Friday, November 02, 2012

Intra-Lutheran Squabbles and Being Tased by Lutherans

I get tased by Lutherans from time to time... No big deal.

A few days ago I received a lot of traffic from the blog, Ichabod, The Glory Has Departed. This site appears to be somewhere within the realm of Lutheranism. Based on the amount of traffic coming over here, it must be a popular Lutheran site. On an initial visit to this blog, the graphics and tone of writing reminded me of a late 20's or early 30 year old male with a lot of time to devote to blogging. After scrolling around trying to figure out who exactly was responsible for the blog, somewhere towards the bottom on the left you'll find information about the author. I was a bit surprised to discover the author was not at all what I initially suspected. He was an older male, "an independent Lutheran pastor," and appears to have a good formal education. I would speculate this blog must get over 1000 hits a day, so it must be impacting Lutherans.

I didn't spend much more time than that trying to figure out Ichabod, The Glory Has Departed. The blog content though strongly suggests its main focus is on the inner struggles of the Lutheran churches, particularly pointing out the evils of universal objective justification (I had actually linked back to the blog in this entry).[If I've got it correct, UOJ holds Jesus has died for the sins of the world (all men without distinction or exception), and was raised for (and accomplished) the justification of all men. The conclusion that follows is that all men were objectively justified when Jesus rose from the dead. What needs to happen then is for each person to experience subjective justification (a person accepts what Christ has done in objective justification). (See also Martin Yee's entries on this topic: History behind the UOJ Justification Controversy,and Lutheran Justification Controversy)].

The traffic that made it over here though was on a different topic. The Ichabod blog cut-and-pasted and old entry of mine, John Hus: They will roast a goose now (for ‘Huss’ means ‘a goose’), but after a hundred years they will hear a swan sing, and him they will endure. The basic thrust of my entry is that the popular Hus / Goose / Swan / Luther quote actually morphed over the years, and it was used by Luther himself ("St. John Huss prophesied of me when he wrote from his prison in Bohemia...").

I was surprised to find the Ichabod blog added this comment to the end of my article:
GJ - I thought the last sentence in the blog above was a bit dopey, but I left it in. The swan quotation is factually true, because Luther was accused of being a Hussite 102 years later. He studied the matter and agreed that he was indeed a Hussite (not a papist). For that reason Luther was still a man who deserved to be burned at the stake 13 years later, during the Diet of Augsburg. If anyone thinks that all the quotations floating around can be verified, syllable by syllable, with the right attribution - dream on.
The "last sentence" was in regard to my brief conclusion that Luther used a botched quote and applied it to himself, and in essence used it to promote himself. Lest anyone think I'm slandering the memory of Dr. Luther, I have no problem at all with Luther promoting himself in any of his writings, nor do I think Luther purposefully botched a quote for devious Reformation propaganda purposes. Luther's use of the quote wasn't as if he was ending each of his writings with it. If he used it, it was sparsely. Will others conclude differently? Will others conclude Dr. Luther was a lying propagandist and sought to use the quote for his own glory? Probably. My blog entry though was for a completely different purpose, so I left the following comment on the Ichabod blog:
Hi there- Thanks for linking to my old blog entry. The reason why I ended my entry stating "Even Luther produced a botched quote, and did so to promote himself" is: I've spent many years looking up obscure Martin Luther quotes (and putting them back in their proper contexts), particularly those put forth by Romanists. I've been accused many times by Romanists of whitewashing Luther or explaining away anything negative about him. On the other hand, I've demonstrated time and again that many folks, particularly Romanists, don't bother reading Luther in context, and are not doing a good job with history. Some Romanists are prone to botching quotes, usually without apology, even when corrected. This particular entry that you've re-posted demonstrated that such charges against my blog entries are not true. I'll follow history wherever it leads. Regards, James October 27, 2012 7:55 PM
This brief comment I left was used by the Ichabod blog for a completely new blog post: A Goose for Reformation Sunday: Don't Tase Me, Bro. The response was as follows:
GJ - James, I appreciated your post, which is why I mccained it. You put together a lot of facts, and that is good, because Huss began the Reformation. Luther did so "to promote himself" is a stretch of logic. Identifying with Huss kept him in peril for many years, so it was not a PR move at all. There are plenty of opinions based on the facts. I simply disagreed with your opinion.
Yes, we'll have to agree to disagree. The comment I quoted from Luther comes his Commentary on the alleged Imperial Edict (1530). Of course being identified with Hus put his life in peril. On the other hand, Luther argued in this treatise that God had called him to his Reformation task, and that nothing was going to stop it. From my perspective, Luther was indeed called by God to his Reformation task. That's how I interpret history. He used the Hus / goose quote as a proof he was called by God. Was the quote being used accurately by Luther? Based on its morphing (as addressed in my earlier blog entry), no. Luther states:
If God does not claim you for a task, then who are you, fool, to dare to undertake it on your own? In the sixth chapter of the Book of Maccabees [I Macc. 5:55ff.] we read that Joseph and Azariah wanted to garner honor for themselves with wars against the heathen, although this was not commanded to them, and they were thoroughly vanquished. Thereupon the text says, “They were not the people who were to help Israel” [I Macc. 5:62]. Requisite to a good work is a definite divine call, and not one’s own conceit, which is a very poor recommendation for anyone. Even those who have a definite call from God do not have an easy time of it when they try to execute a good action, although God is right there with them. What, then, are those insane fools going to accomplish, who want to start in without a call and, moreover, are seeking only their own honor and fame? This is the only possible interpretation, because anyone who undertakes something without God’s call must be seeking his own honor and fame. He is his own god and tells himself what is to be done. He does not need God and God’s Word for that. And that is the reason why they are so blissful, and why their enterprise is proceeding in the way a crab walks. This is plainly evident and our daily personal experience. However, I, Dr. Martinus, have been called to this work and was compelled to become a doctor, without any initiative of my own, but out of pure obedience. Then I had to accept the office of doctor and swear a vow to my most beloved Holy Scriptures that I would preach and teach them faithfully and purely. While engaged in this kind of teaching, the papacy crossed my path and wanted to hinder me in it. How it has fared is obvious to all, and it will fare still worse. It shall not hinder me. In God’s name and call I shall walk on the lion and the adder, and tread on the young lion and dragon with my feet. And this which has been begun during my lifetime will be completed after my death. St. John Huss prophesied of me when he wrote from his prison in Bohemia, “They will roast a goose now (for ‘Huss’ means ‘a goose’), but after a hundred years they will hear a swan sing, and him they will endure.” And that is the way it will be, if God wills. This is all I wish to say for the time being by way of commentary to this edict. If I live, and somebody provokes me to it, I shall give the thing a still better scratching and tickling. Meanwhile, let no one stand in awe of this edict, whose lies have been so shamefully published under the name of our pious emperor. Why should they not publish their lies under a pious emperor’s name, when they have for over six hundred years instituted and preserved their whole wicked, shameful system, class, doctrine, life, and all that they are and do, under the name of God and the holy church? But he, our dear God, finally wanted to put an end to this blasphemy and to make his name holy again, that his kingdom also might come once again, and his will be done, Amen, Amen. And may the wicked papacy and everything connected with it fall into the abyss of hell, as John proclaims in the Apocalypse, Amen. Let everyone who wants to be a Christian say, Amen.

Luther, M. (1999, c1960). Vol. 34: Luther's works, vol. 34 : Career of the Reformer IV (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (34:103). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
The lesson learned for me with all this is one simply can't win. The Romanists think I'm white-washing Luther, and now a Lutheran thinks I'm slandering the memory of Dr. Luther. I'll certainly defend Luther as a Reformer called by God to his task, but I simply won't defend everything Luther wrote, did, or said. That is, there's no need to defend the infallibility of Dr. Luther. Luther can still be the great Reformer, warts and all.  Ah well- time to get back to cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. I get tased by Lutherans from time to time... No big deal.

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