Thursday, September 30, 2010

Did Martin Luther believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary?

Did Martin Luther believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary? According to Patrick Madrid and Taylor Marshall, he did. Madrid says this question will "likely raise a few eyebrows, pique a few sensitivities, and elicit a few comments around Christian blogdom, from both sides of the Tiber." It appears Madrid thinks Taylor Marshall posted some new controversial tidbit of historical research finally making its way to the Internet. Actually, Marshall's alleged information has been surfing around for over ten years, cut, pasted, and rehashed- taken from one specific Romanist layman with a blog.

Contrary to Marshall's blog entry, it is not a clear cut case as to what Luther's view was. Romanists typically ignore anything about Mary that doesn't support Romanist Mariology. The same goes for Luther's Mariology: when Romanists find a Luther tidbit about Mary that seems to support Mariolatry, they run with it, even if other evidence contradicts the evidence they're using. So, here's a closer look at Taylor Marshall's facts about Luther and the immaculate conception.


1.The eminent Lutheran scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn

The first tidbit used by Marshall is that "The eminent Lutheran scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73) has also confirmed that Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception even as a Protestant." No quote, research finding, or documentation from Piepkorn are presented by either Marshall or Madrid. That doesn't surprise me, because the only material from Piepkorn on this subject that I know of comes from The Church: Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn, (New York: ALPB Books, 1993). This is typically the source Romanists use.

Piepkorn makes a comment in passing on page 275, leaving the discussion at Luther “seems” to have had a lifelong belief in the Immaculate Conception. He neither discusses the content of Luther’s opinion, nor does he offer any indication if the 1854 dogma is in question. Then on page 289 Piepkorn states:

Yet three years before his death [Luther] was still affirming in print the opinion that he had worked out in detail with considerable theological ingenuity twenty five years earlier [#12], namely that through the merits of her Son -to-be the Blessed Virgin was marvelously preserved from the taint of sin from the first moment of her existence as a human being [#13].

footnote #12. Sermon on the Gospel for the Feast of the Conception of the B.V.M. (1517), Weimar edition 17/2, 288.

footnote #13. Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlect Christi, 1543, Weimar edition, 53,640. compare for the year 1553, 37, 231, where he describes the B.V.M. as an sund (i.e. ohne Sünde, "without sin").


Footnote #12 is actually an error. The sermon Piepkorn's referenced was preached in 1527, and begins on page 280 in WA 17.2. This sermon will be discussed below in point #2, because later printed copies of the sermon (from Luther's lifetime) delete the sole passing comment to Mary's immaculate conception. The error makes Piepkorn's "twenty five year" comment inaccurate. That is, the sermon he based his comment on was actually preached ten years later.

Footnote #13 refers to one of Luther's later anti-Jewish writings, not a treatise on Mariology. Luther does not launch into any full discussion of Mary's Immaculate Conception. Luther does state, only in passing that it was necessary for Mary to be a young holy virgin freed of original sin and cleansed by the Holy Ghost to be the mother of Jesus Christ. This statement comes after argumentation for Mary's perpetual virginity. What the statement from Luther doesn't say, one way or the other, is if Mary lived a completely sinless life. I've documented a number of times in which Luther says the cleansing of Mary by the Holy Spirit happened at the conception of Christ, not at Mary's conception.

Piepkorn presents no argumentation or analysis. Why would Piepkorn takes vague statements and put forth strong conclusions? I can only speculate, but Piepkorn had interest in ecumenical dialog with Rome. He was involved for multiple years with Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. Catholic scholar Raymond Brown praised Piepkorn and commented that it would be preposterous to doubt the validity of his priestly orders. Piepkorn's romance with Rome seems to have molded his interpretation of Luther's Mariology.


2. On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God, 1527


The next tidbit offered by Marshall is the following Luther quote:

"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin" - Martin Luther's Sermon "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527.

The sermon this quote was taken from is not included in the English edition of Luther’s Works, and to my knowledge, the complete sermon has not been translated into English. This quote made its way into a cyber space when a Romanist about 10 years ago began posting it after he took it from Roman Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar's book, Luther Vol. IV (St Louis: B. Herder, 1913). Grisar uses this quote, but what my Romanist friends typically leave out is his analysis:

The sermon was taken down in notes and published with Luther’s approval. The same statements concerning the Immaculate Conception still remain in a printed edition published in 1529, but in later editions which appeared during Luther’s lifetime they disappear.

The reason for their disappearance is that as Luther’s Christocentric theology developed, aspects of Luther’s Mariology were abandoned. Grisar also recognizes the development in Luther's theology. In regards to the Luther quote in question, Grisar says (from a Roman Catholic perspective):

As Luther’s intellectual and ethical development progressed we cannot naturally expect the sublime picture of the pure Mother of God, the type of virginity, of the spirit of sacrifice and of sanctity to furnish any great attraction for him, and as a matter of fact such statements as the above are no longer met with in his later works.

The most one can conclude from this Luther quote is that Luther held to some form of Mary's sinlessness in 1527. According to Grisar, the comment was stricken from the sermon, and Luther abandoned his earlier view.

3. Martin Luther's Little Prayer Book, 1522

Marshall then uses another Luther quote to prove his case:

She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. - Martin Luther's Little Prayer Book, 1522

"Martin Luther's Little Prayer Book" refers to the Personal Prayer Book of 1522. Here Luther does treat the subject of Mary. He states, "In the first place, she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil" (LW 43:39).

This quote indeed appears to treat Mary as entirely sinless. This statement was made in 1522. If Grisar is correct, Luther's later view does not reflect such sentiment. Even in this early Reformation writing, Luther began changing the emphasis on Mary, and de-emphasizing the importance of her attributes:

“Take note of this: no one should put his trust or confidence in the Mother of God or in her merits, for such trust is worthy of God alone and is the lofty service due only to him. Rather praise and thank God through Mary and the grace given her. Laud and love her simply as the one who, without merit, obtained such blessings from God, sheerly out of his mercy, as she herself testifies in the Magnificat.”

“Therefore we should make the Hail Mary neither a prayer nor an invocation because it is improper to interpret the words beyond what they mean in themselves and beyond the meaning given them by the Holy Spirit.”

“…her giving birth is blessed in that it was spared the curse upon all children of Eve who are conceived in sin and born to deserve death and damnation. Only the fruit of her body is blessed, and through this birth we are all blessed.”

“…in the present no one speaks evil of this Mother and her Fruit as much as those who bless her with many rosaries and constantly mouth the Hail Mary. These, more than any others, speak evil against Christ’s word and faith in the worst way.

“Therefore, notice that this Mother and her Fruit are blessed in a twofold way—bodily and spiritually. Bodily with lips and the words of the Hail Mary; such persons blaspheme and speak evil of her most dangerously. And spiritually [one blesses her] in one’s heart by praise and benediction for her child, Christ—for all his words, deeds, and sufferings. And no one does this except he who has the true Christian faith because without such faith no heart is good but is by nature stuffed full of evil speech and blasphemy against God and all his saints.”


It makes a lot of sense that by 1530 or so, Luther's views on Mary would shift even more away from Romanism.


Luther's view?
Luther's later view appears to be that at Christ's conception the Holy Spirit sanctified Mary so that the child would be born with non-sinful flesh and blood. For an example of Luther's argumentation, see: Luther and the Immaculate Conception? The 1540 Disputation On the Divinity and Humanity of Christ.

There are many other statements about Mary from Luther Romanists ignore. Most of these are post-1527.

In this sermon Luther states, " although she had been sanctified by the Holy Spirit; yet he permitted her at times to err, even in the important matters of faith." He says also:

Be they called holy, learned, fathers, councils, or any other name, even though they were Mary, Joseph and all the saints it does not follow that they could not have erred and made mistakes. For here you learn that the mother of Christ though she possessed great intelligence and enlightenment, showed great ignorance in that she did not know where to find Christ, and in consequence was censured by him because she did not know what she should have known. If she failed and through her ignorance was brought to such anxiety and sorrow that she thought she had lost Christ, is it a wonder that other saints should often have erred and stumbled, when they followed their own notions, without the guidance of Scripture, or put their own notions into Scripture.

See also selections from this blog entry, documenting the same position from Luther.

Rather than discussing Mary’s sinlessness, Luther's later writings insist Christ’s sinlessness was due entirely to the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit during conception. In 1532 he preached:

Mother Mary, like us, was born in sin of sinful parents, but the Holy Spirit covered her, sanctified and purified her so that this child was born of flesh and blood, but not with sinful flesh and blood. The Holy Spirit permitted the Virgin Mary to remain a true, natural human being of flesh and blood, just as we. However, he warded off sin from her flesh and blood so that she became the mother of a pure child, not poisoned by sin as we are…For in that moment when she conceived, she was a holy mother filled with the Holy Spirit and her fruit is a holy pure fruit, at once God and truly man, in one person [Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, Vol. 3, ed. John Nicholas Lenker. ( Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 291].

In 1534 Luther explained that Christ was “born of a young maiden, as you and I are born of our mothers. The only difference is that the Holy Spirit engineered this conception and birth, while in contrast we mortals are conceived and born in sin.”[Ibid., 294.]. As Jaroslov Pelikan has noted, Mary functioned in Luther’s theology as “the guarantee of the reality of the incarnation and of the human nature of Christ.” With the doctrine of the immaculate conception, one sees a clear change in Luther’s thought. The theologian, who had at one time praised both mother and child for their purity, now praised only the Son.

Conclusion
This is only a brief look at a subject I've spent considerable time on over the years. I would never be dogmatic (for lack of a better word), but I've never found any conclusive quotes from Luther (with a context!) after 1527 that reflect his earlier position.

There's one Romanist who thinks simply doing a scholarly head count (which scholars think Luther believed in the immaculate conception, and which do not) is the means of determining Luther's view. This isn't my way of determining truth. I like to look at quotes and look up contexts, especially on an issue that has some uncertainty about it. Simply consider the errors I located in Piepkorn's view detailed here, and also in this previous entry. Those who think simply counting heads determines truth are typically those who really don't care about the truth.

I'm sure Patrick Madrid could care less. I don't know anything about Taylor Marshall- perhaps he's a guy interested in history and truth and will revise his blog entry. Marshall concludes his article stating,

Far be it from me to approve of Luther. I only list these quotes to show how far Protestantism has come from it's quasi-Catholic origin. If only Lutherans would return to this single doctrine of their founder; how quickly our Lady would turn them into true Catholics! Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us!

Even if Martin Luther believed in Mary's immaculate conception, the Reformation does not suffer loss. Neither myself nor the Lutheran church considers Luther to be an infallible source of either interpretation or revelation. However, my Romanist friends need to do a little better at proving Luther believed in the immaculate conception of Mary.

51 comments:

Taylor Marshall said...

You write:

"It makes a lot of sense that by 1530 or so, Luther's views on Mary would shift even more away from Romanism."

This is conjecture. I'm citing sources. You're making suggestions of what *may* have happened after 1530.

ad Jesum per Mariam,

Taylor Marshall
Westminster Theological Seminary, 2003

Turretinfan said...

As if Mr. Swan is not citing sources? Get over yourself, Mr. Marshall.

Tim Enloe said...

Gotta love that tagline about Westminster Seminary. "Protestant Seminary Student sees the light! Since he went to SEMINARY, he MUST know what he's talking about." Kinda like Blogahon finding out that I went to University of Dallas, a Catholic college, and figuring it was somehow really relevant to say, "Hey, I had a Reformed friend who went to UD. He just got received into the Church not too long ago" (supposedly thanks to UD).

These converts are so silly sometimes. All Protestants are ignorant bumpkins, and real education necessarily leads you to Catholicism. Lord, deliver us from the banality of convert-itis.

Nick said...

James,

I agree with your reasoning regarding taking a poll of scholars - it's never a good substitute for direct quotes from primary sources.

The case you've laid out seems to be the extent of what's available evidence, meaning there is no (known) clear support for a post-1528 belief in the doctrine (and in fact, if your quotes are accurate, which I trust they are, a clear de-emphasis). There does seem to be sufficient proof of a pre-1527 belief in the doctrine, but that is not being disputed.


While I do appreciate these types of posts, I've said it before and I'll say it again, much of the work of your blog team is substandard (and even shoddy), and gives *YOU* and your (overall reliable) work a bad name at the end of the day. I've never liked it when people play the "scholar trump card" - which is fallacious and bad taste - yet I see your blog team members doing precisely this in place of primary sources. (The string of posts from a few months back on the "historical" origins of the Papacy and Annulments and such is one prime example of this foul play - play that you yourself rightly don't like to put up with.)

John Bugay said...

Hi Nick. Thanks for your affirmation.

Nick said...

Dave,

I'm seriously interested in some sort of quote from Luther's own writings/sermons that comes after 1528. If such exists, especially in significant quantities, then Swan's claim is debunked.

As far as I can tell, Swan is simply saying there are no such quotes (we know of). I wouldn't want a Protestant projecting some belief on a Catholic saint or theologian that was not substantiated by primary sources and instead rested on the 'guesses' of scholars - so by the same standards we cannot project things onto Luther without reasonable proof.

John Bugay said...

I'm seriously interested in some sort of quote from Luther's own writings/sermons that comes after 1528. If such exists, especially in significant quantities, then Swan's claim is debunked.

Luther had some very kind things to say about the papacy until he got a little bit further along in the process. The whole Protestant world in 1520-30 was made up of individuals who had been former Catholics and who may or may not have held to any Marian beliefs.

Certainly the vast majority of the early Protestants were honorable men and would at worst have been biblical and spoken in a realistic way about the mother of Jesus.

The bottom line is that no Luther quote is going to prove anything for you.

John Bugay said...

To use contemporary language, Martin Luther was "the tip of the spear" of the Reformation. He was one individual, and he was embroiled in many controversies.

Others who had more time to "reflect" on Marian views of the Middle Ages and understand them in the light of Scripture obviously thought differently.

John Bugay said...

Now the historical evidence will be strengthened all the more and backed up by yet more scholars.

I've not read nearly as much of Luther as James has done.

If you were interested in finding out the truth rather than making polemical points, the appropriate thing to do would be to weigh all of Martin Luther's writings, and see where this topic fits into his overall message. How much did he say about Mary compared with how much he wrote about other topics. From what you've posted, he seems to be more the Christian gentleman than anything else.

A better scholar would also weight such statements early vs. late, and see if context had anything to do with such his motivation for saying the things he said.

Tim Enloe said...

Right on, John. Not only does one have to weigh the arguments - not merely count them - but one also has to evaluate the arguments. The maxim of biblical hermeneutics "Texts without contexts are pretexts," applies equally well in historical research. James' research does what these apologists fail to do: consider the context, and not just the immediate context but the long-term context as well.

This goes back to what I said some weeks ago on the thread where people were treating scholarly credentials as if they are necessary indicators of good reasoning when said credentialed people support Catholicism but not necessary indicators of good reasoning when said credentialed people do not support Catholicism.

I can understand when untrained hack-apologist treat credentials in this superstitious and inconsistent manner. What I cannot understand is when people with formal scholarly training, as I believe Mr. Marshall has, treat credentials this way. No one who has gone through any formal scholarly educational course of any true quality - and who also subsequently refrains from becoming a member of the many "good old boy" network that lamentably exist in American higher education circles - treats "degrees" and head counts of scholars and impressive-lists of publications on CVs as if they are necessary indications of good reasoning. Nor do they treat such things as if they necessarily provide good reasons to alter one's whole religious life.

Scholarly work - REAL scholarly work - is about the quality, not the quantity, of the arguments. There are men who earned Ph.D's from prestigious universities who could not rationally argue their way out of a cardboard box, and there are formally uneducated men who could run circles around them. Some laymen I know can run theological circles around some seminary graduates I know. Quality of argument is not determinable by letters after one's name, nor by transcripts from Prestigious Institutions, nor by lists of people with letters after their name who hold a given position.

John Stuart Mill's fascinating essay The Ph.D. Octopus is a must read for all who are confused about the value and merits of American higher formal education.

Tim Enloe said...

My apologies, I wrote "John Stuart Mill" but I meant "William James." Must have been the burritos I had for lunch.

Turretinfan said...

Why hasn't Dave been deleted yet? He needs help abiding by his solemn blood oath not to interact with those whom he labeled as "anti-catholics."

And, as usual, he contributes nothing of value to the dialog.

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

The quotes post-dating 1528 that Dave gave are worthy of consideration.

So revising my original post here, there are some bits of evidence suggesting Luther held to some form of Sinlessness for Mary after 1528 - and taking note, as Dave pointed out, the qualifier: "I've never found any conclusive quotes from Luther (with a context!) after 1527." - it appears even Swan does not rule out such evidence (though considers it inconclusive).

Given that the post 1528 quotes are not being disputed, leaves three possible options regarding his belief in the IC.
After 1528 Luther was either:

(a) confused or inconsistent

(b) modified his original views, 'downgrading' to sinlessness at the Annunciation but not Her own conception

(c) he temporarily lapsed from his initial position

John Bugay said...

Nick, I would characterize many of Luther's positions as moving from a state of "not having thought this through carefully" (as a Catholic) to "what I think after having thought this through carefully."

For you to even suggest he was "confused or inconsistent" is just way off base.

Nick said...

Dave,

As a side note to the main topic:

Unlike Swan and Turretin Fan (and a few others), Tim has little credibility in my book - he has written very little of any substance, deletes/ignores posts that oppose his claims, and gives off a terrible stench of arrogance (educational superiority) which he uses to beat down disagreeing Catholics *and* Protestants - and all while pretending he humble in such regards.
(And to top things off, Tim has either deleted his blog (which is suspicious) or doesn't want the public to know about it since it's not even listed in his Google profile)

Nick said...

John,

How does "confused or inconsistent" not tie directly into your claim of "not having thought this through carefully"? They seem largely compatible, especially if (in the case of the sinlessness of Mary) he did say those post-1528 things which Dave cited.

I personally have no care about it either way - I'm glad though that there's reasonable grounds that he believed it pre-1528, since it will undercut Protestant attempts to demonize the very concept, just as they do regarding Perpetual Virginity.

John Bugay said...

How does "confused or inconsistent" not tie directly into your claim of "not having thought this through carefully"? They seem largely compatible, especially if (in the case of the sinlessness of Mary) he did say those post-1528 things which Dave cited.

You might say he was "confused" by simply continuing to believe the standard RC line about the Immaculate Conception. Or you might say he hadn't thought it through very carefully and just continued to accept it. You'd be saying two very different things there.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

Let me take the first example:

1540: "In his conception all of Mary's flesh and blood was purified so that nothing sinful remained . . . Each seed was corrupt, except that of Mary."

"His conception" refers to Jesus' conception, not Mary's. Mary's seed is Jesus. Joachim & Anna's seed was Mary. This quotation from 1540, therefore, stands opposed to the dogma of the IC.

The reference to "purified" is a reference to the flesh that Jesus took from Mary. Again, that reference shows that Mary was not pure and consequently the flesh taken from her had to be purified. Had Mary been preserved from all taint of sin, she (i.e. her flesh) could not have been purified any more than one can remove inclusions from a flawless stone.

With respect to the third quotation, it relates to acts of sin, not to original sin.

With respect to the middle one, I would want to see more context before I concluded anything from it. As it stands it could conceivable be part of a passage in support of the IC view, but it certainly doesn't mention original sin with any specificity.

-TurretinFan

James Swan said...

Sorry, I was away from cyber-space today (Glory to God for that).

I've cleaned up the thread-

I've deleted quite a number of comments. Those comments of relevance will be addressed later.

One thing though to note: I'm looking for Luther quotes with CONTEXTS after 1527, 1528, 1529, etc. on this topic.

Context context context.

Did I mention context?

More on this later.

James Swan said...

Taylor Marshall said...You write: "It makes a lot of sense that by 1530 or so, Luther's views on Mary would shift even more away from Romanism."This is conjecture. I'm citing sources. You're making suggestions of what *may* have happened after 1530.
ad Jesum per Mariam,Taylor Marshall Westminster Theological Seminary, 2003


Hi Taylor, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog entry. It appears to me you cited sources you never actually read, and it also appears you aren't familiar with this issue. As far as I can tell, the evidence points to a shift in Luther's view. Romanists need to deal with the evidence I've presented rather than ignore it. I can argue my case according to quotes with contexts.

If you have any other Luther quotes with a context, I'd be happy to look them over.

James Swan said...

All Protestants are ignorant bumpkins, and real education necessarily leads you to Catholicism.

There was a silly comment over on Windsor's blog I was going to post- His co-blogger, a convert, said:

Which group is more likely to understand the "evidence", the Church which understands and supports the doctrines evidenced in St. Augustine's writings or those who oppose everything he and the Church stand for? Sorry, I don't buy that the guys at BeggarsAll have a better understanding of St. Augustine than the Church he DID support and to which he was a member--a BISHOP.

Ah yes, real knowledge is only available via Romanism.

James Swan said...

Nick said... James I agree with your reasoning regarding taking a poll of scholars - it's never a good substitute for direct quotes from primary sources.

Yes, truth isn't determined by a poll, especially history. Now this doesn't mean there isn't value in looking to see a position that a scholar holds, this is quite acceptable. But that position must be argued and supported, not simply declared. I'm perfectly willing to sift through the evidence a scholar or historian puts forth. Even some of the material I put forth in this current blog post comes from previous studies in Piepkorn's position on this issue. Piepkorn cited Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlect Christi, 1543, Weimar edition, 53,640. compare for the year 1553, 37, 231, where he describes the B.V.M. as an sund (i.e. ohne Sünde, "without sin"). So, I went out and tracked down Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlect Christi and read it, and determined it did not say what he said it did.

The case you've laid out seems to be the extent of what's available evidence, meaning there is no (known) clear support for a post-1528 belief in the doctrine (and in fact, if your quotes are accurate, which I trust they are, a clear de-emphasis). There does seem to be sufficient proof of a pre-1527 belief in the doctrine, but that is not being disputed.

I'm more than willing to look through any Luther quotes on this issue and change my mind wherever the evidence leads. I simply ask those who think Luther held a lifelong adherence to the immaculate conception to produce not only quotes, but contexts. I can't figure some Romanists out- they don't seem to care what the context says. A hanging quote is not sufficient proof.

While I do appreciate these types of posts, I've said it before and I'll say it again, much of the work of your blog team is substandard (and even shoddy), and gives *YOU* and your (overall reliable) work a bad name at the end of the day.

Other Roman Catholic apologists have called me a Nazi and other foul things, and currently a post is on another blog speaking quite poorly about me. As to my co-bloggers, I've invited them to post here because I find value in their writing, and I've appreciated the material they've presented.

I see your blog team members doing precisely this in place of primary sources.

Well, the comment section is open, and honest pleasant dialog back and forth over sources is acceptable to all of us. If someone can pull up a source, exegete the text, argue their case- they are welcome here.

James Swan said...

I'm seriously interested in some sort of quote from Luther's own writings/sermons that comes after 1528. If such exists, especially in significant quantities, then Swan's claim is debunked.

A quote is not enough! Please, please, please, It's a quote with a CONTEXT. By all means, present a quote and an exegeted context, that is, an real argument.

This is addressed to the Romanist community that visits here: I'd like to know why you all accept quotes from wherever without looking at its original context? I've said this before- the way Romanists read Luther guarantees I'll never have a shortage of material to write about. They snatch quotes from here and there, never reading the context.

James Swan said...

As far as I can tell, Swan is simply saying there are no such quotes (we know of). I wouldn't want a Protestant projecting some belief on a Catholic saint or theologian that was not substantiated by primary sources and instead rested on the 'guesses' of scholars - so by the same standards we cannot project things onto Luther without reasonable proof.

Sure there are alleged "quotes." What lacks is an exegeted context. To simply post a bunch of one liners culled from a book serves as proof some Romanists don't really care anything about going deep into history.

James Swan said...

The bottom line is that no Luther quote is going to prove anything for you.

Unfortunately, this quite true for many Romanists.

Here's the deal: if a Romanist can argue their case with a context, I'd gladly look over the evidence. If they can prove their case- I would change my position.

James Swan said...

How much did he say about Mary compared with how much he wrote about other topics

Excellent point! Luther doesn't say a whole lot about Mary. for instance, when one actually reads Luther’s Marian sermons, one finds that Mary is usually not the main subject, Christ is. Hence, Luther generally emphasized Mary far less than Roman Catholics do (both then and now).

James Swan said...

The quotes post-dating 1528 that Dave gave are worthy of consideration.

No they aren't! Quotes with CONTEXTS are worthy of consideration. Please... you guys can't be serious in thinking a batch of quotes without a context proves something? Well, it proves to me some Romanists don't care about history.

John Bugay said...

Here's the deal: if a Romanist can argue their case with a context, I'd gladly look over the evidence. If they can prove their case- I would change my position.

Now there's an exchange that would be worth watching!

John Bugay said...

Hi Tim -- Sorry I didn't get much of a chance to respond to you yesterday, but I do appreciate your comments here and also the perspective on history that you bring.

You said: In point of fact, thanks to the massive vocational-technical shift in college training in America since World War II, most degrees these days aren't worth the paper they're printed on in terms of saying something about real thinking ability.

I think this has gone through several iterations -- I would have loved to attended college in the 50's or early 60's, when much of the older-style rigorous and classical kind of education was still part of the picture. By the time I got there in the 70's, basket weaving and women's studies were all the rage. I think technology over the last 30 years has changed things in ways that we still don't understand -- why might a computer science person need to understand German or Latin or Koine Greek? -- and of course, the economic gyrations of the 1999/2000 and the last few years have got people understandably nervous about just how to prepare themselves to make a living and maybe prepare for retirement.

Of course, I've been caught up in all of that like many people. And having as many kids as I do, I wonder what's coming next down the pike," especially in an economic sense. The "American Dream" was such that there was a constant opportunity to improve yourself. In the early day, land was cheap, and almost there for the taking. As people moved further west, a whole economic structure developed to help people to get there. From the railroads, and the coal and oil and steel industries that grew up to support all that - then the auto industry, and the wars of the early 20th century and the recoveries from those -- expansions of the 50's and 60's and even the development of the whole new areas of technology over the last 30 years -- all of these things in their own eras were tremendous drivers of economic growth.

But aside from some of the technology refinements like cell phones and iPad types of gizmos, the normalization of streaming video, it doesn't seem like technology can go too much further. The internet has as much bandwidth as it will ever need. Corporate computer networks are in great shape; just needing maintenance and tweaks. All of our homes are both "wired" and "wireless" to the point that they're not going to need to change much at all. There's not a "revolutionary new thing" on the horizon, as I see it. There's not an internet-style transformation of communication "out there". What there's going to be is a slow equilibrium. There will be pockets of growth as some other countries modernize, but we've maxed out technology as an economic driver, and reached "diminishing returns."

cont...

John Bugay said...

Instead, I look at my own home town, Pittsburgh, where we've fared well, in things like education and technology and medicine. Where's the "growth opportunity" here? UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) is now the largest employer, and we've got an aging population. My kids are going into the medical arena, because that's where there's a need, but that's not a thing that's going to drive hope, growth, and opportunity in the future.

But I do think there is a strong need, now, in the human person. The need to "understand it all," to put life into perspective. Where did we come from, where are we going? Those question, now that all of our physical and entertainment needs can constantly be met, are still going to be there, where they always are. And that's where blogs (and other sources) like this one are going to fill a tremendous need.

Like you, I want to write to fellow Protestants -- to share the Protestant heritage as I understand it (and with as much honesty and accuracy as I can bring to it). There were some rough moments, but Schaff is correct: on balance, the Reformation was one of the greatest "moments" in church history, and in fact, in human history. There is a richness in the study of the Reformation that you can't really get from other forms of study. I think that Protestants of all stripes -- Lutherans, Reformed, Anglicans, Anabaptists, and all their descendants -- can gain a tremendous amount of perspective by just bringing these things to mind (much less, studying the period in detail). A rising tide will lift all boats.

Another, equally important goal of mine, though, is to specifically address the "buyer's remorse" that I know some of these "Catholic Converts" must be feeling. Some of them aren't dumb. So they have got to realize the "90% nonsense and self-deceiving foolishness" that they find themselves participating in. They're human like the rest of us.

It's true, Roman Catholicism has had a lot of time to "get its story together." It promises a lot. As time goes on, people realize these are false promises, based on untruths in many cases -- and when you're in search of answers to some of those basic questions that we all have, you don't want to have to admit that something foundational to you is an untruth. I'm sure that eats away at these guys, despite all the bravado that they lead with. Over time, the untruths will eat away at them like a cancer -- all of them, except for the most idiotic partisans. (I think this is why Steven Wedgeworth points to some of the more honest Catholic scholars -- individuals like Raymond Brown and Francis Sullivan an some of the others that he mentions. They're at least trying to look for ways to understand "the promise" of Catholicism in the light of the historical research that denies it.)

And as the internet facilitates the spread of knowledge and understanding, that process of cancerous untruth is going to come more and more into the light.

We may not have the largest numbers, in terms of conservative confessional Protestantism. But I believe this is where the truest of the "true truth" can be found. That's a body of knowledge that will continue to build, and it will be sought out by more and more people in a world that seems to have everything else but meaning.

Tim Enloe said...

John, thanks for your thoughts on the technological and economic issues. I had not considered some of that before, and it seems right on and to dovetail with what I was saying about the perceived value of "degrees" in the culture at large.

As for the humanity of Catholic apologists, well, yes, I quite recognize that. My seemingly "harsh" remarks about that community are meant not to belittle other human beings, but to try to shock them into realizing that for the most part they are just blowing smoke and calling it real knowledge.

We have some screwed up ideas in this culture, even as Christians, about what "love" and "kindness" are. Scripture is our model for these things, and Scripture is not "nice" as so many people demand that those who criticize them be. Proverbs says that the wounds of a friend - the WOUNDS that a FRIEND gives! - are faithful, and that those who truly seek wisdom should receive correction, even if it is in the form of rebuke. So I place no stock in Catholics who whine about my "rhetoric" when they themselves are usually quite guilty of vain prancing around, pretending to know things they do not know, fancying themselves God's Own Chosen Instruments for Defending the One True Church Against Heretics, and so forth.

Such people need to be rebuked sharply in the hopes that they will come to their senses and begin to act more like responsible wisdom-seekers instead of like little children being tossed to and fro by every wind of whim and fantasy that crosses their undisciplined, unreflective minds. Rebuking them is actually the only truly KIND and LOVING thing to do, biblically speaking. BECAUSE they are fellow image-bearers, they need to be confronted with the areas in which they are failing to live up to that image.

This does not entail trying to read their hearts, of course. I stay away from pretending that I know this or that "Romanist" isn't really saved because he says he believes all the decrees of Trent, and so forth. God alone knows hearts. I only know what has been revealed, and the internal state of someone's soul in terms of salvation has not been revealed to me. What has been revealed to me, by their own words, is that most of the time they are very intellectually shallow and emotionally vulnerable people who got snookered by sophistical arguments they were not prepared to rationally examine and weigh. It would be nice if we could do nothing but focus on those arguments, but usually these people are too wrapped up in the glory of their conversion experience to do that. Sharp words become necessary because their self-delusions need to be shattered before the substance can be discussed.

John Bugay said...

Sharp words become necessary because their self-delusions need to be shattered before the substance can be discussed.

I agree.

Tim Enloe said...

It's interesting, this theme of the humanity of these apologists. I was talking with a fellow teacher a few days ago about the Bible course here, and she mentioned in passing that she had grown up Catholic, but never "got saved" until she got into college.

On the one hand, that's typical Evangelical talk - the whole "I wasn't saved until I prayed the Sinner's Prayer and asked Jesus into my heart" - which, from a Reformed point of view is just bad theology. Christ saves us when we exercise faith given to us by God, and the giving of that faith and the exercise of it can take different forms for different people, and can occur at very different times of life. 4 year old children can be saved without ever saying a prayer. Adults can be saved in spite of saying some prayer full of bad theology and spending half their Christian life in a whacked out church full of radically Bible-ignorant people. Salvation is not up to us, it's up to God. So in that way, my fellow teacher's "testimony" (dare I say, "conversion story" is just as bad as most of these Catholic convert conversion stories: it is purely subjective account of a life change that was not grounded in any really deep or mature knowledge, and it is indicative of a faith that, at the time, was very immature and shallow.

Yet, on the other hand, it's easy to see where the shallowness comes from. In Catholicism, contra the rhetoric of Vatican II and the fantasies of Evangelical laymen who convert and then promptly filter all Catholic beliefs through their Evangelical grid, the laity don't matter as much as the clergy, and large numbers of the clergy are themselves lacking in a substantive grasp of the faith or else are flaming liberals of one variety or another. The supposed awesome virtue of the infallible pope at the top of the whole thing rarely ever matters on the ground (except to converts, who romanticize the entire thing), and the people are rarely ever taught serious Bible teaching or anything else really serious, for that matter.

This is how ladies like my fellow teacher can grow up Catholic, yet come to realize later in life that they know almost nothing about the Bible, and come to characterize their experience as a Catholic as "we just went to Mass twice a week, and that was it." Well, given that kind of experience, it's no wonder that when someone exposes them to the pages of the Bible, they get blown away, convert to some form of Protestantism, and then spend their life claiming that they never heard about Christ in the Catholic Church, and never "got saved" until they were in college.

[cont]

Tim Enloe said...

[cont]

By equal-and-opposite contrast, in your run of the mill Protestant church (not Reformed), the people are also not taught much of anything serious either about the Bible or about anything else. They go through their Christian life thinking that Christianity is all about their private feelings about Jesus, their private views about “the literal interpretation” of the Bible, and “sharing their testimony” with others so that those others, too, can “invite Jesus into their hearts” and “get saved.”

They are never taught anything about basic principles of Bible interpretation, the history of the faith outside of their own denomination, how to think about cultural issues in a biblical fashion, and, most basically, how to have a faith that is just simply not afraid of the world. Most of them don’t read widely (let alone deeply), unless you count the Left Behind novels, Max Lucado devotionals, and the church bulletin’s sermon outline every Sunday as “wide” and “deep” reading.

No wonder people like this fall prey to a no-context citing blowhard like “Taylor Marshall, Westminster Seminary, 2003” or to a “Where’s your authority? In the peace of Christ” blowhard like Bryan Cross, or to any of 1,000 virtually identical mushy-gushy conversion testimonies on EWTN.

No wonder they radically upend their entire religious lives - and sometimes their entire home lives, complete with radical effects on their spouses and children - because some hack on the Internet told them that three citations from Ignatius of Antioch and a tract about how Luther invented sola fide from scratch because he hated authority and thought he was divinely inspired provide unbeatable proof that Roman Catholicism is the one true Church that Christ founded.
b
Nobody ever helped them prepare to deal with any of this, let alone to deal with the complexities of the world and how to relate their faith to it. A pastoral intern in the PCA church I attended in Dallas once came to me after the service and told me that Bryan Cross was running around several Protestant pastors’ blogs spewing his tripe about “authority,” and the pastors were just blowing him off, despite the fact that their own people, their own sheep whom God gave them to protect from sophists like that, were getting very confused about Scripture and their faith in Christ from reading Cross’ inanity. This intern then asked me if I had any materials he could present to these pastors and people so that they could be inoculated against Cross. I did, and I passed them on, but the whole thing just deeply saddened me and made me realize how, for all our wonderful apologetics ministries, somehow we Protestants are still deeply failing to prepare our people for dealing with the world outside the church walls.

You’re right, John, none of these people, Catholic or Protestant, are necessarily idiots. They’re for the most part just deeply (and often unconsciously) scared, spiritually shallow, improperly shepherded, intellectually unprepared human beings who got all destabilized by some spiritual trauma they endured, and very much like human beings, flailed around until they grabbed whatever life preserver they could find. On the one hand, sharp words are sometimes necessary to puncture their illusions, but on the other hand, they also need to be pitied and prayed for and somehow, as hard as it is, reasoned with in the hopes that they’ll come to realize, with all the wise men of the Bible, that they are nothing and they know nothing and that only by realizing that they are nothing and know nothing will God ever give them wisdom.

John Bugay said...

Tim, this is a worthwhile discussion, and if it's all right with you, I'd like to bring it up and start a new post. I'll be able to keep the comments focused that way.

Tim Enloe said...

Hey, John, I'm just a guest here. You can recite anything that appears here at your leisure, and for whatever reason you like. :)

I also think it's a worthwhile conversation in a lot of ways. Convert-itis is a really serious disease in lay Christianity these days, on both sides of the Protestant/Catholic divide. Both churches (speaking on a macro-scale) are failing to really educate their people, and that, in tandem with the loss of anything approaching the ancient and Medieval-Renaissance ideal of the education of free men and women in the public school system, has resulted in a "mass culture" full of shallow, sound-bite driven, easily manipulable layfolk who can't tell the difference between truth and fantasy or produce serious, reasoned, reflective arguments for most of their most important beliefs.

It's a tragedy of epic proportions.

John Bugay said...

Tim goes on and on about the abominable supposed opinions and behaviors of the dreaded, despised "Catholic converts"

As well he should. What is abominable is the raw material -- Roman versions of history -- that you are working with.

I think that all of the 1700 or so posts that James Swan has done are corrections of falsities that have been perpetrated by Roman Catholics at one time or another.

From the false stories that circulated (and were believed as true) about Peter in the second century, spurious [fictional] documents leading to Marian dogmas, through such blatant forgeries as the Donation of Constantine, Pseudo-Dionysius and the False Decretals -- all believed as Gospel truth during the middle ages and beyond -- abominations are passed on as truths and then codified by the supposedly "infallible" Magisterium as dogma.

Roman Catholicism truly is the personification of "Hitler's Big Lie."

And those of you who hawk Catholicism are spreading the lie.

Nick said...

This thread appears to have gone off the rails.

Context is always preferred and very helpful - but it's not always available nor is it always necessary. A point can be made that makes sense and is accurate without context, and if this subject was only covered in passing, we would only expect a passing comment not so much dependent on context. The problem there is that means the issue never was considered in any depth - and that's also considering he originally preached on and celebrated the Feast of Mary's Conception (and if he stopped celebrating this feast day later on, there's strong grounds he repudiated the doctrine - with the opposite conclusion if there is proof he continued to keep this feast on the liturgical calendar).

John Bugay said...

Catholicism is so far off of Biblical truth that even the pope can't defend Roman Catholicism from the Bible without subterfuge.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in development should know that there are two different kinds: the legitimate kind and the illegitimate kind. Newman wrapped them all into one.

So the “development” of incarnational and Trinitarian doctrine that takes place at Nicea, Chalcedon, etc., is really simply the necessary logical unfolding of what is already clearly present in the New Testament. ... Mozley speaks of this kind of development in terms of what I will call “Development 1.” Development 1 adds nothing to the original content of faith, but rather brings out its necessary implications. Mozley says that Aquinas is doing precisely this kind of development in his discussion of the incarnation in the Summa Theologiae.

There is another kind of development, however, which I will call “Development 2.” Development 2 is genuinely new development that is not simply the necessary articulation of what is said explicitly in the Scriptures.

Classic examples of Development 2 would include the differences between the doctrine of the theotokos and the dogmas of the immaculate conception or the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the former, Marian dogma is not actually saying something about Mary, but rather something about Christ. If Jesus Christ is truly God, and Mary is his mother, then Mary is truly the Mother of God (theotokos). She gives birth, however, to Jesus’ humanity, not his eternal person, which has always existed and is generated eternally by the Father. The doctrine of the theotokos is a necessary implication of the incarnation of God in Christ, which is clearly taught in the New Testament. However, the dogmas of the immaculate conception and the assumption are not taught in Scripture, either implicitly or explicitly. They are entirely new developments.

The same would be true, of course, for the doctrine of the papacy. The New Testament says much about the role of Simon Peter as a leader of the apostles. It does not say anything explicit, however, about the bishop of Rome being the successor to Peter. The Eastern fathers, e.g., Cyprian, interpret the Petrine passages that Rome has applied to the papacy as applying to all bishops.

Other examples of Development 2 would include purgatory and indulgences.
Newman presents his argument for development as a dilemma. Anglicans (and Protestants in general) accept the dogmas of Nicea, of the Trinity, of Chalcedon, etc., but these are not taught explicitly in Scripture. They are developments. But Anglicans do not accept the doctrines of the papacy, the Marian dogmas, etc., which are also developments. Anglicans are accordingly inconsistent. To accept one development is logically to accept the others as well.

Mozley’s response is that Newman conflates two quite distinct kinds of development. Development 1 adds nothing new to the content of faith. Development 2 does. Accepting Development 1 is a necessary consequence of taking seriously what the New Testament actually says. Development 2, however, adds something genuinely new to the content of faith. Nicea is an example of Development 1, not Development 2. The infallibility of the papacy is an example of Development 2, not Development 1. Accepting Development 1 does not logically entail accepting Development 2. By not distinguishing between the two kinds of development, Newman commits a logical fallacy, and his argument collapses.

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

By the way, let me provide more context, so you can judge for yourself whose immaculate conception is being considered in the 1540 quotation:

"Every man is corrupted by original sin and has concupiscence. Christ had neither concupiscence nor original sin. Therefore he is not a man: Response: I make a distinction with regard to the major premise. Every man is corrupted by original sin, with the exception of Christ. Every man who is not a divine Person [personaliter Deus], as is Christ, has concupiscence, but the man Christ has none, because he is a divine Person, and in conception the flesh and blood of Mary were entirely purged, so that nothing of sin remained. Therefore Isaiah says rightly, "There was no guile found in his mouth"; otherwise, every seed except for Mary's was corrupted."

(source)

Note that, as I said, this text actually proves the very opposite of what the Romanist had cited it for. It also shows that Mr. Marshall didn't do his homework.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

As for the 1545 quotation, here is the context:

“The Most Hellish Father, St. Paul III, in his supposed capacity as the bishop of the Roman church, has written two briefs  to Charles V, our lord emperor, wherein he appears almost furious, growling and boasting, according to the example of his predecessors, that neither an emperor nor anyone else has the fight to convoke a council, even a national one, except solely the pope; he alone has the power to institute, ordain, and create everything which is to be believed and done in the church. He has also issued a papal bull  (if one may speak like that) for about the fifth time; now the council is once again to take place in Trent, but with the condition that no one attend except his own scum, the Epicureans and those agreeable to him—whereupon I felt a great desire to reply, with God’s grace and aid. Amen!

First, I beg you, for God’s sake, whoever you are, a Christian, indeed, even if you still have natural reason, tell me whether you can understand or comprehend what kind of a council that would be, or whether it could be a council, if that abominable abomination in Rome, who calls himself pope, has such reservation, power, and authority to tear up, change, and ruin everything that is decided in the council, as most of his decrees bellow. Doesn’t it seem to you, my dear brother in Christ, or my dear natural-reason friend, that such a council would have to be nothing but a farce, a carnival act put on to amuse the pope.

What is the use of spending such great pains and effort on a council if the pope has decided beforehand that anything done in the council should be subjected to him, that nothing should be done unless it pleased him very much, and that he wants the power to condemn everything? To avoid all this trouble it would be better to say, “Most Hellish Father, since it makes no difference at all what is or will be decided before or in or after the council, we would rather (without any council) believe in and worship Your Hellishness. Just tell us beforehand what we must do; “Good Teacher, what shall I do?” [ Mark 10:17 ]. Then we shall sing the glad hymn to Your Hellishness, “Virgin before, in, and after childbearing,”  since you are the pure Virgin Mary, who has not sinned and cannot sin for ever more. If not, then tell us, for God’s sake, what need or use there is in councils, since Your Hellishness has such great power over them that they are to be nothing, if it does not please Your Hellishness. Or prove to us poor, obedient “simple Christians”  whence Your Hellishness has such power. Where are the seals and letters from your superior that grant such things to you? Where is written evidence which will make us believe this? Won’t Your Hellishness show us these things? Well then, we shall diligently search for them ourselves, and with God’s help we shall certainly find them shortly” (LW 41:263-264).

(source)

As you can see, the comment is one that is made in the midst of a rhetorical and sarcastic comment directed at the pope. Luther isn't necessarily setting out his own view of Mary any more than he is trying to analyze the pope's view of her. He's simply trying to mock the pope.

And, of course, the conception of Mary isn't in view at all. In other words, even if we assumed that Luther was describing his own view of Mary, it would only describe her sinlessness, not her immaculate conception.

Again, we see that the Romanist who brought this quotation was taking the comment out of context and distorting its meaning.

-TurretinFan

James Swan said...

Now there's an exchange that would be worth watching!

I really would be grateful for a Roman apologist to simply interact with the texts that are available. What did Luther say? Where did he say it? What was the context? This is basic stuff. This would be interesting, and beneficial.

James Swan said...

Nick said...This thread appears to have gone off the rails.

Well, I've deleted a number of comments, and you'll notice I've only be interacting with those comments related to the subject.

Context is always preferred and very helpful - but it's not always available nor is it always necessary.

I completely disagree, especially with Luther. The man's words simply cannot be isolated from context.

A point can be made that makes sense and is accurate without context,

That's true with Luther when it comes to issues in which his position is well established.

and if this subject was only covered in passing, we would only expect a passing comment not so much dependent on context.

If I understand you correctly, I'm completely on the other side. A subject covered in passing is indeed a good reason to go look at the context. Tfan has already posted a great example of this for you, an example I came across quite a few years ago. In LW 41:263-264, Luther’s statement on Mary is embedded in a highly rhetorical and sarcastic statement. Using this reference to substantiate Luther’s lifelong commitment to the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception is quite a stretch. Not only is Luther insulting the pope, he isn’t even in the mode of presenting an explanation of doctrine. He’s using the phrase, “the pure Virgin Mary who has not sinned” as an insult.

The problem there is that means the issue never was considered in any depth - and that's also considering he originally preached on and celebrated the Feast of Mary's Conception (and if he stopped celebrating this feast day later on, there's strong grounds he repudiated the doctrine - with the opposite conclusion if there is proof he continued to keep this feast on the liturgical calendar).

See this link. Gritsch notes that Luther abandoned the festival of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and her Assumption:

“He rejected the festivals of Mary's Immaculate Conception, December 8, and her Assumption, August 15.”

“According to Luther Mary should be honored in festivals that focus on Christ, which is why he eventually rejected the celebrations of her Immaculate Conception (December 8), her birth (September 8), and her Assumption (August 15). He did honor her in the festivals of the Annunciation (March 25), the Visitation (July 2), and Purification (February 2), since these are connected with the birth of Christ. "We dare not put our faith in the mother but only in the fact that the child was born."

“Luther continued to preach on these festivals, but stopped preaching on the other three festivals after 1523.”

When one actually reads Luther’s Marian sermons, one finds that Mary is usually not the main subject, Christ is. Hence, Luther generally emphasized Mary far less than Roman Catholics do (both then and now).

James Swan said...

By the way, when I said, "Tfan has already posted a great example of this for you, an example I came across quite a few years ago." I noted that because Tfan looked up this quote without my prompting him to do so. Like me, he simply read the context. I invite you to do the same, and let me know what you think. If you're going to respond to anything at all, let me know what you think of that quote, and if Roman Catholics should use it as proof of Luther's view.

James Swan said...

And one last thing Nick- When you read this comment from Luther:

...would rather (without any council) believe in and worship Your Hellishness. Just tell us beforehand what we must do; “Good Teacher, what shall I do?” [ Mark 10:17 ]. Then we shall sing the glad hymn to Your Hellishness, “Virgin before, in, and after childbearing,”  since you are the pure Virgin Mary, who has not sinned and cannot sin for ever more.

Do think that when I say this quote doesn't prove Luther's later view, that my opinion can be decribed as follows:

(d) a willful blindness to the facts that entrenches one in a misinterpretion of a text, no matter how strong the evidence against one's reading is. This can also be called "digging in" or "denial."

That's what another Romanist says I do (said in response to some comments you made on another blog).

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

Specially for you I created a blog post responding to the three quotations provided previously in this comment box (you've already seen the responses to two of them, the third is also addressed in my new post).

(link to post)

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

And it seems that Mr. Swan beat me to the punch on that third one (link to Mr. Swan's comments).

-TurretinFan

Nick said...

TF,

That is the type of information I was looking for.

Upon looking at the context (which was critical in this case), the "flesh and blood of Mary" is clearly speaking of Christ's humanity, not Mary herself. Thus this text was invalid proof.

The 1545 quote is a bit different. The context need not be on Mary, since this was a passing comment. This could go either way though. Luther is talking primarily about Mary as ever virgin (which I don't think he ever denied), and the comparison would lose it's force if Luther didn't believe in Mary's sinlessness. But given that the focus is mockery, it is possible he was mocking the Pope's view.
This is inconclusive evidence.

It is fair to say these two "proofs" do nothing whatsoever in terms of proving or maintaining Luther held the belief.

And as I said in the last post, if Luther dumped the Feast Days off the calendar - which James says he did - that's strong proof right there. Especially if he retained the feast days for other popular saints.

This is all simply to emphasize that doing a head count of scholars is dangerous, and that scholars often don't turn to primary sources or even very reliable secondary sources (which is a scandal in itself).

Turretinfan said...

"scholars often don't turn to primary sources or even very reliable secondary sources"

Sadly, this happens way too often.

Levi Ben Rubin said...

This is all every strange beating on a dead horse.

Does God have a mother?

http://levibenrubin.blogspot.com/p/mother-of-god.html

James Swan said...

This is all every strange beating on a dead horse.

Watch out for the tiger drinking tea in the building with snuggles.