Sunday, October 23, 2011

Myth #11: Luther thought that the Roman Church was no longer a true Christian Church

The title of this post comes from a comment left by religious explorer David Waltz, under my blog entry, Ten Martin Luther Myths. Mr. Waltz felt it appropriate to add his myth #11 (Luther thought that the Roman Church was no longer a true Christian Church) to my entry. For documentation, he left a Luther quote from a secondary source, and also provided an old link back to his blog from 2009. Thus ensued a brief futile interaction. I had actually offered some comments on this quote (after Mr. Waltz used it back in 2009): Luther: I honor the Roman Church. She is pious, has God’s Word and Baptism, and is holy and Luther: A Church With Corrupt Leadership Can Still Be a True Church. Mr. Waltz has recently offered a new post to this discussion: Martin Luther on the Roman Church.

Mr. Waltz is accurate: the particular quote he utilized does point out that Luther did not deny the Roman church was a Christian church: "I honor the Roman Church. She is pious, has God’s Word and Baptism, and is holy." I would have no problem including his myth #11 as a Luther myth, but I would only do so with a brief explanation of what Luther meant. Without any sort of explanation, the notion that Luther thought the Roman church was a Christian church  seems rather strange, doesn't it? Luther spent a great portion of his career in fierce conflict with the Roman Church. He went as far as claiming the pope was the Antichrist. When Luther spoke of the Roman Church, he had something much different in mind than most people do today. Luther made a sharp distinction between the Roman Church and the Papacy. Of Rome's leadership, Luther states:
Can anything be said that is more horrible than that the kingdom of the papists is the kingdom of those who spit upon and recrucify Christ, the Son of God? Christ, who once was crucified and rose again—Him they crucify in themselves and in the church, that is, in the hearts of the faithful. With their rebukes, slanders, and insults they spit at Him; and with their false opinions they pierce Him through, so that He dies most miserably in them. And in His place they erect a beautiful bewitchment, by which men are so demented that they do not acknowledge Christ as the Justifier, Propitiator, and Savior but think of Him as a minister of sin, an accuser, a judge, and a condemner, who must be placated by our works and merit. [LW 26:199-200].

Therefore let anyone who is seriously concerned about godliness flee this Babylon as quickly as possible, and let him be horrified at the very hearing of the name of the papacy. For its wickedness and abomination are so great that no one can describe them in words or evaluate them except with spiritual eyes [LW 26:201].
Luther's opinion appears to be in part that since the Roman Church was given the Scriptures, Sacraments, etc., that in that sense it is a Christan church. However, these elements functions quite independently from the Roman magisterium. No analogy is perfect, but if I had to describe Luther's position I would do so like this: The Roman church is like a pristine ship that's been commandeered by pirates. The ship still functions, but it's crew is in bondage to her captors. Perhaps some of the crew mutinies and joins the pirates. Others though, maintain allegiance to her rightful captain.

Now, Mr. Waltz, an ex-Roman Catholic apologist, originally showed up on this blog with this little nugget, offering no such explanation. He is apparently befuddled as to why "a nerve" was struck. It's not difficult to figure out: The quote, as Mr. Waltz cited it, has more polemical value out of context than in context.  My concerns with Mr. Waltz are not so much with what he posted, but what he didn't post. Quite early on in our interaction I stated, "For clarification, you need to emphasize the distinctions Luther did. Otherwise, your blog post is simply a bit of propaganda." Thus ensued a futile discussion between us. I engaged in a repetitive effort to convince Mr. Waltz that his efforts needed clarification to be useful. He on the other hand, defended his ambiguous posts, for what reason? I'm not quite sure. As far as I can tell, he doesn't really explain why he had such reluctance to bring this simple distinction to light. He then created a new entry, providing a number of comments from Luther in which the distinction I asked him for all along was readily visible. 

Philip Schaff and Von der Wiedertaufe
In his recent blog post  this very distinction I argued for was included in a quote Mr. Waltz utilized from Philip Schaff:
"How far, we must ask here, did Luther recognize the dominion of the papacy as a part of the true catholic church? He did not look upon the Pope in the historical and legal light as the legitimate head of the Roman Church; but he ought him to the end of his life as the antagonist of the gospel, as the veritable Antichrist, and the papacy as an apostasy. He could not have otherwise justified his separation, and the burning of the papal bull and law books. He assumed a position to the Pope and his church similar to that of the apostles to Caiaphas and the synagogue."
In the same section from Schaff (not quoted by Mr. Waltz) is this insightful comment on how Luther understood the term "universal church" as the "totality of the elect":
"Luther developed this idea in his own way, and modified it in application to the visible church. He started from the article of the Creed, “I believe in the holy catholic church,” but identified this article with the “communion of saints,” as a definition of the catholic church. He explained the communion (Gemeinschaft) to mean the community or congregation (Gemeinde) of saints. He also substituted, in his Catechism, the word “Christian” for “catholic,” in order to include in it all believers in Christ. Hence the term “catholic” became, or remained, identical in Germany with “Roman Catholic” or “papal;” while the English Protestant churches very properly retained the word “catholic” in, its true original sense of “universal,” which admits of no sectarian limitation. The Romanists have no claim to the exclusive use of that title; they are too sectarian and exclusive to be truly catholic.

Luther held that the holy church in its relation to God is an article of faith, not of sight, and therefore invisible. But as existing among men the true church is visible, and can be recognized by the right preaching of the gospel or the purity of doctrine, and by the right administration of the sacraments (i.e., baptism and the Lord’s Supper). These are the two essential marks of a pure church. The first he emphasized against the Romanists, the second against what he called Enthusiasts (Schwarmgeister) and Sacramentarians (in the sense of anti-sacramentarians)"[Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 7.527-528].
So even Schaff makes the necessary distinction. In his citation of Schaff, Mr. Waltz bolded this particular Luther quote from 1528 (p. 530):
In his controversy with the Anabaptists (1528), Luther makes the striking admission: "We confess that under the papacy there is much Christianity, yea, the whole Christianity, and has from thence come to us. We confess that the papacy possesses the genuine Scriptures, genuine baptism, the genuine sacrament of the altar, the genuine keys for the remission of sins, the true ministry, the true catechism, the Ten Commandments, the articles of the Creed, the Lord s Prayer. ... I say that under the Pope is the true Christendom, yea, the very élite of Christendom, and many pious and great saints."[1]

[1] "Ich sage, dass unter dem Papst die rechte Christenheit ist, ja der rechte Ausbund der Christenheit, und viel frommmer, gorsser Heiligen." (Von der Wiedertaufe, (Erl. cd. XXVI. 257 sq.)
This Luther quote from Von der Wiedertaufe (Erl. 26) is found in LW 40:231. Luther is arguing against (primarily) anabaptists in response to a request for help from some Roman Catholics (LW 40:227). He begins by briefly chastising them, comparing the errors of the papacy and the anabaptists. In a sarcastic thrust he states he's not going to detail papal errors "but rather help you by appearing to be a papist again and flattering the pope" (LW 40:231). He then states,
In the first place I hear and see that such rebaptism is undertaken by some in order to spite the pope and to be free of any taint of the Antichrist. In the same way the foes of the sacrament want to believe only in bread and wine, in opposition to the pope, thinking thereby really to overthrow the papacy. It is indeed a shaky foundation on which they can build nothing good. On that basis we would have to disown the whole of Scripture and the office of the ministry, which of course we have received from the papacy. We would also have to make a new Bible. Then, also, we would have to disavow the Old Testament, so that we would be under no obligation to the unbelieving Jews. And why the daily use of gold and goods which have been used by bad people, papists, Turks, and heretics? This, too, should be surrendered, if they are not to have anything good from evil persons.

The whole thing is nonsense. Christ himself came upon the errors of scribes and Pharisees among the Jewish people, but he did not on that account reject everything they had and thought (Matt. 23[:3]). We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the creed. Similarly, the pope admits that we too, though condemned by him as heretics, and likewise all heretics, have the holy Scriptures, baptism, the keys, the catechism, etc. O how do you dissemble? How then do I dissemble? I speak of what the pope and we have in common. He on his part dissembles toward us and heretics and plainly admits what we and he have in common. I will continue to so dissemble, though it does me no good. I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints. Shall I cease to make this pretense? [LW 40:231-232].
That's a form of the same distinction from Luther I've presented before, and it's in harmony with what I've presented here and elsewhere to Mr. Waltz. Then Luther explains:
Listen to what St. Paul says to the Thessalonians [II Thess. 2:4]: “The Antichrist takes his seat in the temple of God.” If now the pope is (and I cannot believe otherwise) the veritable Antichrist, he will not sit or reign in the devil’s stall, but in the temple of God. No, he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christendom exist. For he is an Antichrist and must thus be among Christians. And since he is to sit and reign there it is necessary that there be Christians under him. God’s temple is not the description for a pile of stones, but for the holy Christendom (I Cor. 3[:17]), in which he is to reign. The Christendom that now is under the papacy is truly the body of Christ and a member of it. If it is his body, then it has the true spirit, gospel, faith, baptism, sacrament, keys, the office of the ministry, prayer, holy Scripture, and everything that pertains to Christendom. So we are all still under the papacy and therefrom have received our Christian treasures.

As a veritable Antichrist must conduct himself against Christendom, so the pope acts toward us: he persecutes us, curses us, bans us, pursues us, burns us, puts us to death. Christians need indeed to be truly baptized and right members of Christ if they are to win the victory in death over against the Antichrist. We do not rave as do the rebellious spirits, so as to reject everything that is found in the papal church. For then we would east out even Christendom from the temple of God, and all that it contained of Christ. But when we oppose and reject the pope it is because he does not keep to these treasures of Christendom which he has inherited from the apostles. Instead he makes additions of the devil and does not use these treasures for the improvement of the temple. Rather he works toward its destruction, in setting his commandments and ordinances above the ordinance of Christ. But Christ preserves his Christendom even in the midst of such destruction, just as he rescued Lot at Sodom, as St. Peter recounts (I Pet. 2 [II Pet. 2:6]). In fact both remain, the Antichrist sits in the temple of God through the action of the devil, while the temple still is and remains the temple of God through the power of Christ. If the pope will suffer and accept this dissembling of mine, then I am and will be, to be sure, an obedient son and devoted papist, with a truly joyful heart, and take back everything that I have done to harm him.

So it is of no consequence when these Anabaptists and enthusiasts say, “Whatever is of the pope is wrong,” or, “Whatever is in the papacy we must have and do differently,” thinking thereby to prove themselves the foremost enemy of Antichrist. Not realizing that they thus give him most help, they hurt Christendom most and deceive themselves. For they should help us to reject abuse and accretion, but they would not get much credit for this because they realize they were not first to do this. So they attack what no one yet has attacked in the hope that here perchance they might have the honor of being first. But the honor turns to disgrace, for they attack the temple of God and miss the Antichrist who sits therein, just as the blind, who grope after water, take hold of fire [LW 40:232-233].
Luther's Letter to Pope Leo
Mr. Waltz also offers some other citations from Luther. He appears to be quite smitten by Luther's letter to Pope Leo (May 30, 1518). Mr. Waltz appears to think that somehow when Luther here stated "Wherefore, most blessed Father, I cast myself at the feet of your Holiness, with all that I have and all that I am. Quicken, kill, call, recall, approve, reprove, as you will. In your voice I shall recognize the voice of Christ directing you and speaking in you," that somehow, this negates Luther's distinction between the Roman church and the papacy. Mr. Waltz apparently doesn't realize that only a few months after this letter, one finds Luther making hostile comments towards the Pope. By December of the same year, Luther stating that the Pope may be the true Antichrist, and that the Pope is "worse than the Turks." What Mr. Waltz also appears to not be aware of is "the conventional, curialistic style" and the accepted means of dialog with Rome (for more on this, see this post).

Luther's Letter to Pope Leo X  January 5 or 6, 1519
Mr. Waltz then cites another of Luther's letters to the pope, again highlighting Luther's respect for the pope and the Roman church. Though he mentions it was a draft, Mr. Waltz doesn't seem to be aware this letter was never sent. The letter written that day was the result of Luther’s meeting with the Papal nuncio Miltitz. Miltitz was somewhat attempting to reconcile Luther with the Pope. He spoke of how favorably the pope felt toward Luther, and how angry he was with Tetzel. He attempted to make this deal with Luther: Luther would cease with his part of this controversy- and he promised those who opposed Luther would also be silent. He also requested Luther write a letter to the pope. The letter was written and presented to Miltitz, but Luther absolutely refused to recant. Miltitz then dropped the whole idea of the letter (for more on this, see this blog entry). Once again as well, this letter was written in the conventional, curialistic style" and the accepted means of dialog with Rome.

Various Sermon Quotes
Mr. Waltz  then goes on to provide a few other quotes from Luther basically saying the same thing, which make the same distinctions I asked him for all along. He puts in bold lettering anything from Luther that remotely admits Rome being a valid church, or the papacy having divine rule. He doesn't bold though statements from Luther like these in his own citations:
30.It is necessary to a thorough understanding of the matter that we understand what Christ here says concerning the two Churches : One is the Church which is not recognized by the world, but is robbed of its name and exiled ; the other, the Church that has the name and honor but persecutes the small flock of believers. Thus we have the opposing situations : The Church which is denied the name is the true Church, whilst the other is not the reality, though it may occupy the seat of authority and power, and possess and perform all the offices conceded to be offices and marks of the holy Church and yet we are obliged to suffer its ban and judgment.

31. The reason for the difference in the two Churches is contained in Christ's saying: "Because they have not known the Father nor me;" that is, the false Church regards itself as superior to the teachings of Christ, when a knowledge of Christ is the very basis of distinction between the true and false Church. It is not enough merely to have the name and the office of the Church since these could be unlawfully assumed and abused; the second commandment and the second petition of the Lord's Prayer indicate that the name of God is often abused, not hallowed but blasphemed and dishonored. Hence, we must not be too ready to endorse the declaration : I say or do this in the name of God or of Christ, and at the command and by the authority of the Church. But we should reply thus: I accept the name of God and of the Church as they are dear and precious to me ; but I do not concede to you that in this name you should prescribe and sell whatever you please.

32. Thus we say to the papists : We grant you, indeed, the name and office, and regard these as holy and precious, for the office is not yours, but has been established by Christ and given to the Church without regard for and distinction of the persons who occupy it. Therefore, whatever is exercised through this office as the institution of Christ, and in his name and that of the Church, is at all times right and proper, even though ungodly and unbelieving men may participate. We must distinguish between the office and the person exercising it, between rightful use and abuse. The name of God and of Christ is always holy in itself ; but it may be abused and blasphemed. So also, the office of the Church is holy and precious, but the person occupying it may be accursed and belong to the devil. Therefore, we cannot decide according to the office who are true or false Christians, and which is the true or false Church.

Sermons on the Gospel of St. John - Chapters 14-16
Mr. Waltz cited one of the most popular polemical Luther quotes, probably without realizing it:
"Yes, we ourselves find it difficult to refute it, especially since we concede—as we must—that so much of what they say is true: that the papacy has God’s Word and the office of the apostles, and that we have received Holy Scripture, Baptism, the Sacrament, and the pulpit from them. What would we know of these if it were not for them? Therefore faith, the Christian Church, Christ, and the Holy Spirit must also be found among them."
I wrote about this quote some years back: Luther: The Infallible Church Declared The Contents of Scripture? Luther is simply saying that he learned about the Scriptures, Baptism, and the Pulpit, etc. from the Church of his day, in the same way the Prophets were born into a society in which the religious structure of their day was functioning, and gave the Old Testament people a religious context to live in. The visible church indeed promulgated the Scriptures and Christian doctrine.

Conclusion
Mr. Waltz ends his entry stating, "I have attempted, with the above quotations, to convince James (and all others who may read this thread), that my original brief quote from Luther was any but, "misleading", rather, that it represented Luther's mature thought on the Roman church, namely, that it remained a Christian church." Well, he hasn't convinced me his earlier sparse comments were not misleading. If anything, by the length of his blog post and the amount of quotes utilized he proved the very opposite. He has now provided a post that included the very distinctions I asked for, which strongly indicates his earlier posts were indeed just that: misleading. I asked him early on to make the necessary clarifications, emphasizing the distinctions Luther did in order to avoid propaganda. Any out-of-context "shocking" quote from Luther followed by the lack of any sort of brief explanation of what Luther meant is indeed less than helpful, serving only to confuse issues. As Mr. Waltz's original material on this subject stood, most people would have no idea why Luther was saying what he was saying about the Roman church, hence creating dissonance. I thank Mr. Waltz for taking my admonitions seriously, and revising his material with his recent blog entry.

17 comments:

louis said...

Excellent, James!

David Waltz said...

Hello James,

Pretty good summation, though there are a few items that I believe to be less than accurate:

First -

JS: "When Luther spoke of the Roman Church, he had something much different in mind than most people do today. Luther made a sharp distinction between the Roman Church and the Papacy."

Me: I would argue Luther's 'theology' on the papacy developed, being prompted by certain events (negative), that his 'theology' was a derivation/reaction to the prior events. Further, the papacy of Luther's day wielded much more power (religious and secular) than the papacy of post-Vatican II. I sincerely wonder if the papacy of our 21st century existed in Luther's day if he would have made the same, "sharp distinction between the Roman Church and the Papacy", and if the Reformation would have actually occured. Yet with that said, distinctions among RCC scholars (and the laity) between the Church and the Magisterium abound in our day, with a good number being quite minimalistic; as such, I do not believe that there is as "much" difference as you suggest.

Second -

JS: "The quote, as Mr. Waltz cited it, has more polemical value out of context than in context. My concerns with Mr. Waltz are not so much with what he posted, but what he didn't post."

Me: I disagree, THE CONTEXT OF MY ORIGINAL THREAD, was whether or not the Roman Church was/is still a Christian church. Now, I think it is safe to say that one small supportive snippet does not hold anywhere near the same weight as a multi-page supportive treatment; in other words, if one wants to argue that Luther believed that the Roman Church was still a Christian church, the latter is much more convincing. IMHO, you are confusing "out of context" with additions to context (i.e. the 'goal posts were moved').

Third -

JS: "Thus ensued a futile discussion between us. I engaged in a repetitive effort to convince Mr. Waltz that his efforts needed clarification to be useful. He on the other hand, defended his ambiguous posts, for what reason? I'm not quite sure. As far as I can tell, he doesn't really explain why he had such reluctance to bring this simple distinction to light."

Me: Sigh, I clearly stated that knowledge of Luther's position on the papacy is pretty clear to ALL students of Luther, but that his view of the Roman Church is known by few. What I find quite interesting, is the fact that our ongoing discussion and new threads have solidified the intent of my original post, namely, that Luther believed that the Roman Church was still a Christian church; with this being true beyond any doubt, to continue to state that my original post was "misleading", is quite befuddling.

QUESTION: Since my initial Nov. 12, 2010 post, has the quote been used to argue that Luther conflated the Roman Church and the papacy into one entity?

It sure seems to me James, that your latent fear concerning a polemical use of the Luther quote is misguided, and that it was "Myth 11" that needed more exposure.


Grace and peace,

David

natamllc said...

I second the amen, James, by Louis!

Mr. Waltz is a very deep and foreboding thinker.

The shortcut to the objection would have been to simply acknowledge his error and thank you for the insight and correction.

But then, even with the long way he took to come around to it,"... I thank Mr. Waltz for taking my admonitions seriously, and revising his material with his recent blog entry.", these Words from Scripture sure carry their meaning well:

Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Maybe next time he is corrected by you he will be quicker to just acknowledge it and stand corrected quickly thankful for your administration correcting him and his misrepresentation of Luther?

I hope so?

natamllc said...

Well, in light of Mr. Waltz' response, disregard my previous comments.

James Swan said...

Tedium (for my benefit in the future).

Schaff cites:

"Ich sage, dass unter dem Papst die rechte Christenheit ist, ja der rechte Ausbund der Christenheit, und viel frommmer, gorsser Heiligen." (Von der Wiedertaufe, (Erl. cd. XXVI. 257 sq.)

In Erl., it appears the quote Schaff is citing is actually on page 285, not 257. It's entirely possible though he used a different edition. If not, it's simply an error on his part.

James Swan said...

Hello Mr. Waltz

Pretty good summation,

Thank you.

though there are a few items that I believe to be less than accurate:

We'll see if I've made factual errors or if you're simply equating "few items that I believe to be less than accurate" with either your opinion or your particular interpretation.

Me: I would argue Luther's 'theology' on the papacy developed, being prompted by certain events (negative), that his 'theology' was a derivation/reaction to the prior events.

This has nothing to do with this subject. Of course Luther's theology on the Papacy developed. I've mentioned on this blog more than once that Luther claimed to be loyal to the Papacy in the early part of his career. But in this subject, the mature Luther's position is assumed, since fairly early on he began to abandon allegiance to the papacy. So, on this point, I have not made a factual error.

Further, the papacy of Luther's day wielded much more power (religious and secular) than the papacy of post-Vatican II. I sincerely wonder if the papacy of our 21st century existed in Luther's day if he would have made the same, "sharp distinction between the Roman Church and the Papacy", and if the Reformation would have actually occured. Yet with that said, distinctions among RCC scholars (and the laity) between the Church and the Magisterium abound in our day, with a good number being quite minimalistic; as such, I do not believe that there is as "much" difference as you suggest.

This is an interesting hypothetical, but it's just that, a hypothetical. Therefore when I stated "he had something much different in mind than most people do today", we appear to both agree that the papacy today is not the papacy of yesteryear. I would hold quite opposite, that because of the definition of papal infallibility, the Roman Church has been overtaken by the papist errors. That is, had I lived during Luther's day, I see how one could make the distinction between Roman church and papacy. Even in my view, there certainly was a time when the Roman church was a true church. But, I think papalism has overtaken Rome. One can only speculate what Luther's view would be today. Given the dogma of papal infallibility and Trent's anathema on the justification by faith alone, I would speculate Luther would probably see Rome as being overrun by papalism.


-continued-

James Swan said...

Me: I disagree, THE CONTEXT OF MY ORIGINAL THREAD, was whether or not the Roman Church was/is still a Christian church. Now, I think it is safe to say that one small supportive snippet does not hold anywhere near the same weight as a multi-page supportive treatment; in other words, if one wants to argue that Luther believed that the Roman Church was still a Christian church, the latter is much more convincing. IMHO, you are confusing "out of context" with additions to context (i.e. the 'goal posts were moved').

You can come up with whatever excuses you want. Our previous discussion under the other blog post spells out my case, so I'm not going to repeat it again. Here's something though to keep in mind In the future, if you plan on adding content to one of my blog posts, you will be held to a higher standard. That is, if you want to add a point #11, I'll expect clear and cogent argumentation, not out-of-context propaganda that will confuse most casual readers. When I go over Reformation facts, I seek to clarify, not obfuscate. Obfuscation is the way of Romanist Internet apologists, who present facts, but not all the facts.... they present just enough to make some sort of ecumenical appeal, all at the expense of clarity which typically obliterates whatever point they're trying to make. Have you gone back to Romanism David? If not, I suggest you abandon Romanist pop-apologetic approaches to truth and history.

Me: Sigh, I clearly stated that knowledge of Luther's position on the papacy is pretty clear to ALL students of Luther, but that his view of the Roman Church is known by few. What I find quite interesting, is the fact that our ongoing discussion and new threads have solidified the intent of my original post, namely, that Luther believed that the Roman Church was still a Christian church; with this being true beyond any doubt, to continue to state that my original post was "misleading", is quite befuddling.

Sigh as well. You assume that there are all these "students of Luther" reading our blogs. That sir, is probably not at all true. Yes, perhaps there are a few, but I doubt many blog readers are aware of Luther's distinction between the papacy and the Roman Church, and you initially posted something unclear and confusing to most people. Why? What is your motivation? Ecumenical love between everyone claiming the name Christian? Rome, Mormons, JW's, whoever.. hey aren't we all Christians? Is that your point David? Try to build ecumenical bridges by only telling half the story on Luther's view? See: even Luther held out an ecumenical hand to the Roman church! Is that your motivation?

QUESTION: Since my initial Nov. 12, 2010 post, has the quote been used to argue that Luther conflated the Roman Church and the papacy into one entity?

I haven't looked, so I don't know. I'm going to assume your blog doesn't get a lot of traffic, so perhaps no one is taking your material. However, I am quite familiar with some popular Romanist blogs that have caused a lot of historical nonsense with poorly defined and researched information.

It sure seems to me James, that your latent fear concerning a polemical use of the Luther quote is misguided, and that it was "Myth 11" that needed more exposure.

That's your opinion. My opinion: It saddens me that you still maintain a Romanist mentality when it comes to accuracy on the Internet.

James Swan said...

I have a few other comments Mr. Waltz. You made this point in your blog entry:

"It seems that the focus has transitioned from what Luther actually said/penned (James' forte), to James interpretation of Trent."

I've taken a lot of criticism over the years (particularly from Roman Catholics) that I'm somehow either trying to "whitewash" the real Luther, or that I'm the type of guy who thinks everything Luther said was correct. Where I disagree with Luther, I will at times point that out (as in the blog entry of mine you're referring to). So what you see as a "transition" is nothing other than a brief paragraph saying I disagree with Luther. It just goes to show, one cannot win on the Internet, someone will always complain about something.

On the other hand, I was thinking today about your recent comments to this blog. You appear to think that I need some help in presenting a full picture of Martin Luther. For instance here you recently left a Luther-related comment on a post that had nothing to do with Luther. I can't read your motivations for your comment with any certainty, but it certainly does come across as one of those "Gotcha!" comments. That is, here Swan is criticizing Mr. Camping, while he hides Luther's eschatology away. Such though is not the case (simply use a search engine on this blog). Then when I re-posted my old "Ten Luther Myths" aomin entry, you show up with a poorly explained Luther-myth comment, on yet another topic I've addressed before. I can't read your motivations for this other comment with any certainty, but it certainly does come across as one of those "Swan is anti-Catholic bigot, let's use a 'gotcha!" Luther-quote on him." What's the deal here David? Are you sniping at me? I have a suggestion for you: If you're going to leave a Luther-related comment, please first use the two search engines on the side of my blog. Actually take two minutes to check and see if I've ever addressed your concerns. If you're simply leaving Luther comments to snipe at me, so far you're 0 for 2.

David Waltz said...

Hello James,

I got an email yesterday from a reader who informing me that you added a few more comments in the combox of this thread (I had thought that the comments had ended with your 9:35 PM, October 24, 2011 post, and did not check back in until the email.)

I must say, I am disappointed with the tone and content of the bulk of your comments; I thought that you were above petty ad hominem tactics; that you held yourself to the same level of conduct you invoke upon others; that you refrained from 'mind reading' (i.e. accepted the actual words from those you read, rather than thinking you know the 'real' thoughts/intentions behind what was actually written); it seems, that I my original assessments were in error—the thread has essentially degenerated into subjectivism and baseless speculations. This will be my last post in this thread, I just don't have the time to waste on such silliness.

In your posts in this thread (for the most part, directed at this beachbum), you wrote:

JS:== Mr. Waltz is accurate: the particular quote he utilized does point out that Luther did not deny the Roman church was a Christian church: "I honor the Roman Church. She is pious, has God’s Word and Baptism, and is holy." I would have no problem including his myth #11 as a Luther myth, but I would only do so with a brief explanation of what Luther meant. Without any sort of explanation, the notion that Luther thought the Roman church was a Christian church seems rather strange, doesn't it?==

Me: I have, more than once, explained to you the brevity of my quote; you had/have obvious, personal, subjective. 'issues' with the brevity, yet 'when all is said and done', the quote I provided is accurate, especially so when one considers the ORIGINAL CONTEXT of my post, namely, whether or not the Roman Church is a Christian church. You seem to think that my readers (and perhaps yours) were/are ignorant of the fact that Luther made a distinction between the Roman Church and papacy, I am not as convinced as you that the most of our readers were/are ignorant of this fact.

JS:== My concerns with Mr. Waltz are not so much with what he posted, but what he didn't post.==

Me: My-oh-my; James, there are so many instances with your posts where I echo your above sentiment; however, I refrain 99% of the time knowing that you were reflecting on your thoughts, and not mine.

JS:== Mr. Waltz appears to think that somehow when Luther here stated "Wherefore, most blessed Father, I cast myself at the feet of your Holiness, with all that I have and all that I am. Quicken, kill, call, recall, approve, reprove, as you will. In your voice I shall recognize the voice of Christ directing you and speaking in you," that somehow, this negates Luther's distinction between the Roman church and the papacy.==

Me: Wrong, I did not "think" the above at all, I KNOW that Luther changed his position shortly after writing the above (Luther frequently changed his positions based on events in his life, rather than on pre-formed theological reasons).

JS:== Though he mentions it was a draft, Mr. Waltz doesn't seem to be aware this letter was never sent.==

Me: Your assumptions here are even more baseless than the one above; in the preface to the letter in reference, Krodel writes:

"This letter is the draft of that letter, which, however, was never sent, since von Miltitz offered to write to the Pope himself." ( Luther's Works - Letters, vol. 48.100.)

You may think me a simpleton, but I had read the above (at least twice), prior to my post.

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

JS:== Well, he hasn't convinced me his earlier sparse comments were not misleading. If anything, by the length of his blog post and the amount of quotes utilized he proved the very opposite. He has now provided a post that included the very distinctions I asked for, which strongly indicates his earlier posts were indeed just that: misleading.

Me: My goodness James, misleading to who? Maybe you think your readers are so ignorant of Luther's writings that they could not make the proper distinction (though I personally doubt this), but I am pretty sure that my readers were/are quite cognizant of Luther's view on the papacy of his day.

JS:== I thank Mr. Waltz for taking my admonitions seriously, and revising his material with his recent blog entry.==

Me: I did so as a Christian courtesy to you; I did not, nor do I, believe that your concerns concerning the Luther quote were/are of any real substance.

JS:== We'll see if I've made factual errors or if you're simply equating "few items that I believe to be less than accurate" with either your opinion or your particular interpretation.

Me: I would argue Luther's 'theology' on the papacy developed, being prompted by certain events (negative), that his 'theology' was a derivation/reaction to the prior events.

This has nothing to do with this subject. Of course Luther's theology on the Papacy developed. I've mentioned on this blog more than once that Luther claimed to be loyal to the Papacy in the early part of his career. But in this subject, the mature Luther's position is assumed, since fairly early on he began to abandon allegiance to the papacy. So, on this point, I have not made a factual error.==

Me: Ahhh...but it does, my above comment was in response to the following that you wrote, "When Luther spoke of the Roman Church, he had something much different in mind than most people do today. Luther made a sharp distinction between the Roman Church and the Papacy."

Your comment is "misleading", in that it does not clarify what, "he had something much different in mind than most people do today" entails. Do you mean that "most people do today" are not aware of Luther's distinction (a subjective opinion); or perhaps, that "most people do today" make NO distinction/s between the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church (I think there is solid evidence to doubt this); or maybe that many Roman Catholics today reject a number of papal directives and believe that the pope is merely a 'paper-tiger'?

JS:== Even in my view, there certainly was a time when the Roman church was a true church. But, I think papalism has overtaken Rome. One can only speculate what Luther's view would be today. Given the dogma of papal infallibility and Trent's anathema on the justification by faith alone, I would speculate Luther would probably see Rome as being overrun by papalism.==

Me: As I already pointed out, the "papalism" of Luther's day wielded much more power over its subjects than the papacy of our day. Luther's theological speculations pale in the face of those of a modern day Hans Küng, yet the popes of our day have not excommunicated Küng (though his teacher rights were revoked), let alone threaten execution!!!

And further, your view of Trent is suspect, Dr. Charles Hodge, Dr. A.N.S. Lane, and other Evangelical scholars, have interpreted Trent differently than you (and I have linked to their assessments more than once now in our dialogues). Hmmmm...let me think, Dr. Hodge on this matter, or James Swan...

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

JS:== You can come up with whatever excuses you want. Our previous discussion under the other blog post spells out my case, so I'm not going to repeat it again.==

Me: Your case - most people are ignorant of Luther's stance/view on the papacy of his day; your quote concerning his view of the Roman Church, though accurate, is "misleading" because of this [supposed] ignorance.

I don't buy it James, I think most people are a bit more informed than you do. You term my responses to you as "excuses", but they are in actuality merely disagreements with your subjective assessments.

JS:== Here's something though to keep in mind In the future, if you plan on adding content to one of my blog posts, you will be held to a higher standard.==

Me: Fair enough, but you should hold yourself to such high standards when commenting on non-Luther topics; when you venture outside of your 'expertise', the quality/"standards" of your posts diminish significantly.

JS:== Have you gone back to Romanism David? If not, I suggest you abandon Romanist pop-apologetic approaches to truth and history.==

Me: Wow, I mean WOW...no, I have not returned to the RCC; and further, if you spent a little time on my blog (and yes, I know you have made it quite clear that you don't spend much time reading blogs other than yours—I will let others assess the implications therein), you would realize that the vast majority of my posts have nothing in common with "Romanist pop-apologetic approaches to truth and history", nor with 'Reformed pop-apologetic approaches to truth and history', nor with 'Evangelical pop-apologetic approaches to truth and history'...

JS:== QUESTION: Since my initial Nov. 12, 2010 post, has the quote been used to argue that Luther conflated the Roman Church and the papacy into one entity?

I haven't looked, so I don't know. I'm going to assume your blog doesn't get a lot of traffic, so perhaps no one is taking your material. However, I am quite familiar with some popular Romanist blogs that have caused a lot of historical nonsense with poorly defined and researched information.

It sure seems to me James, that your latent fear concerning a polemical use of the Luther quote is misguided, and that it was "Myth 11" that needed more exposure.

That's your opinion. My opinion: It saddens me that you still maintain a Romanist mentality when it comes to accuracy on the Internet.==

Me: Uhhh...you yourself stated that my quote was "accurate" (and it is).

And further, you have produced more threads on this topic than me, so the "traffic" on my blog is not the real issue (FYI: I don't know much about 'blog traffic', but for the record, my little blog has had over 58,000 'hits', since July 2009 (and over 4,700 comments since Sept. 2007); probably not much compared to other blogs, but it has certainly kept me quite busy.)

QUESTION: If inaccuracy constitutes "a Romanist mentality", then do not you have a "a Romanist mentality", for you attributed a Russell quote to Jehovah's Witnesses, when in FACT no Jehovah's Witness believes (nor ever has) what Russell said in the quote you provided? My goodness James, at least I was "accurate"...

You may have the last word, as I said earlier, I have better things to do...


Grace and peace,

David

James Swan said...

Hello Mr. Waltz,

My apologies for not responding back to your comments from October 24 until October 25. Thank you for allowing me the last word on these issues. That rarely happens. Typically, I've had the experience that those wishing to instruct or correct my musings have ample time and zeal. I typically do not, so I simply move on. I see you've gone from "I enjoy a robust discussion" to "I have better things to do" and "I just don't have the time to waste on such silliness." That's quite alright, as I found this interaction more of a nuisance right from the beginning.

You stated that your recent Luther-related post was done for me as "a Christian courtesy"- but Mr. Waltz, I don't require you to do any Luther-related research for me. If you really held my "concerns concerning the Luther quote were/are [not] of any real substance" you certainly did waste your time, and also contradict was you explicitly state in that very blog post: "I have attempted, with the above quotations an>to convince James (and all others who may read this thread), that my original brief quote from Luther was any but, "misleading", rather, that it represented Luther's mature thought on the Roman church, namely, that it remained a Christian church." It sounds to me from this statement that your post wasn't about charity towards me at all, but rather an attempt to vindicate yourself.

-continued-

James Swan said...

You should have noticed from a careful reading of my comments, that I shared with you speculatively what motivations I thought lay behind your recent Luther comments (particularly in seeing a need to add an eleventh myth and to mention Luther's eschatalogical expectations).  I see from your concluding remarks, you've chosen to leave these questions unanswered. You've also not expressed as to why Luther thinking the Roman church was some sort of true church was so meaningful to you. That you saw fit to add it to my blog seems to mean it has some sort of relevance. Whatever that may be, is well,  some sort of private issue for you.

As to your opinion that most of our blog readers are aware of Luther's distinction between the Roman church and the papacy, back on October 19 you appeared to agree with my assessment stating, "fair enough." You then simply affirmed most people know Luther's stance on the papacy. While not wishing at all to question your reasoning ability, I do find your present comments in disagreement with this past comment. Further, if you think so many of our respective blog readers are so cognizant of Luther's distinctions about the Roman church and the papacy, there really wasn't any reason for you to venture over to this blog and post your myth #11 comment. That of course would lead me again to wonder what motivated you to post such a comment in the first place, but you consider such speculation personal attack.

-continued-

James Swan said...

As to their being multiple instances in which I don't post enough pertinent information so as to present an accurate account of a particular subject,  I do try my best to be accurate. In fact, if you had read my comments carefully under the other blog post,  you'll note I conceded that using the term "Jehovah's Witness" was not completely accurate, as you reminded me. My exact comment was "Tell you what: I'll admit for clarity sake instead of using the words "Jehovah's Witnesses" in that other post I should've simply used the words "The Watchtower" if you'll admit you cited Luther without making an important distinction to clarify the meaning of his words, and you should have indeed presented this information in the first place."  Either you never read this comment, or simply ignored it. I say this because in your recent comments you attempted to use it against me in regard to "Romanist mentality." I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that in your busy schedule, the comment was overlooked.

As to the "ORIGINAL CONTEXT" (emphasis yours), it still doesn't make sense. As I've stated previously (since you're so keen on repeating things as well), when you came over here on 10/13/11 stating, "Myth 11. Luther thought that the Roman Church was no longer a true Christian Church" and then for proof you linked back to your article, your comments show there was actually no reason to link back to that article. It contained nothing relevant or helpful about Luther different than the one citation and two sources you left in your original blog comment. If you're going to provide a helpful exposition on a Luther myth, please do so by linking back to a helpful reference on the appropriate topic. Posting quotes with links back to irrelevant contexts may be your method, but well, to quote you: "I have better things to do" and "I just don't have the time to waste on such silliness." In the future, I'll delete such trivial, poorly exegeted quotes. Keep such specimens on your own blog.

-continued-

James Swan said...

As to your comments on specific Luther quotes. 1)Luther's letter to Pope Leo (May 30, 1518): notice I used the word "appears". Further, this earlier quote really has little relevance. It might have had more importance or meaning if you actually provided commentary as to Luther's soon realized distinction between Roman church and papacy, but throughout your blog post, you simply highlighted the facts you wanted to. Why it's so distasteful for you to actually write the words "Luther distinguishes the papacy from the Roman church" will remain a mystery of little importance. 2) Luther's letter of January 5 or 6, 1519: notice I said "Though he mentions it was a draft, Mr. Waltz doesn't seem to be aware..." Note the words "draft" and "seems." I noted this to point out your argumentation of simply posting quotes at the expense of the background as to why the letter was written the way it was written and why it wasn't sent should have been some sort of warning that perhaps this quote isn't really relevant. No, I indeed did not post my comments because I thought of you as "a simpleton." Rather, it was interaction with the quotes you posted based on the point you were trying to make.

As to my allegedly misleading comments about Luther's developing judgment against the papacy and Luther "had something much different in mind than most people do today" I certainly did explain myself in a previous comment to you above. Here it is again: "we appear to both agree that the papacy today is not the papacy of yesteryear. I would hold quite opposite, that because of the definition of papal infallibility, the Roman Church has been overtaken by the papist errors. That is, had I lived during Luther's day, I see how one could make the distinction between Roman church and papacy. Even in my view, there certainly was a time when the Roman church was a true church. But, I think papalism has overtaken Rome. One can only speculate what Luther's view would be today. Given the dogma of papal infallibility and Trent's anathema on the justification by faith alone, I would speculate Luther would probably see Rome as being overrun by papalism." You actually went on to cite some of that very statement of mine, overlooking the fact it answered your direct question. As to my view of Trent, this is irrelevant to this discussion, as is Hodge. That you think my view of Trent is "suspect" is thoroughly meaningless to this discussion.

I'll keep you to your word that this discussion is now over.

Kevin Failoni said...

Lets clear the eyes of our Catholic friends. Here is what Luther said " The church of Rome has become the most lawless den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the very kingdom of sin, death, and hell; so that even antichrist, if he were to come, could desire any addition to its wickedness " Martin Luther. We need not back away from the fact with our Catholic friends, they should turn to the gospel, and run from that church asap, their soul depends on it. There can be no greater abomination to the gospel than to attend one Mass, submit for one minute to a pope, do one satisfaction to pay for sin, and participate one minute in that meritocracy. K

Kevin Failoni said...

To me here is the downfall of Waltz'z position about Luther. Luther said the church hinges, rises and falls, on jbfa. When Trent confirmed the denial of this truth, the gospel of the bible, it ceased to be a true church and excommunicated itself from Christ's church. It changes everything. And Protestants should know it is as true today as it was then. In fact, one could argue Rome is more pelagian today than in any other time in history, saying trinity hating muslims should stay where they are and do there best and they are in. The gospel isn't go out and do your part. Paul sets the parameters, and they are non negotiable, "not that of yourselves", not of works" IOW, it can't have anything to dod with you. It is a gift of God. Luther knew it wasn't that way in Romanism. In fact its the antithesis of the gospel. Accumulating inherent justice through doing sacraments isn't the gospel. The gospel is repent and believe in Jesus, the only righteousness that can save you. I marvel when Protestants think that Rome isn't far off, just a few tweaks. Paul wouldn't relent one bit, Galatians 2:5. David Waltz, is just another Roman catholic who thinks the Reformation was no big deal. It was. Its the difference between true religion, and false religion. And my concern is apart fro the older theologians like Sproul, Horton, MacArthur, etc. many younger are susceptible to the smooth bewitchment of Rome. I believe that Luther, Calvin, etc. thought the Roman church was apostate. And we should not throw away 500 years of history and mission work, and martyrdom to find some ecumenical middle. We can have no peace with Rome, because sacramental efficacy isn't the atonement. And Law isn't faith. K