Sunday, October 21, 2012

On Luther's Mariology...From Someone Studying For the Roman Priesthood

Last week I received some comments from a man studying to become a Roman Catholic priest. He had come across the comment attributed to Luther,"One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her?, etc."  What was interesting to me is he likewise traced this quote back to William Cole's article “Was Luther a Devotee of Mary?” (Marian Studies Volume XXI, 1970, pages 132-133) and then tried to subsequently find the quote in a primary source. He likewise could not find the quote in question in that primary source.

This is one of those quotes that has become popular in cyberspace because of its usage by Roman Catholic apologists. After a discussion over this quote last year (over on Gene Veith's blog) I put together these subsequent entries:

Luther: Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God

Luther: Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God (Part Two)

William Cole's quote is actually a rather "loose" compilation of multiple Luther quotes, from different treatises, with an emphasis on Luther's exposition of the Magnificat. If you count it all up, Cole provides around 20 references for 7 lines from Luther. 20 references? Something, obviously, doesn't add up. In the second link above, I took the time to track down almost all of those 20 references. That is, I did the work Roman Catholic apologists using this quote should have done in the first place.

While I would probably have significant disagreements with this man studying for the priesthood, one thing we certainly do agree on: check the quotes purported to come from Luther (or anyone for that matter).


Scott said...

So are you agreeing with Luther that it is OK to give Mary praises because ultimately praises given to Mary are for God because it was God who filled the Blessed Virgin with His Grace - so much so that she became the theotokos?

James Swan said...

Hi Scott:

No, I would not agree with anyone who said I should praise Mary as a way of praising God. On the other hand, I certainly don't have a problem praising God for his mighty works done in lives of those whose lives are recorded in the Bible.

to try to bring this back to the topic of this post, keep in mind, Luther's exposition of the Magnificat is not representative of his lifelong views of Mary. Luther went on to reject the intercession of the saints.