Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beckwith vs. Windsor

"One of my pet peeves is the intentional overuse of 'Rome,' 'Roman,' 'Romanist,' etc. by Protestant critics of Catholic theology."- Francis Beckwith

"...there truly is nothing wrong with the use of 'Roman' or 'Rome' when dealing with us."- Scott Windsor

Mr. Windsor says as well: "The way I look at it is, if these non-Catholic apologists are trying to be insulting with the use of "Roman," then they are only exposing their ignorance and bigotry."

FWIW, I specifically use the word "Roman" not to be insulting, but because I believe in the Catholic Church, but not the Roman Catholic Church.

Sungenis vs. Shea

"First and foremost, it shows that Shea and his groupies are trying desperately to have the Mosaic covenant perpetuated for the Jews, and thus it shows that they are all in heresy, with Shea as their ring leader." [source]

Sungenis vs. Sippo

"Who are the “highest circles of the Catholic Church”? Obviously, Art [Sippo] does not and cannot point to any official teaching of the Catholic Church that says the Mosaic covenant is not revoked, for there are no such statements."

"Art’s remark that “in the highest circles of the Catholic Church it has been recognized that the Old Covenant from Sinai was never revoked” is, to be honest, very disturbing, if not frightening."

"Since when do we determine Catholic doctrine by a head count of “the highest circles of the Catholic Church” and ignore the dogmatic Tradition passed down to us, especially when some of those “highest circles” are notorious for their liberal and unorthodox views? Art knows what the Tradition says; he knows what Scripture says, but he is apparently ignoring both of them because of some theological sentiment he has for the Jews." [source]

Ambrose on Justification

Luther: "Moreover I am not the only one, or even the first, to say that faith alone justifies. Ambrose said it before me, and Augustine and many others" [LW 35:197].

Ambrose: "God chose that man should seek salvation by faith rather than by works, lest any should glory in his deeds and should thereby incur sin."

No, Luther doesn't use this Ambrose quote. But, I've been trying to track down the context of this Ambrose quote, as well as finding out which texts of Ambrose Luther had, and to what he meant. The LW edition, usually footnoting such obscurities, doesn't have a footnote for this point at LW 35:197. Luther was probably referring to Ambrose commenting on Romans 3:28.

I came across an interesting web page: Ambrose on Justification: A Study in the Catholicity of Lutheran Theology. The page is from a Lutheran. The author cites the Ambrose quote as "In ps. 43 enarr. 14; quoted in Dudden II, p. 627". "Dudden" is: F. Holmes Dudden, The Life and Times of St. Ambrose (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935), Vol. II.

"ps. 43 enarr. 14" is "Explanations of Twelve Psalms of David (Enarrationes in xii psalmos davidicos) LT: PL 14:963-1238; CSEL 64. The volume contains Ambrose's sermons on Psalm 1, 35-40, 43, 45, 47-48, and 61. The commentary/sermon on Psalm 43 is incomplete, because Ambrose died [source].

The same Ambrose quote is used by a pro-Roman Catholic site. After citing this same quote, the web page goes on to state:

Ambrose would also say: "Without the support of faith good works cannot stand" (On the Duties of the Clergy, 2, 7). That means that with the support of faith, good works can stand. If they can stand, then they certainly do not lead one to boast in himself, they do not lead one to sin. Ambrose has in mind a distinction here between "works" leading us to boast in God and "works" leading us to boast in ourselves. These latter works can never stand, with or without the support of faith.

Phillip Schaff explains the view of Ambrose on justification:

"As to justification, St. Ambrose ascribes the whole work to the Holy Spirit, Who seals us in our hearts, as we receive the outward sign in our bodies. Through the Holy Spirit we receive a share of the grace of adoption. Christ was perfect according to the fulness of His Majesty ; we are perfected by a continual progress in virtue."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Catholic bloggers’ “code of conduct”

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, didn’t think a Catholic bloggers’ “code of conduct” would accomplish much. [source]

Too bad. A code of conduct would be helpful for such bloggers as Mark Shea (who uses profanity), Art Sippo (who is quite the angry Romanist), Robert Sungenis (for his comments on the Jews), Patrick Madrid ( who posts insults and silliness about Dr. White), Steve Ray (who continually uses Patty Bonds as an apologetic), and others etc.

On the other hand, more often than not when I read Jimmy Akin's blog, he doesn't appear to need the same guidelines these other professionals do. Maybe Jimmy Akin could write the guidelines he uses out for these other guys... after all, Catholic Answers is the closest thing to a magisterium this side of the Atlantic.

Kook, First Class Biblical Exegete, or Both? The Sungenis Legacy

Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis isn't as popular among his peers as he once was (just ask Mark Shea who referred to him as an "ultra-fringe kook"). Well, at least Sungenis has one fan. Catholic apologist Art Sippo says he's a "first class biblical exegete" and "Catholic Apologist Dr. Robert Sungenis has published a landmark book which in my opinion should be read by anyone who is serious about Catholic Apologetics."

I think it's time for the magisterium to step in and appoint apologists. It would make it much easier if I knew who really to trust as an official source of apologetics.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remember the Reformation

Click on the title to see a 7 + minute clip of the dramatic black and white film portraying Luther against relics and a false gospel; and proclaiming the true gospel, pointing to Romans 1:17.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Discussion on Sola Scriptura, canon, authority at "Called to Communion"

Photo ©

The ruins of columns of an ancient Byzantine church in the ancient city of Philadelphia, now called Alashehir, Turkey. The Turks did not live in the modern land what is called "Turkey" today; in the NT days it was Asia Minor, Anatolia, Galatia, Cappodocia, Bythinia, Pontus, Phrygia, and Armenia. The Seljuks Turks first came to Turkey in the east in 1071 and defeated the Byzantines at the battle of Manzikert near Van. Then the Ottoman Turks defeated the Byzantines in Contstantinople in 1453 after the many wars and battles of the Crusades period of 1095-1299 and beyond. Notice the Islamic minaret in between the ancient church ruins. Like the church at Ephesus, the church in Philadelphia eventurally left its first love also. ( Revelation 2:4-5) Every generation is responsible for the great commission in their own time. Just because a land had the gospel before in history, does not mean that it should not have the gospel preached again to that same land, because the people are different; different ethnicities, and different generations.

The early church had "quickly deserted Him who called you by His grace" (Galatians 1:6) and eventually, the churches in Revelation chapters 2-3 did the same thing.

Discussion at "Called to Communion":

The Called to Communion web-site is a Roman Catholic web-site of (mostly, if not all) former Evangelicals. I had a long discussion/informal debate with them at this article on "Hermeneutics and the Authority of Scripture". It has a whopping 391 comments and is now closed. I entered into the discussion at comment 168. I would appreciate feedback from my fellow Reformed brothers and sisters on my approach.

As we celebrate the Reformation on October 31 this year, we are reminded of several things:

1. Individual churches have later failed in history; and that does not contradict the promise of Matthew 16:18. That even in the Scriptures, at that time in history, individual churches were very quickly drifting away from the truth of the gospel. Galatians 1:6-9

This shows that they can drift and cease to be true churches. God warned all the churches by His warning to the first church there in Revelation 2, Ephesus: "If you don't repent, I am coming in judgment and I will remove your lamp stand, unless you repent." (see Rev. 2:4-5) All the churches in Revelation 2-3 were eventually conquered, first by the Goths, then by Islam. There are a few Eastern Orthodox people left in Izmir ( Smyrna) today, but that is all from those that claim the ancient physical succession. They have a physical building and a claim that goes back to Polycarp; but it is a dead, ritualistic faith. There are others, alive, biblical churches, underground, evangelical, Protestant, in other parts of Turkey; those that have gone to reach out to the Turkish and Kurdish Muslims. Indeed, a claim to faith without the good works of evangelism and missions is a dead faith.

- "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, he is to be accursed!" Galatians 1:6-9

2. Sola Scriptura is taught in principle here in Galatians chapter 1. The fact that the apostle Paul considered his letter, by him writing it, and using these words, " . . . so I say to you now . . . " (v. 9) shows that he is communicating in the same way that Jesus did when Jesus said, "have you not read what God said to you?" ( see Matthew 22:31). The Scriptures are "God speaking". Paul considered his letters, as "God speaking", as "God-breathed". (see also I Corinthians 2:13; 4:6; 7:40; and 14:37) That, and along with the fact that this gospel and his apostleship was not from men or humans or by the agency of man" (verse 1), shows that he knew His letters were authoritative and had the God-breathed quality of Scripture. This demonstrates, in principle, that the canon existed before being called "canon", that is, the historical ontological existence of the books of Scripture was at the time of writing (48-70 AD or 48-96 AD) "canon" (which was a measuring rod that eventually meant, "standard", "rule", "principle", "criterion", "law", before it meant "list". See Galatians 6:16; and a textual variant at Philippians 3:16 for this meaning of the Greek word, "kanon".); and was before the human process of the early church of discerning, sifting, and putting all the 27 books "under one cover", so to speak.

Luther says on this text: "Here then is a plain text like a thunderbolt, wherein Paul subjects both himself and an angel from heaven, and all others, doctors, teachers, and masters, to be under the authority of the Scriptures." (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, quoted in Tabletalk Magazine, January, 2009, p. 29.)

"In spite of this emphatic denunciation so many accept the pope as the supreme judge of the Scriptures. “The Church,” they say, “chose only four gospels. The Church might have chosen more. Ergo the Church is above the Gospel.” With equal force one might argue: “I approve the Scriptures. Ergo I am above the Scriptures. John the Baptist confessed Christ. Hence he is above Christ.” Paul subordinates himself, all preachers, all the angels of heaven, everybody to the Sacred Scriptures. We are not the masters, judges, or arbiters, but witnesses, disciples, and confessors of the Scriptures, whether we be pope, Luther, Augustine, Paul, or an angel from heaven." Luther, Galatians, at 1:9, see,

3. Remember Sola Fide, the heart of the gospel. "Alone" (Sola) in the phrase, is the same as "apart from the merit and condition of works". We should celebrate Luther's insight by reminding ourselves of it - this is dramatically illustrated here at Lane's blog with a short clip from the old black and white movie about Luther.

The Roman Catholic Church had drifted from the Scriptures and the truth of the gospel and replaced it with ceremonies, relics, indulgences, prayers to saints and Mary, exalting Mary too much; the treasury of merit, purgatory, baptismal regeneration as the ex opere operato work that causes regeneration and initial justification, mortal vs. venial sin categories of being able to loose real justification; and good works as conditions for regaining and keeping justification, and other "sacramental treadmill" works such as transubstantiation and confession to a priest. The result being that no one could ever be sure they were even justified or saved.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Luther's (~)Calvinism, a Follow Up

I have a few follow up comments on my recent discussion "Did Martin Luther Believe in the Reformed Tulip?"

I received a kind review over on another blog from Marcus McElhaney, of which I'm grateful. I thank everyone who listened, for listening. I had a few points of clarification for one of the issues Marcus raised, as well as some of the comments left here.

As to my material on Luther's Book, The Bondage of The Will, Marcus states, "I agreed with Swan about how he see the book. The one one thing is that i would not say that Luther was paradoxical in that book I thought he was clear." I haven't listened back to the interview, but I don't recall saying that Luther was paradoxical in this book. I recall raising the issue of paradox during my discussion of the hidden vs revealed God. However paradox will always be at the base of Luther's thought on this, and I think if we were to go slowly through the book, we could uncover Luther's use of paradox. Indeed, Luther was clear as to his view, but in working out how to understand the inner workings of predestination, Luther will use paradox.

Jordan points out, "Swan seemed to think that election could be lost" according to Luther. Actually, I recall in the interview saying Luther held God chooses some to be saved and he rejects the others without an apparent reason within them for either choice. He gives faith to one person through the working of His Spirit; and he refuses to give faith to others so that they remain bound in their unbelief. This means an unconditional, eternal predestination both to salvation and to damnation. However, Luther usually attributes such to speculating about the hidden God, which he strongly urges his readers not to do. Luther himself doesn't spend a lot of time doing such. Here I would disagree with R.C. Sproul, whom (if I recall correctly) has stated that Luther spent more time discussing predestination than Calvin did. This is simply not the case.

On the other hand, Luther says things like, "Ye are fallen from grace," must not be taken lightly. They are important. To fall from grace means to lose the atonement, the forgiveness of sins, the righteousness, liberty, and life which Jesus has merited for us by His death and resurrection."

I admit to not exactly understanding how Luther reconciles this, but then again, I'm thinking in Reformed categories, not Luther's categories. I have a feeling Luther would simply affirm both statements. My studies on these issues concerning Luther were largely influenced by looking into his paradox of the hidden vs. revealed God. As far as I understand his views, they are largely informed and understood via paradox,the rejection of the medieval use of ergo, and embracing the conclusion, nevertheless.

Similarly, as to Luther on irresistible grace, I recall presenting two Luther quotes, and the host Chris Arnzen concluded that Luther denied irresistible grace. I didn't voice my opinion. The problem is, we're sticking Luther in Reformed categories. I think Luther did hold that it’s God’s eternal election and predestination that draw His people to Him. In one of his early Reformation writings he says, "The best and infallible preparation and the only disposition toward grace are the eternal election and predestination of God," and I think I used that quote during the interview. I then followed it up with another quote from Luther, "It is, nevertheless God’s earnest will and purpose, indeed, His command, decreed from eternity, to save all men."

Once again, I think paradox is at work. One of the books that influenced me on understanding Luther's view is Siegbert Becker's The Foolishness of God: The Place of Reason in the Theology of Martin Luther (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1999 (2nd edition). I highly recommend this book for anyone wishing to explore Luther's categories.

"A dispute about predestination should be avoided entirely... I forget everything about Christ and God when I come upon these thoughts and actually get to the point to imagining that God is a rogue. We must stay in the word, in which God is revealed to us and salvation is offered, if we believe him. But in thinking about predestination, we forget God . . However, in Christ are hid all the treasures (Col. 2:3); outside him all are locked up. Therefore, we should simply refuse to argue about election."- Martin Luther

As to disputing these issues, that's the thing Luther did with Erasmus, so he wasn't always consistent about this. I think the bottom line that separates Lutherans and Calvinists on this issue is, are these issues to be avoided entirely, or do they deserve to be looking into with care, fear, and a converted heart? I say yes, because the issues aren't hiding in the Bible. They're right out in the open, more than once, on multiple pages. Indeed, one shouldn't go beyond what the Scriptures say, but one shouldn't avoid what the Scriptures say either.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ISI Interview

Today at 3PM I will be on Chris Arnzen's Iron Sharpens Iron show. The show can be heard live over the Internet, and the MP3 will be available for download around 4:30 PM.

James Swan, who is involved in teaching ministry at the Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church in New Jersey, will address "Did Martin Luther Believe in the Reformed Tulip?"

James has a hobby of tracking down obscure Luther facts. Today we'll examine some of the recent claims about Martin Luther, as well as address the similarities between Calvinism and Luther's theology.

Because of the emphasis James places on the Reformation, his writing tends to attract defenders of the Roman Catholic Church. He spends considerable time interacting with the arguments and materials they produce, calling them to embrace the sole authority of the Scriptures, and salvation by faith alone through grace alone, because of Christ alone.

James is also a member of "Team Apologian", contributing articles to the blog on the web site of renowned Bible scholar Dr. James R. White's Alpha and Omega Ministries , contributes Reformation articles for Christian apologist Dr. Eric Svendsen's New Testament Research Ministries' website, and has had articles published in the Reformed periodical, The Outlook . He also runs his own daily blog, Beggars All: Reformation and Apologetics , dedicated to historical and Biblical research on the Protestant Reformation.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Walch Edition of Luther's works

The Walch Edition of Luther's Works dates from 1740-1753 and was compiled by Johann Georg Walch. It is a collection of 24 topical volumes. This set is German, and Walch translated many of Luther's Latin writings into German. Sometimes this set is referred to as the St. Louis version, the St. Louis-Walch version, or the Halle edition, and Luthers Samtliche Werke, herausgegeben von J. G. Walch. This set also includes writings by others, friends and foes of Luther. The set was revised from 1885-1910 (in St. Louis), and may not match up with the earlier set. Sometimes the revision is referred to as St.Lb or St.L. Volumes 15-17 contain rare Reformation history texts, and contemporary letters.

I've found many obscure quotes referring back to Walch, often without noting which particular treatise is being cited. What follows is a brief collection of some of the treatises found in each volume. Page numbers are both to the old Walch set, and sometimes to the St. Louis edition, without noting which is which. I'll update this entry from time to time.

Volume 1:
Lectures on Genesis

Volume 2:
Lectures on Genesis

Volume 5:
The Eighty Second Psalm Translated and Explained (1530), pp. 696-731

Volume 6:
Treatise Concerning The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ and Concerning the Brotherhoods, p. 522

volume 10:
Sermon on Threefold Righteousness by Martin Luther; from Philippians 2 (1518).
A Brief Explanation of the Ten Commandments, The Creed, and the Lord's Prayer (1520), p. 182; 149
An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German People Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate (1520), p. 296-399, 266-351.

Whether Soldiers Too, Can Be Saved p. 488.
On Trading and Usary and The Treatise on Usary (1524), pp. 914-937, 825-854
Preface to an Ordiance of a common Chest (1523), 954-977
The Three Symbols or Creeds of The Christian Faith, pp.992-1019.
The Disputation Concerning The Passage: “The Word Was Made Flesh”, 1168–1173.
Two Kinds of Righteousness pp. 1262-1277.
The Right and Power of a Christian Congregation or community to Judge all Teaching and to Call, Appoint, and dismiis Teachers, Established and Proved From Scripture (1523), pp. 1538-1549
Concerning The Ministry, 1548ff.
Admonition Concerning The Sacrament Of The Body And Blood Of Our Lord, 2170–2209.
An Order Of Mass And Comunnion For The Church At Wittenberg,2230 ff.

Volume 11:
The True and False Worship of God, 404

Volume 14:
Preface To Galeatius Capella’s History, pp. 376-381.
Preface To The Wittenberg Edition Of Luther’s German Writings, pp.
420–427; or 432–437.
Preface To The Complete Edition Of Luther’s Latin Writings, pp. 1740–1753 or 438–449.

Volume 15:
Proceedings at Augsburg 448-625
Let Your Sins Be Strong: A Letter from Luther to Melancthon. Letter no. 99, 1 August 1521, pp. 2585-2590.

Volume 16
Letter 215 To Philip Melanchthon[Coburg,] June 29, 1530, 901 ff
An Admonition to Peace: A Reply to the Twelve Articles of the Peasants in Swabia (1525), pp. 45-70
Against The Robbing and Murdering Hordes of peasants (1525), pp. 71-76
An Open Letter Concerning The Hard Book Against The Peasants, pp.77-98
Exhortation To All Clergy Assembled At Augsburg, pp. 1120–1179 or(945) 946–992.
On The Councils and the Church (1539), p.1247.

Counsel Of A Committee Of Several Cardinals With Luther’s Preface, pp. 1971-1994
Commentary On The Alleged Imperial Edict, pp. 2016–2062; or (1665) 1666–1700.

Volume 17
This seventeenth volume of the new edition of Luther's works may be divided into two parts. First of all, it contains the documents against the Papists which belonged to the conclusion of the Reformation history, namely, between the years 1528 and 1546. Secondly, it contains the documents against the Reformed, from the year 1524 on. Among the documents against the Papists are those relating to Nuremberg League of 1538, those relating to the Convention at Brunswick and the following year, those relating of the renewed Schmalcald League, from 1536 to 1538, those relating to the transactions of the King of England in reference to the protesting estates, between 1535 and 1539, those relating to the transactions of King Francis I of France with the members of the Schmalcald League in 1535, those relating to the conventions at Frankfort, Schmalcald, Hagenau, those relating to the colloqium at Worms in 1540. and the Diet at Regensburg in 1541, with its colloqium, those relating to the Diet at Spires in 1542 and to the Diets again held at Spires, Worms, and Regensburg, 1544 to 1546, also those relating to the expedition of the Emperor Charles V against the members of the Scbmalcald League, 1546. Among the documents against the Reformed are those relating to the controversy concerning the Lord's Supper, the transactions of the disputation at Berne, the efforts of Philip of Hesse to secure a union, the Wittenberg Concord, the great Sacramentarian controversy in 1542, with the action of Luther subsequent thereto, and letters concerning various other controversies.With this volume the revision of the old Walch edition of Luther's works has been completed to the twenty-first volume, which contains the letters of Luther, to which the editor of the German edition will now give attention, being able to rely on the sources which have recently been made public in Europe.

Against The Thirty Two Articles of the Louvain Theologians, pp. (1494) 1497–1505.
On Rebaptism (1528),2644

Zwingli: Letter to Matthew Alber, published in 1525, p. 1512.

Bucer: Preface to the Fourth Volume of Luther’s Postil, Containing a Summary of the Doctrine of Christ. Letter by the Same Author [Bucer], Expounding the Passage of I Corinthians 10 [9:24–10:5], With a Few Annotations on Certain Expressions of Luther. Letter of Martin Luther to John Herwagen Complaining of the Above. Martin Bucer’s Reply to This, Also Amends to Bugenhagen Concerning the Version of the Psalter, 1527. Bucer’s Preface appears in German translation in St. L. 17, 1584 ff. In March, 1527, Bucer republished his additions to Luther’s Postil, defending himself against Luther’s and Bugenhagen’s reproaches, and rebuking their wrath. Luther appears to have been informed of Bucer’s intentions prior to the publication.

Volume 18
Disputation Against Scholastic Theology, pp. 18-27.
Heidleberg Disputation, pp. 36-71.
95 Theses, pp. 72-81.
Explanations of the Ninety-Five Theses or Explanations of the Disputation Concerning the Value of Indulgences pp. 299-533.
Eck's Obelisks (an attack thirty-one of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses). Luther answered with Asterisks in March, 1518. pp. 536–589.
The leipzig Debate 718-721

Volume 19:
Treatise Concerning The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ and Concerning the Brotherhoods, p. 426(st.l)
On Translating, an Open Letter, p. 968 (st.l)
A Treatise Concerning the Ban (1520), p. 1089 or 884.
The Private Mass And The Consecration Of Priests, 1220-1285.
A Letter Of Dr. Martin Luther Concerning His Book On The Private Mass, 1286–1299.
The Disputation Concerning Man, pp. 1462-1467.
The Licentiate Examination Of Heinrich Schmedenstede pp. 1468–1473 or 1782–1787.
Theses Concerning Faith And Law, pp. 1745–1761; or 1486–1450.
The Disputation Concerning Justification, pp. , 1761–1768; or 1450–1455.
The Babylonian Captivity of the Church

Volume 20:
Wolfgang Capito:What One Should Think and Answer Concerning the Dissension Between Martin Luther and Andreas Karlstadt, late 1524. St. L. 20, 340 ff. A brief German pamphlet.

Zwingli: Commentary on True and False Religion, 1525. pp. 441 ff.
Zwingli: Reply to the Letter of John Bugenhagen of Pomerania, 1525. pp. 506 ff.

Oecolampadius:Reasonable Answer to Dr. Martin Luther’s Instruction Concerning the Sacrament, Together with a Brief Summary Against the Treatise of Certain Preachers in Swabia Regarding the Words of the Lords Supper, 1526. St. L. 20, 582 ff. A lengthy rebuttal, in German, of Luther’s German Preface to the Swabian Syngramma (1526); the second part is a brief excerpt from the Antisyngramma.

Oecolampadius: Apologetics: Two Sermons on the Dignity of the Eucharist; Reply to Theobald Billican …; Antisyngramma, to the Swabian Clergymen, 1526. Billican had written a refutation of Oecolampadius in December, 1525; the Swabian Syngramma had been published in January, 1526. The reply to Billican, in German translation, appears in St. L. 20, 634 ff. rebuttal of Oecolampadius earlier in the same year.

That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” Etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics 1527, pp. 762-893.
Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper, 894-1105.

Zwingli: Answer to Strauss’ Pamphlet Concerning Christ’s Supper, January, 1527. pp. 1494

Brief Confession Concerning The Holy Sacrament, 1764–1791.
On War Against The Turk p.2108.

Eight Sermons by Dr. Martin Luther (1522)

Volume 21:
The Burning of Frian Henry in Dithmarschen (1525), pp. 94-121.
An Italian Lie Concerning Martin Luther's Death, pp. 252-256 (or 3374–3377).
Luther's Will, pp.270-273 (or 273-274)

Volume 22: The Tabletalk
Early editions of the works of Martin Luther did not include the Table Talk. It was with some misgivings that Johann Georg Walch finally decided to incorporate the Table Talk in his edition, which was published in twenty-four volumes in Halle between 1739 and 1753. Walch was aware that many Protestants were embarrassed by some things in the Table Talk—for instance, the earthy language which Luther occasionally employed and the freedom with which he criticized the composition and contents of some books of the Bible. It was feared that Protestants in general and Lutherans in particular would be exposed to damaging attacks at the hands of Roman Catholic polemicists if the Table Talk were included in an edition of Luther’s works. Attempts were even made to deny its genuineness, to claim that it was an unfriendly fabrication and forgery.(D. Martin Luthers Sämtliche Schriften, herausgegeben von Johann Georg Walch (24 vols.; Halle: J. J. Gebauer, 1739–1753), XXII, 4, 15, 21, 23–24, 30–38).

Volume 23: contains an index of key words.

Luther Says: "Mary is Our Mother" An Exercise in Compare & Contrast

I'm about halfway through the latest volume of Luther's Works (Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapters 17-20). In reading Luther, I enjoy his sermons the most. This volume is a wonderful collection of insight, exhortation, and the Gospel.

Commenting on John 19:25-27 ("Woman, behold, this is your son!".... then he said to the disciple, "Behold this is your mother!"), on pages 261-263, Luther says, "Deservedly, Mary is our mother." I've quoted this source, Roman Catholic style: no context.

But there is a context, and I have it. Unfortunately, it doesn't do much to expound on exactly what Luther means, but we still can compare it to something like this: Mary is Our Mother, Catholic Online. In this contemporary article, "Mary is our mother" means the following:

1. The Virgin Mary is a personal, spiritual mother. Only recognizing her as our true Spiritual Mother will lead to an authentic response to Mary. Roman Catholics love, revere, and honor her and seek her intercession and protection. In the human family, a mother is not optional. So too, in the spiritual family of the Mystical Body of Christ, Mary, our Mother is not optional.

2. In John 19:25-27, John is symbolic of all humanity. When Jesus says, "Behold your mother" this means Jesus from the Cross gave His Mother to every human person for all time. Mary doesn't become our mother, she is our mother, and we are her children. Jesus is the head of the body of believers. So, if she gave birth to the head, she must have given birth to the entire body of believers.

3. A mother doesn't give birth to a child only to abandon the child. She nurtures, feeds, teaches, guides, and protects her child. God entrusts Mary with these tasks. Mary's children should turn to her confidently with love and devotion for protection, guidance, and assistance in their hours of gravest need. To do this, is to do as Jesus did. She had given birth to Him, nurtured, fed, guided, and protected Him. To put our trust and confidence in her will always be pleasing to God because everything she does will always lead us closer to Him.

Now with this in mind, here's Luther's words from his 1529 sermon:

The dear Lord Christ wants to say His final farewell to the world and depart from it entirely. He has nothing else on earth, neither money nor possessions, neither tunic nor clothing; rather, He hangs bare upon the cross. He has nowhere to lay His head, neither has He even a foot of earth upon which to die. He is not lying on a bed but hangs suspended in the air. He has only His mother and His most beloved disciple. Now He departs from the world altogether and gives away His mother and His most beloved disciple, who reclined on His breast at the Last Supper [John 13:23]. It is immensely painful when someone departs in this way and refuses to concern himself any longer with either mother or disciple or anything else on earth. The dear Lord must think no good of the world to give it such a complete farewell.

To His mother He says, "Woman, behold, this is your son." To the disciple He says: "Behold, this is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her to himself. That is as much as to say that John the disciple took Jesus' mother as his own mother, took her into his home, looked after her and cared for her, and provided for her so that she had a place where she could stay as a solitary widow now robbed even of her only Son.

In the papacy, Mary was made into an idol on the basis of this text. Even in the Passion, when they preached about Christ and His sufferings, they preached about the mother, Mary, namely, that she has been given and committed to us by Christ to be our mother. We want to hold the dear Virgin and holy mother in all honor, as she certainly deserves to be honored. Yet we will not so honor her as to make her equal to her Son, Christ. For she was not crucified nor did she die for us; neither did she pray for us on the cross. But it was Christ who was crucified and died for us and with tears offered supplications and prayer for us on the cross [Heb. 5:7]. Therefore, let each one honor the mother Mary as he will—provided only she is not honored with the honor due to Christ. And this is also the reason why the Lord separates His mother from Himself: so that He will be the only one to whom we should cling.

But the pope with his monks does the opposite, sending Christ the Son away and clinging to the mother. Christ abandons everything for our sake—the earth, His mother, His disciples—in order to save us. Therefore, we should cling to Him alone and give the honor that is due Him to no one else. For since He Himself gives His mother away and does not want to be with her on earth, 'nor to cling to her, neither should we cling to the mother and forsake the Son. Deservedly, Mary is our mother. But if we wanted to rely upon her, taking away Christ's honor and office and giving them to His mother, that would be a denial of the sufferings of Christ.

So, does Luther mean the same thing as "Catholic Online"? Hardly. Luther opposed Romanist idolatry then, and not much has changed.

By the way, lest anyone think Luther often said "Mary is our mother," the editors of Luther's Works say, "In (apparently) the only other place in which Luther affirms the formula that Mary is "our mother," it is in connection with Christmas and the Christian's identification with the Christ Child: see sermon for Christmas Day, December 25, 1530, WA 29:655."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Dynamics of Facebook

I'm still trying to deicde how I feel about Facebook.

At first, the majority of people that were "friends" were simply people that either read my blog, or read the aomin blog. I probably didn't even know 80% of them. In fact, I initially joined Facebook because I noticed people were linking to my blog from Facebook, and I was curious to find out why.

Then, some of my current cyber contacts became "friends." This was actually interesting. It's finding out a bit more about the people who either write blog articles I enjoy, or whom I've met in cyberspace over the years. I've never met most of these people in person, but I've known some of them for many years.

Then, people started surfacing from my past. This is where it gets a bit tricky. Some of these people I haven't seen in over 20 years. It was quite a shocker to get a Facebook message from a girl I took on a date in 6th grade, or a friend request from a person I hadn't seen or heard from since 8th grade. Similarly,a few high school people began tracking me down, some of them, sorry to say, I did not remember at all. Then, various people from my past began surfacing.

Some of you probably think, "what's the problem here?"

Going through Facebook is a bit like, "THIS IS YOUR LIFE". I'm not the same person I was 20 years ago, and neither are they. In a sense, we really don't know each other. We're all arrested in each others' minds, whenever and wherever we left off. I'm sure many of the people who track me down don't find someone they remember, or maybe even like now.

And then, there are the people you know are on Facebook, but they don't send a friend request, and you wonder if you should, but then you wonder if they haven't sent it because they don't want to know you anymore.

I have more thoughts on Facebook, but this enough for now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Did Jerome Change His Mind on the Apocrypha?

Matthew said: Did you forget that St. Jerome ended up upholding those books as Scripture. You mislead people by your remarks.

A present for Matthew: Guest Blog: Did Jerome Change His Mind on the Apocrypha? by Ray Aviles (who should be on my blogging team, but refuses to comply with my wishes).


Steve Ray Explains Luther and the Apocrypha

Romanist apologist Steve Ray recently posted Sola Scriptura and the Canon of Scripture. He made a few historical statements about Martin Luther.

Steve Ray: "There is no doubt that the Septuagint was known to and used by Jesus, Paul and Timothy and yet, in the 16th century, Martin Luther removed these seven books from the Bible because they contain passages that support distinctly Catholic doctrines like praying for the dead and purgatory—doctrines which he rejected. Luther justified his action in part upon the fact that the some Jews themselves rejected the Deuterocanonicals as part of their canon."

Martin Luther's translation of the Bible contained the "seven books." As to the reasons he classified them as apocrypha, Mr. Ray should actually read Luther's prefaces to the apocryphal books. He could start by looking at Luther's preface to 2 Maccabees. He could also take a look at my review of Catholic Apologist Gary Michuta's examination of Luther and the Apocrypha (Part 2) .

Steve Ray: "Martin Luther used their doubt [some Jewish leaders about the apocrypha] to justify his own."

Yes, but he also referred to St. Jerome as well. Was Jerome trying to justify his own doubt? Luther classified the apocrypha as not held equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read. With this distinction, Luther acted similarly to Athanasius and Cyril of Jerusalem.

Steve Ray: "Luther picked that truncated canon for the same reason the rabbis did: in order to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church which did not fit his new theology."

So, why then did Cardinal Cajetan, and even some of the Catholic scholars at the Council of Trent reject the apocrypha?

What I find interesting in statements like those put forth by Steve, is that the issue really surrounds the proof text Roman Catholics use from 2 Maccabees to support purgatory and prayers for the dead. They are typically hard pressed to explain why Luther classified the entire apocrypha as not held equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read. Perhaps a Catholic apologist could actually go through the apocrypha, pick out distinctly Catholic doctrines, and then explain why Luther rejected each book. That would be honest.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rome Wooing Anglicans and Traditionalists

It appears that Rome is bending the rules a bit to lure in some Anglicans:

Pope establishes structure for Anglicans uniting with Rome

I wonder how the Traditionalists that Rome is also wooing will feel about this development:

Vatican announces start of dialogue with traditionalist group

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Sinfulness of Interpretation

Here's a footnote from the new LW 69 that points how how the sinful mind works to justify whatever it wants to:

Judicial torture, a feature of Roman law, had been reintroduced in canon law by the 1252 bull Ad exstirpanda of Innocent IV (d. 1254).

The Catholic Encyclopedia also provides a some information. The CE points out, "Torture was to be applied only once, and not then unless the accused were uncertain in his statements, and seemed already virtually convicted by manifold and weighty proofs."

Like any document, Ad exstirpanda needed to be interpreted. The CE states,

"The general rule ran that torture was to be resorted to only once. But this was sometimes circumvented — first, by assuming that with every new piece of evidence the rack could be utilized afresh, and secondly, by imposing fresh torments on the poor victim (often on different days), not by way of repetition, but as a continuation."

I spent about an hour yesterday going through a section of Roman Catholic apologetics dedicated to Biblically defending the immaculate conception. The arguments put forth reminded me very much of the interpreters of Ad exstirpanda: one will find what one needs to in any document. For instance, the document I read argued if the translation of Luke 1:28 is "highly favored," Mary could have become highly favored at her conception in her mother's womb. Or, if one uses the translation "full of grace," there's nothing in the Bible that contradicts the notion that Mary became "full of grace" at her conception:

"If Mary is “full of grace,” as the Catholic translation says, then the question is: When did she become full of grace? One can make the argument that it was at the moment of her conception that she became full of grace and there is nothing in Scripture to contradict that argument."

"Or, if she was “highly favored,” then at what point did she become highly favored by God? Could it not have been at her conception?" [source]

Let us always be careful not to use argumentation that stretches a document to accommodate what we want it to.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Underground Bunker

The mystery action (mp3).

This is my "comfy chair" in my home office... seated: the Chapman Stick.
Here's an MP3 of the stick in action. Here's a rough mix cut from a 4 track demo I did with my friend Alice some years back. It was Stick/ Acoustic guitar/ mandolin trio. Here's my Les Paul and Fender P-Bass in action.

I don't have any rations stored in my bunker, but I've got plenty to read. I've got two other walls of books (to the left, and in front of the camera) not in the picture.

I keep a small office upstairs, all the books and junk stay in the basement. Now with so many books and resources on the Internet, who needs to keep a room full of books? Off to the basement, ye ol' takers up of space.

If anyone can identify the two guitars (manufacturer and model), I'd be impressed. The Chapman Stick lives upstairs. There's also a few other guitars around, plus a bunch of those those 200 pound amps that I don't know how I ever carried around.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An Argument Against An Infallible Papacy, Luther Style

Recently Concordia Publishing House released Luther's Works Volume 69. It's a new English translation of Luther's writing not previously available in English. While the volume is primarily a verse by verse commentary of John 17-20, interspersed are some interesting apologetic arguments against Romanism. (A word of caution: if you follow the above link to Concordia Publishing and fill out the form to receive the new volume of Luther's Works, it may arrive at your door in a few days, without paying for it first. The invoice arrived a day before the book showed up at my front door. Only fill out the form if you plan on buying the book).

One such argument concerns the papacy and infallibility. Without anything explicit establishing either Biblically, Roman Catholics read much into such texts like Matthew 16. Without anything explicit, the argument is typically one of inference. For instance, Catholic Answers states, "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). Here Peter was singled out for the authority that provides for the forgiveness of sins and the making of disciplinary rules." " It was Simon, weak as he was, who was chosen to become the rock and thus the first link in the chain of the papacy." Of course, Luther dealt with similar arguments. The following is his response from Luther's Works, Volume 69, pp. 178- 181. Luther is commenting on John 18:13, concerning Annas and Caiaphas, the Jewish high priests.

But I want to come now to theology and doctrine. We should learn here that no one should place his trust in men, even if he is in an estate ordained by God. But if we are not to believe nor to put our trust in Annas and Caiaphas, how are we to believe or trust the devil, the pope in Rome, the monks in monasteries, or the godless bishops? God so thoroughly forbids putting trust in any man that one should not even trust in those who are in the highest, best, and most secure estates. For no estate on earth has been so gloriously confirmed as was the estate of Annas and Caiaphas. If Annas and Caiaphas became scoundrels in their order and estate, even though it was the most exalted on earth, then you should learn from this not to esteem any man on the basis of his estate or see. The papal jurists exalted their pope and said, "Non est praesumendum, quod tantae altitudinis apex possit errare"- "It is not to be presumed that the pope in such a lofty station can err." Against this claim I set the following: Annas and Caiaphas occupy a loftier position and sit on a greater throne than do the pope and the emperor. Yet they not only err but also are scoundrels and knaves-the worst scoundrels and knaves ever to have lived on earth, for they crucified the Son of God. We know this from the wicked things they did to Christ, so that we hold them in scorn whenever we speak their names. But we should recognize that they were the most exalted people according to Gods ordinance, and their estate was the holiest and highest that ever was. Therefore, I should not hesitate to pull off [anyone else's] mask and say, "I must not put my trust here, even if it is what the pope or a cardinal or the emperor says,for even the most exalted of men can err and go astray."

But if you now say, "Whom, then, are we to trust and believe?" read the First Commandment: "I the Lord your God am a jealous God"[Exod. 20:5]. There it is clearly written whom you are to trust: namely, the Lord God alone. So now if the pope says something, I am not obligated to hold to it unless,to be sure, he brings God's Word. For God says that we are to fear and trust Him only, even if He speaks to us through a donkey [cf. Num. 22:28-30]. For this reason you should say: "Dear pope, you are high, holy, learned. But that you cannot err on that account-that I don't believe." If, indeed, they say, "Do you think the councils can err?" answer them this: "Haven't you read about two men, Annas and Caiaphas by name, who were scoundrels? Now if such eminent people, in such a high, holy estate, ordained and instituted by God, have fallen away even to the point of crucifying God's Son, it follows that other men can also fall and err." Annas and Caiaphas were much more learned and wise, and the obedience due them was much greater than that due the pope. This is evident in that though everyone else among the Jews heard Christ's preaching and saw His miracles, no one dared acknowledge or follow Him publicly [John 12:42]; and when Christ was taken captive, no one dared to make himself known, so great were the respect and obedience accorded the high priest by the whole people.

So note well John's words: "Caiaphas was high priest for the year." And yet that same high priest may be such a scoundrel and knave that he crucifies the Son of God. The office of high priest was, indeed, the highest office and the most glorious title, and yet the worst scoundrels held this office and title. Now, since the high priests have done such things, we should not henceforth believe any man unless he brings with him God's clear, pure Word. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4[:2], "Nothing is more requisite of stewards than that they be found faithful." You should pay close attention to whether such a one is faithful, for all kinds of shortcomings in a preacher or bishop can be tolerated, but unfaithfulness cannot and should not be tolerated in them.... Is it possible for the pope not to err when these two, Annas and Caiaphas, who were instituted in office by God much more gloriously than any pope, not only erred but lapsed so shamefully that they condemned the Son of God to death?

This was the glory of the high priests: that the people had been commanded to accept everything they said [Deut. 17:12].133 The pope does not possess such a glory. Now, if you conclude from this as follows: "The high priest's judgment must be accepted; Annas and Caiaphas are the high priests of the people, and they judge and decide that Christ must be slain; therefore, one must accept this judgment of the high priests"-then you have been deceived already! Therefore, the Holy Spirit put this here to teach the contrary-that Annas and Caiaphas were high priests at the time, and yet Christ was condemned to death by their judgment?so that no one would put his confidence in any human being, no matter how high and holy he may be.

Bishops, cardinals, and the entire papal clergy rest on this foundation: "The Christian Church cannot err; therefore, the pope likewise cannot err since he is the head of the Church." But you, forearm yourself against this and say: "Pope this, pope that! If Caiaphas could err, so also can the pope." And he proves this with his deeds as well. For the pope denies Christ and kills Him, just as those high priests denied Christ and sentenced Him to death. We would not have expected to read that the high priests Annas and Caiaphas crucified Christ. Rather, it should say, "Barabbas crucified Christ." But the evangelist says 'that Christ was led bound, first to Annas, and then to Caiaphas, who was the high priest for the year, in order to indicate this extraordinary and astonishing fact: that the highest and holiest of people on earth are often God's worst enemies. For this reason we should not put our trust in any human being, even if he occupies a high office and a position of great glory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The John Calvin Quiz

The Calvin Quiz

Well, I got 9 out of 10. I did have to guess a few, as I haven't been involved in anything substantially "Calvin" for quite a while. I was scored a "certified Calvin scholar." LOL

Henry VIII’s Letter to Pope Leo X on the subject of his book “Assertio Septem Sacramentorum”

"So, when we learned that the pest of Martin Luther's heresy had appeared in Germany and was raging everywhere, without let or hindrance, to such an extent that many, infected with its poison, were falling away, especially those whose furious hatred rather than their zeal for Christian Truth had prepared them to believe all its subtleties and lies; we were so deeply grieved at this heinous crime of the German nation (for whom we have no light regard), and for the sake of the Holy Apostolic See, that we bent all our thoughts and energies on up­rooting in every possible way, this cockle, this heresy from the Lord's flock."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recent "Blueprint For Anarchy" Quotes & Some Quotable Sippo's

"As many of you may know, I have defended what I believe to be Church teaching on this matter and have taken the position that these acts were immoral and unjustified according to Catholic moral theology and particularly just war thinking." [Source]

R. Sungenis: “Conflict” with a bishop is common in Catholic history, because not all bishops protect and defend the Catholic faith.[Source]

My bishop, unfortunately, like you, believes and promotes the heresy that the Old Covenant is somehow still valid for the Jewish people.[Source]

"Bishop Ratko Peric, who has led the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno since 1993, has emphasized that the alleged apparitions and messages of Medjugorje are not to be treated as “worthy of faith.” [Source]

“Brothers and sisters, let us not act as if these 'apparitions' were recognized and worthy of faith,” he said. “If, as Catholics, devoted sons and daughters of the Church, we want to live according to the norms and the teaching of the Church, glorifying the Holy Trinity, venerating Blessed Mary ... and professing all the Church has established in the creed, we do not turn to certain alternative 'apparitions' or 'messages' to which the Church has not attributed any supernatural character.” [source]

The Quotable Sippo

"In reality Sola Ecclesia has a valid meaning but it is not the slander that Pcoma insinuates. It is only in the Church that the Bible, Tradition, and the superintendence ofhte Holy Spirit are meant to operate. Outside the Church there is just teh wailing and hte gnashing of teeth as mere men seek to justify themselves with their own preferences masqueradig as faith." [source]

"Protestantism is NOT Biblical. It is a hypocritical sham that is obvious to anyone who has the personal integrity to admit the truth." [Source]

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Did Luther Believe Salvation Can Be Lost?

I haven't come across a lot of material on whether or not Luther believed a Christian can lose salvation. Yes, of course, those who spend their days attacking "OSAS" are prone to mention Luther (ironically, most of the time despising Luther for other reasons). It's not surprising to read quotes from him that appear to advocate a "perseverance of the saints" as well as quotes suggesting loss of salvation. Luther's use of paradox allows for such differing statements. I am aware that current Lutherans do say a Christian can "fall from faith." Also, I'm aware of statements like these:

“Although Luther agreed that the merits of Christ were the sole basis of a man’s justification, and that it did not depend in any way on a man’s deeds, Luther still thought that a man could lose his justification if he totally and finally turned away from Christ. Since God’s gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life was appropriated by faith, if a man decided not to rest his eternal destiny in Christ, and totally turned against Him, Luther believed that only then would a man lose his salvation. In other words, the only sin that Luther thought would cause a man to lose his salvation was the sin of unrepentant apostasy” (Catholics and Protestants: Do They Now Agree?, John Ankerberg and John Weldon).

Without ever really delving into it, I've followed the pack so to speak, and have agreed that Luther held a Christian can actually lose salvation due to disbelief or a reliance on works righteousness. On the other hand, it really isn't as simple as some make it out to be. Many Lutherans are rightly agitated when the Reformed try to present Luther as a 5 point Calvinist. However, I as a Reformed person tend to be agitated by those who ignore evidence, or don't ask interpretive questions about contexts. I'm particularly not at all fond of attempts to wiggle out of Luther's strong statements in The Bondage of the Will regarding predestination. I've had Luther supporters tell me certain English translations aren't accurate, or that Luther went too far, and later in his life he took a different position. I'm well aware of Luther's many exhortations not to probe into the secret council of the hidden God, but as to doctored English translations and Luther changing his mind, I've not seen convincing proof.

Luther Believes in Losing Salvation

Here are a few statements I've come across. This website, dedicated to advocating the possibility of a believer's loss of salvation, uses the following statements from Luther (emphasis theirs):

Even Martin Luther, who is claimed by Calvinists as one of their own, acknowledged the possibility of a Christian falling away into unbelief. Here are a few quotes, beginning with Luther's comment on the statement of the Lord's prayer, "lead us not into temptation."

"We have now heard enough what toil and labor is required to retain all that for which we pray, and to persevere therein, which, however, is not achieved without infirmities and stumbling. Besides, although we have received forgiveness and a good conscience and are entirely acquitted, yet is our life of such a nature that one stands to-day and to-morrow falls. Therefore, even though we be godly now and stand before God with a good conscience, we must pray again that He would not suffer us to relapse and yield to trials and temptations. ... Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but especially agitating matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard both the Word and works of God to tear us away from faith, hope, and love and bring us into misbelief, false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand, to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking things. These are indeed snares and nets, yea, real fiery darts which are shot most venomously into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil. Great and grievous, indeed, are these dangers and temptations which every Christian must bear, even though each one were alone by himself, so that every hour that we are in this vile life where we are attacked on all sides, chased and hunted down, we are moved to cry out and to pray that God would not suffer us to become weary and faint and to relapse into sin, shame, and unbelief. For otherwise it is impossible to overcome even the least temptation. This, then, is leading us not into temptation, to wit, when He gives us power and strength to resist, the temptation, however, not being taken away or removed. For while we live in the flesh and have the devil about us, no one can escape temptation and allurements; and it cannot be otherwise than that we must endure trials, yea, be engulfed in them; but we pray for this, that we may not fall and be drowned in them." (Martin Luther, Large Catechism XII, On the Lord's Prayer, 6th Petition).

"Through baptism these people threw out unbelief, had their unclean way of life washed away, and entered into a pure life of faith and love. Now they fall away into unbelief" (Martin Luther, Commentary on 2 Peter 2:22).

"Verse 4, "Ye are fallen from grace." That means you are no longer in the kingdom or condition of grace. When a person on board ship falls into the sea and is drowned it makes no difference from which end or side of the ship he falls into the water. Those who fall from grace perish no matter how they go about it. ... The words, "Ye are fallen from grace," must not be taken lightly. They are important. To fall from grace means to lose the atonement, the forgiveness of sins, the righteousness, liberty, and life which Jesus has merited for us by His death and resurrection. To lose the grace of God means to gain the wrath and judgment of God, death, the bondage of the devil, and everlasting condemnation." (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 5:4).

As to the first quote from Luther's Large Catechism, I don't see anything particularly against a saint persevering. In fact, if you note the words they emphasised (in black), the point being made is the Devil is he who seeks to "tear us away from faith, hope, and love and bring us into misbelief" and to the "denial of God [and] blasphemy."

As to the second quote from Luther's Commentary on 2 Peter 2:22, Luther is expounding on false teachers, and these he takes to be initially those from "the schools of higher learning." He describes them as having a false faith. He also will apply these verses to the papacy, monks, and priesthood. In commenting on "even denying the master who bough them," he states:

"Behold, what powerful words St. Peter uses! He says: “They deny the Master who bought them.” They should be under Him as under a Master who owns them. But now, even though they believe that He is a Lord who has ransomed all the world with His blood, yet they do not believe that they are ransomed and that He is their Master. They say that although He ransomed and redeemed them, this is not enough; one must first make amends and render satisfaction for sin with works. Then we say: “If you take away your sin yourself and wipe it out, what, then has Christ done? You surely cannot make two Christs who take away sin. He should, and wants to, be the only One who puts sin aside. If this is true, I cannot make bold to wipe out sin myself. But if I do this, I cannot say or believe that Christ takes it away.” This amounts to a denial of Christ. For even if they regard Christ as a Lord, yet they deny that He redeemed them" [LW 30:171].

The quote being utilized is tied together with Luther's understanding of baptism (which I've outlined here). It doesn't have anything to do with a Christian walking in true faith for countless years, and then losing that faith.

As to the third quote from Luther's Commentary on Galatians, this is the only bone given that has some meat on it. If one reads through the entire passage, it indeed does appear Luther's is saying that if one falls from grace, one loses salvation. Luther goes on to say:

These words, “You have fallen away from grace,” should not be looked at in a cool and careless way; for they are very emphatic. Whoever falls away from grace simply loses the propitiation, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, freedom, life, etc., which Christ earned for us by His death and resurrection; and in place of these he acquires the wrath and judgment of God, sin, death, slavery to the devil, and eternal damnation. This passage is a powerful support and reinforcement for our doctrine of faith or the doctrine of justification; and it gives us marvelous comfort against the ragings of the papists, who persecute and condemn us as heretics because we teach this doctrine. This passage really ought to strike terror into all the enemies of faith and grace, that is, all the partisans of works, to make them stop persecuting and blaspheming the Word of grace, life, and eternal salvation. But they are so calloused and obstinate that “seeing they do not see, and hearing”—this horrible sentence pronounced against them by the apostle—“they do not hear” (Matt. 13:13). Therefore let us let them alone, for they are blind leaders of the blind (Matt. 15:14) [LW 27:19].

Here's one other Luther quote I found being put forth on a Reformed web page, one wonders if a believer could actually chose unbelief (is Luther speaking rhetorically?):

Even if he would, he could not lose his salvation, however much he sinned, unless he refused to believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone. All other sins, so long as the faith in God’s promise made in baptism returns or remains, are immediately blotted out through that same faith, or rather through the truth of God, because he cannot deny himself if you confess him and faithfully cling to him in his promise. But as for contrition, confession of sins, and satisfaction, along with all those carefully devised exercises of men: if you rely on them and neglect this truth of God, they will suddenly fail you and leave you more wretched than before. For whatever is clone without faith in God’s truth is vanity of vanities and vexation of spirit [Eccles. 1:2, 14]" [LW 36: 60].

An interesting analysis of this quote can be found here.

The quote though that settles the matter is article 40-43 of the Smalcald articles:

40 In the case of a Christian such repentance continues until death, for all through life it contends with the sins that remain in the flesh. As St. Paul testifies in Rom. 7:23, he wars with the law in his members, and he does this not with his own powers but with the gift of the Holy Spirit which follows the forgiveness of sins. This gift daily cleanses and expels the sins that remain and enables man to become truly pure and holy.

41 This is something about which the pope, the theologians, the jurists, and all men understand nothing. It is a teaching from heaven, revealed in the Gospel, and yet it is called a heresy by godless saints.

42 Some fanatics may appear (and perhaps they are already present, such as I saw with my own eyes at the time of the uprising)1 who hold that once they have received the Spirit or the forgiveness of sins, or once they have become believers, they will persevere in faith even if they sin afterwards, and such sin will not harm them. They cry out, “Do what you will, it matters not as long as you believe, for faith blots out all sins,” etc. They add that if anyone sins after he has received faith and the Spirit, he never really had the Spirit and faith. I have encountered many foolish people like this and I fear that such a devil still dwells in some of them.

43 It is therefore necessary to know and to teach that when holy people, aside from the fact that they still possess and feel original sin and daily repent and strive against it, fall into open sin (as David fell into adultery, murder, and blasphemy), faith and the Spirit have departed from them.

44 This is so because the Holy Spirit does not permit sin to rule and gain the upper hand in such a way that sin is committed, but the Holy Spirit represses and restrains it so that it does not do what it wishes. If the sin does what it wishes, the Holy Spirit and faith are not present, 45 for St. John says, “No one born of God commits sin; he cannot sin.” Yet it is also true, as the same St. John writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Luther Believes The Saints Will Persevere

Now, on the other hand, I recently read through Luther's sermons on John 17. Here are a few interesting quotes suggesting a perseverance of the faith in the heart of a true believer.

But to this He adds "to those whom You gave Me from the world." For just as no one reveals this and causes it to be preached except Him, so no one is able to understand or accept this revelation except those who have been given to Him. The rest despise it or take offense, persecute and blaspheme it. All this is now said for our sakes, who have the Word of Christ and cling to it. And it is an excellent, comforting text for all timid, fearful consciences,especially for those who are troubled and afflicted with high temptations concerning their predestination.

If anyone wants to know whether he is elect or how he stands with God, let him simply look to the mouth of Christ, namely, to this passage and ones like it. For though one cannot say with certainty who will be [called] in the future or who will finally endure, it is nonetheless certain that those who have been called and have come to hear this revelation (that is, Christ's Word), as long as they also accept it seriously (that is, they regard and believe it as entirely true). They are the ones given to Christ by the Father. Those who are given to Him He will uphold and protect so that they will not perish, as He says in John 6 [:39]: "This is the will of the Father, who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has 'given Me." And later in this chapter [John 17:12]: "Those whom You have given Me I have guarded, and not one of them has been lost except the son of perdition" Again, in John 10 [:28], He speaks of the sheep who hear His voice: "I give them eternal life. and they shall never perish, and no one shall tear them out of My hand."

For you must assuredly believe that there is no higher grace and divine work than that someone comes to hear the Word of Christ gladly with all his heart and takes it seriously, regarding it as great and precious. For, as has been said. not everyone concerns himself with this, nor does it come from human understanding or choice. It takes more than reason and free will to be able to grasp and accept it, as Christ says in John 6 [:44]: "No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him" And again [John 6:45]: "Whoever hears it and learns it from My Father comes to Me." These words, even though they sound harsh toward false Christians, are, nevertheless, sweet and comforting to upright hearts that hold His Word dear, if one looks into Christ's heart and mind from which they flow. For He wants to indicate, as has been said, that it is not man's will and intention that make one cling to Christ and become His disciple, but it is God's work and power.

This is readily proved by looking out into the wide world and seeing how few there are who value Christ's Word and hold it dear, particularly where might, wisdom, holiness, etc., rule. There is nothing more despised or accursed on the face of the earth than the dear Gospel. The world in its wisdom is able to censure it so masterfully, to mock and scorn it so disdainfully, to libel and slander it so venomously and sharply, to persecute it so fiercely and bitterly, that, in sum, no folly, no vice, no aberration, no devil is so hated as Christ is. Man is able to tolerate, ignore, excuse, and prettify all sorts of sects, blasphemy of God, public shame, and vice. But Christ must take all this upon Himself and bear it; on Him all people pour out their venomous, insatiable hatred and resentment. Therefore, do not take it as a small comfort but as a sure and certain one that if you feel that you love Christ and His Word and with all your heart desire to abide steadfast in it, you are among the little flock that belongs to Christ and shall not be lost.

Now if you are also tempted by such thoughts as, "Yes, even though I hold Christ dear and gladly hear Him, who knows whether I am reconciled with the Father in heaven?"—this, too. He will clear away, saying: "You fool, you would be entirely unable to delight in My Word or revelation if this had not been given you by the Father! Don't you hear that it is His own work and grace? For He has already taken you out of the world and given you to Me; that is. He has put it into your heart to hear Me gladly and hold My Word in love and esteem. There you have everything. What more is there to look for? Only take heed lest you fall away." In sum, whoever is clinging to Christ possesses sheer grace and cannot be lost, even if out of weakness he should fall like St. Peter, so long as he does not despise the Word like the crude spirits who boast of the Gospel yet pay no attention to it. For no one may apply this comfort to himself except poor, distressed, tempted hearts that desire to be reconciled with God, and hold Christ dear, and do not willfully set themselves against His Word but are sorry that it is blasphemed or
persecuted. [LW 69:50-51]

I am praying for them, and I do not pray for the world (John 17:9)
From this let us also take comfort, be joyful and of good cheer, and in firm faith conclude that those for whom Christ is praying will certainly be delivered and preserved against the devil's fury and rage, as well as against sin and every temptation. [LW 69: 61-62]

The ones You have given me (John 17:11)
Thereby we know that God himself has led us to hear Christ, and our salvation does not depend on ourselves but is in God's hand, "from which no one can snatch them [John 10:29]. Therefore he means: "Since You gave them to Me that they might become my disciples and have called them to true holiness, I pray that You will henceforth preserve them in it, that they may not become unsanctified or polluted and be misled in any error" [LW 69:75].

John 6: 38. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me;39. and this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up at the Last Day.
The fatherly will of which Christ speaks here includes and teaches that He, the Lord Christ, will not lose any of those who come to Him and are given to Him, that is, those who believe in Him, but that all of them will be saved and live eternally. Thus Christ says at another place: “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the Last Day” (John 6:40). This surely does not mean to be cast out, but to be kept with Him. This is a far different will from what the Law demands of us. It is necessary, therefore, to distinguish between the wills of God. The will of God reflected in the text is this, that no believer in Christ is to be lost. It pictures God as kindly disposed to us and banishes all lightning, thunder, hail, yes, all wrath and disfavor of God. It reveals God’s gracious resolve that all who see the Son and believe in Him shall be preserved, saved, and well supplied. God does not deal with them according to justice and its just verdict and punishment, but He entertains a gracious will toward them. God does not come to punish, but His will in Christ is only the gracious will of the Father, which kindly invites us to come to Him. [LW 23:63].

It does indeed appear Luther believed in the loss of salvation. Even with those strong comments from LW 69, he includes statements like "Only take heed lest you fall away" and "so long as he does not despise the Word."

On the other hand, My understanding is that Luther did indeed attribute double predestination to the "hidden God", so in some sense for Luther, there are a specific determined number of people God chooses to save, that will be saved, and it can not be otherwise, and it has nothing to do with their "free" choices:

“For Luther the assertion that God is God implicitly includes the fact that God alone works all in all together with the accompanying foreknowledge…. This determines not only man's outward but also his inner fate, his relationship to God in faith or unfaith, in obedience or disobedience. Here too man is completely in God's hands. Luther finds the biblical basis for this particularly in I Corinthians 12:6, "God works all in all." Luther expands the sense of this passage far beyond Paul's meaning in its original setting. It appears very frequently in Luther's thought.

The Bible in addition bears witness, and experience confirms the fact, that men actually relate themselves differently to the word of God. Some are open to faith; others remain closed to it. Accordingly, the Bible expects human history to end in a twofold way. Not all will be blessed; and many will be lost. Luther can, in the context of his assertion that God works all in all, find the ultimate cause in God himself, in his intention, and in his working. This decision is not made by man's supposedly free will, but only by God's willing and working. He chooses some to be saved and he rejects the others without an apparent reason for either choice. He gives faith to one through the working of His Spirit; and he refuses to give faith to others so that they are bound in their unbelief. Salvation and destruction thus result from God's previous decision and his corresponding twofold activity. God's choice is not based on the individual's condition; it establishes this condition. This means an unconditional, eternal predestination both to salvation and to damnation.

Luther does not reach this conclusion on the basis of philosophical speculation about God, but finds it in the Scripture. He experienced it in God's relationship to him personally; and the God whom he thus personally experienced is the very same God who speaks and is proclaimed in the Scripture. Paul especially testified to Luther that God makes this twofold decision and that he hardens those who are lost: "God has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills" (Rom. 9:18). Paul illustrates this with the picture of the potter making vessels of honor as well as dishonor out of the same clay (Rom. 9: 20 ff.). In addition, Paul quotes Malachi, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Rom. 9:13). And Paul specifically refers to God's treatment of Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17)

The position Scripture thus presented to Luther was also the inescapable result of his understanding of God. He even cites man's innate rational concept of God as an additional proof. It seems blasphemous even to think that God does not work man's decision to believe or not to believe, as though God could be surprised by man's choice and men might be saved or lost without God knowing it. Whoever so thinks denies that God is God and makes fun of Him as though he were a ridiculous idol." Whoever speaks seriously of God must necessarily teach his foreknowledge and his unconditional determination of all things.

Luther thus finds a twofold will of God in the Scripture. Together with statements about God's all-inclusive grace are other statements which express another willing and working of God which stands with his willing and working of salvation. Together with grace stands wrath, a wrath which rejects and which is no longer a part of love; and this is found not only in the Old but also in the New Testament. Luther did not draw a two-sided picture of God from his own imagination, but he saw it already present in Scripture. The God of the Bible is not unequivocally the God of the gospel. The God of the Bible is not only the God of all grace but is also the God who, if he wills, hardens and rejects. This God even treats a man equivocally: he offers his grace in the word and yet refuses to give his Spirit to bring about his conversion. He can even harden a man—in all this Luther does not go in substance beyond the difficult passages of Scripture which describe God as hardening a man's heart.

Luther, however, summarized the substance of such scriptural statements in the sharpest possible expressions. In The Bondage of the Will he teaches that God has a double will, even a double reality. The God revealed and preached in the gospel must be distinguished from the hidden God who is not preached, the God who works all things. God's word is not the same as "God himself." God, through his word, approaches man with the mercy which (according to Ezekiel 33) does not seek the death of the sinner but that he turn and live. But the hidden will of God, the will we must fear, "determines for itself which and what sort of men it chooses to enable to participate in this mercy offered through the proclamation." God "does not will the death of the sinner, that is, according to his word; he does, however, will it according to his inscrutable will." God revealed in his word mourns the sinner's death and seeks to save him from it. "God hidden in his majesty, on the other hand, does not mourn the sinner's death, or abrogate it, but works life and death in everything in all. For God has not limited himself to his word but retains his freedom over everything. . . . God does many things that he does not show us through his word. He also wills many things his word does not show us." [Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966) pp. 274-276].

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Reformation & Who Gets the Money

Another tidbit from a Roman Catholic on the CARM boards:

I also believe in history. I think the motive to stop paying those big taxes to Rome played a lot in protecting Luther in Germany. It also went a long way in his creating a religion that HE could live with. And profit from!!

Ah yes, history. Here's some comments from my old notes:

During the middle ages, political life had been focused on the Holy Roman Empire as a universal institution. To understand how nations developed, one must study the phenomenon of "Centralism," which was a widespread political trend during this time period, and previous to it. Monarchs and nobles were competing for the money of the middle class, allowing “nation states” to emerge and become prominent in Europe. Monarchs were trying to “centralize” power in their own hands in their own nations. Certain countries had already "centralized": Spain, France, and England.

Certain nations had a tough time in "centralizing." Italy for instance, had the south of the country under Spanish control. The central regions were under the Papacy. The north was divided into several states. It was worse in Germany. The Holy Roman Empire had divided her into hundreds of city-states and princely territories. Germany was a loosely associated group of territories meeting in parliamentary diets, where various leaders met to debate policies suggested by the emperor, and vote up or down his desire to raise money for troops for various policies. The Emperor’s authority in the internal affairs of Germany were very limited and restricted. The emperor was eager to centralize power, but territorial princes blocked this, and wanted power to stay in their own hands (decentralized).

The papacy had been a leader in centralization of power for Europe. They had increased power in there own hands at the expense of the national churches and the local bishops. They had achieved a “Papal monarchy” in the church. They had unlimited centralized church powers. They had an effective form of administration. They were the first to develop an international form of diplomacy of ambassadorial representatives; developed an effective form of communicating with the papacy, and they were well managed. They did though have one major problem: they had a constant problem raising money.

Pressure to raise money created corruption: The sale of church offices, and the sale of spiritual remedies (indulgences). Political infighting also caused trouble because the Papacy wanted to control more of central Italy. The popes were often seen to be as greedy and ambitious as many of the monarchs in Europe, this undermined their spiritual claims (Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, Julius II, Leo X).

The sale of indulgences at the time was simply another example of a need for funds. The papacy had quite a history of exploiting the German people for such funds. History does show Rome exploited countries like Germany for building projects. So when you say, "I think the motive to stop paying those big taxes to Rome played a lot in protecting Luther in Germany," you imply it was a bad thing, whereas, I would argue quite the opposite. German leaders protected Luther against a corrupt papacy that had been exploiting the German people. True, Luther was a means to their ends. Some of the rulers were Godly men, wanting the best for their territory, some were not Godly men. Others simply wanted more power at the expense of the German people.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Luther's Income

...A tidbit from a Roman Catholic on the CARM boards:

"You can pray for a soul in purgatory and never spend a dime! But how is the selling of Luther's bibles any different? He put the money in his pocket. Show me where he did differently. The Catholic Church would read "the words of God" to the poor and illiterate and explain anything they didn't understand. NO CHARGE! But Luther sold "the words of God" in bible form. This is better?"

Luther preached for many years, doing just as described above: reading "the words of God" to the poor and illiterate and explaining anything they didn't understand.

Luther didn't really make much money (if any) from any of his books, the publishers did. On the specifics of Luther's income, see this link, page 367.

"[Luther's] view of property is thoroughly mediaeval. It is identical with that of the scholastic doctors. Nummus non paret nummum (Money does not produce money), was for him, as for them, a fixed principle. Any effort to make money productive seemed to him to be sinful, contrary to the law of nature, and a violation of the laws of God, contained in the Old and the New Testaments. It had its roots in avarice, and the fruit of avarice is usury. That many of the practices which he rebuked are fundamentally dishonest, is a fact that no one will deny; but it is also a fact that Luther had no more idea of economic laws, as we understand them, than he had of the law of gravitation.

In estimating his views, we have also to take account of his own personal attitude toward wealth. Few men have ever lived who were more utterly indifferent to money. For him it was not a thing to be striven after, but only a means of livelihood and a resource with which to relieve the necessities of others. For this reason he was sure to see avarice where others might see only prudence."- editors comment, Works of Martin Luther, Volume IV (Philadelphia: The Muhlenberg Press, 1931),10.

Roman Catholics followed Luther's lead, and likewise published Bibles during the 16th Century. In fact, in one case, a Roman Catholic published a Bible in which he plagiarized Luther's translation:

Ever since its first publication in 1522 Luther’s translation of the New Testament had been drawing not only wide approval but also certain narrow and often envious criticism. Among his sharpest critics was the notorious Jerome Emser (1478–1527), theologian, lawyer, and for over twenty years secretary to Duke George of Saxony. Like certain other rulers in the empire, Duke George had forbidden the circulation of Luther’s German New Testament in his territory. However not to be left without a New Testament in German, the Duke had commissioned Emser to provide a reliable Roman version. Emser obliged and, in the year of his death, lived to see the publication of his traditionalist version of the New Testament in German.

Outwardly it looked almost identical with the folio edition of Luther’s translation, even down to some of the Cranach woodcuts. But its introductions and glosses were all designed to cancel out those which accompanied Luther’s version. The text of Emser’s New Testament was based not on the original Greek text of Erasmus, which Luther had used, but on the Latin Vulgate and the late medieval German Bible. With these traditional sources as his base, Emser proceeded to “correct” the errors in Luther’s German New Testament; he did not claim to offer wholly a “new” version.

Emser’s translation, however, was not as traditional as might be supposed. Actually he had plagiarized much of Luther’s translation and then palmed off the finished product as his own. Hence the deep scorn and hostility which surges through Luther’s [Open letter on translating]. (LW 35:179)