Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Responses to Andy Stanley

Articles by Dr. Michael Kruger and Dr. Al Mohler and Dr. James White spent 7 Dividing Line programs on these issues that are connected to the methods of Andy Stanley's view of Scripture, evangelism, seeker-sensitive emphasis, easy -believe-ism, and his erroneous views of church and church discipline; and apologetic methodology.

https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/responses-to-andy-stanley-and-his-statement-that-the-bible-is-not-the-foundation-of-the-christian-faith-and-other-issues/

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sola Fide Compromised? Martin Luther and the Doctrine of Baptism

Every so often I come across a helpful article that, at the very least, does a good job summarizing Luther's views. In the article below, I appreciated the overview of Luther's views on baptism. One is free to disagree with the conclusions (and Lutherans will), but one should at least appreciate the work in outlining Luther's view:

Sola Fide Compromised? Martin Lutherand the Doctrine of Baptism

Sola Fide Compromised? Martin Luther and the Doctrine of Baptism (pdf)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Did Luther Regret the Reformation?

I've been told the age of the "blog" is over, but I still enjoy this format! I'm not at all fond of Facebook, and even less of Twitter.

While it may seem that I do not post as much as I used to, I'm still actively involved in maintaining this blog. Based on all the primary sources that are now readily available online, I've been revising many of my older entries. I've been fixing dead hyperlinks (as I come across them), adding the primary source information, reformatting text, and doing some slight editing when necessary.  

I've spent the last few weeks revising all the entries in my series, Did Luther Regret the Reformation?  The entries in this series were originally posted in 2010. The revised entries have scrupulous documentation back to the primary sources along with English translations and context. I was amazed, once again, to research quotes that appear to be one quote, but then when they are placed back in context, the one quote was actually pieced together like Frankenstein's monster from seven paragraphs!

I primarily track obscure Reformation quotes down for myself. It's like looking for treasure, never knowing what one will find once a context is located and the quote is placed back in it. If anyone benefits from the material I post, well that's icing on the cake.

Regards,  James

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Luther: Those who ought to be good Christians because they have heard the gospel, are harder and more merciless than before

Here's another obscure Luther quote typically used by Rome's defenders:
Those who ought to be good Christians because they have heard the gospel, are harder and more merciless than before . . . Tell me, where is there a town . . . pious enough to . . . maintain one schoolmaster or pastor? . . . Thanks also to the dear Evangel, the people have become . . . abominally wicked . . . diabolically cruel . . . growing fat . . . through plunder and robbery of Church goods . . . Ought we not to be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves? (Janssen, ibid., XV, 466-467) 
From various web-pages, I've come across Rome's defenders using this quote three different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, that during the Reformation "Catholics were no more ignorant or impious or wicked than, for example, Lutherans, according to the descriptions of Luther himself."

Documentation
The quote is said to come from Johannes Janssen's History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages Volume 15. On pages 466-467, Janssen states:
'Those who ought to be good Christians because they have heard the gospel, are harder and more merciless than before; as is too plainly patent to all beholders. Of old, when under the guidance of the papacy and of a false worship,people were obliged to do good works, everybody was ready and willing. Now, on the contrary, the world has learnt nothing else than to flay, fleece, and openly rob and plunder by lying and cheating, by usury, forestalling and overcharging. And everyone acts against his neighbour, as though he did not regard him as a friend, still less as a brother in Christ, but as a murderous enemy, and only wanted to get everything for himself alone. This goes on daily and gains head without intermission, and is the most common practice and custom in all classes, among princes, nobles, burghers, peasants, in all courts, towns and villages, yea verily in all houses. Tell me, where is there a town however large that is pious enough to collect together as much as would maintain one schoolmaster or pastor? Yes indeed, if it had not been for the charitable alms and endowments of our forefathers, the burghers in our cities, the nobles and peasants in the country, would long ago have been deprived of the Evangel, and not a single poor preacher would have been fed and clothed. For we will not do it ourselves, but we take and seize by force what others have given and founded." 'Thanks also to the dear Evangel, the people have become so abominably wicked, so inhuman, so diabolically cruel and merciless, that they are not content with profiting by the Evangel themselves, growing fat thereon through plunder and robbery of Church goods, but as far as others are concerned they starve the gospel completely out. You may count upon your fingers, here and elsewhere, all that they give and do for it, they who profit by it themselves, for ourselves, who are living now, there has long been no preacher, no scholar able to teach our children and descendants what we have taught or believed.' ' Ought we not to be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves when we think of our parents and forefathers, kings and nobles, princes and others, who gave so liberally and so benevolently, even to superfluity, to churches, parsonages, schools, foundations, hospitals, &c., and by all which they and their descendants were not impoverished?' (Collected Works, xiv 389-391).
I used black lettering to highlight how Rome's defender edited down this paragraph from Janssen. Why would a person take a few words, half a sentence, skip a few words, take a few more, skip a few sentences, and then construct a quote? It's a questionable method to say the least. We'll see below that while this quote comes from one extended paragraph from Johannes Janssen, it ultimately comes from multiple paragraphs from Luther (at least seven paragraphs!), spanning multiple pages. The method of citation often employed by Rome's defenders does point to one blaring conclusion: the quote was never read in its original context in Luther's writings. Had it been, one would realize Janssen didn't cite one paragraph from Luther, but rather sentences from multiple pages.

Janssen says the quote comes from "Collected works xiv, 389-391."This would be the fourteenth volume of the Erlangen edition of Luther's Works, which contains Luther's Church Postil. Here are pages 389, 390, 391. These pages are from a sermon, "Predigt am sechs und zwanzigsten Sonntage nach Trinitatis. Evang. Matth. 25, 31-42" ("Twenty Sixth Sunday After Trinity Sermon, Matthew 25:31-46"). These Postil sermons have a tedious and complicated legacy (see the introduction to LW 75). This sermon has been translated into English. It is found in The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther 3:1 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000) pp. 379-395. It can also be found in  The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. xiv. 379- 395. There are also various websites offering this sermon (link).

Context
The sermon is about Christ's reward to the sheep and condemnation of the goats. Luther notes that until the day of judgment "The good and the bad must remain together in this world... as Christ himself had to tolerate Judas among his Apostles... Christians are even now grieved that they must remain here in the midst of a crooked, perverse, ungodly people, which is the kingdom of Satan..." (The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. xiv, p.382).

In an extended passage beginning on page 384, Luther describes the goats: those "Christians" that are mingled in with the sheep:
11. It seems as though he meant hereby to show that many Christians, after receiving the preaching of the Gospel, of the forgiveness of sins and grace through Christ, become even worse than the heathen. For he also says in Mat. 19, 30, "Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." Thus it will also be at the end of the world; those who should be honest Christians, because they heard the Gospel, are much worse and more unmerciful than they were before, as we see too many examples of this even now.
Aforetime when we were to do good works under the seduction and false worship of the Papacy, every one was ready and willing; a prince, for example, or a city, could give more alms and a greater endowment than now all the kings and emperors are able to give. But now all the world seems to be learning nothing else than how to estimate values, to rake and scrape, to rob and steal by lying, deceiving, usury, overcharging, overrating, and the like; and every man treats his neighbor, not as though he were his friend, much less as his brother in Christ, but as his mortal enemy, and as though he intended to snatch all things to himself and begrudge everything to others.
12. This goes on daily, is constantly increasing, is a very common practice and custom, among all classes of people, among princes, the nobility, burghers, peasants, in all courts, cities, villages, yes in almost every home. Tell me, what city is now so strong and pious as to be able to raise an amount sufficient to support a schoolmaster or a preacher? Yes, if we did not already have the liberal alms and endowments of our forefathers, the Gospel would long ago have disappeared in the cities on account of the burghers, and in the country because of the nobility and peasants, and poor preachers would have nothing to eat nor to drink. For we do not love to give, but would rather take even by force what others have given and endowed. Therefore it is no credit to us that a single pulpit or school is still maintained. Yea, how many there are among the great, the powerful, and the rich, especially in the Papacy, who would like to see nothing better than all preachers, schools, and arts exterminated.
13. Such are the thanks to the blessed Gospel, by which men have been freed from the bondage and plagues of the Pope, that they must become so shamefully wicked in these last times. They are now no more unmerciful, no more in a human, but in a satanic way; they are not satisfied with being allowed to enjoy the Gospel, and grow fat by robbing and stealing the revenues of the church, but they must also be scheming with all their power how they may completely starve out the Gospel. One can easily count upon his fingers, what they who enjoy the Gospel are doing and giving here and elsewhere; and were it only for us now living, there would long since have been, no preacher or student from whom our children and descendants might know what we had taught and believed.
14. In short, what do you think Christ will say on that day, seated on his judgment throne, to such unmerciful Christianity? "Dear sir, listen, you have also pretended to be a Christian and boasted of the Gospel; did you not also hear this sermon, that I myself preached, in which I told you what my verdict and decision would be: `Depart from me, ye cursed?' I was hungry and thirsty, naked and sick, poor and in prison, and ye gave me no meat, no drink, clothed me not, took me not in, and visited me not. Why have ye neglected this, and have been more shameless and unmerciful toward your own brethren than the Turk or heathen?"
Will you excuse yourself by pleading: "Lord, when saw we thee hungry or thirsty?" etc. Then he will answer you again through your own conscience: Dear sir, were there no people who preached to you; or perhaps poor students who should have at the time been studying and learning God's Word, or were there no poor, persecuted Christians whom you ought to have fed, clothed and visited?
15, We ought really to be ashamed of ourselves, having had the example of parents, ancestors, lords and kings, princes and others, who gave so liberally and charitably, even in profusion, to churches, ministers, schools, endowments, hospitals and the like; and by such liberal giving neither they nor their descendants were made poorer. What would they have done, had they had the light of the Gospel, that is given unto us? How did the Apostles and their followers in the beginning bring all they had -for their poor widows, or for those who had nothing, or who were banished and persecuted, in order that no one among them might suffer for the necessities of life! In this way poor Christians should at all times support one another. Otherwise, as I have said, the Gospel, the pulpit, churches and schools would already be completely exterminated, no matter how much the rest of the world did.
Were it not for the grace of God, by which he gives us here and there a pious prince, or godly government, which preserves the fragments still left, that all may not be destroyed by the graspers and vultures, thieves and robbers; were it not for this grace, I say, the poor pastors and preachers would not only be starved, but also murdered. Nor are there now any other poor people than those who serve, or are being trained to serve the church; and these can obtain no support elsewhere, and must leave their poor wives and children die of hunger because of an indifferent world; on the other hand the world is full of useless, unfaithful, wicked fellows among day-laborers, lazy mechanics, servants, maids, and idle, greedy beggars, who everywhere by lying, deceiving, robbing and stealing, take away the hard-earned bread and butter from those who are really poor, and yet go unpunished in the midst of their wantonness and insolence.
16. This I say, that we may see how Christ will upbraid the false liars and hypocrites among Christians, on the day of judgment, and having convicted them before all creatures will condemn them, because they have done none of the works which even the heathen do to their fellows; who did much more in their false and erroneous religion, and would have done it even more willingly had they known better.
17. Since now this terrible condemnation is justly pronounced over those who neglected these works, what will happen to those who have not only neglected the same, have given nothing to the poor Christians, nor served them; but robbed them of what they had, drove them to hunger, thirst and nakedness, furthermore persecuted, scattered, imprisoned, and murdered them? These are so unutterably wicked, so utterly condemned to the bottomless pit with the devil and his angels, that Christ will not think or speak of them. But he will assuredly not forget these robbers, tyrants, and bloodhounds any more than he will forget or pass over unrewarded those who have suffered hunger thirst, nakedness, persecution and the like, especially for his and his Word's sake. He will not forget those to whom mercy has been shown, even though he speaks only to those who have shown mercy and have lent their aid; for he highly and nobly commends them, when he says. "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me" (p.387).

Conclusion
Rome's defenders, be it Janssen or modern cyber-apologists, put together a quote from seven paragraphs. This isn't scholarship or apologetics, it's the way of propaganda. The context isn't about Luther's agony over the state of early Protestantism, nor is it about Protestants being as wicked or impious as Roman Catholics. The context is about false Christians, the goats, mingled in with true Christians, the sheep. Notice Luther says of the false Christians "This I say, that we may see how Christ will upbraid the false liars and hypocrites among Christians, on the day of judgment."


Addendum (2016)
This blog entry is a revision of an entry I posted back in 2010. The original can be found here. Because so many sources are now available online, I'm revising older entries by adding additional materials and commentary, and also fixing or deleting dead hyperlinks. Nothing of any significant substance has changed in this entry from that presented in the former.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Luther: We Do Not Act Upon the Evangel

Here's another obscure Luther quote used by a defender of Rome:
Now that . . . we are free . . . we show our thankfulness in a way calculated to bring down God's wrath . . . We have got the Evangel . . . but . . . we do not trouble ourselves to act up to it. (Janssen, ibid., XVI, 16-17) 
From various web-pages, I've come across defenders of Rome using this quote three different ways. First, it was used as an example of "The Agony of Luther" over "the State of Early Protestantism." Second, that during the Reformation "Catholics were no more ignorant or impious or wicked than, for example, Lutherans, according to the descriptions of Luther himself." Third, it was used as proof Luther was disgusted by the state of Protestant morality and decline of Protestant morals.

Documentation
The quote is said to come from Johannes Janssen's History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages Volume 16. On pages 16-17 Janssen states:
How full the world is of people who are ungrateful for the evangel, we see plainly before our eyes, not only in those who intentionally persecute the known truth of the Gospel, but also among us who accept it and make our boast of it; the great masses are also so abominably unthankful that it would be no wonder if God were to come down upon us with thunder and lightning, yea,verily, with all the Turks and devils from hell. So quickly have we forgotten how we were plagued under the papacy and, as it were, overwhelmed with a sin-flood, with so many strange doctrines which put our consciences to torture. But now that through God's grace we are free from all that, we show our thankfulness in a way calculated to bring down God's wrath upon us still more heavily. For let each one consider what unpardonable wickedness it is, when we have received from God such great, sure, immeasurable bounty as forgiveness of all our sins, and being made partakers of the Kingdom of Heaven, that we will not even make Him such slight return as to think about it, and on this account to forgive our neighbor a trifling word from our hearts, not to speak of the duty laid upon us to help and serve our neighbor. We have got the Evangel, God be praised! that nobody can deny; but what do we do for it ? We are content to talk about it, nothing more comes of it; we do not trouble ourselves to act up to it. But we do trouble ourselves a great deal if we should chance to lose one or two guldens; we are very anxious and fearful lest our money should be stolen from us, but we can do without the Gospel for a whole year. God will not leave unavenged this shameful contempt of His Word, and He will not be long in avenging Himself (Dollinger, Reformation i, 297-298).
I used black lettering to highlight how Rome's defender edited down this paragraph from Janssen. Why would a person take two words, skip a few, take a few more, skip a few sentences, and then construct a quote? It's a questionable method to say the least. This method does point to one blaring conclusion: the quote was never read in its original context in Luther's writings. Had it been, one would realize Janssen didn't cite one quote from Luther, he cited two that were put together to appear to be one.  Notice Janssen didn't cite a primary source, but cited another Roman Catholic author, Ignaz von Dollinger's Die Reformation vol 1, 297-298. Upon checking this source, it became apparent Dollinger used multiple sources to construct this lengthy quote. Janssen wasn't careful to point this out, leading me to suspect Janssen didn't check the sources either. Janssen's quote should actually be broken up into two quotes like this:

Quote #1
How full the world is of people who are ungrateful for the evangel, we see plainly before our eyes, not only in those who intentionally persecute the known truth of the Gospel, but also among us who accept it and make our boast of it; the great masses are also so abominably unthankful that it would be no wonder if God were to come down upon us with thunder and lightning, yea,verily, with all the Turks and devils from hell. So quickly have we forgotten how we were plagued under the papacy and, as it were, overwhelmed with a sin-flood, with so many strange doctrines which put our consciences to torture. But now that through God's grace we are free from all that, we show our thankfulness in a way calculated to bring down God's wrath upon us still more heavily. For let each one consider what unpardonable wickedness it is, when we have received from God such great, sure, immeasurable bounty as forgiveness of all our sins, and being made partakers of the Kingdom of Heaven, that we will not even make Him such slight return as to think about it, and on this account to forgive our neighbor a trifling word from our hearts, not to speak of the duty laid upon us to help and serve our neighbor.
Quote #2
We have got the Evangel, God be praised! that nobody can deny; but what do we do for it ? We are content to talk about it, nothing more comes of it; we do not trouble ourselves to act up to it. But we do trouble ourselves a great deal if we should chance to lose one or two guldens; we are very anxious and fearful lest our money should be stolen from us, but we can do without the Gospel for a whole year. God will not leave unavenged this shameful contempt of His Word, and He will not be long in avenging Himself.
While both quotes are from the Kirchen-Postille (Luther's Church Postil), Janssen's one quote is actually from two different sermons, sometimes from two different volumes. For instance, in the Walch edition, the quotes can be found in Volumes XII (p. 1234) and XI (p.2171). In Weimarer, WA: 22:54-355 and WA 10 I 2:373-374.

Both of these sermons have been translated into English. The first is entitled the Twenty-Second Sunday After Trinity (Philippians 1:3-11). It is found in Dr. Martin Luther's Church Postil: Sermons on The Epistles (quote #1 is found on page 171). It can also be found in The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Vol.4.2 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000) pp. 330-342 (quote #1 is found on pages 333-334). The second is the Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity (Matthew 6:24-34). It can be found in The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. XIV (pp. 102-117). It can also be found in The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Vol. 3.1 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), pp. 102-117).

Context: Quote One
Luther begins by describing the Christian heart of Paul and of those who similarly have a heart "filled with the real fruits of the Spirit and faith" (Complete Sermons of Martin Luther 3,1, p.331). He notes "Such hearts are rare in the world." He then points out that Paul is an excellent example of one who had gratitude toward God for His grace and goodness. In fact, Christians have a duty of gratitude. It is a Christian's duty to manifest thankfulness toward God, and also towards men. Unfortunately, ingratitude is common to sinful human nature, and even heathens recognize the sin of ingratitude among each other. Luther states:
Thus we have the teaching of nature and of reason regarding the sin of men's ingratitude toward one another. How much greater the evil, how much more shameful and accursed, when manifested toward God who, in his infinite and ineffable goodness, conferred upon us while yet enemies to him and deserving of the fires of hell—conferred upon us, I say, not ten dollars, not a hundred thousand dollars even, but redemption from divine wrath and eternal death, and abundantly comforted us, granting us safety, a good conscience, peace and salvation! These are inexpressible blessings, incomprehensible in this life. And they will continue to occupy our minds in yonder eternal life. How much more awful the sin of ingratitude for these blessings, as exemplified in the servant mentioned in the Gospel passage for today, to whom was forgiven the debt of ten thousand talents and who yet would not forgive the debt of his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence! (p.333)
Then follows the first obscure Luther quote:
Is it not incredible that there are to be found on earth individuals wicked enough to manifest for the highest and eternal blessings such unspeakable ingratitude? But alas, we have the evidence of our own eyes. We know them in their very dwelling-places. We see how the world abounds with them. Not only are the ingrates to be found among deliberate rejecters of the acknowledged truth of the Gospel, concerning God's grace, an assured conscience and the promise of eternal life, terrible as such malice of the devil is, but they are present also in our midst, accepting the Gospel and boasting of it. Such shameful ingratitude prevails among the masses it would not be strange were God to send upon them the thunders and lightnings of his wrath, yes, all the Turks and the devils of hell. There is a generally prevalent ingratitude like that of the wicked servant who readily forgot the straits he experienced when, being called to account for what he could not pay, the wrathful sentence was pronounced against him that he and all he possessed must be sold, and he be indefinitely imprisoned. Nor have we less readily forgotten how we were tortured under the Papacy; how we were overwhelmed, drowned as in a flood, with numberless strange doctrines, when our anxious consciences longed for salvation. Now that we are, through the grace of God, liberated from these distresses, our gratitude is of a character to increasingly heap to ourselves the wrath of God. So have others before us done, and consequently have endured terrible chastisement. Only calculate the enormity of our wickedness when, God having infinitely blessed us in forgiving all our sins and making us lords over heaven and earth, we so little respect him as to be unmindful of his blessings; to be unwilling for the sake of them sincerely to forgive our neighbor a single slighting word, not to mention rendering him service. We conduct ourselves as if God might be expected to connive at our ingratitude and permit us to continue in it, at the same time conferring upon us as godly and obedient children, success and happiness. More than this, we think we have the privilege and power to live and do as we please. Indeed, the more learning and power we have and the more exalted our rank, the greater knaves we are; perpetrating every wicked deed, stirring up strife, discord, war and murder for the sake of executing our own arbitrary designs, where the question is the surrender of a penny in recognition of the hundreds of thousands of dollars daily received from God notwithstanding our ingratitude. (p 333-334).
In context, the quote in question is a simple exhortation of a pastor for his flock to live with gratitude for God. For Rome's defenders, the quote without a context becomes Luther's agony over "the state of early Protestantism," or that Protestants were as "impious or wicked" as Roman Catholics, or an example of Luther's disgust over "the state of Protestant morality and decline of Protestant morals." Why can't it simply be a sermon of exhortation for people to be grateful to God? Remember, Luther began the sermon by stating that those who live each day with a godly gratitude are rare in the world. In the same sermon Luther goes on to exhorts his hearers:
The world remains the devil's own. We must remember we shall not by any means find with the world that Christian heart pictured by the apostle; on the contrary we shall find what might be represented by a picture of the very opposite type —the most shameless ingratitude. But let the still existing God-fearing Christians be careful to imitate in their gratitude the spirit of the apostle's beautiful picture. Let them give evidence of their willingness to hear the Word of God, of pleasure and delight in it and grief where it is rejected. Let them show by their lives a consciousness of the great blessing conferred by those from whom they received the Gospel. As recipients of such goodness, let their hearts and lips ever be ready with the happy declaration: "God be praised !" For thereunto are we called. As before said, praise should be the constant service and daily sacrifice of Christians; and according to Paul's teaching here, the Christian's works, his fruits of righteousness, should shine before men. Such manifestation of gratitude assuredly must result when we comprehend what God has given us. (p.338)

Context: Quote Two
Luther begins by explaining one needs to do more than hear the Gospel, one needs to do what it teaches: "they who do as the gospel teaches, are true Christians. However, very few of these are found; we see many hearers, but all are not doers of the Gospel" (p.104). To be a doer though isn't the result of compulsion, but is the result of a heart that loves God. Luther then explains that while many say they love God, do they really? Isn't it the case that many who say they love God actually love the things of this world more? Then follows the second obscure Luther quote:
But who are they that love God, and cleave not to gold and worldly possessions? Take a good look at the whole world, also the Christians, and see if they despise gold and riches. It requires an effort to hear the Gospel and to live according to it. God be praised, we have the Gospel; that no one can deny, but what do we do with it? We are concerned only about learning and knowing it, and nothing more; we think it is enough to know it, and do not care whether we ever live according to it. However, on the other hand, one is very anxious when he leaves lying in window or in the room a dollar or two, yea, even a dime, then he worries and fears lest the money be stolen ; but same person can do without the Gospel through a whole year. And such characters still wish to be considered Evangelical. Here we see what and who we are. If we were Christians, we would despise riches and be concerned about Gospel that we some day might live in it and prove it by our deeds. We see few such Christians; therefore we must hear the judgment that we are despisers of God and hate God: the sake of riches and worldly possessions. Alas! That fine praise! We should be ashamed of ourselves in our inmost souls; there is no hope for us! What a fine condition we are in now! That means, I think, our names are blotted out. What spoiled children we are! (p.105-106).
Again, one finds the heartfelt exhortations of a pastor, expounding a text of Scripture. Luther continues:
Now the world cannot conceal its unbelief in its course outward sins, for I see it loves a dollar more than Christ; more than all the Apostles, even if they themselves were present and preached to it. I can hear the Gospel daily, but it does not profit me every day; it may indeed happen if I have heard it a whole year, the Holy Spirit may have been given to me only one hour. Now when I enjoyed this hour I obtained not only five hundred dollars, but also I riches of the whole world; for what have I not, when I have the Gospel? I received God, who made the silver and I gold, and all that is upon the earth; for I acquired the Spirit by which I know that I will be kept by him forever; that much more than if I had the church full of money. Examine now and see, if our heart is not a rogue, full of wickedness and unbelief. If I were a true Christian, I would say: I hour the Gospel is received, there comes to me a hundred thousand dollars, and much more. For if I possess this treasure, I have all that is in heaven and upon earth. But one must serve this treasure only, for no man can serve God and mammon. Either you must love God and hate money; or you must hate God and love money; this and nothing more. (pp. 106-107)
In context, one can see how non-outrageous this sermon was. Luther spoke on a theme that has echoed through church history: the love of God versus the love of the world.

Conclusion
I've stated often that if one wants to read Luther, they should read his sermons. These two sermons are worthy reads. The Roman Catholic polemicists though will use anything to discredit the Reformation, even those points (found in these sermons) that they would most likely agree with: one should have profound gratitude towards God, and one should love God, not the world. In the hands of Rome's defenders, these points become: Luther agonizing over Protestantism, that Protestants were awful sinners, and that Luther was disgusted by his followers. As the context shows, these were simply typical Luther sermons, and I would add, typical sermons of any God-fearing preacher. Luther had a pastor's heart, and continually exhorted his flock to live the Christian life. The ironic thing of course, is that many Roman Catholics accuse Luther of teaching the wanton lawlessness of sola fide. Yet, when he exhorts his hearers to adhere to Christian morals, even this is used against him.

Addendum (2016)
This blog entry is a revision of an entry I posted back in 2010. The original can be found here. Because so many sources are now available online, I'm revising older entries by adding additional materials and commentary, and also fixing or deleting dead hyperlinks. Nothing of any significant substance has changed in this entry from that presented in the former.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Yet Another Defender of Rome Makes Up a Luther Quote

Some years back I reviewed a lecture entitled Luther: The Rest of the Story by Ken Hensley (2003) (p.1, p.2, p.3). This Roman Catholic apologist styles himself an able Reformation historian (at least Tim Staples and Scott Hahn think so according to Hensley's blog sidebar blurbs). I had forgotten about Mr. Hensley until I came across his blog entry, Why I’m Catholic: Sola Scriptura Isn’t Workable, Part I. In this entry, he states:
As soon as Luther and Calvin and the others began preaching sola scriptura and the right of private interpretation, immediately there was an explosion of interpretations of Scripture and with this an explosion of divisions within Protestantism. The immediate result was doctrinal chaos.
Listen to what one prominent Protestant theologian and professor was saying a mere two years — two years! — into the Reformation being launched:
"Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Gospel better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers…. There is no smearer but when he has heard a sermon or can read a chapter in German, makes a doctor of himself and…convinces himself that he knows everything better than all who teach him."
The "prominent Protestant theologian" was Martin Luther, of course. The comment is said to have been made "a mere two years into the Reformation being launched," placing this comment in 1519. We'll see that not only was this not something Luther said or wrote in 1519, some of the quote wasn't written by Luther, and it isn't one quote, it's two quotes from two different years. The quote being put forth by Mr. Hensley therefore qualifies as... propaganda.

Documentation
No documentation is provided, nor could I locate exactly which secondary source Mr. Hensley used. Almost the same exact form of the quote can be found here in a 2013 blog entry from another defender of Rome:
Claims about the perspicuity of Scripture and the claim that the Holy Spirit has promised to guide each person's private readings of the Bible do not stand up - not even in the day-to-day practice of those who make them. Later in life, Luther lamented those who believed themselves to "understand the [Gospel] better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers ... there is no smearer but whenever he has heard a sermon or can read a chapter in German, makes a doctor of himself ... and convinces himself that he knows everything better than all who teach him."[3] Vost, Kevin, Memorize the Reasons: Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory (San Deigo: Catholic Answers, 2013), p. 195.
This blogger locates the quote later in Luther's life rather than 1519. The similarities of the English translation of Luther are so similar, they have to be coming from the same secondary source.  I could not bring myself to purchase the Catholic Answers book referenced to check the footnote provided. If this was the actual source Mr. Hensley used, I'm not spending the $$ to find out.

  In 2005, a  participant of the Catholic Answers forums posted a similar version of the quote:
"Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Evangelium better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers"... "There is no smearer but whenever he has heard a sermon or can read a chapter in German, makes a doctor of himself, and crowns his as*s, convincing himself that he knows everything better than all who teach him"…
No documentation is given, but the quote is broken up into two citations. In 2006, this blogger likewise breaks the quote up into two citations and provides primary source documentation:
"Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Evangelium better than I or St. Paul" said Luther "they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers." 17
"There is no smearer but whenever he has heard a sermon or can read a chapter in German, makes a doctor of himself, and crowns his ass, convincing himself that he knows everything better than all who teach him." 18
17 M. Luther, Walch XIV, 1360
18 Walch V.1652
Ultimately, these two quotes probably arrived in cyber-space via Roman Catholic sources from the 1800's or early 1900's. For instance, both can be found in Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther. O'Hare cites the first quote on page 214 and the second quote on page 213.  In Luther, An Historical Portait, J. Verras cites the first quote on page 302 and the second quote on page 121.  My best guess is that Verras is responsible for the English translation, Father O'Hare took it from Verras, and someone in the age of the Internet utilized O'Hare and put the quote together. Why and how Mr. Hensley arrived at  "a mere two years — two years! — into the Reformation being launched" for the date of both of these quotes is a mystery. There's nothing in either O'Hare of Verras I noticed that could be misconstrued to place the quotes in the year 1519.

"Walch XIV, 1360" and "Walch V, 1652" are accurate primary references (both O'Hare and Verras provide them as well). Walch XIV and Walch V refer to the fourteenth and fifth volumes in a set of Luther's works published between 1740-1753 by Johann Georg Walch. Here is Walch XIV, 1360Here is Walch V, 1652.


Quote #1
As indicated above, Mr. Hensley is citing two different quotes as one. The first quote is "Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Gospel better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers…." I've written about this quote before. Even though Walch XIV, 1360 refers to a treatise entitled "D. Martin Luthers Prophezeiung nach dem Abscheiden des Churfürsten Johannes," the quote appears to find its genesis in an August 1532 Table Talk utterance.  The utterance states,


The text can also be found here from a version of the Table Talk from the early 1700's (right column, first paragraph). A lengthier utterance can also be found in WA TR 2: 259 (1906b). Keep in mind, Luther did not write the Table Talk. The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death. An English rendering of the Table Talk states,
Kings, princes, lords, any one will needs understand the gospel far better than I, Martin Luther, ay, or even than St Paul; for they deem themselves wise and full of policy. But herein they scorn and condemn, not us, poor preachers and ministers, but the Lord and Governor of all preachers and ministers, who has sent us to preach and teach, and who will scorn and condemn them in such sort, that they shall smart again; even He that says: "Whoso heareth you, heareth me; and whoso toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye." The great ones would govern, but they know not how. (link)

Quote #2
Quote #2 states, "There is no smearer but when he has heard a sermon or can read a chapter in German, makes a doctor of himself and…convinces himself that he knows everything better than all who teach him." This quote is from Luther's Commentary on Psalm 117 (1530). Unlike Quote #1, this was written by Luther. An English translation can be found in LW 14. Quote #2 appears on page 7.
THIS is a short, easy psalm, doubtless made this way so that everyone might pay more attention to it and remember better what is said. No one can complain about the length or content, much less about the sharpness, difficulty, or profundity of the words. Here we find only short, precise, clear, and ordinary words, which everyone can understand if he will only pay attention and think about them. All God’s words demand this. We must not skim over them and imagine we have thoroughly understood them, like the frivolous, smug, and bored souls who, when they hear some word of God once, consider it old hat and cast about for something new. They think they have thoroughly mastered all they have heard. This is a dangerous disease, a clever and malicious trick of the devil. Thus he makes people bold, smug, forward, and ready for every kind of error and schism. This is really the vice known as ἀκηδία, slothfulness in God’s service, against which St. Paul exhorts us (Rom. 12:11) to be fervent in spirit. And in Rev. 3:15–16 the Spirit says of such people: “Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.” It is true that such half-educated people are the most useless people on earth, and it would be better for them if they knew nothing; for they obey no one, can do everything better than anyone else, and can expertly judge all art and literature. In short, they can teach no one anything worthwhile, and they let no one teach them. They have devoured the whole schoolbag, which no one can master; and yet they do not have even one book that they could properly teach to others! The devil has many such vicious cases, particularly among the rabble. The meanest bungler who hears a sermon or reads a chapter in German immediately makes himself a doctor of theology, crowning his own asininity and convincing himself most marvelously that he can now do everything better than all his teachers. This is Master Smart Aleck, who can bridle a steed in its hind end. All this, as I see it, is the result of reading and listening to God’s Word carelessly instead of concentrating on it with fear, humility, and diligence.
I have often felt this particular devil and temptation myself, and even today I cannot guard and cross myself against it too carefully. I confess this freely as an example to anyone; for here am I, an old doctor of theology and a preacher, and certainly as competent in Scripture as such smart alecks. At least I ought to be. Yet even I must become a child; and early each day I recite aloud to myself the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and whatever lovely psalms and verses I may choose, just as we teach and train children to do. Besides, I must deal with Scripture and fight with the devil every day. I dare not say in my heart: “The Lord’s Prayer is worn out; you know the Ten Commandments; you can recite the Creed.” I study them daily and remain a pupil of the Catechism. I feel, too, that this helps me a lot, and I am convinced by experience that God’s Word can never be entirely mastered, but that Ps. 147 speaks truly: “His understanding is beyond measure” (v. 5), or Ecclesiasticus: “Who drinks of me shall thirst even more after me” (24:29). Now if I have such difficulties, what will happen to those smug, self-satisfied charlatans who neither struggle nor labor?
Therefore I certainly believe that there is not one who truly knows everything the Holy Spirit says in this short psalm. If they were forced to teach or instruct someone from it, they would not know at which end to begin. To put these vicious people to shame and to honor God’s Word, I have taken it upon myself to interpret this psalm, so that one may see how clear God’s Word is, how simple, and yet how altogether inexhaustible. And even though everything were reasonable, which is not the case, still it is inexhaustible in power and virtue. It renews and refreshes the heart, restoring, relieving, comforting, and strengthening us constantly. I see and learn daily how the dear prophets studied their Ten Commandments, and where lies the source of their sermons and prophecies. Let us, then, divide this psalm into four parts—prophecy, revelation, instruction, and exhortation (LW 14:7-8).

Conclusion
Mr. Hensley's first error is making these two quotes into one quote. His second error is providing no documentation. His third error is dating both of these quotes to the year 1519. Rather, the first quote is thought to be a recollection from 1532. The second quote is from 1530. The fourth error is using a Table Talk utterance as a reliable interpreter of Luther's history. Luther did not write part of the quote Mr. Hensley attributes to him. It is something Luther is purported to have stated.   

A fifth error is matter of presuppositions, and I don't expect either Mr. Hensley or my Roman Catholic readers to agree with me. Luther expected the proclamation of the Gospel to have a devastating effect on society. He was not a postmillenialist. He expected the devil to fight back with all his might. When he complains about people abusing Scripture, the ultimate culprit in Luther's mind was Satan. Luther was not looking over his world and regretting the Reformation. Luther expected the Gospel to incite the activity of the Devil, particularly among those who did not embrace it. He expected the Gospel to cause division and trouble, and to infuriate the world against the true church.

A sixth error is also a  matter of presuppositions, and again, I don't expect either Mr. Hensley or my Roman Catholic readers to agree with me. I've compiled quite a number of blog entries on the chaos of Rome's interpreters. If they can't agree on interpreting either the Bible or the magisterium, it's a bit disingenuous to point the finger at Luther and subsequent Protestant churches. 


Addendum (1/6/2017)
Mr. Hensley (or an editor) edited the article. Catholic Answers posted it on Jan. 6, 2017. The sentence that originally stated:

Listen to what one prominent Protestant theologian and professor was saying a mere two years — two years! — into the Reformation being launched....

Now this sentence is worded:

But listen to what one prominent Protestant theologian and professor was saying within a couple years of Luther’s launching of the Reformation...

This is still blatantly wrong because some of what Hensley quotes is typically documented in 1532, much longer than Hensley's "within a couple of years of Luther's launching of the Reformation." In this Catholic Answers version, Hensley also adds,

Interesting quotes. Especially when you know these are the words of Martin Luther himself.

As was demonstrated above, some of the "words of Martin Luther himself" Hensley cites were not written by Luther, but are purported to have been stated by Luther (via the Table Talk).


Addendum: Sola Scriptura
Sola scriptura means that the Bible is the ultimate and only infallible sufficient source of authority for a Christian. There are lower authorities, like Church leaders and teachers (these must always though be judged by sacred Scripture).

The counter charge (from Roman Catholics) seems to be that one needs to include an infallible tradition or infallible Church hierarchy as the ultimate and sufficient source as an authority. This must be so because Protestants disagree with one another, so obviously sola scriptura is a failure. Without an infallible interpreter and authority like the Roman Catholic Church, one has doctrinal chaos. Sola scriptura is a blueprint for anarchy.

Roman Catholics and Protestants agree that apostolic teaching previous to New Testament inscripturation was an infallible, sufficient source for doctrine. But yet we find that those who heard apostolic teaching previous to New Testament inscripturation disagreed among themselves on the teaching they heard at times. In other words, there was error present in the early church while the apostles were teaching. Because those who directly heard the apostles teaching got it wrong and disagreed among themselves at times, does this mean that the apostles were insufficient sources as an infallible authority for the early church? Those who heard the very voices of infallibility in the first century made errors, but it does not follow that the apostles were insufficient as authorities.

Similarly, that some people misinterpret or twist the Bible is not the fault of the Bible, hence not a proof against sola scriptura. In the same way, that I may possibly configure my computer incorrectly is not the fault of the owner’s manual that comes with it. The misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient source.

It's worth repeating: the misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient source. This same principle applies to Roman Catholicism. That some Roman Catholics misuse and abuse their ultimate source of authority doesn't necessarily negate their infallible source of authority. What this means as well is the argument that sola scriptura is a blueprint for anarchy fails as well. If the argument you're using works just as well against your own position, it's an invalid argument. Shall we conclude that an infallible interpreter + infallible tradition + infallible scripture = harmony? The facts speak for themselves. The misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity or authority of that sufficient source.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Luther: The possession and reading of the whole Bible ought to be limited to those with a high degree of education?

A blog entry (and its discussion) was recently forwarded over to me: Which Luther? The entry makes some good points about reading Luther in context (particularly his historical context). There's no content I wish to add to this entry, good points were made. What interested me more than the actual entry was the discussion which followed. A participant (who appears to hold a doctorate and who also may be Roman Catholic?) commented on the notion that Luther saw the need to place the Bible into the hands of the ordinary Christian:
You know, or should know, that in the last decade of his life Luther vehemently repudiated this idea, which he had embraced for a time in the early 1520s, even citing with approval the statement of the 15th-Century preacher Geilo of Kaysersberg "“to give a layman the Bible and ask him to read it for himself is like giving a three-year-old child a hatchet to play with.”
Luther was all for general Bible-reading in the late 15teens and early 1520s, and thought that the plowboy reading the Bible at the plow, and the milkmaid at the stool would lead to a revival of “true Christianity.” When, however, he realized that “read for yourself” Bible study drew far more ordinary folk into sectarian movememts of all sorts — Anabaptists, milennarians, spiritualists and rationalists — than to orthodox Lutheranism, and also — and just as bad — gave rise to the view that academic Bible scholars (such as himself) had no privileged insight into its its meaning by virtue of their linguistic, literary and dialectical training, he changed his tune; and came to believe that the possession and reading of the whole Bible ought to be limited to those with a high degree of education, and that for the rest (the great majority) they ought to be supplied with selected Biblical excerpts and pericopes calculated to promote their devotional lives and moral practice, buut avoiding anything likely to lead to theological speculation.
And, of course, the later Luther was right.
I've never heard this one before, that later in his life "Luther vehemently repudiated this idea" of putting the Bible in the hands of the common man. This argument was cogently challenged by the participants (link #1; link #2; link #3). The response was as follows:
I have to admit that I may have been mistaken, as I cannot find the source of the quote. My memory is, that I found it in one of Steven Ozment's books. I did get the name wrong: he was Johann Geiler of Kaysersberg (1445-1510), one of the most renowned preachers of late medieval Germany, who spent much of his career in Strassburgh; cf.:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Geiler_von_Kaisersberg
A google search turned up this:
https://books.google.com/books?id=PtdKAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA107&lpg=PA107&dq=geiler+of+kaysersberg+on+bible+reading&source=bl&ots=HXEcGA9LbQ&sig=352zA3oluycKEhkvPcytrA7GMZI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixkL2D5t3OAhWsAsAKHXNnB7sQ6AEIFDAA#v=onepage&q=geiler%20of%20kaysersberg%20on%20bible%20reading&f=false
See p. 107 for the quotation, which, however, I can barely read on my screen, as the print is tiny, and the text upside-down.
See also p. 96 here:
http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/asw/captive/captive-to-the-word_09.pdf
I would not have been surprised to have actually had some sort of statement from Luther offered about limiting Bible availability, but none was given. Then the next step would have been to evaluate the context to see what was going on. I've come across a number statements from Luther about those who misuse the Gospel, and Luther's response is typically something like, "Yes, that will happen, but the Gospel must go forth regardless." I would assume his feeling about the actual availability of the Bible would be similar: "Yes, the Bible may be misused, but the Word of God must go forth regardless." I don't have any statements from Luther saying this currently at my fingertips, but it would be consistent with how he thought about these important spiritual things.

The notion that Luther quoted and approved of the statement "to give a layman the Bible and ask him to read it for himself is like giving a three-year-old child a hatchet to play with," would be a very interesting find. If I were one of Rome's defenders and I came across a tidbit like this, it would be plastered all over the Internet.

Geiler von Kaiserberg
I found the Geiler von Kaiserberg quote in W. Kooiman, Luther en de Bijbel, 73
Principieel kon de Kerk moeilijk bezwaar hebben tegen overzetting van de Bijbel in de volkstaal. Van oudsher was de Schrift immers vertaald; de Septuagint was een vertaling van het Oude Testament in het Grieks, de Vulgaat een vertaling in het Latijn, maar deze officiële overzettingen, inzonderheid de Vulgaat, werden als authentieke Bijbel beschouwd. Op de tekst van de Vulgaat was de scholastieke theologie gebouwd. Afwijkende vertalingen konden onoverzienbare gevolgen hebben voor de kerkelijke leer. Daarom wenste de Kerk in die dagen zeker de lekenbijbel niet. Het lezen en bestuderen van de heilige Schrift moest voorbehouden blijven aan de geestelijke stand, die immers ook alleen in staat was haar inhoud te verklaren. Zo waarschuwt de beroemde Straatsburger prediker Geiler von Kaisersberg: 'Het is een kwaad ding om de Bijbel in het Duits te drukken. Hij moet immers geheel anders verstaan worden dan de tekst luidt. Het is gevaarlijk om kinderen het mes in de hand te geven om ze hun eigen brood te laten snijden. Ze kunnen er zich mee verwonden. Zo moet ook de H. Schrift, die het brood van God bevat, gelezen en verklaárd worden door mensen met gevorderde kennis en ervaring, die de ware zin er uit kunnen halen' . Vertalingen in de volkstaal ontstonden dan ook veelal in ketterse kringen, die zich in hun verzet tegen de wereldlijke macht van de Kerk en haar leergezag terug-trokken op Gods Woord om van daaruit steeds weer hun aanvallen in te zetten , al was dit in Duitsland minder het geval dan elders. 
Kooiman cites "Bij G. Buchwald, 400 Jahre deutsche Lutherbibel, 1934, S.4" as his source. I have a hard copy of the English translation as well (The Kooiman book has been translated into English). Kooiman does not link the quote in question to any sort of affirmation from Luther. I also have some Ozment books, and only found one which referenced Geiler von Kaiserberg in passing (The Reformation in the Cities). I didn't Google search any of Ozment's books, I simply checked the indexes of the ones I own.

If anyone has any information on any sort of connection between Luther and Geiler von Kaiserberg, I would be very interested.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Luther Opera Omnia

First Volume [Tomus Primus] (1556)
First Volume [Tomus Primus] (1579)
First Volume [Tomus Primus] (1612) Jena


Second Volume [Tomus Secundus] (1546) Wittenberg
Second Volume [Tomus Secundus] (1557)
Second Volume [Tomus Secundus] (1562) Wittenberg
Second Volume [Tomus Secundus] (1600) Jena
Second Volume [Tomus Secundus] (1600) Jena


Third Volume [Tomus Tertius] (1549) (1553) Wittenberg
Third Volume [Tomus Tertius] (1557)
Third Volume [Tomus Tertius] (1603) Jena


Fourth Volume [Tomus Quartus] (1552) Wittenberg
Fourth Volume [Tomus Quartus] (1558)
Fourth Volume [Tomus Quartus] (1611) Jena

Sixth Volume [Tomus Sextus] (1561) Wittenberg
Sixth Volume [Tomus Sextus] (1562) Wittenberg
Sixth Volume [Tomus Sextus] (1580) Wittenberg

Seventh Volume [Tomus Septimus] (1558) Wittenberg