This was telling:
...We are indeed, idol factories. Luther, Calvin, or whoever, were just men, and men with sins and faults. That's why I named this blog what I did. Even the best of our heroes or theologians are just beggars, even Luther.
I constantly have gotten the criticism from Roman Catholics that I "whitewash" Luther. That isn't at all the intent of my blog. I've simply tried to document the two major strands of Catholic interpretation of Luther. The older strand tends to overly vilify him, as do Internet apologists and zealous Roman Catholic laymen. In their minds, if it can proved that he was such a wretched and overt sinner, his theological insights and Reformation work have no value. This is the primary argument I've written against.
On the other hand, more recent Catholic scholarship realizes most of the earlier Roman Catholic criticism went overboard, which is what I've tried to show as well.. Unfortunately, it appears to me the older strand is alive and well, and more often than not, the charges against Luther's character were answered long ago, by more capable mind than mine.
It is extremely telling that Roman Catholics must defend Catholicism by playing "shoot the messenger."
There is not a "glorious Church" that they can defend. If there were, they would not have to take people's minds off the doctrines and practices they are discussing, and turn things into a debate over the personalities involved.
The "trash-the-messenger" response is bankrupt.
I think it's safe to say that one reason why Catholics have to try to debunk Luther at this level -- what he may or may not have believed at a certain time -- is because they can't debunk him at the substantive level of what he actually said about the Roman Church and its doctrines.
Luther was not the first Reformer -- I'm sure we'll get to talk about Wycliffe and Huss and others -- but he was the first Reformer who challenged Roman authority and lived to tell about it.
One can certainly assume that, given his station in life -- his absolute dependence as a monk for his sustenance -- that he was absolutely motivated to say true things. That is, he was not wont to "bite the hand that feeds him" unless what he was saying was absolutely true.
And Martin Luther gave them an opening. He said, "unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason ..."
The Glorious and True Roman Church had its opportunity. They could have said, "Ok Martin Luther, here, by Scripture and Plain Reason, is how we correct you."
If that option had been open to them, do you think they were smart enough to have taken it?
Martin Luther was a responsible eyewitness to the condition of the church in his day. That, too, is very telling. Over my next few postings, I'd like to talk about some of the things he actually said.