Saturday, September 04, 2010

Luther: Peasants are no better than straw

The following is from the web page Luther, Exposing the Myth, under the heading "Social Justice":

Christ taught: “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill” [Matt 5:6,Cf. Matt 19:18, I John 3:15, Matt 26:52, Romans 12:21].

Luther teaches: “Peasants are no better than straw. They will not hear the word and they are without sense; therefore they must be compelled to hear the crack of the whip and the whiz of bullets and it is only what they deserve” [Erlangen Vol 24, Pg. 294]

It is important to keep in mind that these peasants were actually Protestants who favoured Luther and his views, yet in order to please the German princes Luther and gain influence Luther did not hesitate to have even his own followers put to death! As one writer put it “I know of no example in history ( with the exception of Hitler’s famous, or rather infamous, June 30, 1934) where a man turned in such an inhuman, brutal, low way against his own followers – merely in order to establish his own position, without any reason.” – Peter F. Winer, Martin Luther, Hitler’s Spiritual Ancestor, Pg. 57

Luther Exposing the Myth says their stated purpose is to show that "from Luther’s own words we shall see him for what he really was, that is a rebellious apostate, who abandoned the faith and led many into apostasy from God under the guise of “reformation” in order to follow his perverse inclinations." With this quote, they attempt to show Christ taught one should thirst after justice, while Luther acted unjustly towards the peasants.

Documentation
Luther Exposing the Myth cites "Erlangen Vol 24, Pg. 294." "Erlangen" refers to the Erlangen Edition of Luther's works. This out of print German / Latin edition of Luther's works was published in the 1800's. Here is page 294. It contains the closing paragraphs of Wider die räuberischen und mörderischen Rotten der Bauern (Against the Robing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants, 1525). There is no such quote on this page as Luther, Exposing the Myth purports.  This particular reference is for this different quote.

An additional quote of commentary is provided from "Peter F. Winer, Martin Luther, Hitler’s Spiritual Ancestor, Pg. 57." Here's the next blatant error to point out: it's "Wiener," not Winer. It is probable this was the source from which Luther Exposing the Myth snatched this Luther quote. Wiener states,
Peasants”, Luther declared, “are no better than straw. They will not hear the Word and they are without sense; therefore they must be compelled to hear the crack of the whip and the whizz of bullets, and it is only what they deserve. We must pray for them that they may become obedient; but if they do not, pity is of no avail here; we must let the cannon-balls whistle among them, or they will only make things a thousand times worse."
Wiener doesn't document this quote, but a few paragraphs later in reference to another quote he refers to "E24, 294," the same source Luther, Exposing the Myth refers to. It's quite possible that Wiener also didn't use a primary source for this quote. In this section of Martin Luther, Hitler’s Spiritual Ancestor, Wiener heavily utilized M. Funck Bretano's biography of Luther, though this isn't the source he used for this quote (Bretano cites the quote on page 207 as " 'Give them straw and oats to eat,' he went on, referring to the wretched peasants. 'Since they are devoid of reason they must be made to understand their duties by means of the arquebus! There is no need to pity them, believe me! We must let the bullets whistle.' "). The secondary source used by Wiener therefore remains a mystery.

This Luther quote is actually from a letter to John Rühel. He was a councilor of Count Albrecht of Mansfeld in whose territory the peasant uprising was brewing. The German text can be found in WA BR 2:669. The quote can be found on pages 669-670,

This letter has been translated into English. It can be found in Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, Volume 2, p. 320 - 322. The quote under scrutiny can be found on page 321.


Context
John Rühel was a councilor of Count Albrecht of Mansfeld in whose territory the peasant uprising was brewing. Previous to this letter, Luther had written his Admonition for Peace as a reply to the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants (April 1525). At this point, he wasn't fully aware of all that was going on with the peasant's revolt and the atrocities they had committed. At the beginning of May, Luther wrote Rühel stating in part, "If there were thousands more of the peasants, they would still be altogether robbers and murderers, who take the sword simply because of their own insolence and wickedness, and who want to expel sovereigns [and] lords, and [to destroy] everything, and to establish a new order in this world. But for this they have neither God’s commandment, authority, right, or injunction, as the lords have it now" [LW 49:108]. By May 30, things had grown worse. Writing to Nicholas von Amsdorf, Luther stated:
In my opinion it is better that all of the peasants should be killed rather than that the sovereigns and magistrates should be destroyed, because the peasants take up the sword without God’s authorization. The consequence of this wickedness of Satan can only be the satanic devastation of the kingdom of God and of the world [LW 49:113].
On the same day, Luther penned the letter in question to John Rühel:
687. LUTHER TO JOHN RUHEL. DeWette, ii, 669. German. (wittenberg), May 30, 1525.
Grace and peace in Christ. Many thanks for the latest news, dear doctor and brother-in-law. We must hope and pray that God will graciously put an end to this wretched state of affairs. That the people call me a hypocrite is good; I am glad to hear it; do not let it surprise you. For some years now you have been hearing me berated for many things, but in the course of time all these things have come to nothing and worse than nothing. I should need much leather to muzzle all the mouths. It is enough that my conscience is clear before God; He will judge what I have said and written; things will go as I have said, there is no help for it.
As for showing mercy to the peasants, there are innocent men among them, whom God will save and protect, as He did Lot and Jeremiah. If He does not save them, then they certainly are not innocent, but have at least kept silence and approved of the rebellion. Even though they may have done it from timidity or fear, nevertheless it is wrong and in God's eyes a sin that must be punished, like the sin of a man who denies Christ because he is afraid, and my writings against the peasants are all the harder because without ceasing they compel these fearful souls to do their will and incur God's punishment.
The wise man says, "Cibus, onus et virga asino;" "straw for the peasant." They have gone mad and will not hear the Word, and so they must bear the rod, that is, the guns; it serves them right. We ought to pray for them that they may be obedient; if not, then let the shot whistle, or they will make things a thousandfold worse.
I shall write to the Bishop' and send you a copy. Munzer has not had the right sort of an examination; I should have asked him very different questions. His confession is nothing else than a devilish, hardened persistence in his opinion. He says in his confession that he has done no wrong. That is terrible. I should not have thought a human heart could be so hardened.
Well, anyone who has seen Munzer can say that he has seen the very devil, and at his worst. O God! If this is the spirit that is in the peasants it is high time that they were killed like mad dogs. It may be that the devil feels the nearness of the last day, and so decides to stir up all the dregs and show all his hellish power at once. Haec sunt tempora, but God still lives and reigns and will not forsake us. His goodness is nearer, mightier and wiser than the ragings and the ravings of Satan.
A report has reached here that the collector of Allstedt has been put to death, but we hope it is a lie. The same report is circulated about Dr. Strauss. Greet my sister-in-law, your dear vine, and her grapes. God have you in His keeping. The two sermons preached at the Elector's funeral are in press.- Martin Luther

Conclusion
One can see the differences between Wiener's translation versus a direct translation. One can also view what Luther, Exposing the Myth left out: "We ought to pray for them that they may be obedient" along with other similar statements from the surrounding context. Luther believed seditious peasants should be killed, and held that the governing authorities had the right to do so. It is against those peasants that were using the gospel to cause rebellion that Luther opposed. To put it bluntly, they were the devil’s agents, leading people away from the gospel. I've written more on this here: Luther and the Peasants Revolt and Luther and the Peasant's War.

Are the words of Christ and Luther in direct opposition? It's ironic that a Roman Catholic would think so since the papacy has used force throughout the last 2000 years. Luther, Exposing the Myth should have given stronger consideration to Matthew 26:47-56. Those who live by the sword (as the seditious peasants did) will die by the sword. None of the other verses they refer to have anything to do with a segment of the population revolting against established authority. Luther, Exposing the Myth refers to Romans 12:21 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." What they should have done was continue reading Romans 13:
Submission to the Authorities1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
It's a bit naive to think somehow a person living in a peaceful country, hundreds of years later, actually can meaningfully chastise Luther's writings against the peasants revolt. I would love to have the ability to stick these people back in 1524-1525, to see what they would think of the peasants while the peasants ransacked their house, or killed their family members, and threatened the stability of the land.

Luther, Exposing the Myth states "It is important to keep in mind that these peasants were actually Protestants who favoured Luther." Luther did not approve of societal revolt against secular authority, even previous to the peasants revolt of 1525. True, some of the peasants read Luther's writings, but they read what they wanted to in them, and ignored what they needed to from those same writings. When Luther, Exposing the Myth says the peasants were Protestants who favored Luther, in actuality they were societal rebels that favored those parts of Luther's writings that favored their cause. When Luther, Exposing the Myth states "Luther did not hesitate to have even his own followers put to death," this is grossly inaccurate. These people were not his followers. In actuality, the revolts began in a part of Germany that was remote from Luther's direct influence. Even those rebels nearer to Luther were not in direct contact with him. Luther was not their leader, nor did he create their movement. In fact, he continually spoke out against fanatical leaders previous to 1525. The peasants had their own fanatical leaders Luther did speak out against. At one point, Luther attempted to visit some of the peasant areas and barely made it out alive.

In regard to the secondary quote from Wiener given by Luther, Exposing the Myth, Gordon Rupp responded long ago. Wiener held that Luther changed his opinion on a government using force against rebels:
Finally, Mr. Wiener's most memorable utterance to date (p. 47). "I know", he says, "of no example in history (with the exception of Hitler's famous or rather infamous June 30, 1934) where a man turned in such an inhuman, brutal, low way against his own followers ... merely to establish his own position, without any reason. Treason of any kind is, in my opinion, honourable compared to Luther's change of colours." There is, of course, absolutely no evidence to suggest any connection between Luther and the rebels such as existed between Hitler and the "purged", or any other members of the Nazi party, though if it be true that the Nazis claimed Thomas Munzer as the first Nazi, there was more to it than to some of their claims. The charge that Luther "went over" in 1525 to the other side and for opportunist reasons can be completely refuted, and if it could not, it would still contradict Mr. Wiener's statement that he changed his side "without any reason", since to save his own skin would be quite a good reason, or a lot of people have been diving into air-raid shelters in this part of the world for no reason at all.
I do not know what the reader has made of all this. It is not easy to deal with methods like those of Mr. Wiener without overstating the other side, but I imagine that few readers will feel the comparison with Hitler and the purge of 1934 to be anything but forced and unreal. What, then, will they make of what follows? "Treason of any kind is in my opinion honourable compared with Luther's change of colours." Will anybody seriously consider Vidkun Quisling, Richard III, and Judas Iscariot and believe them honourable in comparison with Luther and the peasants? Well, well, well. We must make allowances. Evidently Mr. Wiener is one of those who feel very deeply the cause of the oppressed. He himself is doubtless living in some garret, having given up all to labour for the coming Revolution. But his pamphlet bears the address of one of our more elegant public schools. Gentlemen, let us clear our minds of cant! [Gordon Rupp, Martin Luther- Hitler's Cause or Cure? (London: Lutterworth Press, 1945) pp. 49-50].

Addendum (2016)
This blog entry is a revision of an entry I posted back in 2010. The original can be found here. Because so many sources are now available online, I'm revising older entries by adding additional materials and commentary, and also fixing or deleting dead hyperlinks. Nothing of any significant substance has changed in this entry from that presented in the former.

27 comments:

Raymond said...

What did the good Martin Luther have to say about the Jews?

Edward Reiss said...

Raymond,

This isn't my blog, but what you are doing is what I see atheists do all the time: When one argument is knocked down, they just bring up another without acknowledging the first was knocked down. The fact is that this particular RC e-pologist site has used sources sloppily, and that is the most charitable construction. If you do not believe that to be the case then you can show otherwise. By changing the subject, though, it makes it look like you only want to argue.

James Swan said...

Raymond said...
What did the good Martin Luther have to say about the Jews?


Do you really think I could track down "Erlangen Vol 24, Pg. 294" and not be familiar with the issue you raise?

Perhaps visit the sidebar of this blog at some point.

Steve, Liz, & Kate said...

What he said was repugnant and wrong but Luther's contemporaries said things like that all the time. It doesn't make him Hitler. As long as you're not trying to make him out to be a saint (which Lutherans' theology gives them no pressing need to do) it's also no big deal.

What they seem to be trying to do is knock Luther off his saint's pedestal. When I was Lutheran my response would have been "So what? He's not a saint. We don't need your 'saints' anyway." If Lutherans want not to be upset by or feel they have to answer such comments all they have to do is give up their hero worship and they can join with their RC brothers and laugh at Luther's idiosyncracies. He was definitely quite a "character" and had a Chestertonian wit and common sense, just more crude and down-to-earth.

James Swan said...

What they seem to be trying to do is knock Luther off his saint's pedestal.

Hello again Steve, Liz, &Kate.

There's a bit more going on with the Romanist presentation of Luther than simply trying to "knock Luther off his saint's pedestal." If that were simply the case, I would help Romanists knock him down.

For instance, Romanists often argue that Luther invented sola fide and sola scriptura, and therefore invented Protestantism, which in their minds, is heresy. The argumentation put forth is that Luther could not have been a "Reformer" sent by God to reform the church, nor could any of his theological insights be Holy Spirit driven. If doctrine develops, it certainly didn't develop positively through anything Luther put forth. To prove this, Luther words are scrutinized in order to prove his character was so flawed, anything he said is suspect. Perhaps visit this link and visit this link when you have some time before commenting further.

natamllc said...

I suppose Raymond is not born again seeing it seems he focuses on the same flesh Luther, Paul the Apostle and Isaiah did when it came to responses to the Jews in the "flesh"?

Until you can make the clear divide of the person, flesh/sarx, body/soma, soul/psuche and spirit/pneuma that's all you will see about Luther.

He was clear about what he saw about Jews living after their flesh.

Apparently Raymond does not?

Seeing Raymond focuses on Luther, here's Isaiah seeing we all have certainly read Paul?

Isa 1:3 The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand."
Isa 1:4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.
Isa 1:5 Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
Isa 1:6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.
Isa 1:7 Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
Isa 1:8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
Isa 1:9 If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.
Isa 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
Isa 1:11 "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.
Isa 1:12 "When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?
Isa 1:13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations-- I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Isa 1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
Isa 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
Isa 1:16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,
Isa 1:17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.


But, be of good cheer, my Lord has overcome the world, the flesh and the devils! This is true, we are beggars, all!

Tim Enloe said...

To prove this, Luther words are scrutinized in order to prove his character was so flawed, anything he said is suspect.

That's really funny. Try to talk to the apologists about the bad character of various popes at critical moments in Church history, and how that affected their doctrinal principles and examples to the rest of the Church, and it's "Oh, well, you know, the popes aren't sinless. That nasty stuff doesn't affect the positive developments that occurred through the office." Yet turn the issue around, and suddenly bad utterances by Reformers, or even sins committed by Reformers, proves they aren't trustworthy at all.

James, I don't know how you keep doing it - burying yourself in this irrational, obtuse stuff all the time so as to produce reasonable and contextual replies that anyone with an ounce of critical thinking ability should be able to appreciate, but my hat is again off to you. I still think you need to have your published, credentialed friends put in some serious words for you and get all this stuff out in a book or two, or get you on the docket at conferences. Seriously. Blogs are way too limited in their range and effect.

Edward Reiss said...

James,

"Do you really think I could track down "Erlangen Vol 24, Pg. 294" and not be familiar with the issue you raise?

Perhaps visit the sidebar of this blog at some point."

I am pretty confident Raymond is familiar with your arguments re: Luther's remarks about Jews, or with arguments very similar. But the point of his comment was not to complain about Luther, but to avoid interacting with the information you supplied in this post. It is not a serious reply, but he has succeeded in changing the subject to a degree.

Sometimes it seems that the RC e-pologists act like if any point, no matter how small, is conceded, their whole house of cards will collapse. So, when one argument is discredited, they simply change to another, and another, and another.

James Swan said...

I suppose Raymond is not born again seeing it seems he focuses on the same flesh Luther, Paul the Apostle and Isaiah did when it came to responses to the Jews in the "flesh"?

I don't know who Raymond is, nor what his agenda is.

That being said, I don't support or defend Luther's sparse harsh comments against the Jews written at the end of his life.

"Luther, Exposing the Myth" has snippets from these writings, I'll revisit them eventually.

James Swan said...

James, I don't know how you keep doing it - burying yourself in this irrational, obtuse stuff all the time so as to produce reasonable and contextual replies that anyone with an ounce of critical thinking ability should be able to appreciate, but my hat is again off to you.

I actually enjoy the mystery of it all-- tracing the quotes and documentation. I will say, now it's like catching fish in a barrel, and isn't as hard to do as some may think. It was more difficult when I had to buy the books cited, or go library to library in multiple states to look for the quotes. I'm not doing anything someone else couldn't do if they cared or had the time. Now with the Internet, there's no excuse for lack of context, and interestingly, I've seen a lot less Luther discussions on places like Catholic Answers and CARM. Romanists 9or whoever) simply can't get away with what they used to now that Google Books has virtually something on each obscure quote.


I still think you need to have your published, credentialed friends put in some serious words for you and get all this stuff out in a book or two, or get you on the docket at conferences. Seriously. Blogs are way too limited in their range and effect.

Thanks. Perhaps one day.

James Swan said...

I am pretty confident Raymond is familiar with your arguments re: Luther's remarks about Jews, or with arguments very similar. But the point of his comment was not to complain about Luther, but to avoid interacting with the information you supplied in this post. It is not a serious reply, but he has succeeded in changing the subject to a degree.

As I stated above, I don't know who Raymond is. Sometimes blogs tend to attract less than useful comments from people like Raymond.

Sometimes it seems that the RC e-pologists act like if any point, no matter how small, is conceded, their whole house of cards will collapse. So, when one argument is discredited, they simply change to another, and another, and another.

It would not surprise me at all if Raymond was an RC e-pologist. He could actually be the author of Luther, Exposing the Myth (his name is Raymond also). If it is him, he should be revising his web page rather or defending his web page rather than leaving trivial comments.

natamllc said...

I think the hard dark German beer and a wife and children and a realization of the deception that had him too, might have harden him just a weee bit? :)

It's my assumption Raymond might have been referring to:

On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543.

Maybe not?

James Swan said...

It's my assumption Raymond might have been referring to:
On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543.


Probably. This was one of a few of Luther's later anti-Jewish writings.

Steve, Liz, & Kate said...

And so? What if all those things about Luther were true? Probably some of them were, who hasn't wondered if he was a little bipolar. Stop calling yourself a "Lutheran" or a "Protestant" and just call yourself a Christian and it won't matter any more. You can have a brew with your brother RC and marvel together at the frailties of human nature. For every Luther or Calvin story he comes up with you can bring up a Borgia Pope or something. And if your RC friend demands a bona fide Saint who taught Justification by faith you can appease him with Bernard of Clairvaux.

The problem is you bloggers (and us commenters--I know I'm part of the problem) wouldn'an attract any readers if you didn't nitpick and bicker.

Andrew said...

My question for Raymond (and others) is this: Do you think that we don't know that Luther said and did sinful things? Do you think that Luther's having said and done sinful things makes the reformation illegitimate? And further, when it is demonstrated that he has been wrongly accused or taken out of context (something Mr. Swan is fairly adept at demonstrating) why don't you do as has already been suggested and concede the minor point and move on? It would be easier for me to take your arguments seriously if you did. I have a very intelligent Roman Catholic friend with whom I argue via e-mail etc... I have had to concede a point to him on more than one occasion; and I am still a Protestant. It's really not that horrible.

James Swan said...

Steve, Liz, & Kate,

It appears to me the three of you didn't bother to go through the links I posted.

I enjoy researching the quotes and putting them back in context. If this appears to the three of you as nitpicking and bickering, then simply go spend your time on another blog. If the three of you think I write what I do simply to attract readers you're all very mistaken. I write what I do because I enjoy doing it- whether it's five readers or two hundred. My Luther entries probably get a lot less attention than other subjects, and I have about another ten entries in draft, so obviously I don't care too much about keeping people interested.

The three of you also seem to have some sort of ecumenical agenda to unite the so-called "Christian" world in a rousing version of Kumbayah. You're definitely visiting the wrong blog. Any sort of get the Romanists to hold hands with the Protestants over the gospel agenda definitely falls on deaf ears here.

I suggest you visit elsewhere.

James Swan said...

My question for Raymond (and others) is this: Do you think that we don't know that Luther said and did sinful things? Do you think that Luther's having said and done sinful things makes the reformation illegitimate?

That's a great question. I personally find comfort in the fact that Luther was a sinner, in the same way I find comfort in reading about many of the Old Testament saints. Even the greatest saints are closer to Hitler in sanctification than to Christ. That is, Christ's righteousness is so perfect, if we put any of humanity on a scale to see how close they are, I think they would find themselves far from that perfect standard.

And further, when it is demonstrated that he has been wrongly accused or taken out of context (something Mr. Swan is fairly adept at demonstrating) why don't you do as has already been suggested and concede the minor point and move on? It would be easier for me to take your arguments seriously if you did. I have a very intelligent Roman Catholic friend with whom I argue via e-mail etc... I have had to concede a point to him on more than one occasion; and I am still a Protestant. It's really not that horrible.

Edward has been saying a similar thing. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if "Raymond" was the author of Luther, Exposing the Myth. It would not surprise me at all that the author of that web page wouldn't concede anything.

Steve, Liz, & Kate said...

OK I"ll "go elsewhere" if by that you mean "not tell you that I read your blog." but If you now say it is NOT nitpicking. you are conceding that you are wrong and the picky petty critics of Luther were right after all. Personally I think you were right earlier and you shouldn't have changed your mind to avoid agreeing with me.

As for the essays you linked to I read enough of them to see that you were getting defensive about Luther, which it seems to me that you NEED NOT do if you can just stop making your faith dependent on his sanctity.

What if he were the antichrist himself? would that change the gospel?

James Swan said...

Steve, Liz, & Kate,

Frankly, I haven't agreed with the three of you at all, in fact, I think the three of you are far from being critical thinkers, and don't even understand the issues surrounding Romanism and the Reformation. Of course, the three of you are are welcome to read this blog, but your comments- at least in this entry, are so idiotic, I'd rather not waste any more time on them.

Steve, Liz, & Kate said...

OK.

But since I entered this discussion with a couple of comments that demonstrated that at least one of your casual unserious readers understood what you were saying and agreed with you, your about-face disturbs me. Seriously I don't want you to read any of my comments if you're going to change your mind just to avoid agreeing with me. I am definitely not serious enough or informed enough about the issues surrounding the reformation to be ready for that kind of responsibility. There is in fact nothing about my character that makes me worthy of such a grave responsibility.

James Swan said...

your about-face disturbs me

There wasn't an "about-face", so why the three of you are disturbed isn't because of anything I've written.

Steve, Liz, & Kate said...

Thanks for the encouragement.

I'm sorry, it was my initial comment to the previous post where I did little more than expressing my agreement with you. I conflated the two posts in my mind because they both involved your defending Luther, and my "nitpicking" referred primarily to the nitpicking your unreasonable Luther critic was engaging in regarding Luther's letter and the "little sin" thing.
So Of course it is logically possible that you never agreed with anything I've said in THESE comments and perhaps likely given that they may be see as mildly critical of your approach to the subject of "Lutheran" criticism.

Steve, Liz, & Kate said...

This you certainly won't agree with: When you respond to the critics by defensiveness they have won.

The truth or falsity of that proposition does not depend on my understanding of the issues surrounding the reformation nor my seriousness. There--I should have been blunt right from the start.

Even if all the criticisms of Luther were true, that wouldn't hurt the gospel. This is true. We are beggars all. Why do you think I was attracted to this blog in the first place?

James Swan said...

This you certainly won't agree with: When you respond to the critics by defensiveness they have won.

Here's a word of advice, take it or leave it. If you go to visit someone else's house, try not to insult their decor. If by some chance you have a helpful suggestion on decoration, share it tactfully.

Saying things like "The problem is you bloggers (and us commenters--I know I'm part of the problem) wouldn'an attract any readers if you didn't nitpick and bicker" or As for the essays you linked to I read enough of them to see that you were getting defensive about Luther" doesn't all endear me to anything you have to say.

I often leave the comment section open, not for a pat on the back, but rather if someone wishes to challenge my findings, or add to what I've found. I don't leave them open to be exhorted to "have a brew with your brother RC and marvel together at the frailties of human nature." Romanists are not quoting Luther for this express purpose either. If you think they are, track down any books by Patrick O'Hare, Denifle, Henry O'Connor, or Maritian in regard to the Reformation. Or simply go spend some time on the Catholic Answers forums.

It is true that Luther's life- whether he sinned or shined, doesn't impact the truth of the gospel. Had you read the links I provided earlier, you would have these words:

One of my “hobbies” has been trying to fill a need... in cyber-space. I’ve tried to pick out those aspects of Luther brought up by Catholics, and present the other side of the story: the side that great Lutheran writers had presented decades ago.

I say its a "hobby" because I don't think its as important as other things worthy of discussion- like "faith alone" or sola scriptura. Unfortunately, when one engages Roman Catholics on these subjects, a digression is sometimes put in play that seeks to link Luther's life with these subjects. It is sometimes argued: "Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura cannot be what the Bible teaches, because Luther's personal life was so sinful."

If by some chance, any of my research can put a discussion of these important subjects back on track, I will feel as if I've done some good.


There it is plainly. What I do with these quotes isn't nearly as important as the gospel or the authority of sacred scripture as the sole rule of faith.

However, when some Romanists claim they are "deep in history" and then go on to cite Luther, this blog serves as a potent weapon to show such is not the case.

Steve, Liz, & Kate said...

Nonsense. Don't have a high opinion of yourself and your feelings won't be hurt. That's good advice. And if you think I'm your guest, feed me lunch or something.

You're right, I didn't get to the part where you called your Luther research a hobby, etc. It still seems like you're on the defensive when you say the things you do and it doesn't help your case. As for the "Romanists" one of the best things you can do with that kind of criticism is defuse it, and there is no better way than to laugh WITH them. You can laugh with them if you know that Luther's gospel (THE gospel, of course) doesn't depend on his sanctity. And I was serious about the beer thing. Fellowship and beer in moderation puts things in perspective very well. I go out of my way to have lunch and converse with PhDs almost every day so I don't become proud and hateful, I think you should find a way to dine with the people, "Romanists," you feel superior to.

"So he wasn't a saint--I have Christ and don't need your saints: However to put the record straight my research shows this about Luther..." puts it in perspective and doesn't let your opponents define the debate.

James Swan said...

Nonsense. Don't have a high opinion of yourself and your feelings won't be hurt. That's good advice.

Let me get this straight. You come over here, insult me, and then criticize me for calling you on it. Then you attempt to exhort me with some sort of superior morality, of which you'll take no correction over. What nonsense.

If you continue making idiotic statements on this or other blog posts, I'll probably delete your comments. Think before you post here again. I'll have no problem simply deleting your comments. In other words, determine if your time is worth wasting on something that will be deleted.

natamllc said...

Well, there certainly is one thing that I gain and am edified by with this blog. I come away with understanding the Scriptures rightly.

Thanks!

Case in point is the dialogue we read hereon above in light of these verse:

Col 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
Col 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,
Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Col 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
Col 1:8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Col 1:10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Col 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.


I find myself, first off, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to accept and convey from where our inheritance comes from!

Yes Luther, by all accounts, friend and foe, then as now, was one doozie of a sinner! He was a monk and for Heaven's sake! :)

How the Gospel changes things, huh?

After the Holy Spirit came alive with the Truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom within him, what does Luther, the monk, the doozie sinner do?

He marries a woman and brings children into the world and starts a beer joint!

Cheers!

Now, I suppose it is fair to conclude he didn't do that for drunkards?

:)