (Num 31:17-18) except for the young girls which they were to keep for the after-genocide orgy? Christ is not better than this? If you don't think he is, you show what you really are!

"Who was it to whom Jesus reconciled us (us who believe)?"

To the Heavenly Father, not the OT god (the god of this world).

"Who was it who sent Him? To whom did He pray?"

The Heavenly Father who is in the 3rd Heaven, as Paul says, for he was called up to the third heaven beyond the heaven of this world wherein "the prince of the power of the air" (the OT god) resides.

"I hope for the sake of your soul that you are an irreverent troll, because if you believe your ridiculous words, you stand under the condemnation of God."

I honor my Father and you dishonor me. For the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ his Son are the true God, and the OT god is the god of this world and the devil, even as the OT itself states, for 2nd Samuel 24:1 say the OT god provoked David to number Israel, but 1st Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan provoked David to number Israel, showing that Satan is the OT god.

In case you care to read the very testament of your own god against himself:

2nd Samuel 24:1 "And again the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah."

1st Chronicles 21:1 "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel."

Praise be to Christ for defeating him, and for saving us by his CROSS, from the OT god.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Suttles said...

Or does one not have the right to consider such a possibility, or to wonder why his teaching should be preferred to that of all the approved Doctors of the Church?

It is a common lie of the Papists that Martin Luther was unique in the things he taught. Luther was not unique in trying to teach God's people the Word of God. The Pope has had a long history of burning Bible believers and anyone else that challenged his money making machine.

Consider the murders of Hus, Wycliffe, Savonarola, the Waldensians, etc. The reason Luther is so well know is that he lived after the invention of the printing press, so antichrist was Providentially hindered from being able to stamp out the records of his history.

As to "approved Doctors of the Church", did you not know that Dr. Luther WAS a Doctor of the Church??? As such, he was entitled to a debate, but that seemed to "costly" to Leo X.

Andrew Suttles said...

What is the Gospel according to Christ? His words alone, please.

Note that this is a typical Romanist denial of the inspiration of the Scriptures. The idea is that Jesus preached a different Gospel from Paul. The Romanist if afraid of hearing anything from Romans, Galatians, or Ephesians quoted to him, so he narrows the scope to the historical sections of the New Testament, naively thinking you won't find the Gospel of Grace there, forgetting Jesus' statements such as the following:

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water...whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."

" If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."

"But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."

"Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

etc...

James Swan said...

I'll be happy to provide a "summary" of Luther's distinction between Law and Gospel

I've updated this blog entry to include my 100 word statement, and I've also included links to some helpful resources. It's never a bad idea either to peruse the Book of Concord, which includes Luther's small and large catechisms. These were put together by Luther as his official teachings meant to instruct in the faith. That is, the catechisms are a reliable guide to the ideals Luther strove for, rather than say, a Table talk comment, or a polemical exposition found in a treatise or sermon.

I'm still waiting for someone here to answer the one simple question I posed earlier, viz:
What is the Gospel according to Christ? His words alone, please.


The Gospel is the good news about the totality of Christ: his birth, life, works, resurrection, and how these become mine. How is it possible to be perfect and not be destroyed by a Holy God? By faith in Christ and his work. What is the Gospel according to Christ? Our faith in Him saves us (Luke 7:48-50; Mt. 9:1-2, 22; Luke 8:48; John 3:36; John 3:16; John 5:21, 24; John 6:28-29, 47; 8:11).

Luther states, "The Gospel is not only what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have written....no matter who writes and teaches it, whether Matthew or Thomas, and no matter in what words or tongues, it is the same Gospel of God. It does not make any difference how many books and writers teach it, because it is all the same thing that all are teaching" (LW 25:148).

And also, "Therefore it should be known, in the first place, that the notion must be given up that there are four gospels and only four evangelists... Just as the Old Testament is a book in which are written God’s laws and commandments, together with the history of those who kept and of those who did not keep them, so the New Testament is a book in which are written the gospel and the promises of God, together with the history of those who believe and of those who do not believe them" (LW 35:357).

"The gospel, then, is nothing but the preaching about Christ, Son of God and of David, true God and man, who by his death and resurrection has overcome for us the sin, death, and hell of all men who believe in him. Thus the gospel can be either a brief or a lengthy message; one person can write of it briefly, another at length. He writes of it at length, who writes about many words and works of Christ, as do the four evangelists. He writes of it briefly, however, who does not tell of Christ’s works, but indicates briefly how by his death and resurrection he has overcome sin, death, and hell for those who believe in him, as do St. Peter and St. Paul" (LW 35:359).

I would add, when we read the Bible looking for definitions of doctrine, it's best to go to those places in the text that most specifically deal with that doctrine. So, when I want to learn about how the righteousness of Christ becomes mine, I go to the place in Scripture that most clearly and specifically deals with it: Romans.

-continued-

James Swan said...

-continued-

Without going back to look at your earlier comments, I recall you mentioning Luther did not quote from the four gospels when he expounded about the gospel (from your readings of What Luther Says). Your point demonstrates a profound ignorance of Luther's writings, as well as his law and gospel distinction. The paradigm of law and gospel was applied excessively as Luther wrote and preached: he would interpret even the texts in the four gospels by expounding their depth on law and gospel. A good portion of all the texts of Scripture have something to do with law and gospel. For example:

We read in Matthew 8[:4], where Christ cleanses the leper, that he says to him: “Go now, show yourself to the priest and offer up your offering, as commanded by Moses, for a testimony to them.” Here you are told that the law of Moses was given to the Israelites to be a testimony or sign, as the angel also declares in this passage, namely, a sign that the law means something else than merely what the words say. What other meaning? Christ is the priest; all men are spiritual lepers because of unbelief. But when we believe in him, he touches us with his hand, he gives us and attributes to us his works. Thereby we become clean and healthy, without any merit of our own, and we are “to show ourselves” to him, that is, to be grateful and acknowledge that we have become righteous [frum], not through our doing, but through his grace. In this way we are set right with God. Now we are to offer up our gift, that is, we are to share what is ours with our neighbor and do good to him as Christ has done to us. This is the meaning of serving Christ and bringing your gift to the real priest, for it is done for his sake and to show love and praise for him. Do you see how beautifully both Christ and faith are wrapped up in the simple passage of Scripture and the metaphor? You comprehend now that Moses in the law has only given a testimony and a signification of Christ. In this manner one must understand all of the Old Testament and one must let these the cloths be signs which point to Christ, so that one can recognize him. [LW 52:23].

Ben M said...

James,

I found it almost impossible to give what I consider a halfway reasonable summary of Luther’s ideas on Law and Gospel in the specified 100 word target range (you might notice I went a wee bit over). And what I do give will undoubtedly be unsatisfactory, but it will have to do. Précis, especially of a notoriously complex subject such as this, just ain't my forte! Anyway, fwiw, here’s my summary draft:

A distinction between Law and gospel forms the dominate theme in Luther’s theology. Both are contrasted sharply. For Luther, the Law is objective, and functions merely to inculcate in fallen man, clearly and unambiguously, a sense of his utter sinfulness and inability comply with the commandments, and thus become / remain righteous before an infinitely just and holy God, whose standard always remains absolute perfection. The Law of itself saves no one. Indeed, it leads only to a paralyzing fear of divine wrath. Luther himself evidences this throughout his writings by constant reference to his own “terrified conscience”.

The Gospel, on the other hand, is the infinitely merciful God’s remedy for man's paralysis, for his “terrified conscience.” It is mercy unspeakable, wholly undeserved. It is the “good news” par excellence.

Unlike the Law, however, the Gospel functions subjectively. Its central purpose: to allay all fear, terror, and dread of eternal punishment in those willing to apprehend it by “faith alone.”

As a result, the sting of conscience (i.e., the necessary and unavoidable consequence and immediate temporal punishment due to sin) no longer retains its former power over the sinner. For, by his acceptance of the gift of salvation through the Gospel, the sinner immediately and irrevocably secures his destiny to eternal bliss. To be sure, his conscience may still trouble, but it can no longer terrify. For now he has “assurance” that “no sins have it in their power to damn him, but only unbelief.”

Put another way: For Luther, the Gospel can only suggest, but never impose (as did the Law) a definite standard of moral perfection such that the believer’s “assurance of salvation” can be affected. For ultimately, all his sins, regardless of gravity (idolatry i.e.) are completely (by default) “covered” by the infinite merits of the God-man Jesus Christ. His simple Gospel message of unconditional pardon and forgiveness of all sins has only to be “received” or “accepted.”

Commandments and good works, demanded under the Law, play no role whatsoever toward salvation under the Gospel. Indeed, all such works and commands Luther deemed antithetical to the very nature of the saving Gospel, which for him, could never be merited or “earned,” but only “received.”

To be sure, extreme interpretations of Luther’s teachings, notably those of Nicholas Amsdorf, held that all good works were “pernicious to salvation.” However such extreme views appear to be absent Luther’s writings. Luther was no antinomian. On the contrary, he clearly recognized the importance of both good works and observance of the commandments (though never for salvific merit), and often encouraged his followers to faithfully practice and observe both. Without constant preaching and correction however, good works neither flow automatically from saving faith, nor remain with it.

Finally, although it is undeniable that Luther himself did, on occasion and for reasons of expedience, counsel against the keeping of certain commandments, nevertheless, it should be noted that even his most severe critics (Denifle and Grisar) failed to find in any of his extensive writings incontrovertible evidence of a direct and wholesale disregard for either good works or the Ten Commandments.


Peace.

Andrew Suttles said...

Ben M -

Excellent! You are as good a writer as I wish I was :)

I'm no Luther scholar, but if you remove the word "Luther" from your effort, it would serve as a very nice summary of what the NT teaches about the roles of law and grace in salvation. Once the law has condemned, it has no power to convert. It is a mirror to show us our unworthiness and makes us despair of ourselves and turn to Christ for mercy. Once Christ changes us, we obey the law out of a renewed and thankful heart.

James Swan said...

Ben, I just prepared my evaluation.

Here would be my 100 words response:

Ben errs in the following ways. He says Law and Gospel is Luther’s dominant theme. Actually,
it is one of a few dominant themes. Luther did not “merely” hold the Law convicts of sin, nor does it only lead to a paralyzing fear of wrath. Ben contradicts this by later noting Luther’s positive use of Law. Ben says Luther’s Gospel can only suggest, but never impose (as did the Law) a definite standard of moral perfection. Actually, the Gospel standard of perfection for Luther is higher: a Christian is to become Christ to His neighbor, proving and validating his faith.

My reasoning for my conclusions will be found in an upcoming blog entry, which will be posted today.

Rhology said...

Ben M,
Well, Protestants do hold Luther in far greater esteem than any Pope, do they not? Indeed, he is the "Great Reformer!"

Sigh.
ON THE REFORMED POSITION, is Luther in a similar position to a Pope's position IN ROMANISM?

In yet other words, compare and contrast:
1) Luther's position and role to Reformed and Lutheran people.
2) The Pope's position and role to Romanists.


You're not really catching on here, and that's, well, special.


Who's to say he was not just one in a long, long line of false teachers!

Um, the Bible.


Or does one not have the right to consider such a possibility, or to wonder why his teaching should be preferred to that of all the approved Doctors of the Church?

One does. In fact, Jesus OBLIGATES you to consider ALL other teaching on the basis of Scripture.
Funny thing is, if Luther agrees with Jesus and other "Doctors" don't, then Luther is already ahead of the game.


if Luther's person and / or teachings are of little consequence to Protestants, why the obvious discomfort at their being openly examined?

Uh oh, was the sweat beading on my forehead that obvious?
You know, it's funny how ppl who spend time blogging and defending these positions day in and day out come under fire for somehow being afraid of examining their own ideas. Think, man.

Peace,
Rhology

Ben M said...

Hi Andrew,

Once Christ changes us, we obey the law out of a renewed and thankful heart.

Ah, but a “thankful heart” is no match for fallen nature! What we need is grace, grace to assist us in keeping the commandments (you do agree that with grace, all things are possible?).

Rhology,

In yet other words, compare and contrast:

1) Luther's position and role to Reformed and Lutheran people.
2) The Pope's position and role to Romanists.


I see (its the old "compare and contrast" trick - oldest trick in the book) ;)

Well again: is not Luther held up by “Reformed and Lutheran people” as the “Great Reformer,” as one who “stood up” against antichrist [!], who, “with his terrible, mighty voice,” emancipated the whole of Christendom from the “abominable idolatry” and frightful “darkness of the Papacy?” Indeed, was it not he who has even been hailed as a “second Paul,” a "chosen man of God” - even the “last Elijah?”

Now what a poor bishop of Rome could ever compare with that?

Ben: Who’s to say he was not just one in a long, long line of false teachers!

Rhology: Um, the Bible.

B. But if you grant a long line of false teachers, do you also grant an equally long line of true teachers?

B. Or does one not have the right to consider such a possibility, or to wonder why his teaching should be preferred to that of all the approved Doctors of the Church?

R. One does. In fact, Jesus OBLIGATES you to consider ALL other teaching on the basis of Scripture.

B. But surely you must know that all false teachers also appeal to the Bible! But more specifically...

a. Where does one find this ‘obligation’ in Scripture?

b. Assuming the obligated “you” refers to all believers, which of these billions of believers ultimately decides who is or is not a false teacher?

c. Are you equating “the approved doctors of the Church” with “all other teaching?”

R. Funny thing is, if Luther agrees with Jesus and other "Doctors" don't, then Luther is already ahead of the game.

B. You seem to be implying that, prior to Luther, there simply were no "Doctors" for, by definition, one can hardly be a Doctor and a false teacher at the same time!

Ben M said...

Cont.

R. You know, it's funny how ppl who spend time blogging and defending these positions day in and day out come under fire for somehow being afraid of examining their own ideas. Think, man.

B. Well, it’s been my experience that mention of certain aspects of Luther’s person does bring about a feeling of consternation on the part of my Protestant friends. I could cite Luther’s foul language as but one example. There are others. These are an embarrassment to Protestants in general, and Lutherans in particular. And why do you suppose that many of Luther’s writings have been hidden from general view, or otherwise expurgated?

OTOH, I've interacted with many Protestants who were quite open to discussions of any and all failings of the Church and her bad members. For my part, I have no problem discussing any such things. Indeed, I welcome open discussions, but discussions based on solid historical information.

An excellent source of such information is Ludwig von Pastor’s scholarly study of the Papacy (40 volumes in English trans.). Below are some introductory remarks by Cardinal Edward:

“Professor Pastor’s 'History of the Popes from the close of the Middle Ages,' comes to us with a singular and exceptional weight of authority. First, because of the ample encouragement conveyed by the brief of Leo XIII when the first volume of the history was completed. Such letters of His Holiness do not, indeed, convey a critical approval of the work, but an abundant testimony to the fitness and learning of Dr Pastor for the accomplishment of his undertaking. Secondly, because this history may be regarded as the first-fruits of the action of the Holy Father, which, a little time ago, so surprised the writers of anti-Catholic history.

“Leo XIII… charged … that the history of the Holy See and of the Church should be written with absolute truth on the only just and imperishable principle that the historica veritas ought to be supreme, of which we have a divine example in Holy Writ, where the sins, even of Saints, are as openly recorded as the wickedness of sinners.

“Thirdly, because no author as yet has written the history of the Popes with such copious evidence, drawn, not only from the Vatican Archives since they were thrown open by Leo XIII., but from a multitude of other sources hitherto never examined…

“All histories of this period, from Ranke to Creighton, will need extensive correction, and, in a large measure, to be rewritten. In the time of Nicholas V., the so-called "Renaissance" was at its height, and parted itself off into two distinct schools the heathen Humanists, and the Christian Humanists.

"The heathen Humanists plunged themselves, with all their intellectual culture, into the atheism and foulness of a revived paganism. They were the forerunners of the intellectual apostasy from the Church, which, some seventy years after, broke out in Germany under the pretence of reformation.

“This revolt in religion of individual judgment against Divine authority was translated in the last century into the domain of politics by the first French Revolution, which has been truly described by Carlyle as the last act in the drama of Lutheranism...."

Henry Edward, Cardinal Archbishop. Oct. 27, 1891.

Volume 1, iii-v.

Peace

James Swan said...

Well, it’s been my experience that mention of certain aspects of Luther’s person does bring about a feeling of consternation on the part of my Protestant friends.

Consternation:n amazed, dismay, confusion

I think this blog shows I don't have "a feeling of consternation" over the oft-repeated and poorly researched personal attacks put forth by zealous Roman Catholic laymen.

I could cite Luther’s foul language as but one example. There are others.

Big deal. If you really cared about bad language, why don't you go over to Mark Shea's blog ( a "Professional" Romanist) and ask him why he'll use the profanity, including the "F" word from time to time? If you're so concerned about bad language, why don't you go clean your own house? If you're concerned about Luther insulting people, why not start with DA?

These are an embarrassment to Protestants in general, and Lutherans in particular. And why do you suppose that many of Luther’s writings have been hidden from general view, or otherwise expurgated?

For instance? Which writings are being hidden and expurgated?

James Swan said...

Here you go Ben: Start here. Let's see if you really care about bad language.

Put your money where your mouth is and post comments on Mark Shea's blog, exhorting him to whatever your "higher standard" of language is. Let's see you castigate him as a sinner who needs to repent of his scatological language.

Rhology said...

Ben M,

Sophistry through and through. It's unfortunate that you can't admit the obvious, that Luther is just a flawed and saved sinner whom God used mightily to rescue many from the clutches of the predominant man-centered religion of his time. Let's see, what's the Pope?
Infallible.
The head of the church.
The Vicar of Christ.
Capable of ex cathedra statements.
And from here, go down to the "IV. Jurisdictional Rights and Prerogatives of the Pope" section. You'll see many, many more that DO describe the Pope and DON'T describe Luther to Lutherans or Reformed.

So, what you're saying is that your original comparison was wrongheaded folly. Or at least, that's what you WOULD say if you weren't so disingenuous.


Indeed, was it not he who has even been hailed as a “second Paul,” a "chosen man of God” - even the “last Elijah?”

Fine with me. Dude DID have the spiritual gift of prophecy and he is largely responsible for liberating millions from the bonds of Romanism. Far, far cry from the Pope.


B. But if you grant a long line of false teachers, do you also grant an equally long line of true teachers?

No, not really. The prevalent theme throughout the OT and NT is that God preserves a remnant thru the general and variegated apostasy of any given epoch. What's important is the teachING, not the teachER.


B. But surely you must know that all false teachers also appeal to the Bible! But more specifically...

1) That's nobody's fault but the false teachers'.
2) And it's my and everyone's responsibility not to follow them in their folly.
3) But surely you must know that all false teachers also appeal to Sacred Tradition of the church. I suppose your own rule of faith is now wrecked by your own argument. Or if not, your argument is stupid.


a. Where does one find this ‘obligation’ in Scripture?

Mark 7:1-13. Matthew 15. 1 Thess 5. 2 Cor 13:4. Lk 6:3. Mark 12:10, 26. Matt 22:31. Matt 12:5. Matt 19:4.
Tolle lege, dude. Romanist apologists never cease to amaze me.


b. Assuming the obligated “you” refers to all believers, which of these billions of believers ultimately decides who is or is not a false teacher?

Jesus made it the individual's AND the church's responsibility.


c. Are you equating “the approved doctors of the Church” with “all other teaching?”

Whatever is not God-inspired is to be tested by what is.


it’s been my experience that mention of certain aspects of Luther’s person does bring about a feeling of consternation on the part of my Protestant friends.

Then you need to get out more.


James Swan said:
If you really cared about bad language

Bellisario's dropped a few juicy tidbits on this very blog himself. You've got some work to do, Ben M.


Put your money where your mouth is and post comments on Mark Shea's blog, exhorting him to whatever your "higher standard" of language is.

Watch out - he might ban you for disagreeing with him. B/c you know, Romanists are all about the free expression of ideas.