Sunday, February 28, 2010

Luther: There are nowadays almost as many sects and creeds as there are heads

Here's another obscure Luther quote typically used by Rome's defenders:
There are nowadays almost as many sects and creeds as there are heads.(in Will Durant, The Reformation, [volume 6 of 10-volume The Story of Civilization, 1967], New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957, 441)
From various web-pages, I've come across Rome's defenders using this quote three different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, it's an example of a need for universal Church-wide belief. Third, it proves "It is a farce to view Protestantism as in any way 'universal.'" Fourth, it proves "Without the authoritative guidance of the Church, men will always differ." Fifth, in the book More Biblical Evidence For Catholicism (2007) p. 45- 46, it proves Luther's recognition of the "scandalous nature of sectarianism" with the use of complaining with "dripping disdain."

Documentation
The quote is said to come from Will Durant's volume on The Reformation, page 441:
As internal liberty varies (other things equal) with external security, Protestantism, during its safe period, indulged in the sectarian fragmentation that seemed inherent in the principles of private judgment and the supremacy of conscience. Already in 1525 Luther wrote: "There are nowadays almost as many sects and creeds as there are heads." Melanchthon was kept grievously busy moderating his master and finding ambiguous formulas for reconciling contradictory certitudes. Catholics pointed gleefully to the mutually recriminating Protestant factions, and predicted that freedom of interpretation and belief would lead to religious anarchy-, moral disintegration, and a skepticism abominable to Protestants as well as Catholics. In 1525 three artists were banished from Protestant Nuremberg for questioning the divine authorship of the Bible, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and the divinty of Christ.
Durant cites Janssen's fourth volume of The History of the German People,  page 199 as the source:
All that had come to pass formerly in Bohemia as a result of this teaching, the terrible want of unity in religion, of which eye-witnesses at the beginning of the sixteenth century testify, would now, it was prophesied, happen in Germany also. Just as Luther had written of Germany in 1525, 'There are nowadays almost as many sects and creeds as there are heads,' so Bohuslav Hassenstein had written of Bohemia: 'Nobody is hindered from setting up a new religion. Not to mention the Wickliffites and Picards, there are also those who deny the divinity of our Saviour, those who maintain that the soul dies with the body, those who think every religion equally profitable to salvation, yea, verily, those who think that even hell is an invention of man. I pass over here innumerable opinions of this sort. And these sectarians do not keep their opinions to themselves, but preach them openly. Old men and boys, young men and women dispute about matters of faith, and expound the Holy Scriptures, which all the while they have not studied. Each sect finds its adherents, so great is the craving after something new.
Janssen uses the quote as a passing editorial comment and doesn't provide a primary reference to Luther's writings, or even a secondary source (at least in the English version). Durant uses it as proof of Protestant fragmentation. Neither men appear to have used a primary source. I've explored this quote before, so I know the reference is  to De Wette, op. cit., III, 61 or Erl. ed 53, p. 342 or WA 18:547. The text reads:


This text is from Sendschreiben an die Christen zu Antwerpen The Letter of doctor Martin to the Christians of Antwerp (April, [25?] 1525). The letter was written to warn Antwerp of radical leaders and groups during the peasant uprising. The peasants had sporadic outbursts of violence previous to their great uprising in the spring of 1525. Luther was very aware of the peasant situation. He had personally visited some of the peasants, and was almost killed by them. Charismatic leaders spurred them on, using religion as part of the motivation to violently revolt against the establishment. Luther was aware of these charismatic peasant leaders, and wrote against them, and also to warn Antwerp.

This letter is not contained in LW, yet. It appears to be scheduled for an upcoming volume of Luther's Works.  however, a partial English translation is available in Michelet's Life of Luther, Gathered From His Own Writings, pages 91-92 (alternate link).

Context
We believed, during the reign of the pope, that the spirits which make a noise and disturbance in the night, were those of the souls of men, who after death, return and wander about in expiation of their sins. This error, thank God, has been discovered by the Gospel, and it is known at present, that they are not the souls of men, but nothing else than those malicious devils who used to deceive men by false answers. It is they that have brought so much idolatry into the world.
The devil seeing that this sort of disturbance could not last, has devised a new one; and begins to rage in his members, I mean in the ungodly, through whom he makes his way in all sorts of chimerical follies and extravagant doctrines. This won't have baptism, that denies the efficacy of the Lord's supper; a third, puts a world between this and the last judgment ; others teach that Jesus Christ is not God ; some say this, others that ; and there are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads.
I must cite one instance, by way of exemplification, for I have plenty to do with these sort of spirits. There is not one of them that does think himself more learned than Luther; they all try to win their spurs against me; and would to heaven that they were all such as they think themselves, and that I were nothing! The one of whom I speak assured me, amongst other things, that lie was sent to me by the God of heaven and earth, and talked most magnificently, but the clown peeped through all. At last, he ordered me to read the books of Moses. I asked for a sign in confirmation of this order, ' It is,' said he, ' written in the gospel of St. John.' By this time I had heard enough, and I told him, to come again, for that we should not have time, just now, to read the books of Moses. . . .I have plenty to do in the course of the year with these poor people: the devil could not have found a better pretext for tormenting me. As yet the world had been full of those clamorous spirits without bodies, who oppressed the souls of men; now they have bodies, and give themselves out for living angels . . .
When the pope reigned we heard nothing of these troubles. The strong one (the devil) was in peace in his fortress; but now that a stronger one than he is come, and prevails against him and drives him out, as the Gospel says, he storms and comes forth with noise and fury.
Dear friends, one of these spirits of disorder has come amongst you in flesh and blood; he would lead you astray with the inventions of his pride: beware of him.
First, he tells you that all men have the Holy Ghost. Secondly, that the Holy Ghost is nothing more than our reason and our understanding. Thirdly, that all men have faith. Fourthly, that there is no hell, that at least the flesh only will be damned. Fifthly, that all souls will enjoy eternal life. Sixthly, that nature itself teaches us to do to our neighbour what we would he should do to us ; this he calls faith. Seventhly, that the law is not violated by concupiscence, so long as we are not consenting to the pleasure. Eighthly, that he that has not the Holy Ghost, is also without sin, for he is destitute of reason.
All these are audacious propositions, vain imaginations; if we except the seventh, the others are not worthy of reply. . . .
It is sufficient for us to know that God wills no sin. As to his sufferance of sin, we ought not to approach the question. The servant is not to know his master's secrets, simply his master's orders: how much less should a poor creature attempt to scrutinize or sound the mysteries and the majesty of the Creator ? . . ."
To learn the law of God, and to know his soul Jesus Christ, is sufficient to absorb the whole of life. . . . A.D. 1525." (Luth. Werke, tom. ii. p. 61,sqq.)

Conclusion

Is this quote describing Luther's agony over the state of early Protestantism? No, it's describing Luther's agony over radical leaders misusing the Scriptures and misleading the people. In fact, he says these radicals were sent by the Devil to torment him. He describes the devastating effect of the Devil, who, Luther says, was at peace in his papal fortress, but now with the gospel being loudly proclaimed, must find a different way to keep men enslaved to sin and darkness. Similarly, this quote doesn't prove Luther's recognition of the "scandalous nature of sectarianism" with the use of complaining with "dripping disdain." Had Luther considered any of these sects in question in this letter anything other the work of the Devil, perhaps then one could argue Luther was in agony over the state of early Protestantism.

As to this quote proving a "farce to view Protestantism as in any way 'universal'," Luther didn't even consider the sects in question as Christian or Protestant. Does this quote prove "Without the authoritative guidance of the Church, men will always differ"? By capital "C" the Catholic apologist appears to mean the Roman Catholic Church. Interestingly, Luther comments elsewhere:
There is no other place in the world where there are so many sects, schisms, and errors as in the papal church. For the papacy, because it builds the church upon a city and person, has become the head and fountain of all sects which have followed it and have characterized Christian life in terms of eating and drinking, clothes and shoes, tonsures and hair, city and place, day and hour. For the spirituality and holiness of the papal church lives by such things, as was said above.  This order fasts at this time, another order fasts at another time; this one does not eat meat, the other one does not eat eggs; this one wears black, the other one white; this one is Carthusian,  the other Benedictine;  and so they continue to create innumerable sects and habits, while faith and true Christian life go to pieces. All this is the result of the blindness which desires to see rather than believe the Christian church and to seek devout Christian life not in faith but in works, of which St. Paul writes so much in Colossians [2]. These things have invaded the church and blindness has confirmed the government of the pope.” [LW 39:221].

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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Luther: Our (people) are now seven times worse than they ever were before. We steal, lie, cheat, . . . and commit all manner of vices.

Here's another obscure Luther quote typically used by Rome's defenders:
Our (people) are now seven times worse than they ever were before. We steal, lie, cheat, . . . and commit all manner of vices. (in Heinrich Denifle, Luther and Lutherdom, vol.1, part 1, tr. from 2nd rev. ed. of German by Raymund Volz, Somerset, England: Torch Press, 1917, 22. Luther quote from Werke, Erlangen edition, 36, 411)
From various web-pages, I've come across Rome's defenders using this quote three different ways. First, it serves as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, it is used to prove "Martin Luther's Regrets as to the Relative Failure of the 'Reformation' (Piety, Morals and Inconsistencies Regarding Replacing Bishops With Princes)," specifically, the "Lower State of General Morality" because of Luther's teachings and thirdly, to demonstrate "Morals and Piety of the New Protestants Compared to Catholics."

Documentation
The quote is said to come from Heinrich Denifle's "Luther and Lutherdom, (vol. 1, part 1, tr. from 2nd rev. ed. of German by Raymund Volz, Somerset, England: Torch Press, 1917, 22. Luther quote from Werke, Erlangen edition, 8, 295." On page 22 Denifle says:
Like many others, Pirkheimer, who once had even joined the movement, wrote shortly before his death : "We hoped that Romish knavery, the same as the rascality of the monks and priests, would be corrected; but, as is to be perceived, the matter has become worse to such a degree that the Evangelical knaves make the other knaves pious," that is, the others still appear pious in comparison with the new unbridled preachers of liberty. But did not the father of the new movement himself acknowledge that "our (people) are now seven times worse than they ever were before. We steal, lie, cheat, cram, and swill and commit all manner of vices.'"
Denifle references "Erl. 36, 411." This page can be found here. The text reads:


The text being cited is from Luther's comments on Deuteronomy 9:25. To my knowledge, the complete context this paragraph comes from has yet to be translated into an official English version of Luther's Works. LW does include an entire volume containing Luther's Lectures on Deuteronomy (Deut. 9 begins at LW 9:99). LW includes only a translation of pages Walch / St. Louis pp. 1370-1639 (see LW 9, introductory comments). Their translation is based on WA 14:489-744 (Lecture on Deut. 9 can be found here). LW 9 explains Luther began lecturing on Deuteronomy in February 1523 "to a small gathering of close associates in his own house at Wittenberg" (LW 9, preface).There are several transcriptions of these lectures done by Luther's associates, none though going past Deut. 7. Luther's own transcription of his Deuteronomy notes began in 1524. The official work was completed and published in 1525. Walch (St. Louis) III includes this work in III 1370-1639.

Context
Back in 2009 I came across an English translation of this paragraph from Erl. 36: 
Moses is thus a fine teacher; he has well expounded the first commandment, and led the people to a knowledge of themselves, and humbled the proud and arrogant spirits, besides which he upbraided them with all kinds of vices, so that they had merited anything but the promised land. If we do not abide by our beloved Gospel, we deserve to see those who profess it, our Gospellers, become seven times worse than they were before. For, after having become acquainted with the Gospel, we steal, lie, cheat, we eat, drink, and are drunken, and practise all sorts of iniquity. As one devil has been driven out of us, seven others, more wicked, have entered in; as may be seen at the present time with princes, noblemen, lords, citizens, and peasants, how they act, without shame and in spite of God and His threatenings.
Conclusion
 The above translation of this obscure quote is from an old book, Luther Vindicated by Charles Hastings Collette (Published by Bernard Quaritch, 1884). Collette's book is quite fascinating. He similarly examines obscure out-of-context Luther quotes and offers corrections and contexts. It wasn't Roman Catholics he defended Luther against, rather, the culprit was the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, who, according to Collette was "a professed Minister of the (Reformed) Established Church of England." Interestingly, Baring-Gould appears to have gathered some of his Luther material from Roman Catholic sources, and was part of a group sympathetic to Rome. Of this group, Collette states, "These gentlemen sigh for pre-Reformation days when the priest ruled and the sacramental system flourished, to the glorification of the priest, and ignorance, superstition, thraldom, and degradation of the people" (p.6). If this link is about the Sabine Baring-Gould in question (which I think it is), he's the writer of the famous hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers." Of this quote in question, Collette quotes Baring-Gould stating:
"...let us take Luther's own account of the results of his doctrine :—' There is not,' says he,—' one of our Evangelicals who is not seven times worse than he was before he belonged, to us,—stealing, lying, deceiving, eating, and getting drunk, and giving himself up to all kinds of vices. If we have driven out one devil, seven others worse than the first have come in his place."
Collette begins analyzing the quote stating,
"The reference is 'Ed. Walch, iii. 2727.' Here it is self-evident that the rev. gentleman, by 'our Evangelicals,' intends to point to the new converts to Luther's teaching."
"By the reference we are guided to Luther's Commentaries on the 'fifth Book of Moses, ix. 25.' On turning to the column indicated, we find the passage purported to be quoted, but in it there is not the most distant intimation that Luther was pointing to his own people, or to the new converts; but to the state of utter depravity to which priests and people, nobles and commoners,—nominal Christians of all ranks,—had fallen."
After documenting this moral climate, Collette states,
But what I have to expose is the barefaced mistranslation put before us in the above extract by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, thereby making Luther allude to "our Evangelicals" as "belonging to Luther's disciples," who had become seven times worse by the change from Popery. I will let the reader judge for himself by placing before him a literal translation of the original; the text I add as a footnote :—
Collette then cites the context of Luther's statements:
"Moses is thus a fine teacher; he has well expounded the first commandment, and led the people to a knowledge of themselves, and humbled the proud and arrogant spirits, besides which he upbraided them with all kinds of vices, so that they had merited anything but the promised land. If we do not abide by our beloved Gospel, we deserve to see those who profess it, our Gospellers, become seven times worse than they were before. For, after having become acquainted with the Gospel, we steal, lie, cheat, we eat, drink, and are drunken, and practise all sorts of iniquity. As one devil has been driven out of us, seven others, more wicked, have entered in; as may be seen at the present time with princes, noblemen, lords, citizens, and peasants, how they act, without shame and in spite of God and His threatenings."
The key to the quote is the phrase, "Our Gospellers." Collette explains,
" 'Our Gospellers' I have thus translated 'unsereEvangelischen.' Luther did not mean the true believers in and followers of the Evangelists, which some readers might suppose to be a name applicable to all members of the Reformed Churches, from their known attachment to the Gospel, but he applied the expression to outward professors of the Gospel.
If Collette's analysis is correct, the quote isn't an example of Luther's "agony of the state of early Protestantism," but rather a lament over people who were Christians in name only. Nor then is it a "regret as to the relative failure of the 'Reformation" ("Piety, Morals and Inconsistencies Regarding Replacing Bishops With Princes"). Perhaps it could be an example of the "Lower State of General Morality" because rejection of the Gospel will indeed make people worse. It isn't though a comparison of Protestant "Morals and Piety of the New Protestants Compared to Catholics."

Addendum
This blog entry is a revision of an entry I posted back in 2009. 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.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Luther: All is forgotten that God has done for the world through me

Here's another obscure Luther quote typically used by Rome's defenders:
All is forgotten that God has done for the world through me... now lords, priests, and peasants are all against me, and threaten my death. (in Durant, ibid., 393. From June 15, 1525)
From various web-pages, I've come across Rome's defenders using this quote two different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, it serves as an example of "The Unpopularity of Luther and Other Protestant Revolutionaries." There are other uses of this quote as well, typically referenced when describing Luther's role in the Peasants War: Erik Erikson's Young Man Luther brings it up (p. 236-237), as does McGiffert's Martin Luther: The Man and His Work (p. 280). 

Documentation
The quote from "June 15, 1525" is said to come from Will Durant's volume on The Reformation, page 393:
The Reformation itself almost perished in the Peasants' War. Despite Luther's disclaimers and denunciations, the rebellion had flaunted Protestant colors and ideas: economic aspirations were dressed in phrases that Luther had sanctified; communism was to be merely a return to the Gospel. Charles V interpreted the uprising as "a Lutheran movement." Conservatives classed the expropriation of ecclesiastical property by Protestants as revolutionary actions on a par with the sacking of monasteries by peasants. In the south the frightened princes and lords renewed their fealty to the Roman Church. In several places, as at Bamberg and Wurzburg, men even of the propertied class were executed for having accepted Lutheranism . The peasants themselves turned against the Reformation as a lure and a betrayal; some called Luther Dr. Lugner—"Dr. Liar" —and "toady of the princes." For years after the revolt he was so unpopular that he seldom dared leave Wittenberg, even to attend his father's deathbed (1530). "All is forgotten that God has done for the world through me," he wrote (June 15, 1525); "now lords, priests, and peasants are all against me, and threaten my death."
Durant cites "Smith, Luther, 164." He most likely means Preserved Smith, but his Bibliography doesn't list any books entitled "Luther" by that author (see Durant, 951). Smith's The Life and Letters of Martin Luther contains the quote in question on page 165, so perhaps Durant was using a different edition. Smith states:
Thus also, in a note inviting John Ruhel to his wedding feast, the Reformer says (June 15, 1526): "What an outcry of Harrow has been caused by my pamphlet against the peasants. All is now forgotten that God has done for the world through me. Now lords, priests, and peasants are all against me and threaten my death." Ruhel accepted the invitation and brought with him a letter from the Chancellor Caspar Muller suggesting that the Reformer should defend himself against the attacks made upon him.
Smith made an error above with the date, Luther was married in 1525, not 1526. Smith cites the same quote (with the correct date) in his book, Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, Volume 2, page 323.  Smith also gives documentation: "De Wette, iii, 1. German." This is a reference to a collection of Luther's letters. The page from De Wette can be found here.  The pertinent text reads:


This letter was not included in the English Luther's Works.  However, Preserved Smith does provided an English translation in Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, Volume 2, page 323.


Context
690. LUTHER TO JOHN RUHEL, JOHN THUR AND CASPAR MULLER AT MANSFELD.
DeWette, iii, 1. German.
Wittenberg, June 15, 1525.
Grace and peace in Christ. What an outcry of Harrow, my dear sirs, has been caused by my pamphlet against the peasants!' All is now forgotten that God has done for the world through me. Now lords, parsons and peasants are all against me and threaten my death. Well, since they are so silly and foolish, I shall take care that at my end I shall be found in the state for which God created me with nothing of my previous papal life about me. I shall do my part even if they act still more foolishly up to the last farewell. So now, according to the wish of my dear father, I have married. I did it quickly lest those praters should stop it. Tuesday week, June 27, it is my intention to have a little celebration and house warming, to which I beg that you will come and give your blessings. The land is in such a state that I hardly dare ask you to undertake the journey; however, if you can do so, pray come, along with my dear father and mother, for it would be a special pleasure to me. Bring any friends. If possible let me know beforehand, though I do not ask this if inconvenient. I should have written my gracious lords Counts Gebhard and Albert of Mansfeld, but did not risk it, knowing that their Graces have other things to attend to. Please let me know if you think I ought to invite them. God bless you. Amen. Martin Luther.
Alternate English translation:
To Ruhel and two other Mansfeld councilors he wrote: What an outcry, dear sirs, I have caused with my book against the peasants! All is forgotten that God has done for the world through me. Lords, priests, peasants, and everybody else are now against me, and threaten me with death. Well and good, since they are so mad and foolish, I have determined before my death to be found in the state ordained of God, and so far as I can to rid myself entirely of my former popish life, and make them still madder and more foolish, all for a parting gift. For I have a presentiment that God will one day give me His grace. So, at my dear father's desire, I have now married, and have done it in haste that I might not be hindered by these talkers. A week from Tuesday I purpose giving a small party, which I want you as good friends to know about, and I beg you will add your blessing. Because the country is in such a turmoil, I do not venture to urge you to be present. But if you can and will kindly come of your own accord with my dear father and mother, you may imagine it will give me special pleasure. I shall also be delighted in my poverty to see any good friends you may bring with you, only asking you to let me know by this messenger [Arthur Cushman McGiffert, Martin Luther: The Man and His Work (Century Company, 1911), p. 280].

Conclusion
The letter was written during the peasants revolt and around the time of Luther's wedding. Ruhel was a councilor of Count Albrect of Mansfield, and in fact, this was one of the territories in which the peasants revolt was festering. Luther had earlier written to Ruhel and encouraged Albrecht to use all force needed to suppress the peasants.

The outrage against Luther was due to the recent printing of his book Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants. It's uncertain of the exact date that Luther wrote this book, but it was probably only a month or so before this letter. The date of publication is also uncertain. The LW editors say "it was certainly before the middle of May" (LW 46:48). Luther intended this book to be published together with his treatise, Admonition to Peace. The former was directed to the bad peasants, the later the good peasants. Publishers though split the book, publishing Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants separately.

It's interesting how quickly Luther's book was disseminated into society. People indeed read Luther's words quickly upon publication. Mark U. Edwards documents that on May 26, Ruhel had written to Luther giving the details of the capture of Muntzer (a radical leader of the peasants). In his closing remarks, he makes this comment to Luther about the impact of his book:
Be it as it may, it seems strange to many of your supporters that you have given permission to the tyrants to strangle [the peasants] without mercy, thereby possibly making martyrs out of them. And they say publicly in Leipzig that since the Elector [Frederick the Wise] has died, you fear for your skin and play the hypocrite to Duke George by approving of what he is doing. [Luther and the False Brethren, (California: Stanford University Press, 1975, p. 69].
Luther's reply:
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  [Luther and the False Brethren, (California: Stanford University Press, 1975, p. 69].
Luther eventually did respond to these charges in a Pentecost sermon on June 4. He took nothing back from what he had written. Rebels causing societal and violent unrest were not to be tolerated. On June 20, he wrote to another friend:

693. LUTHER TO WENZEL LINK AT ALTENBURG. Enders, v, 200. Wittenberg, June 20, 1525.
Grace and peace. I know that my book gives great offence to the peasants and the friends of the peasants, and that is a real joy to me, for if it gave them no offence it would give me great offence. Those who condemn this book are merely showing what it is that they have hitherto sought in the Gospel. But I am surprised that some of the knowing ones do not apply the whole book to themselves, for it shows very clearly who the peasants are and who the magistrates are of whom it speaks. But he that will not understand, let him not understand; he that will not know, let him be ignorant ; it is enough that my conscience pleases Christ. For the apothecary. I have tried hard to do all I could. [Smith, Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, Volume 2, p.327-328].
The quote in question does prove one thing: Luther's treatise Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants drew criticism from his enemies as well as his supporters. Does Luther's comment though demonstrate his "agony" over "the state of early Protestantism"? Not in the least. In fact, Luther decided he hadn't said enough, and went on to write An Open Letter on the Harsh Book Against the Peasants in which he attacked his critics. Does this quote prove "the unpopularity of Luther and other Protestant revolutionaries"? Not at all. Luther's books continued to be popular, and he remained an integral respected figure for many years.

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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Luther: We Germans are now the...shame of all the countries

Here's another obscure Luther quote typically used by Rome's defenders:
"We Germans are now the...shame of all the countries" (in Denifle, ibid., 22 Luther quote from Werke, Erlangen edition, 8, 295). [link]
From various web-pages, I've come across Rome's defenders using this quote three different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism."

Documentation
The quote is said to come from Heinrich Denifle's "Luther and Lutherdom, (vol. 1, part 1, tr. from 2nd rev. ed. of German by Raymund Volz, Somerset, England: Torch Press, 1917, 22. Luther quote from Werke, Erlangen edition, 8, 295." On page 22 Denifle says:
But did not the father of the new movement himself acknowledge that "our (people) are now seven times worse than they ever were before. We steal, lie, cheat, cram, and swill and commit all manner of vices"(Er. 36, 411).  "We Germans are now the laughing-stock and the shame of all the countries, they hold us as shameful, nasty swine."(Erl. 8, 295)" The same one that said this regrets to have been born a German, to have written and spoken German, and longs to fly from there, that he may not witness God's judgment breaking over Germany." (Erl. 20, 43)
I used black lettering to highlight how Rome's defender edited down this sentence from Denifle. Why Rome's defenders cited this quote (leaving out particular words in a short sentence) is anyone's guess. The point appears to be that Germans=Protestants, and their behavior was so immoral, that the rest of the world looked on them as shameful. Of course, without a context, this quote means... whatever someone wants it to mean. Denifle doesn't do much better.

Denifle cites "Erl. 8, 295." This would be the eighth volume of the Erlangen edition of Luther's Works, Page 295 states:

The text of Erl 8 is in German, based on Aurifaber's printed version (published sometime after 1542). The more complete and pure text of this sermon is a compilation found in WA 47: 757-772. WA 47 provides three simultaneous texts ("Rörer’s transcript, Stoltz’s transcript, and the printed version which is Aurifaber’s based on Rörer’s notes" (LW 51:291). LW relied on Rörer's version (referencing the other two when necessary) from WA 47 when it translated this sermon into English ( LW 51:289-299). The sermon was entitled "Sermon on Soberness and Moderation against Gluttony and Drunkenness, 1 Peter 4:7-11, May 18, 1539." As is typical of many of Luther's sermons, he did not write the text. The text is based on notes of those who heard Luther preach the sermon.

Context
The title of the sermon says it all: "Sermon on Soberness and Moderation against Gluttony and Drunkenness." Luther preached a powerful sermon against drunkenness and gluttony. Luther begins the sermon by addressing the popular caricature of his day: the Germans were known as drunkards. Luther states:
This gluttony and swilling is inundating us like an ocean and among the Spaniards, Italians, and English it is reprehended. We are the laughingstock of all other countries, who look upon us as filthy pigs; and not only upon private persons, but upon nobles and princes also, as if that were the reason why they bear the coat of arms. We would not forbid this; it is possible to tolerate a little elevation, when a man takes a drink or two too much after working hard and when he is feeling low. This must be called a frolic. But to sit day and night, pouring it in and pouring it out again, is piggish. This is not a human way of living, not to say Christian, but rather a pig’s life. 
What, therefore, shall we do? The secular government does not forbid it, the princes do nothing about it, and the rulers in the cities do nothing at all but wink at it and do the same themselves. We preach and the Holy Scriptures teach us otherwise; but you want to evade what is taught. Eating and drinking are not forbidden, but rather all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one’s pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19–21]. It is no wonder that all of you are beggars. How much money might not be saved! Twenty years ago this was considered among the princes to be a shameful vice. If we do not watch out, it will become common among virgins and women. Therefore I am utterly terrified by that word of the Lord concerning gluttony: [“Take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare” (Luke 21:34)].
Listen to the Word of God, which says, “Keep sane and sober,” that it may not be said to you in vain. You must not be pigs; neither do such belong among Christians. So also in I Cor. 6 [:9–10]: No drunkard, whoremonger, or adulterer can be saved. Do not think that you are saved if you are a drunken pig day and night. This is a great sin, and everybody should know that this is such a great iniquity, that it makes you guilty and excludes you from eternal life. Everybody should know that such a sin is contrary to his baptism and hinders his faith and his salvation.
Therefore, if you wish to be a Christian, take care that you control yourself. If you do not wish to be saved, go ahead and steal, rob, profiteer as long as you can, but fear Jack Ketch and the magistrates. But if you do want to be saved, then listen to this: just as adultery and idolatry close up heaven, so does gluttony; for Christ says very clearly: Take heed “lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly” [Luke 21:34], “as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west” [Matt. 24:27]. Therefore be watchful and sober. That is what is preached to us, who want to be Christians. (LW 51:292-294)

Conclusion
Luther then goes on to preach moderation with food and drink. Is Luther agonizing over the state of early Protestantism? No. He's preaching a sermon to his fellow German people on a very common topic.

One of the ironies of the quote in question is that it is from a sermon about moderation when it comes to alcohol. One of Denifle's gripes against Luther is that he was a drunkard (see Denifle's discussion starting at the bottom of page 109. When Denifle used the quote in question, he left ouf the fact of the sermon it came from.  The historical record nowhere documents Luther ever being drunk. It does provide evidence that he did drink alcohol, and that he enjoyed drinking. One needs only to survey the massive output of work (both written and physical) that Luther produced. Had he been the alcoholic Denifle paints him to be, it is curious how he accomplished so much.


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.

Luther: They accuse us of being rebels, of having destroyed the unity of the Church

Here's another obscure Luther quote typically used by Rome's defenders:
'They accuse us of being rebels, of having destroyed the unity of the Church, and of being the authors of all the evils of the day . . . Many are saying, "Religion is going to the dogs; there is no reverence for God . . . What good has come out of the Gospel. Everything was formerly in a far better state."'(in Janssen, ibid., vol. 5, 284-285)[link]
I came across a defender of Rome using this quote two different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, as proof of "The Unpopularity of Luther and Other Protestant Revolutionaries" and "The attachment of the people to Luther's doctrine was no greater than to his person..." We'll see that this quote isn't one quote but actually two quotes from two different sources.

Documentation
The quote is said to come from Johannes Janssen's History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages Volume 5. On pages 284-285, Janssen states:
The attachment of the people to Luther's doctrine was no greater than to his person. 'They say nowadays,' wrote Luther in the year before the Augsburg Diet, "Ah yes, the monks used to sing, and pray, and fast a great deal; and they did all this for the honour and glory of God. That sort of thing pleases the common people hugely. They cannot restrain themselves from applauding it."' but the people went much further than this. 'They accuse us of being rebels,' exclaimed Luther, 'of having destroyed the unity of the Church, and of being the authors of all the evils of the day. 'Formerly, under the papacy,' so went the popular cry, 'things were not so bad. But now, since these teachers have come, there is nothing but disaster — famine, war, and the Turk.' 'Many are saying, Peace is at an end; the world is topsy-turvy; men are confused and bewildered in spirit; religion is going to the dogs; there is no reverence for God; obedience to law is a thing of the past. What good has come out of the Gospel? Everything was formerly in far better state.' Shortly after the close of the Diet of Augsburg Luther made the avowal: 'Everybody is now complaining and crying out that the Gospel has brought much discontent, wrangling, and disorderly living into the world, and that everything is in worse condition since its introduction than before, when things ran smoothly and there was no persecution, and people lived peacefully together, like good friends and neighbors.' The people would willingly drive him, 'together with the Gospel' — to wit, his peculiar tenets — 'sheer out of the country, or else starve him to death.' On the other hand the people clung so tenaciously to the ways of the old Church that Luther declared: 'Were I so disposed I am confident that with two or three sermons I could easily preach my people back into popery and re-establish pilgrimages and Masses.' 'I know for certain that here in Wittenberg you shall scarcely find ten men whom I could not seduce if I returned to practice the sanctity which I practiced in popery when I was a monk.' (Collected Works vi. 280; xliii. 63, 279, 316. Compare ix 336, vi 106).
For a similar version of this quote, see William Stang's Life of Luther. He similarly says the quote is from "Sammtliche Werke 6, 280; 43, 63, 279, 316; 9, 336; 6, 106" (He also appears to have blatantly plagiarized a large amount of this exact text from Janssen).  The tricky part about this extended quote, is it isn't one quote. It's multiple quotes from different sources. It appears to me that some of  Janssen's references are not documented. It  also appears to me there are seven different quotes put forth by Janssen, and they should be divided like this:
1) The attachment of the people to Luther's doctrine was no greater than to his person. 'They say nowadays,' wrote Luther in the year before the Augsburg Diet, "Ah yes, the monks used to sing, and pray, and fast a great deal; and they did all this for the honour and glory of God. That sort of thing pleases the common people hugely. [Sammtliche Werke 6, 280; English: Festival of Christ's Nativity, Third Sermon, Isaiah 9:1-7, December 26, 1532, House Postil, The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther 7:233] 
2) But the people went much further than this. 'They accuse us of being rebels,' exclaimed Luther, 'of having destroyed the unity of the Church, and of being the authors of all the evils of the day.' Formerly, under the papacy,' so went the popular cry, 'things were not so bad. But now, since these teachers have come, there is nothing but disaster — famine, war, and the Turk.' [WA 37:403f, Erl. 5:187; Walch (St Loius) 13b:2058; English: Holy Pentecost, First Sermon, Acts 2:1-3, Pentecost Day 1534, The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 6: 162-163].
3) 'Many are saying, Peace is at an end; the world is topsy-turvy; men are confused and bewildered in spirit; religion is going to the dogs; there is no reverence for God; obedience to law is a thing of the past. What good has come out of the Gospel? Everything was formerly in far better state.'
4. Shortly after the close of the Diet of Augsburg Luther made the avowal: 'Everybody is now complaining and crying out that the Gospel has brought much discontent, wrangling, and disorderly living into the world, and that everything is in worse condition since its introduction than before, when things ran smoothly and there was no persecution, and people lived peacefully together, like good friends and neighbors.' [Collected Works; xliii. 63,LW 21:51] 
5. The people would willingly drive him, 'together with the Gospel' — to wit, his peculiar tenets — 'sheer out of the country, or else starve him to death.' [Collected Works xliii. 279; LW 21:224]
6.  On the other hand the people clung so tenaciously to the ways of the old Church that Luther declared: 'Were I so disposed I am confident that with two or three sermons I could easily preach my people back into popery and re-establish pilgrimages and Masses.' [Collected Works xliii 316;  LW 21:253]
7. 'I know for certain that here in Wittenberg you shall scarcely find ten men whom I could not seduce if I returned to practice the sanctity which I practiced in popery when I was a monk.
Of these seven quotes, only five are documented (1,2,4,5,6). #3 and #7 are not. When Janssen states, "Compare ix 336, vi 106," neither of these refer to #3 or #7.  In English ix 336 corresponds to The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 4, 2: 343-344. In English vi 106 refers to  The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 7: 74-75.

The Luther citation which began this entry is a combination of #2 and #3, which are two different sources (even though there is no reference provided for #3 to verify). Because only quote #2 and #3 were cited in the opening entry, below is the context of quote #2 (I could not locale a context for quote #3).


Context
Quote #2 is from Luther's first Holy Pentecost Sermon, preached at the parish church on Pentecost Day, May 24, 1534. Ewald Plass records the quote as follows:
3807 History Repeats Itself
People accuse us of being seditionists, as they accused the apostles (Acts 17:6) and of breaking the unity of the church. Every evil that happens, happens because of us, they say. Formerly under the papacy, the situation was not so bad, our slanderers cry, but now that these teachers have arisen, all the trouble has come: famine, war, the Turk. All this blamed on our preaching. If they could burden us with the fall of the devil from heaven, nay with the Crucifixion and death of Christ, they would not fail to do so (Weimar edition 37:, 403 f, Erlangen 5:187; Walch (St Loius) 13b:2058).[Ewald Plass, What Luther Says Volume 3 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), p. 1195-1196]
The sermon Luther preached is available in The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 6 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000) pp. 151-165. The text of the sermon was Acts 2:1-13. Luther was expounding on the courage given by Holy Spirit to the early Christians, despite all the adversity they faced. The early Christan's would speak the truth, even if it meant their death (like Stephen). All the world will be against the Gospel. Luther then states:

22. That's the kind of mettle the apostles and disciples required then, and that's also the kind of spirit we need today. People accuse us of being revolutionaries, just as they accused the apostles.They accuse us of dividing the unity of the church, and they blame us for whatever else goes wrong. Our detractors claim that when we were still under the papacy, things weren't so bad; but now that these teachers have come, we've had nothing but bad luck, hard times, war, and the Turks. All these things they blame on the message we preach. If they could blame us for the devil being kicked out of heaven, they'd do that too. As a matter of fact, if they could accuse us of having crucified and killed Christ, they'd also do that. That is why we need the Holy Spirit's Pentecost sermon so desperately to help us remain content and cheerfully to disregard such slander.
23.The apostles and disciples needed that message in their day; for what we are experiencing today is what they experienced in their day. They were told that the whole world stood against them. This is the way the accusations against them went: Since these people came and started preaching, the kingdom of the Jews has been divided and the whole world is in an uproar. If anyone doubts this, let him read the Book of Acts and he'll find that it's true. When they preached among the Jews, the latter shouted, These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here. Away with them, kill them! (Acts 17:6). And when they preached among the heathen (non-Jews), the Gentiles shouted, These men are leading our people astray, and they are Jews, and they're advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice (Acts 16:10-21). In short, every bad thing that happened was blamed on the apostles and disciples.
24. But theirs was a self-fulfilling prophecy, for what they said is exactly what happened to them. About Paul, the Jews shouted, "This is the man that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place" (Acts 21:28), that is, he teaches what is contrary to God and contrary to his worship. "Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live!" (Acts 22:22). But theirs was a self-fulfilling prophecy, just as in the case of the high priest Caiaphas (John 11:49-52). What they claimed is what happened to them. Also the Romans shouted, These men are leading our people astray and dividing the Roman Empire. Exactly what they said is what happened to them: the Roman Empire was eventually divided and destroyed.
25.Our own aristocratic landowners, the godless bishops a princes, are today shouting about us, that we are leading Germany astray and turning everything topsy-turvy. But their prophecies will also be self-fulfilling. For they know very well that what they're saying is nothing but lies by which they are slandering our teaching. That is why the same thing will happen to them as happened to the rogue of whom the Lord says (Luke 19:22): "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant!" They claim that we are their destroyers, and that is exactly the way it'll turn out; not that it will be our fault or the fault of our teaching, but their own fault, because they are so hard-hearted and stubborn, refusing to accept the message we are proclaiming.
26. We desperately need this Pentecost sermon of the Holy Spirit, so that he may give us a courageous heart, so that we, too, may persevere, regardless of who is offended, regardless of how much people may slander us. And even if cults and sects arise, we will also ignore that. That's the kind of courage we need, a courage that remains undisturbed by any of these things and simply continues fearlessly to confess and publicly proclaim Christ, who was so grossly misjudged, condemned, and killed.
27. You see, it is in the nature and character of the gospel to be a foolish, offensive message, and almost universally rejected and condemned. If the gospel didn't upset citizens and peasants, bishops and princes, it would be a nice, sweet message, easy to proclaim, and the public would gladly accept it. But because it is a message that offends people, especially the high and mighty, therefore it takes great courage and the help of the Holy Spirit to proclaim it. The fact is that the poor beggars and fishermen come forward and preach in such a way that they rouse and bring down upon themselves the anger of the whole council at Jerusalem, the wrath of the whole government, the ire of the spiritual rulers, and, on top of that, also the hatred of the Roman emperor. What's more, they dare to accuse all of the above of being traitors and murderers, fully expecting to get their teeth knocked out. None of this could have happened without the Holy Spirit. That is why the Holy Spirit's Pentecost message is our comfort and joy, because we, too, can ignore the anger and slander of the world. It is this same message that produces such joy-filled people in Christ, people who are willing to undertake anything in behalf of Christ, willing also to suffer anything for his sake. (pp.162-163)

Conclusion
Now compare this context to the points made by Rome's defenders. Luther argues the world hates the Gospel, and this is to be expected. Rome's apologists argue Luther "agonized" over the state of early Protestantism. If he did, this text doesn't prove it. Rome's defenders also state this quote proves people were in general, unhappy with Luther, and his doctrine. According to Luther, if this is a valid argument, the apostles likewise fall to it. As Luther stated, "it is in the nature and character of the gospel to be a foolish, offensive message, and almost universally rejected and condemned."

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.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sola Scriptura Debate with DavidW - Index

My formal written debate against Eastern Orthodox blogger DavidW on the statement:
Resolved: "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience."

is now complete. I have indexed out the posts in chronological order so that anyone interested may easily follow its flow.


My opening statement
DavidW's opening statement (written without responding to my opener, as is proper)

My first rebuttal
DavidW's first rebuttal

My second rebuttal
DavidW's second rebuttal

Cross-examination
My first question to DavidW
His answer

DavidW's first question to me
My answer

My second question to DavidW
His answer

DavidW's second question to me
My answer

My third question to DavidW
His answer

DavidW's third question to me
My answer

Final Statements - posted simultaneously
Mine
DavidW's

(Link to comment repository)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Luther: Under the Evangel, no one will give a penny... Under The Papacy it snowed alms

Here's another obscure Luther quote typically used by Rome's defenders:
Under the papacy it snowed alms, foundations, legacies. Under the Evangel, on the contrary, no one will give a farthing. (in Janssen, ibid., vol. 15,465) (link)
I came across a defender of Rome using this quote three different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, it was used as proof of the "immediate ill effects of Protestantism on morality" and thirdly, "Luther's Disgust at the State of Protestant Morality."

Documentation
The quote is said to come from Johannes Janssen's History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages Volume 15. On page 465, Janssen states:
This decrease of benevolence to the poor and of contributions in general to all good objects, and the increase of an insatiable greed of gain were matters of standing complaint among the Protestants. Nobody spoke more strongly and more frequently on the subject than Luther. 'Under the papacy' he said, 'it snowed alms, foundations, legacies. Under the Evangel, on the contrary, no one will give a farthing.'
Janssen says the quote comes from "Collected works xliii, 164."This would be the forty-third volume of the Erlangen edition of Luther's Works, which contains his exposition of the Sermon on the Mount. Here is page 164:



A more legible copy of this text can be found here. The text can also be found in WA 32:408-409. The text in question is Luther's commentary on Matthew 6:1-4. This text is based on sermonic material. Technically speaking, Luther did not write the text cited above. It is the result of those who heard Luther preach and took notes, then transcribing the material into a written form. LW 21 states that there is uncertainty as to exactly who took down the notes to these sermons from Luther. Note the caution expressed by the English edition of Luther's Works:
Because the evolution of the work from the pulpit to the appearance of the finished commentary is so completely obscure, a certain amount of caution is necessary in referring to it as a source for our understanding of Luther’s thought. We cannot be sure whether the editor or editors, whoever they may have been, took certain liberties with the text of Luther’s sermons as delivered. We know that this happened with other works (cf. Introduction to Vol. 1 of Luther’s Works). At the same time, there seems to be no warrant for the extreme skepticism of certain scholars regarding the reliability of this commentary. There are many parallels throughout Luther’s works for most of the ideas and many of the terms that appear here. (LW 21: xx-xxi)

Luther's sermons on Matthew 6 can be found translated into English in LW 21. An alternate earlier translation by Charles Hay from 1892 can be found here (the quote in question is found on pages 231-232). Luther is commenting on the following words of Scripture: 
1. Beware of practicing your charity before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward.
3. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4. So that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Context
Luther is discussing the practice of alms giving, and how the Lord denounced those who do good works in order to bring glory to themselves. Giving alms is indeed a good thing, but most people can't help but want glory from their outward good deeds. Luther states:

It is incredible how common this blasphemy and vice is in the world, especially among the best people, and how few people there really are who do good works without seeking the honor or favor of the world this way. Take all the alms ever given in the whole papacy, and just count how many you will be able to find that were not given with this intention in mind. Alas, the world will never learn what real almsgiving is. That is how we are all inclined. If the praise of the people, their honor, gratitude, and favor were not forthcoming, every one of us would soon pull his hand back. What if the pope had said to the princes and the donors, “Gentlemen, I will not give you a heller for all your foundations and alms”? How much do you imagine they would have donated for churches and other institutions then? Not a stone would have been hauled or laid in place. We can see that now. We are teaching correctly and urging these works on the basis that they should be given for God’s sake, out of a pure and simple heart, and not for the sake of increasing our own honor or merit. Therefore nobody wants to give a heller nowadays. In former days, when they had praise and honor for it, the alms, endowments, and wills came down like snow. Of course, their notion that they were earning heaven by this did have a great deal to do with it. Still this was not the main reason; but as Christ says here, the main reason was the fact that this was something great and praiseworthy in the eyes of the people. Otherwise they would have paid no attention to it, and they would not have done it for the sake of God and the kingdom of heaven (LW 21:132).
Alternate English translation (Charles Hay):
But who believes that this vice and fault is so common in the world, and especially in the case of the best, and how few there are of those who without this seeking for worldly honor or favor are doing good works? Take all the alms given in the whole papacy, and count up as many as you can find, that are not given with this intention. Yes, the world will never get to understand what it really means to give alms. For we are all inclined that way, if the people would not begin to praise us, or to show us honor, gratitude or favor, everyone would soon draw back his hand. For if the pope had said to the princes and founders [of monasteries, etc.]: Gentlemen, I will not give you a penny for all your foundations and alms, etc., what do you suppose they would have given for churches and other institutions? They would not have had a stone hauled or laid in position; as we now see, because we teach correctly and exhort to these works, so that we are to give for God's sake, from a pure, simple heart, without any seeking for our own honor or merit, etc., now nobody wants to give a cent. But hitherto, when they had praise and lienor for doing it, it snowed with alms, endowments and wills; and yet this had something to do with it, that men believed they were meriting heaven thereby; nevertheless, that was not the real reason, but it was just what Christ here says, that it was a great thing in the eyes of the people, and was praised. Otherwise they would not have cared for it, so as to do it for the sake of God and the kingdom of heaven.
Conclusion
Does this quote prove the "agony of Luther" over "the state of early Protestantism," or, is Luther simply expounding on a general truth common to all men? It appears to me, the problem of doing a good work in a godly way predated the Reformation. The "agony" Luther had was for the plight of all men. Is this quote describing the immediate ill effects of Protestantism on morality? No, because as Luther points out, "the world will never get to understand what it really means to give alms." Simply because under the papacy "it snowed alms" doesn't mean these were moral alms. Does this quote prove Luther had disgust for the state of Protestant morality? Recall, he begins by stating, "how few people there really are who do good works without seeking the honor or favor of the world this way."

From the context, you can see how both Janssen and Rome's apologists have misused this quote. Their point was that Protestantism caused people to hardly give a farthing, while under the papacy, it "snowed alms." However, Luther's point is not about the amount of alms, but the heart of alms. It doesn't matter that under Protestantism there was "less." The point is that if the heart does or gives from the wrong motivation, it isn't God pleasing.

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.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Luther: Protestants' "Manner of Life" No Better Than That of the "Papists"

Here's another obscure Luther quote primarily used by Rome's defenders:
Our manner of life is as evil as that of the papists. But . .. they preach not the truth . . . When I can show that the papists' doctrine is false, then I can easily prove that their manner of life is evil. (in Giorgio de Santillana, The Age of Adventure, New York: Mentor, 1956, 145) [link]
The quote as presented above is a truncated presentation of a larger context in which a few words are cited and some are skipped over in order to serve as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Luther's actual point made in context is completely ignored by such methodology.

One Roman apologist used the quote to show the Reformers "not only failed to purify Christ’s one Church, they failed at producing a superior Christian." It isn't just the defenders of Rome who reference this quote. Heiko Oberman has pointed out that this statement has been found objectionable "through the ages" by Luther's "contemporaries and today's Catholics and Protestants alike."  I found a curious usage of this quote by a nineteenth century pacifist, Edwin D. Mead who says that the quote points out a "reckless inconsistency" in Luther's thought. This Lutheran site  references the quote in a discourse on contemporary Lutheranism ("the more we gassed on about family values and conservative politics, the worse life became among us"). Then there are those from secular academia referencing it as well. Such usage points to the popularity of this quote across differing worldviews.

Documentation
The documentation provided refers to "Giorgio de Santillana, The Age of Adventure, New York: Mentor, 1956, 145." This secondary source refers to a work authored by Giorgio de Santillana, a historian and philosopher. He contributed The Age of Adventure: the Renaissance Philosophers / Selected, with Introduction and Interpretive Commentary to the Mentor Philosophers series. On pages 144-145,  The Age of Adventure states,
There is in Luther a colossal simplicity and directness. "I am inspired by anger. Those who condemn the movement of anger against antagonists are theologians who deal in mere speculations." This made him, like Savonarola, into a great tribune, but unlike the Italian, he was addressing a people ready to explode. He does not waste his time preaching abstinence and moral betterment; he is a political mind: "Our manner of life is as evil as that of the papists. But what I affirm roundly and plainly is that they preach not the truth. To this I am called: I take the goose by the neck, and set the knife in its throat. When I can show that the papists' doctrine is false, then I can easily prove that their manner of life is evil."
Giorgio de Santillana does not document this quote. In his "Recommended Further Reading" section (p. 277), he points to four possibilities as to where he took this quote from. I'll demonstrate below he may have taken it from this source he recommends on page 279:
The Table Talk of Martin Luther, translated and edited by W. Hazlitt. London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., 1878. (Bohn's Standard Library.)
 The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death. It often appears to fall on deaf ears when I point out that Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written.

This Table Talk statement was recorded by Veit Dietrich in the Fall of 1533. It can be found in WA BR 1:294-297. The text reads, 


WA goes on to present variations on this utterance which accounts for some of the differences in the way this text has been translated into English. For instance,


The first version is a mixture of Latin and German, the second purely German [WA refers to "FB. 2, 414 (22,104)"]. LW states that the older manuscripts of the Table Talk are those with the Latin / German mixture (LW 54, introduction, III). In other words, the more reliable version is the former, with the pure German being a later rendering. Older English editions of the Table Talk have included the utterance in question (example #1, example #2), apparently relying on the pure German text. Luther's Works (English edition) though used the Latin / German text (LW 54:110). I mention this because I have come across the argument that LW's rendering of this Table Talk statement is an example of "toned down references to immorality in Protestantism" and that "Translation bias is seemingly alive and well." It appears this charge arises because in LW the word "bad" is used rather than "evil" in the beginning of the utterance and throughout (LW 54:110).  The second Latin / German sentence states, "Vita est mala apud nos sicut apud papistas; non igitur de vita dimicamus et damnamus eos." The word "mala" can be rendered either way, so using either "evil" or "bad" does not change the main point or comparison throughout the entry. Some of the older English translations (like thse reference above) apparently used the pure German version, and the German does use the word böse (evil). It is simply an unwarranted conjecture to assert LW had a "bias" when translating Table Talk statement 624.  


Context
Here are three different versions of the quotes rendered in English:
Our manner of life is as evil as is that of the papists. Wickliffe and Huss assailed the immoral conduct of papists; but I chiefly oppose and resist their doctrine; I affirm roundly and plainly, that they preach not the truth. To this am I called; I take the goose by the neck, and set the knife to its throat. When I can show that the papist's doctrine is false, which I have shown, then I can easily prove that their manner of life is evil. For when the word remains pure, the manner of life, though something therein be amiss, will be pure also. The pope has taken away the pure word and doctrine, and brought in another word and doctrine, which he has hanged upon the church. I shook all Popedom with this one point, that I teach uprightly, and mix up nothing else. We must press the doctrine onwards, for that breaks the neck of the pope. Therefore the prophet Daniel rightly pictured the pope, that he would be a king that would do according to his own will, that is, would regard neither spirituality nor temporality, but say roundly: Thus and thus will I have it. For the pope derives his institution neither from divine nor from human right; but is a self-chosen human creature and intruder. Therefore the pope must needs confess, that he governs neither by divine nor human command. Daniel calls him a god, Maosim; he had almost spoken it plainly out, and said Mass, which word is written, Deut. xxvi. St. Paul read Daniel thoroughly, and uses nearly his words, where he says: The son of perdition will exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, &c., 2 Thes. ii. [source]
Luther's Opposition to the Popish Doctrine. "The manner of life," said Luther, " is as evil among us as among the Papists; wherefore we strive not with them by reason of the manner of life, but for and about the doctrine. Wickliffe and Huss opposed and assaulted the manner of life and conversation in Popedom. But I (chiefly) do oppose and resist their doctrine : I affirm, soundly and plainly, that they teach not aright;—thereunto am I called. I take the goose by the neck," said Luther, " and set the knife to the throat. When I can maintain that the Pope's doctrine is false (which I have proved and maintained), then will I easily prove that their manner of life is evil. The Pope hath taken away the pure word and doctrine, and hath brought another word and doctrine, and hanged the same upon the church. I startled whole Popedom only with this one point, in that I teach uprightly, and meddle with nothing else. We must press upon the doctrine, for that breaketh the neck of the Pope. Therefore the prophet Daniel rightly pictured out the Pope, that he will be such a king as shall do according to his will; that is, he will regard neither spirituality nor temporality, but will, short and roundly, say, ' Thus and thus will I have it.' For the Pope is instituted and ordained neither by divine or human right; but is a self-chosen human creature, who hath intruded himself. St. Paul read Daniel thoroughly, and useth nearly his words, where he saith, ' And he will exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.' " 2 Thess. ii. [link]
No. 624: The Central Issue Is Doctrine, Not Life Fall, 1533
“Doctrine and life must be distinguished. Life is bad among us, as it is among the papists, but we don’t fight about life and condemn the papists on that account. Wycliffe and Huss didn’t know this and attacked [the papacy] for its life. I don’t scold myself into becoming good, but I fight over the Word and whether our adversaries teach it in its purity. That doctrine should be attacked—this has never before happened. This is my calling. Others have censured only life, but to treat doctrine is to strike at the most sensitive point, for surely the government and the ministry of the papists are bad. Once we’ve asserted this, it’s easy to say and declare that the life is also bad. “When the Word remains pure, then the life (even if there is something lacking in it) can be molded properly. Everything depends on the Word, and the pope has abolished the Word and created another one. With this I have won, and I have won nothing else than that I teach aright. Although we are better morally, this isn’t anything to fight about. It’s the teaching that breaks the pope’s neck. Therefore Daniel pictured the pope rightly when he stated that there will be a kingdom in which the king will act according to his will, that he will pay attention to neither civil nor spiritual matters but will simply say, ‘I want that,’ without offering any reason, even a natural one. When you ask, ‘Is the papacy established by natural, divine, or human right?’ you get the answer, ‘No, it is a worship of the will.’ So the pope must say, ‘Nobody has commanded us.’ It is simply a religion of free will. Daniel calls God a god of ‘maozim’—I almost said ‘masses.’ ” [LW 54:110]
Conclusion
The point being in made is that in whichever translation one uses, Luther was concerned with proving Roman doctrine wrong. He believed his method of combating the papacy was superior to the earlier assaults of  Wycliffe and Hus. Does this quote prove Luther was in "agony" over "the state of early Protestantism"? No, it doesn't. In fact, Luther's comment applies well to the particular assaults made by Rome's defenders: they attack a way of life as if this is a valid ultimate argument against doctrine. The argument amounts to saying had Luther's teaching been true, Protestants would be outwardly less "evil"  or less "bad" than those adhering to Rome's teachings. But look what Luther goes on to state (in LW's rendering): "Everything depends on the Word, and the pope has abolished the Word and created another one. With this I have won, and I have won nothing else than that I teach aright. Although we are better morally, this isn’t anything to fight about."


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.

Luther: I Have Given Up on Germany

Here's another obscure Luther quote used by a defender of Rome:
"I have well nigh given up all hope for Germany, for . . . the whole host of dishonesty, wickedness, and roguery are reigning everywhere . . . and added to all else contempt of the Word and ingratitude." (in Janssen, ibid., vol.16, 19. From Wilhelm M. L. De Wette, Letters of Luther, Berlin, 1828, vol. 5, 398, 407; Letter to Anton Lauterbach, November, 1541) [link]
I came across a defender of Rome using this quote five different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, that during the Reformation "Catholics were no more ignorant or impious or wicked than, for example, Lutherans, according to the descriptions of Luther himself." Third, it was used as proof Luther was not a "champion of religious freedom and freedom of conscience." Fourth, it was used to prove Luther "lamented often about the actual course of his 'Reformation' in Germany, thus perhaps revealing a sense of failure and guilt." Fifth, it was used as proof the Reformation caused the "decline of morals" and that Luther was disgusted by the "state of Protestant morality." That's one quote, five different applications!

Documentation
There are multiple items of documentation provided. The first item refers to Johannes Janssen's History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages Volume 16. On page 19 Janssen states:
The older Luther grew the more frequent were his complaints of the moral anarchy in social life, and of the increase of vice even in his own immediate neighbourhood. On September 8, 1541, he wrote to Link at Nuremberg, who had complained of the 'contempt of the Word' in that town, that he might comfort himself with the thought that the worst of all evils was now reigning, unbridled licentiousness of life without law or religion: 'Our people will now neither hear nor heed the Word of God, a state of things which cannot fail to produce vice.' Two months later he sent a wail to the preacher Anton Lauterbach in Pirna: 'I have well nigh given up all hope for Germany, for greed, usury, tyranny, discord, and the whole host of dishonesty, wickedness, and roguery are reigning everywhere — at the courts, in the towns and villages, and added to all else contempt of the Word and ingratitude.'
The next tidbit of documentation refers to "From Wilhelm M. L. De Wette, Letters of Luther, Berlin, 1828, vol. 5, 398, 407; Letter to Anton Lauterbach, November, 1541." This information has been sifted from Janssen. Working backwards, "Letter to Anton Lauterbach, November, 1541" appears to be based on Janssen providing the date "September 8, 1541" and then saying, "Two months later he sent a wail to the preacher Anton Lauterbach in Pirna." Janssen then documents the quote, "De Wette, v. 398, 407."

It's here where Rome's defender has botched the documentation by not checking the sources. De Wette v. 398 refers to a letter cited by Janssen but not cited by Rome's cyber-defender (September 8, 1541). Page 407 is the only text that's being cited. Also, by actually checking the source an actual fixed date is found: November 10, 1541. The letter states, 


This letter was not included in Luther's Works, English edition (LW). However, a translation is included in  The Life and Letters of Martin Luther By Preserved Smith (p. 411 - 412).


Context

To Anthony Lauterbach at Pirna
(Wittenberg,) November 10, 1541.

Grace and peace. Although I have nothing to write, dear Antony, yet I prefer to write that I have nothing to write rather than leave your letter unanswered. May God strengthen Duke Maurice in the true faith and in sound policy. Perhaps you have heard all the news of the Turk. I almost despair of Germany since she has received within her walls those true Turks or rather those true devils, avarice, usury, tyranny, discord, and that whole cesspool of perfidy, malice, and iniquity, in the nobles, the palaces, the courts of justice, the towns and the villages; worst of all is contempt of the Word and unexampled ingratitude. With these Turks ruling us savagely and cruelly, what success can we hope against the human Turks? May God have mercy upon us and make the light of his countenance to shine upon us. For while we pray against our enemies the Turks, it is to be feared that the Holy Ghost will understand us to pray against ourselves and yet for our good. For I see that it will come to pass that unless the tyranny of the Turk terrifies and humbles our nobles, we shall have to bear worse tyranny from them than from the Turks. Verily the nobles think to put chains on our princes and fetters on the burghers and peasants, and most of all on books and authors. Thus they avenge the papal slavery by subjecting the people to a new slavery under the nobles. But enough. My Katie sends her greetings to you and to your wife and daughter, as do we all, and we all pray and beseech the Lord together to give us the pestilence instead of the Turkish scourge, for without the special help of God our arms and armies can do nothing.
Yours, Martin Luther

Conclusion
Preserved Smith says this letter displays Luther's "despair at the moral conditions of the people" in strong terms (p.411). While the general population of Germany is included in this letter, the primary charge against Germany from Luther was against its leadership. While it's true (as I've stated in previous entries) Luther was displeased over the general morality of his times, this letter is specific to Luther's displeasure over Germany's rulers and their morality. Luther laments that "avarice, usury, tyranny, discord, and that whole cesspool of perfidy, malice, and iniquity" rule over the world, and were ruling the political world. This was true then, and it's true now. For Luther, the mastermind of this evil was the Devil. For Luther, it was very near the end of the world, and he expected such to be the case.

When Rome's defenders claim the quote proves the agony of Luther over the state of early Protestantism, the lament of Luther is directed towards the rulers of Germany, not Protestantism in general. Perhaps it would be better stated that Luther lamented over the rulers of Protestant territories.
As to this quote proving "Catholics were no more ignorant or impious or wicked than Lutherans," the actual comparison should be directed towards rulers. As to this quote disproving Luther was a champion of religious freedom, it actually says quite the opposite. Note Luther's complaint: "Verily the nobles think to put chains on our princes and fetters on the burghers and peasants, and most of all on books and authors. Thus they avenge the papal slavery by subjecting the people to a new slavery under the nobles." Does this quote serve as an example of Luther admitting his failure and guilt over the Reformation? No. Does this quote prove Luther was disgusted over the decline of Protestant morality? I find it quite interesting that Luther made virtually the same charges against the morality of his times throughout his career.

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.