Thursday, January 31, 2013

SDA's Using Karlstadt and Luther to Prove the Saturday Sabbath

A few years back I came across advocates of Seventh Day Adventism using Luther to prove soul sleep (part 2; part 3). I Recently came across an odd one from the CARM Seventh Day Adventism discussion board. It's a brief comment about Luther and Karlstadt on the Saturday sabbath. Luther did not advocate the Saturday Sabbath but his associate, Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, did. The relationship between these two men is certainly complex. It begins with Karlstadt opposing Luther, accepting Luther, and then opposing Luther again. These two men spent many years forcefully writing against each other.

Here's how Karlstadt and Luther are portrayed by a CARM Sabbatarian:
The Sabbath was brought up at the Council of Trent. The Catholic Church used it against the Reformers and Sola Scriptura. Luther knew about it, and rejected it. He instead, accepted the tradition of the church. And his followers also.) Here are a few quotes.
“Consequently, the claim of Scripture alone as the standard fails and the doctrine of ‘Scripture and tradition’ as essential is “fully established”, the Protestants themselves being Judges”! (The Proceedings of the Council of Trent, 17th session, 1562)

(In other words, the Arch Bishop of Reggio turned the council against Luther and the Reformers by stating that “by not accepting the Sabbath stated in Scripture, they [Luther and the Reformers] were holding on to the traditions laid down by the Western Church by observing Sunday as a sacred day of rest”! What an admission! The Sabbath was not a new concept to Luther, having learned so much about it from a very close friend who had been very instrumental in his success. Andres Rudolf B. Carlstadt (1480-1541) was a man spoken of many times by Luther, and considered a mentor to him in many respects. He was as much an authoritarian on the Sabbath as anyone during the Reformation, and worked very hard in trying to persuade Luther to understand the necessity of honoring the Scriptures alone proclamation by its [The Sabbath] observance!)

D’Aubigne states that “Luther admitted that Carlstadt was his superior in learning” (Fifields History, book10 p. 315)

“The observance of the Seventh Day was being revived in Luther’s time by Carlstadt”. Treatsie of the Sabbath, page 8)

“Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath- that is to say, Saturday- must be kept Holy” (Martin Luther Against the Celestial Prophets).

I do not iconize any man. IMO, Luther failed at Trent concerning Sola Scriptura. He simply gave in to the church and its tradition.
This turned out to be... a cut-and-paste, slightly re-worded. I found the same sort of content on this page: Why the Protestant Reformation Failed! Also, some of the material is on this Ellen G. White page. Some of the material makes it back to books from the 1800's. While the issue of proving the Saturday sabbath was the intent of the CARM participant, my specific interest here is in the historical image of Luther and Karlstadt.

Karlstadt Luther's Mentor?
The first thing I found interesting was the image of Karlstadt.  Karlstadt is viewed as Luther's "mentor" and "his superior in learning." Here's how I read what the CARM Sabbatarian is saying: Karlstadt held to the Saturday sabbath. He was Luther's mentor, and smarter than Luther (by Luther's own admission). Therefore, Luther should have followed Karlstadt on this issue. He did not because he "gave in to the church and tradition" rather than practicing sola scriptura like Karlstadt did.

Karlstadt was probably a few years older than Luther (LW 40:75). As to being Luther's "mentor," Martin Brecht, in his book, Martin Luther, His Road to Reformation, states Karlstadt "...did not even own a Bible when he earned the doctor of theology degree or for many years afterward... Karlstadt's respect for Luther was based on the latters stupendous knowledge of the Bible" (p. 84). In terms of Bible knowledge, Karlstadt certainly wasn't Luther's mentor. Brecht also describes that Luther won Karlstadt over to his position. Whereas early on Karlstadt, a strong scholastic papist opposed Luther, he eventually conceded Luther's position on the papacy and describes how Luther was instrumental in Karlstadt's abandonment of scholastic theology (pp. 168-170).

The quote from D’Aubigne that “Luther admitted that Carlstadt was his superior in learning” was somewhat of a challenge to locate. I'm not exactly sure what the reference  "Fifields History, book 10 p. 315" is.  That is, I'm not sure what "Fifields History" means. However, the quote in question comes from book 10 page 315 of  History of the Reformation.  D’Aubigne  recounts the eventual turmoil in the relationship between the two (particularly on the Lord's Supper, not the sabbath), and says:
Carlstadt sought refuge at Strasburg, where he published several writings. “He was well acquainted,” says Doctor Scheur, “with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew;” and Luther acknowledged him to be his superior in learning. Endowed with great powers of mind, he sacrificed to his convictions fame, station country, and even his bread."
D'Aubigne doesn't document exactly who "Doctor Scheur" is and to what text he refers. Nor is it clear if D'Aubigne is quoting Scheur stating "Luther acknowledged him to be his superior in learning." Certainly there were very cordial and flattering things said about his colleague Karlstadt. However, the majority of comments made by Luther about Karlstadt are generally negative.  He wrote more about Karlstadt negatively than he did positively. It's hard to imagine Luther admitting Karlstadt his superior in... anything. The comment from D'Aubigne appears to be in reference to Karlstadt's knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

Karlstadt Was Convincing on the Sabbath?
The second point of interest is the quote from Luther, “Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath- that is to say, Saturday- must be kept Holy” (Martin Luther Against the Celestial Prophets). This reference is to  Against the Heavenly Prophets in the Matter of Images and Sacraments found in LW 40.  The context shows Luther's comment was quite sarcastic against Karlstadt:
Now then, let us get to the bottom of it all and say that these teachers of sin and Mosaic prophets are not to confuse us with Moses. We don’t want to see or hear Moses. How do you like that, my dear rebels? We say further, that all such Mosaic teachers deny the gospel, banish Christ, and annul the whole New Testament. I now speak as a Christian for Christians. For Moses is given to the Jewish people alone, and does not concern us Gentiles and Christians. We have our gospel and New Testament. If they can prove from them that images must be put away, we will gladly follow them. If they, however, through Moses would make us Jews, we will not endure it. What do you think? What will become of this? It will become evident that these factious spirits understand nothing in the Scriptures, neither Moses nor Christ, and neither seek nor find anything therein but their own dreams. And our basis for this assertion is from St. Paul (I Tim. 1[:9]), “The law is not laid down for the just” (which a Christian is). And Peter (Acts 15[:10–11]), “Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” With this saying (as Paul with his) Peter abrogates for the Christian the whole of Moses with all his laws.
Yes, you say, that is perhaps true with respect to the ceremonial and the judicial law, that is, what Moses teaches about the external order of worship or of government. But the decalogue, that is, the Ten Commandments, are not abrogated. There is nothing of ceremonial and judicial law in them. I answer: I know very well that this is an old and common distinction, but it is not an intelligent one. For out of the Ten Commandments flow and depend all the other commandments and the whole of Moses.
Because he would be God alone and have no other gods, etc., he has instituted so many different ceremonies or acts of worship. Through these he has interpreted the first commandment and taught how it is to be kept. To promote obedience to parents, and unwilling to tolerate adultery, murder, stealing, or false witness, he has given the judicial law or external government so that such commandments will be understood and carried out. Thus it is not true that there is no ceremonial or judicial law in the Ten Commandments. Such laws are in the decalogue, depend on it, and belong there. And to indicate this God himself has expressly introduced two ceremonial laws, namely, concerning images and the sabbath. We can show that these two parts are ceremonial laws which are also each in its way abrogated in the New Testament, so that one may see how Dr. Karlstadt deals about as wisely in his book with the sabbath as with images. For St. Paul (Col. 2[:16–17]), speaks frankly and clearly, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come.” Here Paul expressly abrogates the sabbath and calls it a shadow now past since the body, which is Christ himself, is come.
Also, Gal. 4[:10–11], “You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.” Here Paul calls it lost labor to observe days and seasons, among which is also the sabbath. Isaiah has also prophesied this (Isa. 66[:23]), “From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath,” that is, there shall be a daily sabbath in the New Testament, with no difference as to time.
We must be grateful to Paul and Isaiah, that they so long ago freed us from the factious spirits. Otherwise we should have to sit through the sabbath day with “head in hand” awaiting the heavenly voice, as they would delude us. Yes, if Karlstadt were to write more about the sabbath, even Sunday would have to give way, and the sabbath, that is, Saturday, would be celebrated. He would truly make us Jews in all things, so that we also would have to be circumcised, etc. For it is true, and no one can deny it, that whoever keeps the law of Moses as a law of Moses, or deems it necessary to keep it, must regard the keeping of all laws as necessary, as St. Paul (Gal. 5[:3]) concludes and says, “Every man who receives circumcision—he is bound to keep the whole law.” Therefore also, whoever destroys images, or observes the sabbath (that is, whoever teaches that it must be kept), he also must let himself be circumcised and keep the whole Mosaic law. In time (where one leaves room for these spirits) they would surely be compelled to do, teach, and observe this. However, by God’s grace they now do even as St. Paul says (Gal. 6[:13]), “For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.” Thus the image breakers themselves do not keep the law. For just as they fail to keep all the other laws, so also they destroy images unspiritually, as a work, so that they lose Christ, the fulfilment of the law, and seek only that they may attain a glory in us, as if they had taught something excellent and masterful.
Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (40:92). Philadelphia: Fortress Press)
Addendum
This section from Luther contains a very popular obscure quote:  "We don’t want to see or hear Moses." Roman Catholics cited it frequently over the years (see for instance, Patrick O’Hare, The Facts About Luther [Illinois: Tan Books, 1987], 202).Karlstadt joined with radical factions of the Anabaptists. When Luther did not support Karlstadt’s violent expunging of all images, Karlstadt accused Luther of disobeying God’s law given through Moses: “You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness …” Luther responded by pointing out that Karlstadt misunderstood his position, as well as misinterpreted Moses. Luther, well heated up says:
“Now then, let us get to the bottom of it all and say that these teachers of sin and Mosaic prophets are not to confuse us with Moses. We don’t want to see or hear Moses. How do you like that, my dear rebels? We say further, that all such Mosaic teachers deny the gospel, banish Christ, and annul the whole New Testament. I now speak as a Christian for Christians. For Moses is given to the Jewish people alone, and does not concern us Gentiles and Christians. We have our gospel and New Testament. If they can prove from them that images must be put away, we will gladly follow them. If they, however, through Moses would make us Jews, we will not endure it” LW 40:91].
The “teachers of sin and Mosaic prophets” are Karlstadt and the Anabaptists. Luther viewed these people as denying the gospel and imposing law on people. The editors of Luther’s Works have included an excellent overview of Luther’s opinion on Moses: “Anyone who, like the enthusiasts, erects Mosaic law as a biblical-divine requirement does injury to the preaching of Christ. Just as the Judaizers of old, who would have required circumcision as an initial requirement, so also the enthusiasts and radicals of this later era do not see that Christ is the end of the Mosaic law. For all the stipulations of that law, insofar as they go beyond the natural law, have been abolished by Christ. The Ten Commandments are binding upon all men only so far as they are implanted in everyone by nature. In this sense Luther declares that “Moses is dead”[ Source: LW 35:158]. for more information see:

Luther And The Law: Did Martin Luther Abhor God's Law? (Part One)- A look at four Luther quotes used by Roman Catholics to prove Luther hatred God's Law. The quotes are given contexts and explanations to prove mis-usage by Roman Catholics.

Luther And The Law: Did Martin Luther Abhor God's Law? (Part Two)- A look at Luther's understanding of the Law and its place in the Christian life.

3 comments:

Martin Yee said...

Hi James,

Thanks for this stupendous refutation. Great work. Looks like Luther is abused by many quarters for their own ends. Recently I saw a science textbook page that accused Luther of obstructing the spread of Copernicus' finding of the universe and thus hindering development of modern science. Any nice rebutal for that in your arsenal?

I have some exposure to SDA teachings as they have a presence here in Malaysia/Singapore. I have read Ellen G. White's classic book "The Great Controversy". It is a pretty compelling piece of writing but of course erroneous in many ways.

Regards,
Martin

James Swan said...

Thanks Martin for all your encouragement.

As to Copernicus, no I have not heard that. That sounds like one for you to look into!

Martin Yee said...

Okay. I will try when I have the time to do some "research". Thanks.

Regards,
Martin