Saturday, December 11, 2010

Scott Windsor weighs in on Luther's belief in the Immaculate Conception

Scott Windsor has weighed in on Luther's belief in the Immaculate Conception, and says I'm arguing from silence that Luther later abandoned this belief:

Although his formulation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was not clear-cut, he held that her soul was devoid of sin from the beginning: "But the other conception, namely the infusion of the soul, it is piously and suitably believed, was without any sin, so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin and adorned with the gifts of God to receive the holy soul thus infused. And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin..."3
3 Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Volume 4, 694.
Correction on this citation, which many other Catholic apologetics sites have as well. This quote actually comes from a sermon preached by Luther ("On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527) and was published with his permission, but prior to the end of his life it is not found in published editions of his works. Modern Protestant apologists speculate that he rejected the Immaculate Conception, but this is an argument from silence.[source]
In response To Mr. Windsor: in yesterday's mail I received Luther's Works vol. 58 (published this month). They state:
Originally, Luther may have held something similar to the Thomist position, put forward in the Festival Postil (1527), sermon on the conception of Mary, WA 17/2:287-288, though the material in question seems to be solely the responsibility of its editor, Stephan Roth (d.1546), and was removed from the 1528 and subsequent editions: see StL 11:959-961; Baseley 1:50-51. In his later preaching, Luther affirmed that Mary had been both conceived and born in sin and connected her purification from sin with the work of the Holy Spirit at the time of Christ's conception: see e.g., Luther's sermons for Christmas Eve 1539, WA 47:860, and 1540 WA 49:173; Dufel, Luther's Stellung zur Marienverehrung, pp. 163-174, 196-97; Kreitzer, Reforming Mary, pp. 110-11 [LW 58:434-435].
Is Concordia Publishing arguing from silence as well? Hardly, they're affirming the same argument I've been presenting for years. In the article Scott Windsor has posted, it says "the Immaculate Conception was a doctrine Luther defended to his death." This is simply untrue. As to Luther's changing view on the Immaculate Conception, even some of my Roman Catholic opponents have finally conceded I'm right about this (it only took about seven years). See:

Luther: the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin
1544: Luther's Explanation Concerning Mary and the Birth of Christ
Response to Paul Hoffer on Luther & the Immaculate Conception
Luther: God has formed the soul and body of the Virgin Mary full of the Holy Spirit, so that she is without all sins
Did Martin Luther believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary?

Addendum #1I also took some time to work through some of Scott Windsor's Luther references posted on his website. He's taken the web page "The Protestant Reformers On Mary" from and added it as worthy material for his "American Catholic Truth Society." Now he's blogged the same page allowing me to comment on the material.

All of the Luther references had errors, and some of the quotes were grossly out of context.

1. "She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God ... It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God" [Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan (Concordia: St. Louis), volume 24, 107.]

This quote isn't from WA 24 (Weimar). It's from LW 24 (Luther's Works):
Therefore we must adhere to the speech and expressions of Holy Writ and retain and confess the doctrine that this Christ is true God, through whom all things are created and exist, and at the same time that this same Christ, God’s Son, is born of the Virgin, dies on the cross, etc. Furthermore, Mary, the mother, does not carry, give birth to, suckle, and nourish only the man, only flesh and blood—for that would be dividing the Person—but she carries and nourishes a son who is God’s Son. Therefore she is rightly called not only the mother of the man but also the Mother of God. This the old fathers taught in opposition to the Nestorians, who objected to calling Mary “Mother of God” and refused to say that she had given birth to God’s Son.
Here we must again confess with our Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, God the Father’s only Son, our Lord, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, was crucified, died.” It is always one and the same Son of God, our Lord. Therefore it is certain that Mary is the mother of the real and true God, and that the Jews crucified not only the Son of Man but also the true Son of God. For I do not want a Christ in Whom I am to believe and to whom I am to pray as my Savior who is only man. Otherwise I would go to the devil. For mere flesh and blood could not erase sin, reconcile God, remove His anger, overcome and destroy death and hell, and bestow eternal life."
Here, Luther's using the rich Christ-centered usage of Theotokos when discussing the incarnation or Christ’s Deity. I would agree with him. so, this quote may be a "shocker" to some sort of fundamentalist type, but not the Reformed or Lutheran.

2. "It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a Virgin" [Martin Luther, op. cit., Volume 11, 319-320].

This reference appears to be to WA 11, not LW. "op cit." refers to the previous reference. That means, The web page want us to go back to the source just cited. Well, it unknowingly cited LW. This reference though is sort of from WA 11. Here is an English rendering of pages 319-320 from WA 11. Where is "It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a Virgin" located? happened after the coming of Christ, but remained solely in the possession of the fathers and their descendants.
Now just take a look at the perverse lauders of the mother of God. If you ask them why they hold so strongly to the virginity of Mary, they truly could not say. These stupid idolators do nothing more than to glorify only the mother of God; they extol her for her virginity and practically make a false deity of her. But Scripture does not praise this virginity at all for the sake of the mother; neither was she saved on account of her virginity. Indeed, cursed be this and every other virginity if it exists for its own sake, and accomplishes nothing better than its own profit and praise.
The Spirit extols this virginity, however, because it was needful for the conceiving and bearing of this blessed fruit. Because of the corruption of our flesh, such blessed fruit could not come, except through a virgin. Thus this tender virginity existed in the service of others to the glory of God, not to its own glory. If it had been possible for him to have come from a [married] woman, he would not have selected a virgin for this, since virginity is contrary to the physical nature within us, was condemned of old in the law, and is extolled here solely because the flesh is tainted and its built-in physical nature cannot bestow her fruit except by means of an accursed act.
Hence we see that St. Paul nowhere calls the mother of God a virgin, but only a woman, as he says in Galatians 3 [4:4], “The Son of God was born of a woman.” He did not mean to say she was not a virgin, but to extol her virginity to the highest with the praise that is proper to it, as much as to say: In this birth none but a woman was involved, no man participated; that is, everything connected with it was reserved to the woman, the conceiving, bearing, suckling, and nourishing of the child were functions no man can perform. It is therefore the child of a woman only; hence, she must certainly be a virgin. But a virgin may also be a man; a mother can be none other than a woman.
For this reason, too, Scripture does not quibble or speak about the virginity of Mary after the birth of Christ, a matter about which the hypocrites are greatly concerned, as if it were something of the utmost importance on which our whole salvation depended. Actually, we should be satisfied simply to hold that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ because Scripture does not state or indicate that she later lost her virginity. We certainly need not be so terribly afraid that someone will demonstrate, out of his own head apart from Scripture, that she did not remain a virgin. But the Scripture stops with this, that she was a virgin before and at the birth of Christ; for up to this point God had need of her virginity in order to give us the promised blessed seed without sin.
The third passage is addressed to David, II Samuel 7[:12–14], “When your days are fulfilled, and you sleep with your fathers, I will raise up your seed after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom for ever. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” These words cannot have been spoken of Solomon, for Solomon was not a posthumous son of David raised up after his death. Neither did God after Solomon (who during David’s lifetime was born and became king) ever designate anyone as His son, give him an everlasting kingdom, or have him build such a house. Consequently, the whole passage must refer to Christ. We will let this passage go for the present because it is too broad and requires so much in the way of exegesis; for one would have to show here that Christ accordingly had to be the son of a woman only in order to be called here God’s child, who neither should nor could come out of an accursed act.
The fourth passage is Isaiah 7[:14], “God himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin [jungfrau] is with child, and shall bear a son.” This could not have been said of a virgin who was about to be married. For what sort of a marvelous sign would that be if someone who is presently a virgin should bear a child within a year? Such is the ordinary course of nature, occurring daily before our eyes. If it is to be a sign from God, therefore, it must be something remarkable and marvelous not given by the ordinary course of nature, as is commonly the case with all God’s signs.
It is of no help for the Jews either to try to evade the issue here and come up with this way of getting around it, namely: the sign consists in the fact that Isaiah says flatly that the child shall be a son and not a daughter. By such an interpretation the sign would have nothing to do with the virgin but only with the prophet Isaiah, as the one who had divined so precisely that it would not be a daughter. The text would then have to speak of Isaiah thus, “Behold, God himself will give you a sign, namely, that I, Isaiah, will divine that a young woman [jung weyb] is carrying a son, and not a daughter.” Such an interpretation is disgraceful and childish.

Now granted, we could probably infer here that for Luther "It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a Virgin" from "Actually, we should be satisfied simply to hold that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ." That would be my guess.

4. "Although he did not make it an article of faith, Luther said of the doctrine of the Assumption: 'There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in heaven. How it happened we do not know.'" [Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works (Translation by William I. Cole) 10, p. 268.]

First error: William J. Cole didn't translate Volume 10 of Luther's Works. The quote was probably snatched from his article "Was Luther a Devotee of Mary?" (Marian Studies), (1970), 123-124. The reference left out what Cole actually cited: WA 10 (3), 268, 13 to 269. The (3) is crucial because there are three volumes of Volume 10.

Luther stated in 1522:
Today the festival of our dear lady, the mother of God, is observed to celebrate her death and departure above. But how little this Gospel corresponds with this is plain. For this Gospel tells us nothing about Mary being in heaven. And even if one could draw from this text every detail about what it is like for a saint to be in heaven, it would be of little use. It is enough that we know that departed saints live in God, as Christ concludes in Matthew [Matthew 22] based on the passage in Exodus [Exodus 4] where God says to Moses, "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob," that God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.
Now, let's take off our Assumption glasses for a moment with this Luther quote from 1522. Toward the end of his life, Luther delivered a series of lectures on the book of Genesis. Note the following:

This is what Moses wanted to indicate when he speaks of 'the lives of Sarah.' It is as though he were saying: 'Sarah, in conformity with differences in places and people, often adopted a different attitude and different ways. When she came to a place where she thought she would live pleasantly and quietly, she was compelled to move and to change her plans and feelings as she did so.' For this reason that saintly woman had many lives. More attention should have been given to these things, although it is easy for me to believe that in her hundredth year she was just as beautiful as she was in her twentieth.
Then one should much rather consider how Abraham delivered a beautiful funeral address about Sarah. For in the Holy Scriptures no other matron is so distinguished. Her years, lives, conduct, and burial place are described. In the eyes of God, therefore, Sarah was an extraordinary jewel on whom extraordinary love was bestowed, and she is mentioned deservedly by Peter as an exemplar for all saintly wives. He says (1 Peter 3:6) that she called Abraham lord and that “you are her daughters.” To all Christian matrons Peter holds her up as a mother.
Scripture has no comments even on the death of other matriarchs, just as it makes no mention of how many years Eve lived and of where she died. Of Rachel it is recorded that she died in childbirth (Gen. 35:16–19). All the other women it passes over and covers with silence, with the result that we have no knowledge of the death of Mary, the mother of Christ. Sarah alone has this glory, that the definite number of her years, the time of her death, and the place of her burial are described. Therefore this is great praise and very sure proof that she was precious in the eyes of God.
But these facts do not concern Sarah, who is already dead, as much as they concern us, who are still alive. For it is a very great comfort to hear that the departure and death of that most saintly matriarch and of all the fathers, in comparison with whom we are nothing, differs in no wise from our own death but was just as odious and ignominious as our own is. Their bodies were buried, consumed by worms, and hidden in the earth on account of their stench, not otherwise than if they had not been the corpses of saints; yet they were most saintly people, and, although departed, they are actually alive in Christ.
Accordingly, these things are written for our sakes, in order that we may know that the most saintly fathers and mothers underwent the same experiences we are wont to undergo. Nevertheless, it is certain about them that in the eyes of God they live; and I believe that they — namely, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Adam, etc. — rose with Christ.

Note above how Luther treats Mary. He doesn't speak of some cryptic way in which Mary disappeared off the earth. No, she's placed in a list with others whose deaths are not recorded in Scripture, and are passed over in silence. Are we to assume, based on Luther's words, that all the women were Assumed into Heaven?

The volume from which Scott's assumption quote comes from has all sorts of feast day sermons, some to various saints. In each instance, Luther says things like "what this person did isn't in Scripture, so we aren't going to talk about it."

5. "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart" [Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works (Translation by William J. Cole) 10, III, p.313].

William Cole didn't have anything to do with WA 10 (3), The reference otherwise is accurate.

As to "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart"- in context, Luther states,
You know, my friends, that deep in the heart of men is inscribed the honor with which one honors the mother of God; yes, it is even so deep that no one willingly hears anything against it, but extols her more and more.
Luther's point is that whatever respect Mary was due to her, the Church collectively had gone far beyond it. Note Luther's qualifier: "Now we grant that she should be honored since we are enjoined by the Scripture to receive one another with honor, as Paul says (Romans 12:10); so man must also honor her." Romans 12:10 states, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another." Luther saw that Mary had become more than she actually was. Note where Luther places Mary with his veneration of her:
We are called Christians after Christ, because we depend upon him alone and are his children and heritage; in this respect we are like the Mother of God herself and Mary's brothers and sisters; otherwise we do injury to the holy blood of Christ, for through his blood all of us are cleansed from sin and made partakers of his goods. In this respect we are likewise holy as she. And if she received greater grace, that did not happen because of her merit but because of the mercy of God, for we cannot all be the mother of God. Otherwise she is like to us inasmuch as, by the blood of Christ, she has come to grace as we have. WA 10 (3), 315, 10 to 316, 11
So there you go- in a passage in which Luther chastises the church of his day for excessive Mary worship, and Mary is to be honored as all Christians are according to Romans 12:10, the quote is cited by Catholic apologists to prove Luther held to similar devotional practices of today's Roman Catholic. For a detailed look at this quote see: Luther: The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.

6. " 'Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent's head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing.' Luther made this statement in his last sermon at Wittenberg in January 1546" [Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther's Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Volume 51, 128-129].

Pelikan had nothing to do with WA 51, nor did he edit LW 51.Yes, the quote is in WA 51. Unfortunately, it's completely out of context. The quote can be found in the following context. Is Luther being cited in context?

And what I say about the sin of lust, which everybody understands, applies also to reason; for the reason mocks and affronts God in spiritual things and has in it more hideous harlotry than any harlot. Here we have an idolater running after an idol, as the prophets say, under every green tree [cf. Jer. 2:20; I Kings 14:23], as a whorechaser runs after a harlot. That’s why the Scriptures call idolatry whoredom, while reason calls it wisdom and holiness. How the prophets inveighed against this lovely whoredom, idolatry! It is a wild thing which is not easily caught and its foolishness is inborn, but it considers itself the height of wisdom and justice, and still it cannot understand the things of God. We must guard against it, as the prophets say: You must not serve God on the mountains or in the valleys or under the trees, but in Jerusalem, which is the place that God appointed for his worship and where his Word is. But here again, reason says: True enough, I have been called, circumcised, and adjured to go to Jerusalem, but here is a beautiful meadow, a fine green mountain; if we worship God here this will please God and all the angels in heaven. After all, is God the kind of God who binds himself only to Jerusalem? Such wisdom of reason the prophets call whoredom.
Therefore, when we preach faith, that we should worship nothing but God alone, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we say in the Creed: “I believe in God the Father almighty and in Jesus Christ,” then we are remaining in the temple at Jerusalem. Again, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” [Matt. 17:5]. “You will find him in a manger” [cf. Luke 2:12]. He alone does it. But reason says the opposite: What, us?Are we to worship only Christ? Indeed, shouldn’t we also honor the holy mother of Christ? She is the woman who bruised the head of the serpent. Hear us, Mary, for try Son so honors thee that he can refuse thee nothing. Here Bernard went too far in his “Homilies on the Gospel ‘Missus est Angelus.’ ” God has commanded that we should honor the parents; therefore I will call upon Mary. She will intercede for me with the Son, and the Son with the Father, who will listen to the Son. So you have the picture of God as angry and Christ as judge; Mary shows to Christ her breast and Christ shows his wounds to the wrathful Father. That’s the kind of thing this comely bride, the wisdom of reason cooks up: Mary is the mother of Christ, surely Christ will listen to her; Christ is a stern judge, therefore I will call upon St. George and St. Christopher.
No, we have been by God’s command baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, just as the Jews were circumcised. Therefore, just as the Jews set up all over the land their own self-chosen shrines, as if Jerusalem were too narrow, so we also have done. As a young man must resist lust and an old man avarice, so reason is by nature a harmful whore. But she shall not harm me, if only I resist her. Ah, but she is so comely and glittering. That’s why there must be preachers who will point people to the catechism: I believe in Jesus Christ, not in St. George or St. Christopher, for only of Christ is it said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]; not of Mary or the angels. The Father did not speak of Gabriel or any others when he cried from heaven, “Listen to him” [Matt. 17:5].
Therefore I should stick to the catechism; then I can defend myself against reason when the Anabaptists say, “Baptism is water; how can water do such great things? Pigs and cows drink it. The Spirit must do it.” Don’t you hear, you mangy, leprous whore, you holy reason, what the Scripture says, “Listen to him,” who says, “Go and baptize all nations” [Matt. 28:19], and “He who believes and is baptized [will be saved”]? [Mark 16:16]. It is not merely water, but baptism given in the name of the holy Trinity.

There's a lot of things to correct with Scott's webpage, at least with the Luther material. I didn't have time for the Calvin & Zwingli quotes. The quote from Luther on the Immaculate Conception should be removed entirely, as should Scott's "argument from silence" comment in his footnote. The Luther comment allegedly affirming the Assumption should likewise be removed, as the quote in context doesn't support any such thing. Also the two quotes about "honor to Mary" should be removed, as they likewise say no such thing in context.

Addendum #2Scott Windsor made some adjustments to his blog entry. Despite my better judgment, he's requesting a response. Below are Scott's recent comments or adjustments, and my response.

1. "Before we begin citing Luther, it must be noted that while he did continue honoring the Blessed Virgin in a very "Catholic" sense for a time after his departure from the visible Catholic Church; later in his life such sentiments are either flatly denied or have disappeared into silence."
Scott, define and explain Luther's "honoring the Blessed Virgin in a very 'Catholic" sense.' " Here you'll need to investigate Luther's "honoring." Then you need to revise that part of your blog article "Honor to Mary."

2. "Therefore, contextually speaking I can only support that Luther held these views in his Catholic and early Protestant days - but not through to the end of his life."
Then you contradict your posted article "the Immaculate Conception was a doctrine Luther defended to his death." Pick one.

3. "Modern Protestant apologists speculate that he rejected the Immaculate Conception, but this is an argument from silence."
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you haven't read the links of the work I've done on this. Even the latest volume of Luther's Works supports my conclusion. Explain to me why my links are "arguments from silence." That is, go through my material, and show me where the "silence" is.

4. "I am still looking for where the "J. Pelikan" citation originates, if it does not turn up, I will delete it entirely and stick with wholly valid sources I have found."
Do you really think Pelikan had anything to do with a volume of Luther's writings published in the 1800's? The Latin text Ben M. found was published quite a long time ago.

5. "From what I am seeing, there's not a lot to "correct" - moreso to contextualize - which I believe my added statement at the beginning of the article now clarifies."
Well, if you attribute things to Luther like a lifelong belief in the Immaculate Conception or purposefully left the door open to Mary's Assumption, these are errors. The quotes about honoring Mary are not Roman Catholic-esque. The quotes you have posted actually speak against honoring Mary in a Romanist sense.

6. " The quotes are legitimately from Luther and AFTER his split with the Catholic Church - but I could not say he held these views throughout his life with a few exceptions."
And, if you'll simply read the materials on my blog, you'd then be informed.

7. "James Swan has basically stated that all citations and quotes should be thrown out, I beg to differ."
That is not what I "basically stated." It's true Luther used the term "Mother of God." It's true Luther held a lifelong belief in Mary's perpetual virginity. Keep in mind, if you want to be fair and honest with Luther, let him be Luther. See how defends or treats the issues.

8."Quote 1: The citation was inaccurate, according to his research (based on his mistake regarding quote 6, I'm not so sure, but we'll get to that in a moment."
What mistake did I make in quote six? You then said a few paragraphs later of quote six "On this quote it would appear Mr. Swan is correct and the original citation was taken out of context."

9. "Swan agrees that this can be seen as an "article of faith" since Luther said, "Actually, we should be satisfied simply to hold that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ."
Actually, my position is it's the only thing I found in the context that was remotely possible, and I'm being generous. It's up to you to prove that the quote you're citing is correct. This takes work Scott. you know how long looking up these quotes takes? A long time. As it stands, the context doesn't say anything about "article of faith." It's up to you to prove the citation accurate, not me. As it stands, the quote isn't in the context cited. I showed you the context, now you show me where it says "article of faith." If you can't prove "article of faith"- I suggest you use the quote I provided instead.

10. Quote 3: Citation is confusing, but appears to be an accurate citation of the Latin sermon in question - and the quotation is accurate. I'm still working on resolving this one completely, but it appears to be a "good quote."
LOL. Luther removed the quote and rewrote the place in the sermon where the quote was. The editors of Luther's works don't even think Luther wrote it. I'm not going to spoon feed you on this one. You've got my links, read them, and deal with the facts.

11. Quote 4: Citation should have been Cole's work Was Luther a Marian Devotee?" I fixed that.
The quote doesn't support the assumption. I have the entire sermon, and also you completely ignored the other material on this I provided. This should be removed. It isn't any sort of positive evidence Luther allowed for, or granted the assumption. If you've got any positive proof, I'd like to see it.

12. Quote 5: The citation was off (citing Cole again), and I fixed it. Swan himself said that other than the reference to Cole, "The reference otherwise is accurate."
If you want to deal with this quote, deal with what I've written on it: Luther: The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.

13. I'm sure Mr. Swan would like me to just agree with him on all his renderings - but I don't see how I could objectively do so.
No, I would like you to interact with the historical research I've presented, and then disagree with my conclusion with arguments and reasoning. If you won't do that, we're done here.

14. "I withdraw the implication that my post on BeggarsAll was somehow removed."
I know of no way to delete posts and then add them back to the blog. That would be a cool trick.


zipper778 said...

James, you've really done a lot of work in this subject and I do appreciate it too. My thing about the whole Luther/Mary subject though is that I can't understand why RC's focus on it so much when Protestants are more interested in the soundness of doctrine, not who believes in it. It seems to me that many RC's don't understand how to convince Protestants of their beliefs.

Protestants on the other had just want proof of doctrines that the RCC holds onto which are outside of the Bible, history, and reason. But these kinds of arguments to me show how shallow the RC position truly is. It doesn't matter to the Protestant if a Reformer believed an untrue doctrine per se, because everyone makes mistakes. It is the RC who has the issue because there is no evidence of there denomination being spotless, ever.

In the end, I am just proud to say that there is a God who loves us and talks with us personally everyday. Praise God that He gave us an infallible mediator who is flawless and sacrificed Himself for us. There is no need of a priesthood to help us since we are the royal priesthood and Jesus Christ is our High Priest.

James Swan said...

I can't understand why RC's focus on it so much when Protestants are more interested in the soundness of doctrine, not who believes in it. It seems to me that many RC's don't understand how to convince Protestants of their beliefs

I agree.

The Luther / Mary stuff put forth by Romanists is, in a sense, propaganda: "Luther believed it, therefore, so should you." This isn't a valid argument.

I enjoy looking at Luther quotes often only to demonstrate Romanists do not go deep into history. Whether or not I agree or disagree with Luther is quite besides the point.

Andrew said...

What's funny is when it is pointed out by folks like Dr. White (that mean nasty anti-catholic bigot) that there were "popes", including Gregory the Great, who rejected the IC the RCs will come up with all sorts of clever ways to get around the fact that they are, by their own definition, beholden to the teachings of these men. Whereas we are beholden to the teachings of Luther, Calvin, etc... only in so far as what they taught was true. It seems as though they would like to impose their concept of infallibility onto us in order to make these kinds of bogus arguments from authority (Luther believed X. You are a Protestant, so you should also). And yet, they will assume our view of non-infallibility just long enough to squirm out from under certain inconvenient things taught and believed by allegedly infallible "popes". It's enough to make one's head spin.

CathApol said...

Let me say, I, for one, as a Catholic and former Lutheran also appreciate the amount of work Mr. Swan has put into this subject. The page on my website (which stirred this recent round of the conversation) was originally compiled by a participant in one of the ACTS discussion groups (BattleACTS) and apparently she copied and pasted from a Catholic site (formatting and wording was identical). I have cited her original source plus on my blog (and soon on the page on my website) I've added corrections to citations and a disclaimer to the start of the Luther quotes.

I also agree, I don't really see why the focus on what those early defectors from the Catholic Faith really amount to in the bigger picture. When I first published that page (nearly 10 years ago) it was an interesting novelty, and today - I can say it's just that - a novelty and not really worth spending too much time and/or effort upon.

As for Andrew's comments, Catholics do not believe all popes were impeccable and/or that every one of them adhered to dogma not explicitly defined as such in their time. To insist upon such is pure anachronism unless one is advocating for papal impeccability - which Catholics do not. Papal infallibility, while valid and scriptural, is quite limited in scope and application.


John Bugay said...

As for Andrew's comments, Catholics do not believe all popes were impeccable and/or that every one of them adhered to dogma not explicitly defined as such in their time. To insist upon such is pure anachronism unless one is advocating for papal impeccability - which Catholics do not.

Scott: no one even dreams of suggesting that you advocate "papal impeccability."

But there is a HUGE, HUGE difference between "impeccability" and the sorts of scoundrels that they really were.

There is also a huge, huge gulf between what they were and what Paul suggested that bishops ought to be.

Why do you need to feel the need to hide behind the straw man of "papal impeccability" when there's so much more of a genuine standard that you've completely ignored?

"Pope" Damasus was a murderer for example. And this was prior to his "election". Paul would have a bishop (any bishop!) be "above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money."

You've wiped away these requirements in order to maintain "Pope Damasus" in the "unbroken succession" and you've even made him a saint.

steelikat said...


So? There is a huge difference between impeccability and the kind of scoundrel I am. Lots of us Christians are scoundrels, which is why I guess we cling to Christ. If a medieval pope was a scoundrel (murderer, adulterer, whatever) who despaired of his own righteousness and clung to Christ that pope is my brother. If another medieval pope bragged of his own righteousness and his conformity to Paul's standards for what a bishop ought to be and trusted in that righteousness to save himself, otoh...

You have good arguments to support your case. piling on bad arguments won't help your good arguments. Impeccability is logically and rationally irrelevant to the question of the Roman doctrine of papal infallibility, since the Roman doctrine does not say that the way the Holy Spirit will prevent a given pope from violating infallibility will necessarily involve making him a good bishop or even a good person (or even a saved person). I don't believe in papal infallibility, which is why what you are doing bothers me. By arguing badly, you may tend to help the Roman case in the minds of some ("if the RC church is wrong how come John can't make a good argument against it?")

Scott Windsor said...

Mr. Bugay,
My response to Andrew is due to the fact that he, as many other "mean and nasty anti-Catholic bigots" (his choice of words) "pick" at any imperfection they detect in any pope, or bishop as if imperfections in their persons negates their ability to be a bishop, or pope.

As for Pope Damasus - he was accused by jealous supporters of an anti-pope, but was never convicted of anything. Pope Damasus vigorously defended the Catholic Faith in the face of a couple heresies. In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism; he also sent his legates to the Council of Constantinople (381), convoked against the aforesaid heresies.

Now, as for the "novelty" we've been discussing, I for one, would like to get to the bottom of each of the quotes. I don't think James' presentation is wholly without bias - and admittedly neither was the original publishing of the article on my site, nor the site it originated from. It is my goal to present the citations fairly and objectively - and continue to be thankful to James' input.


Andrew said...

Scott, I never claimed that Roman Catholics believe in papal impeccability. I am afraid you misapprehended my point. You said:

"...or that every one of them adhered to dogma not explicitly defined as such in their time."

I know what the RC teaching is on that point. What you need to explain is the fact that there were bishops of Rome who did not believe the doctrine in question (Immaculate Conception). Now, if that is indeed an apostolic tradition handed down to the church by Christ, through the apostles and their successors then you would think that the visible head of the church, and vicar of Christ himself would at the very least be aware of that tradition and not disbelieve it. That much should be obvious. Otherwise, how can anyone claim that it is a tradition passed down through an unbroken chain? Your defense of this rather glaring gap in the "apostolic tradition" is rather feckless.

Constantine said...

Papal infallibility, while valid and scriptural, is quite limited in scope and application.

I think I've mentioned here previously, the work of a Roman Catholic scholar who shows that the Lectionary used by RC's for their mass excludes nearly all of the Old Testament. Prior to 1970 the number is something like 99.2%, except for the Psalms which are read responsively between readings. The statistic for the OT prophets prior to 1970 was a dismal 1.9% inclusion rate in the Lectionary which improved monumentally to 19% thereafter (for the Lectionary for Sundays and Weekdays). But the point is that 4 out of 5 verses from the major prophets is news to the average RC. (Especially given their church's resistance to individual or small group Bible study.)

What has this to do with anything?

Well, the only way Scott can maintain the “scriptural” nature of papal infallibility is to completely disregard Isaiah who, instructed by God, said, ““I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. “ (Isaiah 42:7). And, just in case we missed it the first time, “ How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:11) Infallibility being part of God's glory, it will not be shared.

The scope of infallibility is also interesting. It was originally propagated by the Franciscans as a way of keeping future popes from changing the minds of their predecessors. If the Franciscans could hold future popes, via infallibility, to the pronouncements of past popes which had been favorable to their order then their success was assured. Interestingly enough, that is exactly why the papal court rejected infallibility in the first place!!!! So when Pius IX resurrected the old saw to suit his purposes, he not only set the original intent of PI on its ear, he swam upstream against a large number of his predecessors to do so! I just love the teaching of the One True Church “ as it has always been understood by the catholic church” but which can be diametrically contradicted without batting an eye!

As to the New Testament support for the papacy, infallibility, etc., I'll close with the work of a true church historian:

“The study of the history of the Roman primacy has shown that Catholics must resign themselves to the fact that the New Testament does not support claims for Peter’s position of primacy, nor for succession to that position, nor for papal infallibility...Consequently, no historical foundation exists in the New Testament to justify the papal primacy. The concept of this primacy is, rather, a theological justification of a factual situation which had come about earlier and for other reasons....It (historical knowledge) indicates very clearly that the form of the papacy defined by Vatican I, with its absolute power of primacy and magisterial “infallibility,” is not founded in the New Testament. Neither is it the original constitutional form of the Church, nor even that of the Catholic Church throughout its history. No new findings are needed to reach this conclusion.” ”

Ohlig, Karl-Heinz. Why We Need the Pope: The Necessity and Limitations of Papal Primacy. Trans. Dr. Robert C. Ware. St. Meinrad, Indiana, USA. Abbey Press, 1975. Trans. of Braucht die Kirche einen Papst?. Germany, 1973. Pages 91, 92, ix

Papal infallibility is totally invalid, unscriptural and completely vacuous in scope.

Merry Christmas to all who read this!


James Swan said...

like to get to the bottom of each of the quotes. I don't think James' presentation is wholly without bias

Scott, you've yet to actually meaningfully interact with anything I've posted. Where's my "bias" in what I've posted? As it stands, your comment is unsubstantiated slander. either interact with my work, or move on.

-and admittedly neither was the original publishing of the article on my site, nor the site it originated from.


It is my goal to present the citations fairly and objectively - and continue to be thankful to James' input.

I'm hoping you'll follow through on this.

I will say, it is ironic that you recently linked over to someone else's citation of LW 51:375-376 as part of your "investigation." This source you've linked to actually originally used Luther's last sermon as support for "honoring Mary" until corrected by me here back in 2003:

The very quote you've added to your blog article was probably taken from my paper and passed off as his research.

CathApol said...

James writes: Scott, you've yet to actually meaningfully interact with anything I've posted. Where's my "bias" in what I've posted? As it stands, your comment is unsubstantiated slander. either interact with my work, or move on.

I posted my opinion that your presentation was not without bias, that remains my opinion, you are free to disagree with it and that's not slander. That being said, I have interacted with your work, presented where I think you misread Luther and provided my sources - links where available, some linking back to you as I am trusting your integrity to have posted authentic sources.

James Swan said...

Scott, I've saved a copy of what you posted today on your blog 12/19/10 (at about 3:20 P.M. Eastern Standard time). That will be what I respond to.

I've had situations with other bloggers that their entries are moving targets, constantly being revised or updated. If you do revise something, I'm going to leave it up to you to inform me as to your revisions.

Thanks for taking some time to look into this issue.

Regards, James

CathApol said...

I typically do not make changes to articles once posted. I did with the one you pointed out from my website - but that was planned from the beginning. I believed you that many of the citations could be and were wrong, so my intent all along was to "fix" it and then fix the website (which I have not done yet). If I make any changes to the current article I will set aside modifications either by [brackets] or by dated addendum(s) to the end of it so it will be clear where and when changes have been made.

I still remain thankful for the work you have put into this and appreciative of you recognizing that I am not just copying and pasting (though that original was a copy/paste job given to me by someone else). I am also appreciative that you're open to the possibility that this may end up being just something else that you disagree with Luther on.

God bless,

James Swan said...

Scott, if you can read through that extended section from LW 7 I posted in my response and still maintain your view, I'd say we'd have to a agree to disagree. Likewise, you would have to agree to disagree with the editors of Luther's works.

Note the following from LW 7:

"And there she was made pregnant by the most shameful act of incest, and the flesh from which Christ was to be born was poured from the loins of Judah and was propagated, carried about, and contaminated with sin right up to the conception of Christ."