Monday, October 31, 2011

Luther, Satan, and the Inkwell

"Doctor Luther sat at the Wartburg translating the Bible. The Devil did not like this and wanted to disturb the sacred work, but when he tried to tempt him, Luther grabbed the ink pot from which he was writing, and threw it at the Evil One’s head. Still today they show the room and the chair where Luther was sitting."- Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Doktor Luther zu Wartburg, Deutsche Sagen (German Legends), vol. 2 (1818), no. 562.

Luther hurled an inkwell at Satan? This tale first appeared towards the end of the sixteenth century, and is said to have been told by a former Wittenberg student. In this early version, the Devil in the guise of a monk threw an inkwell at Luther while he was secluded in the Wartburg. By 1650, the story shifted to Luther throwing the inkwell at Satan. Like any bizarre legend, the story morphed, and houses where Luther stayed had spots on the walls, and these were also said to be inkwells that Luther threw at the Devil. The tale still makes the rounds thanks to the Internet:
"Saint Martin Luther threw an inkwell at the devil!! This is where the famous incident with the inkwell took place. Luther had just begun his memorable translation of the Bible into German. Satan saw the handwriting on the wall and was furious. His demons gave him no rest day or night. . . . At last Luther took his inkwell and threw it at the devil! The mark is still to be seen on the wall. God's Word translated into German gave the devil a fatal wound" [source]
Of course, the Internet being the new wild west, one can typically find anything being put forth as true. It's just another reminder to choose web-sources with discretion. On the other hand, I was recently at a church service in which the minster brought up Luther and this story, and gave a look over to me for approval. I cringed. Ah well, I think by my look he realized this was a story to be told as a fictitious story, if mentioned at all. No harm done, the sermon remained intact.

Historical Studies Using the Ink Well Myth
But there are contexts in which this story should be identified immediately as apocryphal: historical studies. Recently I was sent a link to some Luther information taken from the book A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance By historian William Manchester. As I read this page,  the ink well myth is used as historical fact: 

Manchester doesn't document any of this. The phrase "vulgar Catholic polemics" refers to Harnack's charge against the Jesuit Hartmann Grisar's work on Luther in regard to the tower experience (mentioned by Manchester preceding the above quote). Yes, there have been people who've told the ink well story with enjoyment.  Manchester's point though is simply to highlight Luther's use of scatological language. Where Manchester fails is with his the validity he gives to this story.

Melanchthon's Version?
Since Manchester doesn't document his claim, I can only speculate where he took it from. Here are a few other sources below with versions of this tale, from Melanchthon as the alleged source.
Melancthon relates, that there came a monk to Luther's house, and with great violence knocked at the door: the servant opened it, and inquired what he wanted? He asked, if Luther was at home? Luther being informed, bade him come in; for he had not seen a monk of a long time. He told him that he had some papistical errors, about which he desired some conference with him; and propounded some syllogisms, which Luther having solved with ease, he offered others that were not so easily answered. Luther somewhat angry, broke into these words: "You give me a great deal of trouble; for I have other business in hand that I should dispatch." And withal rising from his seat, he shewed the explication of that point which was urged by the monk; and in this conference perceiving that the monk's hands were like the claws of a bird, "Art thou he, then?" said he; "listen to that sentence which is pronounced against thee." And straight Luther shewed him that place in Genesis, The seed of the woman shall break the head of the serpent; and then added," nor shalt thou devour them all." The devil, overcome with this saying, angry, and murmuring to himself, departed, letting a huge fart, the stink of which nasty smell continued in the room for some days after" Wier. de Praestig. Daemon. c. 17. p.54 - (20.) [source].

Melancthon, however, in a very serious strain, gives the following account of a real visit, a visit in which his Satanic majesty condescended to speak, and hold a conference with the reformer. This time he was disguised in a monk's garb. It would appear, first, that he was polite enough to knock at Luther's street door, which, having been opened by a servant, he requested an interview with the master of the house. Luther bade him come in, and inquired his business. He told him that he had some papistical errors, about which he desired some conference with him, and propounded some syllogisms, which Luther having solved with ease, he offered others, which were not so easily solved. Luther, somewhat angry, broke out in these words: " You give mo a great deal of trouble, for I have other business in hand which I should dispatch," and withal rising from his seat, he showed the explication of that point which was urged by the monk; and in this conference perceiving that the monk's hands were like the claws of a bird: "Art thou he, then?" said he; "listen to that sentence which is pronounced against thee;" and straightway Luther showed him that passage in Genesis, "the seed of the woman shall break the head of the serpent," and then added, "nor shalt thou devour them all." The devil, angry at this saying, departed" [source].

The same Melancthon relates that a monk came one day and rapped loudly at the door of Luther's dwelling, asking to speak to him; he entered and said, " I entertained some popish errors upon which I shall be very glad to confer with you." " Speak," said Luther. He at first proposed to him several syllogisms, to which he easily replied; he then proposed others, that were more difficult. Luther, being annoyed, answered him hastily, " Go, you embarrass me; I have something else to do just now besides answering you." However, he rose and replied to his arguments. At the same time, having remarked that the pretended monk had hands like the claws of a bird, ho said to him, "Art not thou he of whom it is said, in Genesis, ' He who shall be born of woman shall break the head of the serpent?'" The demon added, "But thou shalt engulf them all." At these words the confused demon retired angrily and with much fracas; he left the room infested with a very bad smell, which was perceptible for some days[source].


In those instances in which documentation is provided, that documentation is not a Melanchthon primary source. Rather the source given is to:
"Jean Wier, or Weyer, was a Belgian physician, who was born in 1515 in Brabant, and died in Westphalia in 1588. He was one of the earliest to recognise the folly of many of the beliefs associated with witchcraft and demonology, and his treatise, " De Praestigiis Dicmonum," published in 1564, is still valued for the evidence it affords of the beliefs of his contemporaries. He holds a position of honour in the history of medicine" [source].
De Praestigiis Dicmonum can be found here. Information about Wier can be found here. The section in question can be found here and below:

Johann Georg Godelmann Account
Then there is said to be the account by Johann Georg Godelmann (and also, another description). Here you can see an early version of the ink well:

The Devil appeared to MARTIN LUTHER in the form of a monk with bird claw hands, according to an account written by Georgius Godelmannus in 1591. Godelmannus relates that while he was studying law at the University of Wittenberg, Germany, he heard a story from several of his teachers about a monk who appeared and knocked hard upon the door of Luther. He was invited in and began to speak of papist errors and other theological matters. Luther grew impatient and said his time was being wasted, and the monk should consult a Bible for answers. At that point, he noticed that the monk’s hands were like bird claws. Luther showed the monk a passage in Genesis that says, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent.” Exposed, the Devil went into a rage, threw about Luther’s ink and writing materials, and fled, leaving behind him a stench that lasted for days[source].
The 1591 date probably refers to Disputatio de magis, veneficis, et maleficis lamiis. The pages in question can be found here.

From these brief excerpts one can see how the story developed and changed. While Luther did indeed take the existence of Satan quite seriously, the ink well story lacks an authentic pedigree. Historians like William Machester should have known better.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Compare and Contrast: The Old vs. the New Catholic Encyclopedia Entry on Luther

When I first began looking into Luther-related issues, it was not uncommon for Roman Catholics to direct me to the old Catholic Encyclopedia (1905-1914). An "encyclopedia" has the connotation of being a reliable source of information complied by credible scholars. If one simply skims through the Luther entry from the old Catholic Encyclopedia, one finds a scholarly well-documented submission explaining that, historically considered, Luther was wild-tempered, depressed, mentally ill,  and lustful. He ended up abandoned by most of his friends and colleagues, dejected and despairing, tortured in body and spirit. There you have it: a credible scholarly encyclopedia has spoken.

The Notion of "Encyclopedia"
Most people probably don't even consider what the concept of "encyclopedia" entails. It was during the nineteenth century (particularly with German thinkers), that the notion of "encyclopedia" became a pursuit. The idea was to present information on what is known through the various sciences and how the information has an organic interconnected relationship.  During this time period the notion of a theological encyclopedia also became popular. The Catholic Encyclopedia was thus a product of its time period:  
"The need of a Catholic Encyclopedia in English was manifest for many years before it was decided to publish one. Editors of various general Encyclopedias had attempted to make them satisfactory from a Catholic point of view, but without success, partly because they could not afford the space, but chiefly because in matters of dispute their contributors were too often permitted to be partial, if not erroneous, in their statements" [source].
The article cited goes on to point out that at the time, they attempted to present the best Roman Catholic Scholarship available:
The editors have insisted that the articles should contain the latest and most accurate information to be obtained from the standard works on each subject. Contributors have been chosen for their special knowledge and skill in presenting the subject, and they assume the responsibility for what they have written.
Indeed, there is a lot of helpful information in the old Catholic Encyclopedia. But during this time period, Roman Catholic research into the life and work of Martin Luther was still engaged in a period of destructive criticism. James Atkinson explains,
"For over four and a half centuries, since the night that Luther nailed up his Ninety-five Theses against Indulgences on 31 October 1517, Roman Catholicism took an unrelenting line of vicious invective and vile abuse against Luther's person, while virtually disregarding his vital and vivid religious experience, his commanding and irrefutable biblical theology, and his consuming concern to reform the Church according to the teaching and purpose of its founder, Jesus Christ. It is one thing to offer criticism; it is quite another to hurl scurrilous abuse: the former creates and maintains some relationships; the latter will deaden and destroy any relationship that exists" [Atkinson, James. Martin Luther: Prophet to the Church Catholic (Grand Rapids: WB Eerdman’s Publishing co., 1983), 3].
This general statement in no way implies Luther research wasn't pursued in-depth  by some Roman Catholic scholars during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One need only to skim through Jesuit historian Hartmann Grisar's multi-volume set on Luther, or note the appeal to primary sources put forth by Heinrich Denifle.  But overall, their  ideal was to attack Luther "the person" rather than consider his work as the output of an honest theologian [See, The Roman Catholic Understanding of Luther (part one)].

The Old Catholic Encyclopedia Entry on Luther
The Luther entry in the old Catholic Encyclopedia was written by George Ganns (1855 – 1912). He was a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.  He may have influenced American Catholic attitudes towards Luther more than any other Roman Catholic scholar. I've provided a brief overview of his approach to Luther here.He relied heavily on the tradition of Roman Catholic destructive Luther criticism (Denifle, Grisar, Dollinger, Janssen). For Ganss, Luther was a liar and a psychotic.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia Entry on Luther
the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) comes after a paradigm shift in the Roman Catholic approach to Martin Luther. During the first five hundred years of Roman Catholic evaluations of Luther, a strong emphasis on vilifying Luther’s character as a means of discrediting the Reformation was the normal Catholic approach. The emphasis shifted in the Twentieth Century: Roman Catholic historians began to study Luther as a sincere religious man and an honest theologian. I've documented this shift here: The Roman Catholic Perspective of Luther (part two)

The New Catholic Encyclopedia presents an almost completely different image of Luther. The Luther entry was written by Roman Catholic Reformation scholar John P. Dolan. Dolan's approach to Luther is quite different. He argues:
" evidence existed for prior Catholic assertions that Luther's family's poverty "created an abnormal atmosphere" for his early development. It was absolutely absurd, moreover, to contend that Luther was a "crass ignoramus," and it was no longer tenable to hold, as Denifle did, that Luther was an "ossified Ockhamite." To question Luther's religious motives for entering the monastery, furthermore, did Luther a Fundamental injustice. Dolan instead focused upon Luther’s religious and theological discoveries and admitted the scandalous and immoral simoniacal acts associated with the sale of indulgences. Dolan’s article recognizes precisely what religious and doctrinal issues were at stake in the Reformation, a view that was not evident in the earlier twentieth or nineteenth century views of Luther" [Patrick W. Carey, “Luther in an American Catholic Context,” found in: Timothy Maschke, Franz Posset, and Joan Skocir (eds.), Ad Fontes Lutheri: Toward the Recovery of the Real Luther: Essays in Honor of Kenneth Hagen’s Sixty-Fifth Birthday, (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2001), pp.52-53.]
I've had the New Catholic Encyclopedia article on Luther for a number of years. Every so often I search the Internet to see if either this entry or the entire New Catholic Encyclopedia has made its way to cyber space, and it has: The New Catholic Encyclopedia. It's not nearly as well organized in its cyber-form as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia is (as far as I can tell, the set works from Z to A, rather than A to Z).

Here is the New Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Luther in its entirety.  Simply compare it to the old entry, and it's as if two different people are being described. Sometimes it's not what's said, but what isn't said. Luther "the person" is not subjected to personal attack by Dolan. He most often simply states the facts.  Lest anyone think though Dolan does not concisely locate Luther on the wrong side of the Roman church, in discussing justification Dolan states Luther "rejected the traditional teaching of the Church."

I offer this simple compare and contrast for any of you that have been accosted with the old Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Luther. If you find yourself in such a situation, ask the following questions:

1. Are you aware of the history of Roman Catholic interpretation on Luther?

2. Are you aware that there is no unified Roman Catholic interpretation of Luther (or the Reformation)?

3. Do you believe that historical research ended in 1914?

4. Have you ever read the New Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Luther?

5. If so, can you explain why it describes an almost completely different person than the old Catholic Encyclopedia does?

6. On what basis does one decide which Encyclopedia article to use?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The 95 Theses: Nailed to the Church Door or Mailed to Ecclesiastical Authorities?

In the 1960's a Roman Catholic scholar took aim at one of the generally accepted facts of the Reformation: the nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church door. Erwin Iserloh's book The Theses Were Not Posted: Luther Between Reform and Reformation challenges this dramatic aspect of Luther's story. He held the 95 Theses weren't nailed to the Wittenberg church door, but rather mailed to particular ecclesiastical superiors."Luther did not post the Theses but only sent them to Archbishop Albert of Mainz and Bishop Jerome Schulz of Brandenburg, the appropriate representatives of the church, for their approval" [LW 31:23].

Some of the Facts: Nailed or Mailed?
The genesis of Luther and the Wittenberg door story appears to have come from Melanchthon's Memoirs / Preface to the second volume of Luther's collected works (Wittenberg edition, 1546) [English, Latin]:
When Luther was in this course of study, venal Indulgences were circulated in these regions by Tecelius the Dominican, a most shameless Deceiver. Luther, angered by Tecelius' impious and execrable debates and, burning with the eagerness of piety, published Propositions concerning Indulgences, which are extant in the first volume of his writings, and he publicly attached these to the Temple, which is next to Witteberg Castle, on the day before the feast of all Saints, 1517.
Notice the Theses were "publicly attached" (or affixed). There's nothing at all about hammering a document to a door.  One other source from a few years before Melanchthon's text actually does though mention "doors", not "a door." Georg Rorer in 1540 mentioned "on the folding-doors of the churches" in a private note (see Franz Posset, The Real Luther, p. 23). Neither Melanchthon or Rorer were in Wittenberg in 1517, so whatever the origin of this story, it certainly wasn't an eyewitness account.

Luther himself never mentions anything about nailing the 95 Theses to the church door but rather explains how they were sent out to particular ecclesiastical authorities. The first bit of evidence is Luther's letter (or cover letter) to Albrecht from October 31, 1517 (LW 48:43) sent with a copy of the 95 Theses. Then in a letter dated March 5, 1518 to Christopher Scheurl, he states, "... As you are surprised that I did not send them [The 95 Theses] to you, I reply that my purpose was not to publish them, but first to consult a few of my neighbors about them, that thus I might either destroy them if condemned or edit them with the approbation of others. But now that they are printed and circulated far beyond my expectation." In a letter dated May 30, 1518 to Pope Leo he states, "So I published some propositions for debate, inviting only the more learned to discuss them with me, as ought to be plain to my opponents from the preface to my Theses." In a letter dated November [21?], 1518 to Elector Frederick,Luther states, "...[S]ome liars among ourselves falsely assert that I undertook the disputation on the Indulgences by your Grace’s advice, when the fact is, that not even my dearest friends were aware of it."He also states that previous to the 95 Theses becoming public, he sent two letters (to the Archbishop of Magdeburg / Mainz and the Bishop of Brandenburg). So from Luther's own accounts, he never mentions nailing the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door. William Pauck notes,"...Luther, who had a tendency to speak freely about his career and who, in his later years,
loved to reminisce, never mentioned the incident. Moreover, there are no other contemporary sources which support the old story" [Olin, John (ed.) Luther, Erasmus and the Reformation (Massachusetts: Fordham University Press, 1969, p. 52].

The Aftermath of Iserloh
Eugene Klug from Concordia Theological Seminary argued:
Someone has observed that it is in the nature of German university life that a professor’s claim to fame, the ability to excite and to attract students to his lecture hall, often lies in his capacity to spin the web of awe and mystique over his audience, or to strike new lode by coming up with some novel, unique, controversial, often “way-out” position. This appears to have been the case with Erwin Iserloh’s widely read and disputed The Theses Were Not Posted [Word And Scripture In Luther Studies Since World War II (Trinity Journal Volume 5:16)].
Klug then recommends Kurt Aland's response to Iserloh: Kurt Aland, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (St. Louis: Concordia, 1967). Klug affirms "Aland shows that there is no solid evidence to throw into doubt Luther’s own rehearsal of the event as occurring on October 31, 1517, with the posting on the Castle Church doors" (p.16). On the other hand, Roman Catholic writer Franz Posset says "Kurt Aland... tried to defuse the presented source material and digressed from the essential problem" [The Real Luther, p. 23]. The basic response to Iserloh can be summed up as follows:

1. There's nothing in any of Luther's statements that rules out a posting of the 95 Theses.

2. Melanchthon is to be considered a reliable source of information (as is Rorer) because of their close relationship with Luther. Even though Melanchthon's memoirs have minor errors, it is nonetheless reliable.

3. Wouldn't a contemporary of Melanchthon have questioned such a blaring historical error?

Argument #1 is an argument from silence. Argument #3 is weak, because (as far as I know) no contemporary of Melanchthon's stepped up to correct any of Melanchthon's minor errors. As far as I can navigate this controversy, the entire thing rests on whether or not one trusts the account of Philip Melanchthon. Roman Catholic scholar Franz Posset has recently written quite convincingly that Melanchthon's memoirs of Luther are to be trusted more or less, but yet states, "Did Rorer and Melanchthon concoct the Posting in good faith? It looks like it" [The Real Luther, p. 23]. I'm not so sure though that "it looks like it" settles anything.

Richard Marius rightly points out that "Luther always claimed to have gone through channels, and Iserloh takes him seriously, concluding that the Theses were not posted" (Martin Luther, The Christian Between God and Death, p. 138). Marius then asserts that "Protestant scholars have reacted with dismay at the shattering of an icon" which is indeed overstating the case. In an earlier work Marius calls this controversy a "furious scholarly debate" and Iserloh "succeeded in raising a bellow of outrage from those current disciples of Luther who cannot bear to lose a single glitter of their idol's glamour" [Luther, a Biography (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1974) p. 70]. Marius has given this controversy more importance than it actually has.

It should be mentioned that even though a Roman Catholic, Iserloh was sympathetic to Luther. Otto Pesch points out that,
Iserloh's booklet of a few years ago on Luther's 95 Theses drew considerable attention. Even the treatment of this question from church history is characterized by a concern to present a true picture of the man Luther, and Iserloh was happy about the findings in his booklet, which rejects the story of Luther's nailing his theses onto the church door, not least because they succeeded in minimizing the picture of Luther as an angry revolutionary and placed the event which started the Reformation, stripped of all theatrical sensationalism, back into the form of a sober academic dispute [Otto Pesch, “Twenty Years of Catholic Luther Research” Lutheran World, 13, 1966, p. 305].
While I'm not any sort of scholar, I wouldn't be at all dismayed to find out the nails going into the Wittenberg door is the stuff of legend. Someone may say: "Who cares if the 95 Theses were nailed or mailed?" I can understand such a response.  What interests me about this is that to be consistent, I can't simply focus on the many Roman Catholic myths without taking a closer look at some of their charges of Protestant myth making from time to time. It is indeed the case that Luther's 95 Theses went 16th Century viral rather quickly. It is indeed plausible that the 95 Theses were posted as Melanchthon asserts.

The only real question in this controversy: is Melanchthon to be trusted? Unless someone can definitively prove that he cannot be on this point, Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Door will remain part of the Luther story. If one reads Melanchthon's account, he doesn't appear to make it an outstanding central fact to Luther's story. That is, I see no reason why Luther's dramatic history needed to be embellished or concocted by Melanchthon with Rorer.

Addendum: Rorer's Note
This is from Cyberbrethren:
In 2006, Martin Treu from the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony- Anhalt rediscovered a handwritten comment by Luther’s secretary Georg Rörer (1492-1557) in the Jena University and State Library, which although printed, had so far played no role in research. Right at the end of the desk copy for the revision of the New Testament in 1540, Rörer made the following note: „On the evening before All Saints’ Day in the year of our Lord 1517, theses about letters of indulgence were nailed to the doors of the Wittenberg churches by Doctor Martin Luther.”

Now Rörer was also not an eye-witness, but he was one of Luther’s closest staff. The copy of the New Testament, in which he made his note, contains many entries in Luther’s own hand. The note right at the end of the volume leads us to assume that it was made at the conclusion of the revision work in November 1544. Directly beside it is another note, according to which Philipp Melanchthon arrived in Wittenberg on August 20, 1518, at ten o’ clock in the morning. This information is not to be found anywhere else and presumably came directly from Melanchthon himself. Rörer’s reference to the Wittenberg churches in the plural must be emphasized, as it corresponds to the statutes of the university. According to these, all public announcements had to be nailed to the doors of the churches.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

LCMS: On Martin Luther's anti-Semitic statements

This is an interesting read: LCMS: On Martin Luther's anti-Semitic statements.
"While The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod holds Martin Luther in high esteem for his bold proclamation and clear articulation of the teachings of Scripture, it deeply regrets and deplores statements made by Luther which express a negative and hostile attitude toward the Jewish people."
I would certainly agree. The entire statement is thoughtful and well-articulated... with the exception of one point:
Resolved, That, in that light, we personally and individually adopt Luther's final attitude toward the Jewish people, as evidenced in his last sermon: "We want to treat them with Christian love and to pray for them, so that they might become converted and would receive the Lord" (Weimar edition, Vol. 51, p. 195).
There's actually an ambiguity here. These words probably are not from Luther’s last sermon, but rather from his An Admonition Against The Jews (1546), which was added to his last sermon.

Luther’s last sermon has been said to contain his last blast of anti-Jewish writing: “Luther's last sermon, preached just days before his death, was brimming over with biting condemnation and vulgarities for the Jews” [source]. The editors of Luther’s Works though note this probably did not happen:
In Luther’s sermon of February 7, 1546 (WA 51, 173 ff.) no “blunt” statements against the Jews can be found. This sermon has been preserved in notes and was published later. At the end of this first edition the Admonition Against the Jews (WA 51, 195 f.), which has been ascribed to Luther, was added; this writing seems to fit the description Luther outlines [in his letters]—though this judgment may be debated—but it does not fit the one made[to his wife in a letter], since Luther does not “outlaw” or “expel” the Jews in this document. It is, of course, possible (as is suggested in WA, Br 11, 288, n. 15) that the editor of the sermon and of the Admonition “polished” the text somewhat and perhaps eliminated passages that sounded too harsh. Even though there is some evidence that the Admonition could have been a part of Luther’s last sermon preached in Eisleben and thus would be dated February 14/15, the arguments and the material presented in Rückert, LB, p. 429, n. 9, are sufficiently strong to suggest the Admonition was a part of Luther’s February 7 sermon [LW 50:303, footnote 19].
Luther's Works includes Luther’s last sermon preached at Eisleben February 15, 1546 and it does not contain anti-Jewish material.

Even the respected scholar Gordon Rupp refers to Luther’s last sermon and its material against the Jews: “Probably Luther preached his last sermon within hours of his death. It is the rambling, repetitious sermon of an old, tired man and we can almost hear the pauses for breath. But it is in the main a moving and simple exposition of the great evangelical mandate "Come unto me . . ." Yet at the end of it, he spoke about the Jews” [Gordon Rupp, Martin Luther and the Jews (London: The Council of Christians and Jews, 1972), 20]. Many reputable scholars refer to anti-Jewish sentiment in Luther’s last sermon. Mark U. Edwards: “…[T]he intense antagonism Luther bore the Jews continued to the end of his life and even found violent expression in his last public sermon” [Luther’s Last Battles (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), 134]. James Mackinnon: “His last sermon delivered at Eisleben a few days before his death (15th February 1546) concluded with a fiery summons to drive [the Jews] bag and baggage from their midst, unless they desisted from their calumny and their usury and became Christians” [James Mackinnon, Luther and the Reformation Vol. IV, (New York: Russell & Russell inc. 1962) 204].

Rupp provides this citation from Luther’s sermon:
"Now I am going home, and perhaps I will never preach to you again, and I have blessed you and prayed you to stay always close to God's Word ... I see the Jews are still among you. Now we have to deal with them in a Christian manner and try to bring them to the Christian faith that they may receive the true Messiah who is their flesh and blood and of the seed of Abraham—though I am afraid Jewish blood has got watery and wild these days. Yet they must be invited to turn to the Messiah and be baptized in him ... If not then we must not suffer them to remain for they daily abuse and blaspheme Christ. I must not, you must not be a partaker of the sins of others. God knows I have enough to do with sins of my own, but if they will give up usury and receive Christ we will willingly receive them as our brethren . . . but if they call Mary a whore and Jesus her bastard still we must exercise Christian love towards them that they may be converted and receive our Lord . . . this I tell you as your Landeskind not to be partakers of the sins of others. If they turn from their blasphemies we must gladly forgive them, but if not we must not suffer them to remain!"[WA. 51. 195-6 as cited in: Gordon Rupp, Martin Luther and the Jews (London: The Council of Christians and Jews, 1972), 21].
Interestingly, the last published volume of Luther's Works (vol. 58), includes a translation of this Admonition. Indeed, it does say what the LCMS statement says it does. However, Luther still is quite harsh against the Jews, requesting that if the Jews don't convert, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Lords to "drive them away." It's an odd document. It's obvious he wasn't calling for the Jews to be killed, but he certainly would only tolerate them in society if they converted. Otherwise, they were to be banished. Here again, Luther was not against Jews as "people" but rather he was quite intolerant of their religion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to set your own date for the end of the world

Have you ever wondered how Harold Camping and his followers figure out the date for the end of the world? One of Camping's closest followers provides this link: Numbers in the Bible. I know, that's not that impressive. Here's what is: they also have developed a computer program to do their Bible math:

Bible Calculator: The Bible Calculator is a computer tool for researching numbers and time intervals found in God's Word, the Bible

Bible Calculator (Java)

I wonder if any of the people who developed this program had anything to do with Windows Vista.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blog-spotting: Fides Quaerens Intellectum by Frank Ramirez

I have to be really honest here: I don't read a lot of blogs. There are though a few that I check in on regularly. Frank Ramirez is one of the bloggers on Fides Quaerens Intellectum. While I might not agree with everything posted on this blog, I always find Frank's content quite interesting. For instance, note the following comment from Frank:
There is no work that I am aware of that deals with the subject of divine revelation understood in the papal church traditionally and contemporarily, let alone specific aspects of it such as the practical out workings of these two understandings of divine revelation.

In my own research it was the dogmatic status of the belief in the Blessed Mother’s bodily assumption that revealed the practical out workings of both views. It was my firm belief as a papal catholic that although this divinely revealed event was not in Scripture, we knew it to have happened by the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, which they then handed down to the subsequent Church. I believed, in other words, that the papal catholic apologetic use of 2 Thess 2:15 applied to the belief of the bodily assumption of the Blessed Mother perfectly.

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” (ESV; emphasis mine)

What I discovered was what the papal church discovered from the 19th century into the 20th in her battles with Modernism and Liberalism, namely, that, unlike the Resurrection of Jesus, there is no eyewitness testimony or 1st century literature recording this event. In fact, there is nothing about the end of the Blessed Mother’s life for over 300 years. Operating within Tridentine theology, which again was the view of the papal church from the 16th century well into the 20th century, I logically began to ask the question, “Well, if Scripture and oral Apostolic Tradition (the two sources of divine revelation) do not deliver this belief to the saints, then how do we know this event happened?”

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Roman Catholic Scholar Looks at Causes of the Reformation

Originally posted 5/20/10

Joseph Lortz was a German Roman Catholic theologian. He's best known for his work on Martin Luther and the Reformation. In his book The Reformation: A Problem for Today (Maryland: The Newman Press, 1964), he has a chapter entitled "The Causes of the Reformation." One particular "cause" caught my attention. He states,

"When Luther asserted that the pope in Rome was not the true successor of Saint Peter and that the Church could do without the Papacy, in his mind and in essence these were new doctrines, but the distinctive element in them was not new and thus they struck a sympathetic resonance in the minds of many. Long before the Reformation itself, the unity of the Christian Church in the West had been severely undermined" (p. 37).

This type of sentiment is far different than that usually expressed by Roman Catholics. Typically, Luther is the grand innovator that tore the church asunder. Lortz though does something many don't bother to do- he sees a flow to history. In his chapter preceding this statement, he lists a number of ways in which the West was more than ready to grant that the pope in Rome was not the true successor of Saint Peter and that the Church could do without the Papacy. Here's how Lortz explains this comment:

The significance of the break-up of medieval unity in the thirteenth century, but even more during the Avignon period, is evident in the most distinctive historical consequence of the Avignon Papacy: the Great Western Schism. The real meaning of this event may not be immediately apparent. It can be somewhat superficially described as a period when there were two popes, each with his own Curia, one residing in Rome, the other in Avignon. This situation in which both contenders claimed to be pope (at one time the number increased so that many spoke of the "cursed trinity") was in the main corrected by the efforts of the German Emperor Sigismund at the Council of Constance in 1414. These statements are true, but the account they give is sketchy and superficial; they tell us nothing of the real significance of the Schism.

The real significance of the Western Schism rests in the fact that for decades there was an almost universal uncertainty about where the true pope and the true Church were to be found. For several decades, both popes had excommunicated each other and his followers; thus all Christendom found itself under sentence of excommunication by at least one of the contenders. Both popes referred to their rival claimant as the Antichrist, and to the Masses celebrated by them as idolatry. It seemed impossible to do anything about this scandalous situation, despite sharp protests from all sides, and despite the radical impossibility of having two valid popes at the same time. Time and time again, the petty selfishness of the contenders blocked any solution.

The split caused by the Western Schism was far from being merely the concern of theologians; no area of public or private life remained untouched; even the economic sphere was affected, mainly because of disputes in regard to the possession of benefices. Provinces of the Church, religious orders, universities, even individual monasteries and parish houses were divided. For decades, all experienced this profound division in all sectors of daily life. Good people on both sides, even saints, were not only unable to bring about unity, but in their allegiance to one or the other of the contenders they themselves were in sharp opposition. We find, for example, St. Catherine of Siena on the Roman side and St. Vincent Ferrer on that of Avignon. Furthermore, the settlement of the Schism at the Council of Constance did not really solve the problem. The triumph of the Conciliar Theory at Constance, and even more at Basel, extended the life span of the Schism from 1378 to 1448, when it finally came to an end in the person of the Antipope Felix V. The confusion and uncertainty about the valid pope and the true Church is manifest in the amazing twists in the allegiance of Nicolaus of Cusa and Aeneas Silvio dei Piccolomini, later to become Pius II, both of whom had begun by defending the Conciliar Theory in its most radical form.

This was an experience shared by the entire West — one which would leave its imprint in Western consciousness for a long time to come. The memory of this experience was still fresh a century later. It is not too difficult to see the effects of the Western Schism in preparing the way for the doctrines of the Reformation. When Luther asserted that the pope of Rome was not the true successor of Saint Peter and that the Church could do without the Papacy, in his mind and in their essence these were new doctrines, but the distinctive element in them was not new and thus they struck a sympathetic resonance in the minds of many. Long before the Reformation itself, the unity of the Christian Church in the West had been severely undermined (pp. 35-37).

Quotes on the Internet


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.

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.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mary Shrine: How to Boost Small Town Economy

Is your small town economy in trouble? What your town needs is Mary to officially visit your small town:

"Now there's a steady flow of traffic into the recently enlarged gravel parking lot. Cars, vans and buses bring 500 people -- and often many more -- here daily. License plates from Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were spotted one recent weekday."

"If the rumors are right, it's going to look like downtown Chicago pretty soon," says Louie Gomand, who owns a farm adjacent to the shrine."

New Date? The End of the World is October 22, Not October 21

Here's a tweet from a serious Harold Camping website:

One of the brethren with great understanding of the Biblical calendars created a spreadsheet showing every day from May 21, 1988 to October 21, 2011 using both inclusive and non-inclusive methods of counting. This shows that the 153rd day ends on sunset October 22rd (Tishri 23) Jerusalem time.

Here is Chris McCann's explanation from 10/21/11 (mp3). McCann is currently a featured speaker on Family Radio.

"Our error was thinking May 21 to October 21 in terms of our 24 hour days starting in the morning rather than in terms of evening-mornings which would mean May 21/22 (evening/morning) to October 21/22 (evening/morning)."

Luther (2003) Full Movie on YouTube

The entire Luther movie (2003) is on YouTube, without interruption and without being divided into separate links.

This movie isn't perfect. Here's a link to some of my interaction with it. A helpful review has been given by Lutheran scholar Eric Gritsch (and others)found here.

Luther's Drinking, Revisited: "You would do well to send me the whole cellar full of my wine"

Why did Luther write so strongly against those he opposed? Was it because he drank too much? Perhaps Luther fit the profile of the "angry drunk"? On A Roman Catholic website, I found the following Luther quote being cited as possible evidence of this: "you would do well to send me the whole cellar full of my wine." The  innuendo is that Luther's excessive drinking made him intolerant towards his enemies.

A link (to a secondary source) for "you would do well to send me the whole cellar full of my wine" was also provided by Luther's detractor: Luther, An historical portrait By J. Verres. Verres states,
Kostlin tries to make out that Luther was a very temperate man, and that his daily expense for drink was not more than a halfpenny. (120) If so, wine must have been enormously cheap in those days, considering that for that amount Luther was able to get more than did him good, though he was able to guzzle like a German".(121) As he liked a good dinner, (he said he meant to give to the worms a fat doctor to eat), (122) so he liked a good drink; the beer plays an important part in his letters to Kate. Here is a specimen: „Dear Master Kathe . . . Yesterday I took an evil drink (hatt ich ein bosen Trunk gefasset), I had to sing ... I thought, what good beer and wine I have at home, likewise a handsome wife, or — should I say — master. You would do well, to send me the whole cellar-full of my wine, and a bottle of your beer, as often as you can(123).

123) De Wette IV. Cfr. II. 310: E Principali cella bibimus vinum bonum et purum, et futuri essemus pulchri evangelici, si sic Evangelion nos saginaret .. . Exciisa nos apud Principem, quod tantum vini Cornbergici linxerimus. — Cfr. a letter to C. Muller (first published by Evers I.) „Das Bier ist gut, die magd schon und die Gesellen innig." This letter is signed:

Doctor Martinus
Doctor Luther
Doctor Plenus.
Dr. Verres was, you guessed it, a Roman Catholic writer (what are the odds?). His book came out in 1884 (he was apparently provoked by the celebration of Luther's 400th birthday in 1883). Some reviewers loved this book: The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, The Dublin Review, Catholic World. The work is one of a number of books from the 1800's to early 1900's from Roman Catholics claiming to present "the real Luther" hidden away by his Protestant defenders. Here, Verres presents Luther the alcoholic.

This letter is available in LW, along with a brief explanation from the LW editors (LW 50:79-80):
257 To Mrs. Martin Luther
[Dessau,] July 29, 1534
During the summer of 1534 Luther and some of his friends twice visited the court at Dessau in order to give spiritual counsel to the sovereign Joachim of Anhalt, who at that time was seriously ill and was experiencing great spiritual struggles. During his second visit to Dessau Luther wrote this personal note to his wife. He tells first of the pending return of Melanchthon, and of the necessity for his own continued stay in Dessau. Then he informs his wife that “yesterday” he drank something which did not agree with him, and asks his wife to send him his whole wine-cellar and some of her homebrewed beer, because otherwise the beer at Dessau, to which he is not accustomed, would make him totally unable to return home. He concludes by commending his household to God.
Text in German: WA, Br 7, 91.

To my kind, dear lord, Lady Catherine von Bora, Mrs. Doctor Luther, at Wittenberg

Grace and peace in Christ! Dear Sir Katie! I know of nothing to write to you since Master Philip, together with the others, is coming home. I have to remain here longer for the devout Sovereign’s sake. You might wonder how long I shall remain here, or how you might set me free. I think that Master Francis will set me free, just as I freed him—but not so soon.

Yesterday I drank something which did not agree with me, so that I had to sing: If I don’t drink well I have to suffer, and [yet] I do like to do it (11). I said to myself what good wine and beer I have at home, and also [what] a pretty lady or (should I say) lord. You would do well to ship the whole cellar full of my wine and a bottle of your beer (12) to me here, as soon as you are able; otherwise I will not be able to return home because of the new beer(13).
With this I commend you to God, together with our young ones and all the members of our household. Amen.

July 29, 1534
Your loving
Martin Luther, Doctor

11. It has been suggested that here Luther might have been thinking of a drinking song. The last portion of the sentence has been translated as literally as possible. The meaning of this clause is not clear, because the antecedent for “it” is unclear. Apparently Luther wanted to say that he enjoys a good drink but that he suffers when he has drunk poor wine or beer.

12. Luther’s wife brewed the beer for the family. Köstlin-Kawerau, 2, 491; Schwiebert, pp. 266, 594.

13.I.e., the beer of Dessau, to which Luther is not accustomed, might make Luther ill, so that he would not be able to return home.
There's no evidence at all from this quote that Luther was an angry drunk, or drunk at all. Further, I would posit, if Luther actually did write his harsh polemical treatises while intoxicated, he was very good at it. He was seemingly an extremely cogent "drunk," more often than not.

The most detailed look at Luther's drinking I've ever seen is found in Hartmann Grisar's Luther III. Grisar was a Roman Catholic scholar. His work is typically classified with the earlier Roman Catholic destructive criticism of Luther. He states, "Luther's enemies must resign themselves to abandon some of the proofs formerly adduced for his excessive addiction to drink." Grisar cites this very letter and comments:
4. In a letter to his wife, Luther says that he preferred the beer and wine he was used to at home to what he was having at Dessau, and "Yesterday I had some poor stuff to drink so that I had to begin singing: 'If I can't drink deep then I am sad, for a good deep drink ever makes me so glad".

It is quite unnecessary to take this as a song sung by a "tipsy man"; it is simply a jesting reference to a popular ditty which quite possibly he had actually struck up to get rid of his annoyance at the quality of the liquor. "You would do well," he continues in the same jocular vein, "to send me over the whole cellar full of my usual wine, and a bottle of your beer as often as you can, else I shall not turn up any more for the new brew."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Harold Camping Arrested?

The hoax and jokes begin:

On a serious note:

New Date? The End of the World is October 22, Not October 21?

Here's a tweet from a serious Harold Camping website:

"One of the brethren with great understanding of the Biblical calendars created a spreadsheet showing every day from May 21, 1988 to October 21, 2011 using both inclusive and non-inclusive methods of counting. This shows that the 153rd day ends on sunset October 22rd (Tishri 23) Jerusalem time."

Calvin Killed Servetus? Before Servetus Killed Calvin?

Here's a helpful link on the Calvin / Servetus issue: Calvin Killed a Man. Also Here I Blog posted an interesting letter from Servetus asking for Calvin to be punished:
Honrable Seigneurs. I am detained for the criminal charges made by lehan Calvin who falsely accuses me saying that I have written: 1. that the souls are mortal 2. that Jesus Christ took from the Virgin Mary only the fourth part of his body. These are horrible and execrable things. Among all heresies and all crimes there is none so great as to make the soul mortal. For in all other there is a hope of salvation, whereas there is none in such a heresy. Whoever says so does not believe that there is a God, nor justice, nor resurrection, nor Jesus Christ, nor Holy Scripture, nor anything else. He believes only that everything dies and that the man and the beast are the same. If I had said or written this, for offending the world I should condemn myself to death. Therefore, messeigneurs, I ask that my accuser be punished according to the law of poena talionis and detained as prisoner with me, until the matter is settled by his death or mine or any other punishment. And for this I submit myself to the mentioned poena talionis. I am content to die if he is not convicted both of this and other things which I list below. I demand from you, messeigneurs, justice, justice, justice.
Written in prison of Geneva, 22 of September 1553.

Some time ago Dr. White provided a very helpful overview on this issue on the Dividing Line. I extracted the 20 minute section on Calvin and Servetus.

Also this article attempts to answer the charge that Calvin was a dictator: John Calvin: An Unopposed Dictator?

My Last Post before Annihilation on Oct. 21, 2011: Bavinck and Calvin on the Necessity of the Reformation

Since it's the end of the world on October 21, 2011, I'm saddened to not be able to celebrate Reformation Day 2011. Here then is my last blog post before being quietly and painlessly annihilated in my sleep (while Mr. Camping and the true believers are ushered gloriously into eternity). Even in my last few gasps of air, I remain staunchly committed to refuting Romanism.

While studying today I came across an interesting quote from Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck. The following quote is from his Reformed Dogmatics Volume 1, p. 81-82. Here Bavinck describes the Reformation period and the need for change when the church will not budge in her evil ways:
On the one hand, there is a revolutionary spirit that seeks to level all that has taken shape historically in order to start rebuilding things from the ground up. There is, however, also a false conservatism that takes pleasure in leaving the existing situation untouched simply because it exists and – in accordance with Calvin’s familiar saying – not to attempt to change a well-positioned evil (malum bene positum non movere). At the proper time everywhere and in every sphere of life, a certain radicalism is needed to restore balance, to make further development possible, and not let the stream of ongoing life bog down. In art and science, state and society, similarly in religion and morality, there gradually develops a mindless routine that oppresses and does violence to the rights of personality, genius, invention, inspiration, freedom, and conscience. But in due time there always arises a man or woman who cannot bear that pressure, casts off the yoke of bondage and again takes up the cause of human freedom and that of Christian liberty. These are the turning points of history. Thus Christ himself rose up against the tradition of the elders and returned to the law and the prophets. Thus one day the Reformation had the courage, not in the interest of some scientific, social, or political goal, but in the name of Christian humanity, to protest against Rome’s hierarchy. Frequently, even in the case of the sects and movements that later arose in the Protestant churches, that religious and ethical motive is undeniably present. So-called biblical theology also defends an important part of religious truth. When a church and theology prefer peace and quiet over struggle, they they themselves trigger the opposition that reminds them of their Christian calling and task. Rome, in the name of the case, can never approve of such opposition and has to condemn it in advance. The Reformation is itself the product of such opposition and cannot withhold from others what it assumed for itself. And Holy Scripture, thought far removed in spirit from all revolutionary resistance, nevertheless, in Peter’s regal statement “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29), legitimates the right to oppose every human decree that is contrary to the Word of God.
I was interested in Bavinck's citation of John Calvin (bolded above), which was not documented, so I searched it out. Bavinck appears to be citing The Necessity of Reforming the Church.

This text reads:
I, for my part, deny not that when impiety reigned, her kingdom was disturbed by us. But if, at the moment when the light of sound and pious doctrine beamed upon the world, all, as in duty bound, had spontaneously,and with ready mind, lent their aid, there would at the present day be no less peace and quietness in all the churches, (the kingdom of Christ flourishing,) than in the days when Antichrist tyrannised. Let those who, it is manifest impede the course of truth, desist from waging war with Christ, and there will instantly be perfect concord; or let them desist from throwing upon us the blame of dissensions, which they themselves excite. For it is certainly most unfair, while they refuse all terms of peace unless Antichrist be permitted, after putting the doctrine of piety to flight, and as it were again consigning Christ to the tombs to subjugate the Church; it is most unfair not only to boast as if they themselves were innocent, but also to insult over us; and that we, who desire nothing else than unity, and whose only bond of union is the eternal truth of God, should bear all the blame and odium, as much as if we were the authors of dissension. In regard to the allegation, that no fruit has been produced by our doctrine, I am well aware that profane men deride us, and allege that in probing sores which are incurable, we only enlarge the ulcer. For their opinion is, that the desperate condition of the Church makes it vain to attempt remedies, there being no hope of cure; and they hence conclude that the best course is not to meddle with an evil well fixed. Those who speak in this way understand not that the restoration of the Church is the work of God, and no more depends on the hopes and opinions of men, than the resurrection of the dead, or any other miracle of that description. Here, therefore, we are not to wait for facility of actions either from the will of men, or the temper of the times, but must rush forward through the midst of despair. It is the will of our Master that his gospel be preached. Let us obey his command, and follow whithersoever he calls. What the success will be it is not ours to inquire. Our only duty is to wish for what is best, and beseech it of the Lord in prayer; to strive with all zeal, solicitude, and diligence, to bring about the desired result, and, at the same time, to submit with patience to whatever that result may be. [source]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Advice from Family Radio on the End of the World

Even though Harold Camping isn't actively speaking on Family Radio since his illness, his followers are still busy. On Family Radio's website the most recent recording appears to be from Tom Evans (Evans is on the board of Family Radio, and claims to have known Mr. Camping for thirty years). They are promoting his "Latest Study (Oct 16,2011)" (mp3).  It's an extremely fascinating listen.  At around eleven minutes in he says,
"2011 has become a very real year. It has become a very important year. So now, here we are now. The ten thousand pound elephant sitting right in the room. In less than five days from today, we'll know whether we were right or wrong, whether we understood the scriptures correctly, whether the Spirit of God directed us, or whether we were deceived. That's a big question."
At around sixteen minutes in Tom says,
"Has the Spirit of God guided us to this point? I say yes. I'm not ashamed of the Gospel. I'm not ashamed of all the verses."
This link also covers this audio presentation from Family Radio:  Harold Camping Oct. 21 Rapture: Family Radio Seeks to Comfort Believers Ahead of 'Rapture'.

And by the way, free materials from Family Radio are no longer available till October 24. They are now available to October 27.

Catholic Answers Christmas Catalog for 2011

I recently received the Catholic Answers Christmas catalog for 2011. Here was an interesting tidbit:
"When you want 'Catholic,' you think Catholic Answers. When you want apologetics you think Catholic Answers. When you want the truth about the faith, you think Catholic Answers" (p. 50).
Actually, I'm not sure why Catholic Answers would want anyone to think "Catholic Answers" when one thinks "Catholic." Shouldn't they want you to think of something other than their organization... say maybe the official pronouncements from Rome? I've jokingly said for quite awhile now that Catholic Answers is the official interpreter of the infallible interpreter. Now perhaps that needs to be revised to the infallible interpreter of the infallible interpreter.