Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yawn: The Origin Of The False Doctrine Of Sola Scriptura...Driving The Last Nail In The Coffin of Sola Scriptura?

Over on the CARM boards a Roman Catholic quoted an article found on the Catholic Treasure Chest website as an authoritative polemic against Luther and sola scriptura.  What was ironic was that this particular person earlier argued, "Jesus through Paul told us that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. He didn't tell us that we can believe whatever we want. Listen to the Church." He then went on to cite a more-or-less anonymous layman's webpage as... an authority! This is hardly a source of infallible truth as to what the Roman church declares about Martin Luther. For that matter, who is Bob Stanley (the author of The Origin Of The False Doctrine Of Sola Scriptura...Driving The Last Nail In The Coffin of Sola Scriptura)? If you search around Mr. Stanley's webpage, such information isn't forthcoming.

I took a few minutes to work through the material posted on the CARM boards from the Catholic Treasure Chest article. Only the first section was posted. It appears the material is simply a rehashing of information taken from two Roman Catholic sources:
Martin Luther, His Life, and His Work', by Hartmann Grisar, a German Jesuit, 6 volumes, 1930 Vol 4: pgs 388-389. 'Church History', by Fr. John Laux, M.A., 1930, Pgs 420-434
Grisar has been cited extensively on this blog, so I'm well aware of the approach taken. The pages from Grisar in question can be found here. The book by Fr. Laux, as far I can tell, is not available online. What follows is a response to to Mr. Stanley's first section (as cited on the CARM boards). His words are in red...
Martin Luther (1483-1546) is to be given the credit for inventing the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Bible Only or Bible Sufficiency).
This isn't accurate. Even Roman Catholic scholars admit it. For instance, Franz Posset states in his recent book, The Real Luther, "As an aside, on the eve of the 'Reformation' there was a canonistic tradition supporting the assertion of the supreme authority of Scripture over councils or ecclesiastical authorities"(p. 63). He then argues that the reformed friary Luther joined had Constitutions, and in Chapter 17 of these it states "the following directive is given which suggests the meaning of the maxim Scripture Alone, '(A friar) is to read the Sacred Scripture avidly, listen to it devoutly, and learn it fervently. Sacram scripturam avide legat, devote audiat et ardenter addiscat.' "

Consider also such people previous to Luther like Wessel Gansfort (1419-1489):

"As long as it seems to me that the pope or theologians or any school assert a position contradicting the truth of Scripture, my concern for scriptural truth obliges me to give it first place, and after that I am bound to examine the evidence on both sides of the question, since it is unlikely the majority would err. But in every case I owe more respect to canonical Scripture than to human assertions, regardless of who holds them."- Wessel Gansfort (1419-1489) [Heiko Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966),99-100].

No Christian ought "to subscribe to any statement of an assembly against his conscience, so long as it seems to him to assert anything contrary to Scripture." Wessel Gansfort (1419-1489) [Heiko Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), 64].

He had separated himself from the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, and thereby so doing lost all authority regarding Church matters.

Luther was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the Roman church without a fair hearing. Luther swore an oath to uphold the Scriptures, it was an oath he was required to make by the Church of his day. In essence, one could argue that the Church, via this oath, required Luther to work toward reformation, and it was they that inadvertently called him to do so. However, since the Papacy balked at Luther's every move toward that end, it's obvious the Papacy would have never called forth any to reform the Church. The corrupt Papacy should have commissioned Luther to reform the corrupt Papacy and Church? ....now there is a likely scenario!

"Luther's claim to authority as a teacher of God's Word is the common claim of every Christian who proves his belief from the Scriptures. The infallibility of the Scriptures becomes the infallibility of the teachers of Scripture. They can challenge the world as Isaiah did: "To the Law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them"; or Christ: "The Scripture cannot be broken"; or Paul: "Though an angel from heaven preached other gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed!" (source).

Here's another thing to consider, (compliments of a footnote in the recent edition of Luther's Works), the Wittenberg Reformers were willing to go quite far in making concessions to Rome:

"In the interest of peace in the empire, moreover, Luther and his Wittenberg colleagues were prepared to make major concessions to the jurisdictional authority of the Catholic bishops. Accordingly, at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, Melanchthon, acting with the full knowledge and support of Luther and the Saxon government, offered restitution of the jurisdiction of the Catholic bishops over the Evangelical congregations on the condition that the bishops ordain Evangelical priests and recognize the legitimacy of Communion in both kinds, clerical marriage, and the Mass in German. This offer remained on the table through all the failed attempts of the 1530's and 1540's to find a peaceful solution to the religious divisions in the empire" (LW 59:276).

He then turned to the Bible, a book, as the sole source of authority. Can a book ever be a sole source of authority? Can the Constitution of the United States stand alone without an authoritative body to interpret it? What authoritative body is there to resolve disputes between opposing interpretations of the laws written within it? How long would this country have lasted if the founding fathers had not had the foresight to establish a Supreme Court, which has the final word in the interpretation of the Law of the Land? This country would have been split into factions right from the very beginning.

Luther is simply one of a number of people throughout history that have held Scripture as the sole infallible rule for the church. This does not deny that there are other authorities over the life of a Christian, but it does deny that there are other infallible authorities over the life of a Christian. All authorities less-than-God are subject to the sole infallible rule of the Scriptures. See William Webster and David King's, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Volume III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura (WA: Christian Resources, 2001). There are numerous people throughout history that look to Scripture as the sole infallible rule, and likewise recognize lesser authorities governing the life of the church. See some examples, here.

The very earliest mention of the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura was by Martin Luther as he was questioned in the Synod of Augsburg (Germany) in October 1518.

This claim that sola scriptura originated with Luther was shown to be blatantly false above.

Reformation historians don't typically refer to Luther's meeting with Cajetan as "the Synod of Augsburg." In fact if you Google "Synod of Augsburg" you'll get hits to  many different meetings. Further, I'd be interested in seeing any statement from Luther using the phrase "sola scriptura" during his meetings with Cajetan. On the other hand, Luther certainly argued against Cajetan using the authority of the Scriptures.

Interestingly, Cajetan argued during this meeting that the Pope was above councils and Scriptures. Now you tell me if Cajetan actually had the correct view of Rome's authority during this meeting? If you think Luther was guilty of false doctrine, you should throw Cajetan in with Luther as well.

In his appeal to the Council, Luther placed the Bible and his interpretation of it, above the Pope.

Certainly Luther and Cajetan discussed authority, and, as I stated above, Cajetan placed the Pope over both the Scripture and Council. The reason for this sort of confusion is the Roman Church didn't have this stuff completely worked out. That is, Luther and Cajetan weren't discussing something new, they were discussing an authoirty issue that had been around for a long time. As to Luther's "interpretation", you seem to assume Rome has actually infallibly interpreted the Bible. Demonstrate then what Bible passages Luther interpreted while in dialog with Cajetan were against an infallibly defined Biblical text.

Even so he admitted the authority of the Synod and of the Bible were equivalent, only in the hope that the Synod would give him a favorable decision.

I'd be very interested in seeing anything from the October 1518 negotiations with Cajetan in which Luther did this. I simply don't recall this from Augsburg, October 1518. This point appears to be directly taken from Grisar on page 338, a point that Grisar doesn't footnote. He may be referring to Luther's account of his meeting with Cajetan at Augsburg (WA 2; LW 31) since that's the context he's working in. There Luther argues for the authority of the scriptures over a pope or council.

In the Leipzig Disputation in July 1519, Luther went a step further and declared that Scripture ranked above a Church Council, and that Ecumenical Councils had already erred in matters of faith. As a result he was branded a heretic.

Certainly many of the papists thought Luther to be a heretic before 1519, but it's my understanding he was officially deemed a heretic at the Diet of Worms in 1521.  As to Luther going "a step further" this ignores the sort of people Luther was up against. They were arguing things like, "He who does not hold the teaching of the Roman Church and the Pope as an infallible rule of faith, from which even Holy Scripture draws its power and authority, he is a heretic."

There seems to be a contradiction here, as Luther was a Catholic Augustinian Monk, and therefore was well aware that it was Catholic Church Councils which finalized the canons of both the Old and the New Testaments. Now at Leipzig, he declared that the product of the Councils ranked above the Councils themselves.

Luther 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. Who can deny this? But simply because they did so, does not mean a council of the visible church in Rome infallibly declared the canon of Scripture. Luther held that the Church was God's hand maid and servant. It does not create God's Word, God's Word creates the Church. As the servant of the Word, it gives the Word to the body of Christ, His people.

As creatures we are dependent on God's purposes in giving us His inspired Scriptures. God "providentially preserves the Scriptures and leads His people to a functional sufficient knowledge of the canon so as to fulfill His purposes in inspiring them" (James White, Scripture Alone, p. 103). For God to do this, His Church need not be infallible. God's people though have recognized God's Word long before any alleged infallible magisterium came along.

Herman Bavinck points out:

"As the various writings of the OT originated and became known, they were also recognized as authoritative. The laws of YHWH were deposited in the sanctuary (Exod. 25:22; 38:21; 40:20; Deut. 31:9, 26; Josh. 24:25f.; 1 Sam. 10:25). The poetic products were preserved (Deut. 31:19; Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18); at an early stage the Psalms were collected for use in the cult (Ps. 72:20); the men of Hezekiah made a second collection of the Proverbs (Prov. 25:1). The prophecies were widely read: Ezekiel knows Isaiah and Jeremiah; later prophets based themselves on earlier ones. Daniel (9:2) is already familiar with a collection of prophetic writings including Jeremiah. In the postexilic community the authority of the law and the prophets is certain and fixed, as is clear from Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. Jesus Sirach has a very high view of the law and the prophets (15:1-8; 24:23; 39:1f.; 44-49). In the preface his grandson mentions the three parts in which Scripture is divided. The LXX contains several apocryphal writings, but these themselves witness to the authority of the canonical books (1 Macc. 2:50; 2 Macc. 6:23; Wisdom 11:1; 18:4; Baruch 2:28; Tob. 1:6; 14:7; Sir. 1:5 [marg.]; 17:12; 24:23; 39:1; 46:15; etc.). Philo cites only the canonical books. The fourth book of Ezra ([= 2 Esdras] 14:18-47) knows of the division into 24 books. Josephus counts 22 books divided into three parts. In the opinion of all concerned, the OT canon of Philo and Josephus was identical with ours." [Reformed Dogmatics I, 393-394].

Luther was warned by the Church in June 1520, in the Papal Bull "Exsurge Domine". The Church did everything it could to reconcile with him but he refused, thus setting the stage for his self ex-communication.

This is simply wishful thinking. Cajetan actually shouted down Luther loudly yelling "Recant!" at him. This is simply one example of the nonsense Luther was subjected to from Rome's defenders.

Exsurge Domine wasn't even accurate. Despite being a papal document, I would argue Exsurge Domine isn't really any sort of infallible help, as Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin explained. I would also point out that Rome's sharpest minds didn't quite know what was going on either when they put Exsurge Domine together. Note this comment pertinent to the failure of Exsurge Domine:

"As a legal document Exsurge Domine presumed the theological refutations provided by Prierias, Cajetan, and, most demonstrably, Eck. The brief denunciations and an incomplete statement of Luther's teachings provide little opportunity for determining the finer points of magisterial objections to the reformer (Hillerbrand 1969, 108-112). The document contains no hierarchy of condemnation, never distinguishing which of the forty-one errors are heretical doctrinally and which are merely "offensive to pious ears" [Gregory Sobolewski, Martin Luther Roman Catholic Prophet (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2001), pp. 67-68].

Now digest the weight of this statement. It claims Exsurge Domine "contains no hierarchy of condemnation," and "never distinguishing which of the forty-one errors are heretical doctrinally and which are merely "offensive to pious ears."

He was formally ex-communicated on January 3, 1521 through the Papal Bull 'Decet Romanum Pontificem'.

Exsurge Domine said that the Pope could, "without any further citation or delay, proceed against him to his condemnation and damnation..." Decet Romanum Pontificem spoke of Luther's "depraved and damnable purpose." It called for any of the faithful who were sympathetic to the Lutherans to shun them, so that they "may escape divine vengeance and any degree of participation in their damnation." It further declared concerning Luther and his followers: "...these and the other sentences, censures and punishments... we decree to have fallen on all these men to their damnation." However, the great German Catholic historian from the Universities of Breslau and Bonn, Hubert Jedin held that Catholicism never condemned Luther by name at Trent, and that no official judgment on Luther exists by which a loyal Catholic is bound. Isn't that an irony? The very man the Catholic Treasure Chest thinks is so awful has no actual infallible ruling against him from Rome.

A secular Council called the "Diet of Worms" was convened by the Catholic Emperor Charles V in April 1521, and Luther was again asked if he was going to retract, or maintain, the ideology of his many books. Luther stood firm. An Edict issued by this Council in May 1521, branded Luther as a heretic and an outlaw.

Well, Bob Stanley said above he was branded a heretic in 1519. Which is it? This is the problem with doing cut-and-paste on a discussion board: The material cut-and-pasted can bite you if one doesn't check it carefully.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Reformed and Lutheran Together Movement... and Not Together

For those interested in the Reformed and Lutheran Together movement, this post is insightful: Gazing Wrongly at the Right Thing. "...the Lutheran and Reformed traditions are, when understood and practiced properly, Christ centered. But it is possible to become Patricentric in our thinking as Christians, and that is a thing we ought to avoid at all cost." Well said. This post is a nice breath of fresh air.

*********

For those not interested in the Reformed and Lutheran Together movement, may I suggest a curious (for lack of a better word) Lutheran blog, Back To Luther... and the old (German) Missouri Synod. This blogger has put together a number of helpful posts in regard to Luther research. He recently compiled links to the Saint Louis Edition of Luther's Works, as well as alerting me the fact that Vogel's Cross Reference of Luther's Works is now back in print (this is a book I've wanted to get for years). He's also compiled Luther's Timeline – events surrounding Luther (w/ download), and Luther's Letters – largest cross reference available. This is great stuff for those of you interested in Reformation-related history. This is the sort of stuff that interests me the most in terms of research. I wish I came up with the above material!

On the other hand, he also appears to have issues with Concordia Publishing (and Lutherans in general), so he makes PDF's available of books they're supposed to be printing. This seems a bit unscrupulous to me. I'm very grateful to the work Concordia Publishing does. They've put out some outstanding material. The recent volumes of LW are meticulously researched and brilliantly translated. In regard to customer service, they've been wonderful as well. I'm grateful for what they do.

Obviously, a Lutheran in conflict with Concordia almost certainly has little love for anything that smells remotely Reformed. Consider the following comment:
For anyone (like me) who has struggled with researching Luther's writings between all the sources in the different languages, I have discovered a valuable online resource: Steve Born's Luther Index. I found this through James Swan's resource links on his BeggarsAll blog website, on the right side under the section "Luther's Works, etc.", labeled "An Index to the Works of Martin Luther".  The BeggarsAll website also has other fairly extensive online resources on Luther's work here.  However, some of the English translations by Reformed translators are suspect.  (May Mr. Swan throw off his false Reformed "assurance", and accept the Bible's teaching of universal grace.  He will never be able to fully refute the errors of Romanists and he will never fully understand Martin Luther until he renounces the Reformed restriction of God's grace.)
The last comment simply doesn't follow. One can "fully understand Martin Luther" or any other subject for that matter, by simply being a diligent student of history and theology.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Two More Minutes of Personal Fame: Table Talk With Martin Luther: A Modern Catholic's Conversations With the founder of Protestantism

I can't be the only narcissist that every so often, types their own name into Google to see what comes up.   The results don't always flatter, that 's for sure. For instance, this link, James Swan Chokes Mom, Smashes Head Through Wall, in Argument Over World of Warcraft, certainly besmirches those named "James Swan."

Here's something quite odd I discovered on Google Books searching my name: Table Talk With Martin Luther: A Modern Catholic's Conversations With the founder of Protestantism (2005) By Edward P Hahnenberg, Edward J. Hahnenberg. I admit, I haven't read this book, nor have I've heard of the authors, nor do I think I've ever come across it before. The subject matter certainly intrigues me: Roman Catholic opinions and interpretations of Luther and the Reformation. I've spent quite a few years now involved with this topic. Google has a limited preview of the book, and this is what I found:



That's all the text available from Google for preview of these pages. They're citing my old NTRmin article, The Roman Catholic Perspective of Martin Luther (Part One). I put this article together after dealing with a number of online Roman Catholics citing Luther via 100+ year-old Roman Catholic historians. Not only did I discover that online Roman apologists hadn't actually read Luther in context, but that those historians they were citing were, for the most part, not even taken seriously by later Roman Catholic historians.

Had these men alerted me of their book back in 2005, I certainly would have obtained it and reviewed it. Perhaps I still will. On the other hand, I've not said anything in the above quote that hasn't been said by historians actually worthy of citing. I'm merely parroting back what's been said and documented for a long time.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fan Club Testimonials from Catholic Answers

Update: As I suspected, this thread over on Catholic Answers got shut down. What's interesting is that they deleted a number of posts (including mine) and allowed the discussion to end with "Rosinante" getting the last word. It's fascinating that they would allow someone unrestrained mocking, and then allow them to get the last word. As my friend Algo taught me, with Catholic Answers, one needs to always make backup copies.

Update (12/29/12): More editing has occurred over on the Catholic Answers discussion from which the posts below were taken. It appears all the posts below are now deleted. The discussion now ends with a moderator stating, "Return and stay on the topic...". The discussion is still locked and closed. Having myself been a large discussion board moderator in the past, that's a fair move. I'm not sure if anything I posted here had anything to do with it (I doubt Catholic Answers cares what I post), so whatever their reasons, they did the right thing.

*****************************

One of the folks on Catholic Answers showed their appreciation for my blog entry, Did Luther Regret the Reformation? after it was recommended:

Yesterday, 11:55 am
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Default Re: Question to our 'seperated brethren' (protestants), who deny Mary, Theotokos

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonNC View Post
And the same to you. Be Blessed!

May I suggest the following:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspo...formation.html

Jon
That's just patently embarrasing.

First, you pretend to be ignorant of any such claims ("...I doubt you'll be able to [produce] any credible sources")...

...then you refer me to "Yeah, but, but, but.DOT COM", a cite virtually acknowledging a multitude of such quotes from Marty (then lamely trying to spin them, or explain them away).

Thanks anyway for the link--was good for a few laughs...

But next time, may I kindly suggest owning that you are aware of Marty's various back peddles, but simply have a your own spin on them, to wihch you subscribe (or I'm sure you'd rather phrase it as you disagree with my characterizations thereof, or conclusions drawn therefrom....).

Okham's razoor however, suggests rather compellingly, that Marty meant what he said--not what protestants wished he had meant by what he actaully said.

VIVAT JESUS!


Unread Today, 9:36 am
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Default Re: Question to our 'seperated brethren' (protestants), who deny Mary, Theotokos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosinante View Post
That's just patently embarrasing.
First, you pretend to be ignorant of any such claims ("...I doubt you'll be able to [produce] any credible sources")...
...then you refer me to "Yeah, but, but, but.DOT COM", a cite virtually acknowledging a multitude of such quotes from Marty (then lamely trying to spin them, or explain them away).
Thanks anyway for the link--was good for a few laughs...
But next time, may I kindly suggest owning that you are aware of Marty's various back peddles, but simply have a your own spin on them, to wihch you subscribe (or I'm sure you'd rather phrase it as you disagree with my characterizations thereof, or conclusions drawn therefrom....).
Okham's razoor however, suggests rather compellingly, that Marty meant what he said--not what protestants wished he had meant by what he actaully said.
VIVAT JESUS!
I'm the unembarrassed author of "Yeah, but, but, but.DOT COM" whom you say "lamely" spins and explains away multitudes of Luther quotes in order to provoke laughs.

I suggest before you make such remarks on a public forum, you actually provide cogent examples to prove your opinion. Saying something and proving something are two very different things.

JS

Update:

Today, 10:07 am
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Default Re: Question to our 'seperated brethren' (protestants), who deny Mary, Theotokos

Quote:
Originally Posted by TertiumQuid View Post
I'm the unembarrassed author of "Yeah, but, but, but.DOT COM" whom you say "lamely" spins and explains away multitudes of Luther quotes in order to provoke laughs.

I suggest before you make such remarks on a public forum, you actually provide cogent examples to prove your opinion. Saying something and proving something are two very different things.

JS
First, I didn't suggest you did it to 'provoke laughs'--that's just the reaction your cite provoked in me;

Second, the point is that Luther actually made many of these comments, and the poster to whom my post was directed, feigned ignorance about the statemets (like me, feigning ignorance about the inquisitions);

Third, the mere existence of your cite, indicates the need to 'explain away' Luther's back peddling.



VIVAT JESUS!

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Default Re: Question to our 'seperated brethren' (protestants), who deny Mary, Theotokos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosinante View Post
First, I didn't suggest you did it to 'provoke laughs'--that's just the reaction your cite provoked in me; Second, the point is that Luther actually made many of these comments, and the poster to whom my post was directed, feigned ignorance about the statemets (like me, feigning ignorance about the inquisitions); Third, the mere existence of your cite, indicates the need to 'explain away' Luther's back peddling.
VIVAT JESUS!
Rather than quibble about justifying your feelings and your harsh comments towards my website, I'll once again point out the obvious: before you make such remarks on a public forum, you actually need to provide cogent examples to prove your opinion. Saying something and proving something are two very different things.

Here's your chance to substantiate your comments. Give me one example from the link that was suggested to you by JonNC and prove what I wrote was an exercise in explaining away Luther's back-peddling.

Remember, this is "Catholic Answers". Here's your chance to prove that your Catholic answer to someone like myself is meaningful and convincing, and a reason why the Roman Catholic worldview is true. Simply saying "the mere existence of your cite, indicates the need to 'explain away' Luther's back peddling" is neither meaningful or convincing. It's simply an unsubstantiated opinion.

JS


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Default Re: Question to our 'seperated brethren' (protestants), who deny Mary, Theotokos


Quote:
Originally Posted by AbideWithMe View Post
No, this isn't true. You're showing your own ignorance here.

As just one example of my point, one of the most extensive, accessible sources of the writings of Early Church Fathers on the internet is at CCEL, which is a Protestant site.
I'm well aware of the protestant *attempt* to pirate the Church Fathers, particularly from the Calvinista camp (to which the author of "yeah but but but.dot com' acknowleged he belongs). My comment however, was directed at the poster's comment that citing this or that obscure source, carried no authority with pro's.--that could refer to various personalities grouped within the rather broad groupoing known as Church Fathers--especially since they cover a period in excess of the existience of protestantism itself.

So, now, after 500 years of sola scriptura, every man his own pope, the wrongness of 'traditions of men'...blah blah blah.,

...our seperated bretheren now seek to invoke the Church Fathers' 'traditions of men', as not only authoratative, but in support of their own anti-Catholic views? Some how, these very same authority figures whose words carry addtional weight due to their cred amongs the Church...somehow, they were always arguing for sola scriptura, and never really respected Sacred Tradition..

That's just laughable...even if not intended to be funny... 

VIVAT JESUS!


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Default Re: Question to our 'seperated brethren' (protestants), who deny Mary, Theotokos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosinante View Post


I'm well aware of the protestant *attempt* to pirate the Church Fathers, particularly from the Calvinista camp (to which the author of "yeah but but but.dot com' acknowleged he belongs).
"Calvinsta camp" appears to be meant in a mocking way. I note this based on the context of the comment from which it came, which mentions that those who are not Roman Catholic express views which are "just laughable...even if not intended to be funny."

JS

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Luther: You must say my sins are not mine; they are not in me at all; they are the sins of another, they are Christ's and are none of my business

I was sent a link to a website "exposing" Calvinism because it contained a bunch of Luther quotes. Many of the quotes I've gone over already, but there were a few that I've never examined. Here's one in particular found in a pdf e-book (pictured left) from this site:
On Predestination
“You must say my sins are not mine; they are not in me at all; they are the sins of another, they are Christ's and are none of my business.” [19]
[19] http://www.tentmaker.org/books/MartinLuther-HitlersSpiritualAncestor.html
Documentation
 The reference link is to Peter Wiener's, Martin Luther, Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor. I've gone through a number of Wiener's quotes over the years. Wiener states:
Since Luther had this curious idea that our actions have no connections whatsoever with our thoughts, and that as long as we think in a Christian way, we need not behave accordingly, it is not surprising that he did not hesitate to authorize the commitment of sins. “What does it matter whether we commit a fresh sin?” he asks sarcastically. “Faith cancels all sin” is his simple counsel. “No other sin exists in the world save unbelief,” is his doctrine. Indeed, his old enemy, Satan, is once more coming to light in order to give an excuse to sinners. “Sometimes it is necessary to commit some sin out of hatred and contempt for the Devil.” “What matters if we commit a sin?” (E16, 254).
But then again, he sometimes consoles himself with the thought that it was God who ordained sins. “You must say my sins are not mine; they are not in me at all; they are the sins of another' they are Christ's and are none of my business” (W25, 330). “What a consolation for pious souls to put Him on like this and wrap Him in my sins, your sins, the sins of the whole universe, and consider Him thus bearing all our sins.” “Christianity is nothing but a continual exercise in feeling that you have no sin although you sin, but that your sins are thrown on Christ.” “From the moment when you acknowledge that Christ bears your sins, He becomes the sinner in your stead.”
It's probable Wiener took this quote from the work of Roman Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar:
"He lives in a different world," says Luther, "where he must know nothing either of sin or of merit; if however he feels his sin he is to look at it as clinging, not to his own person, but to the person (Christ) on whom God has cast it, i.e. he must regard it, not as it is in itself and appears to his conscience, but rather in Christ by Whom it has been atoned for and vanquished. Thus he has a heart cleansed from all sin by the faith which affirms that sin has been conquered and overthrown by Christ. . . . Hence it is sacrilege to look at the sin in your heart, for it is the devil who puts it there, not God. You must say, my sins are not mine; they are not in me at all; they are the sins of another; they are Christ's and are none of my business." Elsewhere he describes similarly the firm consolation of the righteous with regard to the Law and its accusations of sin: "This is the supreme comfort of the righteous, to vest and clothe Christ with my sins and yours and those of the whole world, and then to look upon Him as the bearer of all our sins. The man who thus regards Him will soon come to scorn the fanatical notions of the sophists concerning justification by works. They rave of a faith that works by love ('fides formata caritate'), and assert that thereby sins are taken away and men justified. But this simply means to undress Christ, to strip Him of sin, to make Him innocent, to burden and load ourselves with our own sins and to see them, not in Christ, but in ourselves, which is the same thing as to put away Christ and say He is superfluous.''
WA 25:330  can be found here. This quote is from Luther's material on Isaiah 53. Some of the material is found in WA 31(2), some of it is found in WA 25 (pp. 79-401). The material in WA 31 comprises of lectures transcribed and recorded by those who heard Luther give these lectures. The material in WA 25 comprises of scholia. Therefore, taken together, Luther's notes and lectures comprise his material on the book of Isaiah. LW chose to translate the material from WA 31 with clarification from Luther's scholia ("... there is neither need nor even justification for relying on the scholia, and we have decided to translate the version closest to Luther himself").

Context
If one compares the scholia and the lectures on Isaiah 53 there is indeed harmony in thought. Note the context from Luther's lectures on Isaiah 53:

4. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
This states the purpose of Christ’s suffering. It was not for Himself and His own sins, but for our sins and griefs. He bore what we should have suffered. Here you see the fountain from which St. Paul draws countless streams of the suffering and merits of Christ, and he condemns all religions, merits, and endeavors in the whole world through which men seek salvation. Note the countless sects who to this day are toiling to obtain salvation. But here the prophet says, “He for us.” It is difficult for the flesh to repudiate all its resources, to turn away from self, and to be carried over to Christ. It is for us who have merited nothing not to have regard for our merits but simply to cling to the Word between heaven and earth, even though we do not feel it. Unless we have been instructed by God, we will not understand this. Therefore I delight in this text as if it were a text of the New Testament. This new teaching which demolishes the righteousness of the Law clearly appeared absurd to the Jews. For that reason the apostles needed Scripture, Surely He has borne our griefs. His suffering was nothing else than our sin. These words, OUR, US, FOR US, must be written in letters of gold. He who does not believe this is not a Christian. Yet we esteemed Him. We thought that He was suffering because of His own sin, as it were. In the eyes of the world and of the flesh Christ does not suffer for us, since He seemed to have deserved it Himself. This is what the prophet says here too, that He was judged guilty in the eyes of the world. It is therefore difficult to believe that such a one suffered for us. The Law is that everybody dies for his own sins. Natural reason, and divine as well, argues that everybody must bear his own sin. Yet He is struck down contrary to all law and custom. Hence reason infers that He was smitten by God for His own sake. Therefore the prophet leads us so earnestly beyond all righteousness and our rational capacity and confronts us with the suffering of Christ to impress upon us that all that Christ has is mine. This is the preaching of the whole Gospel, to show us that Christ suffered for our sake contrary to law, right, and custom. He expounds more fully what His suffering for us means.
5. He was wounded.
The prophet is eloquent in describing the suffering of Christ. Word by word he expounds it in opposition to the hardened Jews. Do you want to know what it is to bear our sins, that is, what it means that He was wounded? Here you have Christ delineated perfectly and absolutely, since this chapter speaks of Him. Christ is a man, a servant of the Word, who by means of suffering bore our sins. What will the unrestrained Jew answer in opposition to this delineation? From this you must infer how far apart are the teachings of Paul and the pope. Paul clings to Christ alone as the sin bearer. By means of this one word, “Lamb of God” (John 1:29), John the Baptist understands this Levitical sacrifice, that He suffered for the sins of all. It follows, then, that the Law and merits do not justify. Away with the Antichrist pope with his traditions, since Christ has borne all these things! I marvel that this text was so greatly obscured in the church. They note the concern of Scripture that faith without works is dead, and we say the same thing. In public argument, however, we say that works are indeed necessary, but not as justifying elements. Thus anyone may privately come to the conclusion, “It is all the same whether I have sinned or whether I have done well.” This is hard for the conscience to believe, that it is the same and in fact something angelic and divine. Therefore this text draws the following conclusion: “Christ alone bears our sins. Our works are not Christ. Therefore there is no righteousness of works.” Surely none of the papists can escape this fact when he sees Scripture as a whole, that Christ has accomplished all things for justification and therefore we have not done it. Appeal to works, rewards, and merits and make much of them in the realm of outward recompense. Only do not make them responsible for justification and the forgiveness of sins. We can preach and uphold this passage in public, but we can only believe it with difficulty in private. If we preserve this article, “Jesus Christ is the Savior,” all other articles concerning the Holy Spirit and of the church and of Scripture are safe. Thus Satan attacks no article so much as this one. He alone is a Christian who believes that Christ labors for us and that He is the Lamb of God slain for our sins. While this article stands, all the monasteries of righteousness, etc., are struck down by lightning. In the light of this text read all the epistles of Paul with regard to redemption, salvation, and liberation, because they are all drawn from this fountain. A blind papacy read and chanted these and similar words as in a dream, and no one really considered them. If they had, they would have cast off all righteousness from themselves. Hence it is not enough to know and accept the fact. One must also accept the function and the power of the fact. If we have this, we stand unconquered on the royal road, and the Holy Spirit is present in the face of all sects and deceptions. When this doctrine is safe, we firmly stand up to all people, but where this article is lost, we proceed from one error to the next, as we observe in the babbling Enthusiasts and in Erasmus. Our nature is opposed to the function and power of Christ’s Passion. As far as the fact itself is concerned, both the pope and the Turk believe it and proclaim it, but they do not accept its function. As for you, lift up this article and extol it above every law and righteousness and let it be to you a measureless sea over against a little spark. The sea is Christ who has suffered. Your works and your righteousness are the little spark. Therefore beware, as you place your sins on your conscience, that you do not panic, but freely place them on Christ, as this text says, “He has borne our iniquities.” We must clearly transfer our sins from ourselves to Christ. If you want to regard your sin as resting on you, such a thought in your heart is not of God but of Satan himself, contrary to Scripture, which by God’s will places your sin on Christ. Hence you must say: I see my sin in Christ, therefore my sin is not mine but another’s. I see it in Christ.” It is a great thing to say confidently: “My sin is not mine.” However, it is a supreme conflict with a most powerful beast, which here becomes most powerful: “I behold sins heaped on Christ.” Thus a certain hermit who was extremely harassed by Satan could not evade him, but said: “I have not sinned. Everybody must look upon his conscience as free.” He did not answer well because he did have sin. This is what he should have said: “My sins have been transferred to Christ; He has them.” This is the grafting of the wild olive into the olive tree. It is not without purpose that the prophet uses so many words in this article, since it is necessary for a Christian to know that these are his own sins, whatever they are, and that they have been borne by Christ, by whom we have been redeemed and saved. This is the Savior, etc., from eternal damnation, from death, and from sin. So by this thunderbolt the Law and its righteousness are struck down, as you see Paul treat this matter in detail..[LW 17:221-225]
Conclusion
What I find fascinating about this particular quote is the way it's interpreted three different ways. The website under scrutiny above uses it in regard to predestination. Peter Wiener thinks it means that since Christ has bore our sins, one "need not behave accordingly" and that God "ordained sins." Grisar comes closest to the actual correct understanding of the context, but his Latin translation makes it look as though Satan puts all sin in the heart, where the context shows it's the thought of regarding "sin as resting on you" that Satan places in the heart (Perhaps though this was simply something lost when Grisar was translated from German to English). This is a good example of why a context is so important!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Luther: God must count drunkenness as a minor sin, a small daily sin. We can really not stop it

I was sent a link to a website "exposing" Calvinism because it contained a bunch of Luther quotes. Many of the quotes I've gone over already, but there were a few that I've never examined. Here's one in particular found in a pdf e-book (pictured left) from this site:
“God must count drunkenness as a minor sin, a small daily sin. We can really not stop it.”[16]
[16] http://www.tentmaker.org/books/MartinLuther-HitlersSpiritualAncestor.html
Documentation
The reference link is to Peter Wiener's, Martin Luther, Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor. I've gone through a number of Wiener's quotes over the years. Most of what Wiener presents is poorly documented, and this quote is no exception:
More than once Luther says that he drinks in excess. “I am here,” he writes from the Warburg, “idle and drunk” (Enders III, 154). At other times he states, “I am not drunk” (Enders III, 317; E30, 363). In 1532 he writes: “We eat and drink to kill ourselves, we eat and drink up to our last farthing.” In 1540 he states: “God must count drunkenness as a minor sin, a small daily sin. We can really not stop it.”
Without any documentation, the primary source can only be guessed. Wiener's quote appears to be the same statement used by Roman Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar:
"In the morning you really look as though your heads had been pickled in brine." Yet, from the very passage in the Table-Talk where this is recounted, we learn that he said to the guests, again in a far too indulgent strain: "The Lord God must account the drunkenness of us Germans a mere daily [i.e. venial] sin, for we are unable to give it up; nevertheless, it is a shameful curse, harmful alike to body, soul and property."
Grisar identifies this passage as a Table Talk statement: Mathesius, "Tischreden," p. 95. John Mathesius complied comments Luther made in 1540 (Table Talk statements numbered 4858 to 5341 found in WA, TR 4 and 5). The particular comment referred to by Wiener and Grisar is probably #4917. This is found translated into in English, LW 54:371-372. Keep in mind, anything identified as "Table Talk" are not statements written by Luther, but are rather purported to have been said by Luther.

Context
No. 4917: Drunkenness a Common Vice of Germans May 16, 1540
The doctor [Martin Luther] said, “Our Lord God must count the drunkenness of us Germans as an everyday sin, for we probably can’t stop it, and yet it’s such a disgraceful nuisance that it injures body, soul, and goods.” 
Then Severus said, “Doctor, they said at court that you never inveighed against this vice.”
The doctor replied, “I often bore down hard on this subject in the presence of the court. As a matter of fact, I made it rough and tough on the nobles for leading astray and ruining the princes. This pleased the old man very much, for he lived soberly and often kept John Frederick at table until seven o’clock. But it didn’t help after that hour. I used to say to the nobles, ‘After dinner you ought to practice on the wrestling ground or engage in some other knightly exercise. After that I’d allow you to have a good drinking bout because some tippling’s bearable but intoxication’s not.’ ” 
Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther's works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (54:371). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Conclusion
Once again, the quote in context says something far different than the sentence presented by Peter Wiener.

Luther preached and wrote against drunkenness throughout his entire life with vigor and force. As biographer Heinrich Boehmer notes, “Luther attacked the craving for drink with word and pen more vigorously than any German of his time. He told even princes his opinion of it, in private and public, blamed the elector himself publically for this vice, and read the elector’s courtiers an astonishingly drastic lecture” [Source, Heinrich Boehmer, Luther and the Reformation in the Light of Modern Research (London: G. Bell and Sons LTD, 1930), 198]. One example among many is Luther’s Sermon on Soberness and Moderation against Gluttony and Drunkenness (1539). Luther complaining about excessive drinking states:
“What, therefore, shall we do? The secular government does not forbid it, the princes do nothing about it, and the rulers in the cities do nothing at all but wink at it and do the same themselves. We preach and the Holy Scriptures teach us otherwise; but you want to evade what is taught. Eating and drinking are not forbidden, but rather all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one’s pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19–21]. It is no wonder that all of you are beggars. How much money might not be saved [if excessive drinking were stopped].” [LW 51:293].
And also:
“Listen to the Word of God, which says, “Keep sane and sober,” that it may not be said to you in vain. You must not be pigs; neither do such belong among Christians. So also in I Cor. 6 [:9–10]: No drunkard, whoremonger, or adulterer can be saved. Do not think that you are saved if you are a drunken pig day and night. This is a great sin, and everybody should know that this is such a great iniquity, that it makes you guilty and excludes you from eternal life. Everybody should know that such a sin is contrary to his baptism and hinders his faith and his salvation. Therefore, if you wish to be a Christian, take care that you control yourself. If you do not wish to be saved, go ahead and steal, rob, profiteer as long as you can…. But if you do want to be saved, then listen to this: just as adultery and idolatry close up heaven, so does gluttony; for Christ says very clearly: Take heed “lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly” [Luke 21:34], “as the lightning comes from the cast and shines as far as the west” [Matt. 24:27]. Therefore be watchful and sober. That is what is preached to us, who want to be Christians.” [LW 51:293-294]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Luther: Your sin cannot cast you into hell

I was sent a link to a website "exposing" Calvinism because it contained a bunch of Luther quotes. Many of the quotes I've gone over already, but there were a few that I've never examined. Here's one in particular found in a pdf e-book (pictured left) from this site:
"Your sin can not cast you into hell."[12]
[12] http://www.nazarite.net/the-founders.html-- Martin Luther: August 1st, 1521 http://www.sullivan-county.com/identity/reformers.htm

Documentation
The link given for this quote goes over to a web page entitled, The Protestant Reformers Were Frauds (An Anabaptist speaks out). The web page states, "Martin Luther was not a great reformer like the history books teach, but he was a fraud! Here are some quotes from Luther which shows that he taught the heresy of Once Saved Always Saved," and thus follows a number of undocumented quotes from the Reformers. I did a basic search for "Your sin can not cast you into hell" across the Internet (with the spelling "can not") and came up with only one other relevant hit: some sort of Messianic Jewish web page: The Reformers (turn your computer's sound off for this page). This page likewise lacked meaningful documentation. One of these pages probably took the quote from the other.

This quote appears to come from Luther's Church Postil, "Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 9:1-8 ( October 3, 1529). It can be found on this page.


Context
Luther begins by explaining that "external righteousness be urged both in admonitions and in threatenings, and not be considered as of no importance. For whosoever despises it, despises God and his Word." He explains that to live peacefully in this world with each other, we need to obey the ruling authorities and live honestly according to the second table of the Ten Commandments. If we don't, authorities have been set up to punish those who break the law. He then explains that the church of his day had set up false works said to be pleasing to God in order to obtain a right standing with him ("we tried all kinds of works, ran hither and thither, expended and wasted our energies, money and property; here we established masses and altars, there cloisters and brotherhoods, and every one was groping for the way in which he might serve God"). God though requires that whatever one does, however domestic and trivial it may seem, be done to His glory. All of this outward external righteous one engages in is because God commands it, not because one can earn righteousness or eternal salvation from it.

Luther then moves to discuss another kind of righteousness, the righteousness of faith in which one receives the grace of God and the forgiveness of sin. When God forgives your sin, you stand eternally righteous before him. Certainly though in this world Christians are still plagued by their sins. They accuse the believer that his sins are no longer forgiven. External good works do not assure a Christian that his sins are forgiven. Luther states:

15. Therefore this doctrine, that our piety before God consists entirely in the forgiveness of sins, must be rightly comprehended and firmly maintained. We must therefore get beyond ourselves and ascend higher than our reason, which keeps us in conflict with ourselves and which reminds us both of sin and good works; and we must soar so high as to see neither sin nor good works, but be rooted and grounded in this article and see and know nothing besides. Therefore let grace or forgiveness be pitted not only against sin, but also against good works, and let all human righteousness and holiness be excluded. Thus there are in man two conflicting powers: Externally in this life he is to be pious, do good works, and the like, But if he aims beyond this life and wishes to deal with God, he must know that here neither his sin nor his piety avails anything. And though he may feel his sins which disturb his conscience, and although the law demands good works, he will not listen nor give heed to them, but will boldly reply; If I have sin, Christ has forgiveness; yea, I am seated on a throne to which sin cannot attain.
16. Therefore we are to regard the kingdom of Christ as a large, beautiful arch or vault which is everywhere over us, and covers and protects us against the wrath of God; yea, as a great, extended firmament which pure grace and forgiveness illuminate and so fill the world and all things, that all sin will hardly appear as a spark in comparison with the great, extended sea of light; and although sin may oppress, it cannot injure, but must disappear and vanish before grace. They who understand this, may well be called masters, but we will all have to humble ourselves and not be ashamed to keep on learning this lesson as long as we live.
17. For wherever our nature succeeds in finding sin, it tries to make an unbearable burden of it. Satan fans the spark and blows up a great fire which fills heaven and earth. Here the leaf must be turned and we must firmly conclude: If the sin were ever so great or burdensome, this article of faith is nevertheless much higher, wider and greater, which has been recommended and established not by man's wisdom, but by him who has comprehended heaven and earth and holds them in the hollow of his hand. Is. 40, 12. My sin and piety must remain here on earth as far as they concern my life and conduct. But in heaven above I have another treasure, greater than either of these; there Christ is seated and holds me in his arms, covers me with his wings and overshadows me with his grace.
18. You may say: How is this, since I daily feel sin and my conscience condemns me and threatens me with God's wrath? I answer: For this reason, I say, one must understand that the righteousness of a Christian is nothing that can be named or imagined but the forgiveness of sin, that is, it is a kingdom of power which deals only with sin and with such abundant grace as takes away all wrath. It is called the forgiveness of sin for the reason that we are truly sinners before God; yes, everything in us is sin, even though we may have all human righteousness. For where God speaks of sin, there must be real and great sin; so also forgiveness is no jest, but real earnestness. When you, therefore, consider this article you have both. Sin takes away all your holiness, no matter how pious you are on earth; again, forgiveness takes away all sin and wrath. Therefore your sin cannot cast you into hell, nor can your piety elevate you into heaven.
19. Therefore, when the devil disturbs your conscience, and tries to bring despair to your heart by saying: "Have you not learned that one must be pious?" then answer courageously and say: Yes, you are right; I am a sinner, that I have known before; for this article, called the forgiveness of sins, has taught me this long ago. I am to be pious and do what I can before the world; but before God I am willing to be a sinner, and to be called nothing else, that this article may remain true, else there would not be forgiveness or grace; but it must needs be called a crown of righteousness and of merits. Therefore, although I feel nothing but many and great sins, yet they are no longer sins; for I have for them a precious panacea and drug which takes away the power and poison of sin and wholly destroys it. It is this word, "Forgiveness," before which sin disappears like stubbles before the fire. Without it no work, suffering, or martyrdom avails against the smallest sin. For without forgiveness sin is and remains pure sin, which condemns us.
20. Therefore only confess this article heartily and boldly and say: Before the world I may be pious and do everything that is required, but before God it is only sin according to this article. Therefore I am a sinner, but a sinner who now has forgiveness and who sits at the throne where grace rules supreme, Ps. 116. If this were not so I would be a sinner like Judas, who saw only his sin, but no forgiveness. But Christians, no matter how much sin they feel in themselves, in that word forgiveness see much more abundant grace presented to them, and poured out over them.  

Conclusion
Working through a quote like this is always a blessing, because it's nothing other than Luther expounding the Gospel and living the normal Christian life. If this was the context from which the quote comes from, it's sad that the websites which took it appear to have missed the Gospel which surrounds the quote. Luther says in the sermon, "...man's understanding cannot get beyond this external piety of works, and cannot comprehend the righteousness of faith." How true this is indeed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Luther: Not for a thousand years has God bestowed such great gifts on any bishop, such as those He bestowed on me!

I was sent a link to a website "exposing" Calvinism because it contained a bunch of Luther quotes. Many of the quotes I've gone over already, like this one, but I was intrigued by the documentation of this quote found in a pdf e-book (pictured left)  from this site:
“Not for a thousand years has God bestowed such great gifts on any bishop, such as those He bestowed on me!” [6]
[6] Museum of foreign literature, science and art, By Robert Walsh, Eliakim Littell, John Jay Smith,Published by E. Littell., 1839,Item notes: v.35 1839,Original from the University of Michigan,Digitized Oct 31, 2005, Page 329 http://cc.msnscache.com/cache.aspx?q=72289142394310&mkt=en-US&lang=en- US&w=b2466ad1&FORM=CVRE
Documentation
The book cited in footnote 6 is available from Google Books. On page 329 it provides a number of quotes from Luther (without documentation), and uses the quote in this paragraph:
'At Leipsic, at Augsburg, and at Worms, my spirit was as free as a flower of the field.' 'He whom God moves to speak, expresses himself openly and freely, careless whether he is alone or has others on his side. So spake Jeremiah, and I may boast of having done the same. God has not for the last thousand years bestowed on any bishop such great gifts as on me, and it is right that I should extol his gifts. Truly, I am indignant with myself that I do not heartily rejoice and give thanks. Now and then I raise a faint hymn of thanksgiving, and feebly praise Him. Well! live or die, Do mini sumus. You may take the word either in the genitive or the nominative case. Therefore, Sir Doctor, be firm.'
This paragraph is from multiple contexts. The sentence, "At Leipsic, at Augsburg, and at Worms, my spirit was as free as a flower of the field" is from 1524. It's found in LW 40:53 (Letter to the Princes of Saxony Concerning the Rebellious Spirit). The sentence about Jeremiah is from a different context also, Against the Heavenly Prophets in the Matter of Images and Sacraments (1525) [LW 40:144]. Then tacked on is a Table Talk comment from 1542.

Context
The historical context of this Tabletalk comment surrounds the death of Luther's daughter. One of the "great gifts" was.... his daughter:

When his daughter was very ill, he said: ' I love her well; yet, O my God! if it be thy will to take her hence, I will resign her, without regret, into thy hands.' As she lay in bed, he said to her: ' My dear little daughter, my darling Magdalen, thou wouldst, doubtless, willingly remain here with thy poor father, but thou wouldst also go hence willingly to thy other father, if he call thee to him?' She replied: ' Yes, my dear father, as God shall please.' ' Dear girl,' returned Luther, ' 'tis not with thee that the spirit alone is willing. He then walked up and down the room for some time, saying to himself, but half aloud: ' Ah, I have loved her dearly! ... If her flesh be so strong, what must her spirit be?'

"He further said, among other things, 'God has not, for a thousand years, bestowed so many great gifts upon any bishop as he has upon me. One should duly appreciate and pride oneself upon such gifts; but—I am mad with myself for it—I do not enough rejoice at them in my heart: I do not sufficiently return thanks for them. I sing, indeed, from time to time, a little song of praise to the Lord, but 'tis very inadequate.' . . . ' Well, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's; so, courage, doctor!' [source]


The actual comment is a Table Talk comment, located in LW 54:430

No. 5494: Illness of Luther’s Daughter Becomes Graver September, 1542

When the illness of his daughter became graver he [Martin Luther] said, “I love her very much. But if it is thy will to take her, dear God, I shall be glad to know that she is with thee.”Afterward he said to his daughter, who was lying in bed, “Dear Magdalene, my little daughter, you would be glad to stay here with me, your father. Are you also glad to go to your Father in heaven?” The sick girl replied, “Yes, dear Father, as God wills.” The father said, “You dear little girl!” [Then he turned away from her and said,] “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak [Matt. 26:41]. I love her very much. If this flesh is so strong, what must the spirit be?” Among other things he then said, “In the last thousand years God has given to no bishop such great gifts as he has given to me (for one should boast of God’s gifts), i'm angry with myself that I’m unable to rejoice from my heart and be thankful to God, though I do at times sing a little song and thank God. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s [Rom. 14:8]—in the genitive singular and not in the nominative plural.”


The Life and Letters of Martin Luther provides somewhat of a different version:

As his daughter lay very ill, Dr. Luther said: "I love her very much, but dear God, if it be thy will to take her, I submit to thee." Then he said to her as she lay in bed: " Magdalene, my dear little daughter, would you like to stay here with your father, or would you willingly go to your Father yonder ? " She answered: " Darling father, as God wills." Then said he: " Dearest child, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Then he turned away and said: " I love her very much; if my flesh is so strong, what can my spirit do? God has given no bishop so great a gift in a thousand years as he has given me in her. I am angry with myself that I cannot rejoice in heart and be thankful as I ought."