Saturday, October 29, 2016

Luther, the Tower Bathroom, and Faith Alone

In commemoration of Reformation day 2016, here's a wild and weird one from a Roman Catholic on the CARM boards (and also Catholic Answers):
For Luther the bathroom was also a place of worship. His holiest movements came when he was seated on the privy (Abort) of the Wittenberg monastery tower. It was there, while moving his bowels, that he conceived the revolutionary Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. Afterward he wrote: "these words 'just' and 'justice of God' were thunderbolt to my conscience.... I soon had the thought [that] God's justice which justifies us and saves us. And these words became a sweeter message for me. This knowledge the Holy Spirit gave me on the privy in the tower."
The above is a crude description of what Reformation studies refer to as Luther's Turmerlebnis or "Tower Experience." This refers to the place (and setting) where Luther came to his understanding of justification by faith alone. As the popular version goes, Luther was in the tower of the Augustinian monastery when the "gate to paradise" of the gospel came to him. Luther recollected this experience a year before he died:
Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!” Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.
At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ ” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.
And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word “righteousness of God.” Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise. (LW 34:336-337)
Contrary to these tender autobiographical words, how did a coarse tale about Luther's bathroom habits find its way over to Catholic Answers and CARM? Is it just another one of those myths floating around cyberspace?

Origin of The Story 
The words just cited were from Luther's detailed account of his discovery of justification by faith alone (see The Preface to the Complete Edition of Luther's Latin Writings, 1545, LW 34:323). Even with this firsthand information, historians have not been able to conclusively determine the exact date or exact place in which it occurred. There have been a number of theories as to the specific date in which Luther came to his understanding of justification by faith alone. An exact date has importance because there are those who want to read the Ninety-Five Theses with a Luther who already understood "faith alone" as a backdrop for his complaints against indulgences. There are others who posit Luther had his  Turmerlebnis sometime after the Theses were posted. While it might appear to be a silly quibble, it does impact how one interprets Luther's earlier writings. While scrutinizing for the date, any information about the place has been scrutinized in order to concretely fix the date. Did Luther, the agonizing monk in Augustinian monastery have his "tower experience" while still an obedient monk previous to October 31, 1517? Luther doesn't say where he was. Here's second-hand testimony enters the debate.

The crude story finds its genesis from an interpretation of one sentence from the Table Talk. The Table Talk is a collection of second-hand comments and anecdotes written down by Luther's friends and students published after his death. In other words, Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written. In Reformation history studies, particularity those put together by Roman Catholics and secularists, it is not uncommon to find the Table Talk used as a primary source over Luther's actual writings.  The tenuous nature of this method becomes readily apparent when one actually reads the Table Talk. Often the purported utterances hang without a broader context (or in some instances, any context) and lack the background historical setting in which they were stated.

This particular utterance is found in a 1532 utterance (number 1681) from WA TR 2:177 (and not found in English of the Table Talk in LW 54). Other variations of this utterance can be found in WA TR 3, nos. 3232a, b, c. P. 228 (see Addendum #2 below). Luther is purported to have described his feelings in discovering justification by faith alone sometime between July and September of 1532:


The sentence which has caused this controversy is found at the very end of the second paragraph. The entirety of the second paragraph is in Latin except for the last sentence being a mixture of German and Latin:  Dise Kunst hatt mir der Spiritus Sanctus auf diss Cl[oaca]. eingeben.   In a helpful article Kenneth G. Hagen has described what in this text sentence has provoked this controversy. He points out that there are different versions of what Luther is purported to have said (from Cordatus, Lauterbach, and Schlaginhaufen). The first two say the experience happened in a hypocauslum (warm room or secret place). Hagen states, "However, Schlaginhaufen reports that Luther said that it occurred in or on a "Cl." (auf diss Cl.)." Hagen continues:
The abbreviation "Cl," as the place where the Holy Spirit revealed to Luther a new understanding of Rom 1:17, has caused much speculation and some embarrassment. Some later editors of the Table Talk have suggested that "Cl" means cloaca (toilet). Hartmann Grisar argues that cloaca is the only possible reading. Other suggestions have been that "Cl." means cella (chamber), claustrum (a confined place), capiiulum (chapter), c(apite) 1 (chapter one) or darissimum (very clear).  The last three suggestions refer to Scripture. According to Gordon Rupp, "Most scholars now believe it to have been a warmed room in which Luther studied."
Erik Erikson: Young Man Luther
In the twentieth century some approached Luther by applying psychoanalysis to his writings. Psychologist Erik Erikson took this controversial sentence and interpreted it literally to mean Luther was in the bathroom when he had his evangelical breakthrough. From his Freudian perspective Erikson concluded Luther's spiritual issues were tied up with biological functions.  He presented this in his book, Young Man Luther, a Study in Psychoanalysis and History (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1958). Erikson states on pages 204-206:



Responses To Erikson
If the word "cloaca" is the word in question, a basic response to the phrase Erikson interpreted literally is that in actuality it was simply conventional speech. Luther really was saying that his breakthrough came during a time when he was depressed, or in a state of melancholy. A brief overviews by both Dr. Scott Hendrix and James M. Kittelson in Christian History, Issue 34 (Vol. XI, No. 2).  Kittelson states,
Luther writes elsewhere that the breakthrough occurred when he was In cloaca, which literally means “in the toilet.” Some writers have thus suggested that Luther was sitting on the toilet at that moment; the revelation was a release from parentally induced anal retentiveness.
Dispensing with the toilet theory is easy. “in cloaca” was a bit of monastic slang better rendered as “in the dumps” or “in the pits.” Luther meant that the realization occurred when he was despondent or depressed. He wrote that the event transpired “at last (after) meditating day and night and by the mercy of God. ...” Hence, he was likely in his study, which was located not in the tower but in the arch over the main gate into the monastery.
A more detailed review of this counter-argument to Erikson was described succinctly by Reformation historian Lewis Spitz:  
In his table talk between June 9 and July 12, 1532, however, Luther described his struggle to achieve clarity about faith and righteousness and said that "the Holy Spirit had given him this understanding in this tower." In one of the three rescripts the words auft diser cloaca are added. The phrase looms large in the Catholic-Protestant polemic early in this century and has stimulated analysts to a veritable frenzy of speculation about psycho-physiological relationships, oral anal release, and the Grand Canal controversy. In fact, however, the east tower room on the second floor of the Black Cloister contained the small library reading room with a large Bible where the monks went to read and meditate. It was not a facility. Two explanations of the phrase auff diser cloaca seem far more probable than the defecatory hypothesis. As early as 1919 Ernst Kroker, who had edited these passages in the Tischreden, argued in an article in the Lutherjahrbuch that the term cloaca had to be used in a transferred sense in order is to fit the usage of that day. The psychoanalytic explanation is all but untenable in the light of what we now know about the usage of the term by monks, and specifically by Augustinian hermits. In connection with the experience of accedia, the Klosterkrankheit, the phrase in cloaca was used not only with reference to the locus but to describe a state of melancholy in a way similar to our colloquial expression "down in the dumps." Thus Luther, troubled in conscience, fearful and anxious, suddenly understands that St Paul is speaking of the righteousness God bestows on man through forgiveness, and he is lifted out of the depths into the joy of paradise. [Pychohistory and Religion (Philadelphia: fortress Press, 1977), p. 80].
And finally, Reformation historian Steven Ozment has said,
On the meaning of cloaca, however, the historians have done their homework better than the psychologists. In the late Middle Ages, the descriptions of oneself as being in cloaca, in stercore, or in latrina were common religious rhetoric, actually derived from the Bible and connoting a state of utter humility and dependence on God. When Luther described his Reformation insight as occurring "in cloaca," he was saying no more than that he received his understanding of the righteousness of God after a long period of humble meditation in the tower room- actually the library- of the monastery. Once again an understanding of the religious culture of the period proves more illuminating than conjectures based on modern clinical psychology [Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), p. 230].
It's important to reiterate that Erikson formulated these multiple pages of psychological theory based on one sentence from something Luther did not write (a Table Talk utterance) and in that sentence, the key word in question "Cl." is not certain beyond doubt.  Historical scholars are fairly unified that Erikson made poor use of the evidence. He did not discriminate carefully enough among primary sources, secondary sources and hostile sources. Hearsay functioned as "fact." To my knowledge, Erikson refused to answer his many critics in print.


Addendum #1: Was There a Tower Bathroom?
Yes, there was a tower at Luther's Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg. Some scholars have contended there was no bathroom sort of feature in the tower at all. In 2004 though, excavation around the monastery (while building a garden) unearthed a "stone room" (BBC News) (see picture above of the excavation).
The 450-year-old toilet, which was very advanced for its time, is made out of stone blocks and, unusually, has a 30-square-centimetre seat with a hole. Underneath is a cesspit attached to a primitive drain (link).
A more recent article notes that artifacts from the excavation have been "copiously published in a catalog in 2009" (link). This archaeological discovery though does not necessarily validate that Luther's evangelical breakthrough came while sitting on the toilet. This article states,
What both parties seemed to have missed, though, is the profound medieval roots of the expression. Already in 1012, Thietmar of Merseburg can tell us that demons arise from the cloaca to tempt monks, while others debated whether it was allowed to pray in unclean places. Opinions were divided, but there is evidence that Luther as a good Augustinian believed you could pray everywhere – even in hell. In Augustine’s time, Father Licentius had sung a verse from a psalm while labouring to rid himself of the filth of this earth. Monica had censured him, but Augustine defended the act, arguing that prayer was appropriate anywhere. Later, in the middle ages, to fall into the “cloaca” came to mean “to fall into sin”. It is indeed possible the reformator meant it both metaphorically and literally, when he claimed to have been inspired while shi**ing; as he did a lot. Probably, because of excessive fasting in his youth he suffered from obstipation and chronic disorders in his bowls; as did Ignatius of Loyola too.

Addendum #2 Table Talk 3232c

No. 3232c: Description of Luther’s “Tower Experience”
Between June 9 and July 21, 1532

“The words ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness of God’ struck my conscience like lightning. When I heard them I was exceedingly terrified. If God is righteous [I thought], he must punish. But when by God’s grace I pondered, in the tower and heated room of this building,65 over the words, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’ [Rom. 1:17] and ‘the righteousness of God’ [Rom. 3:21], I soon came to the conclusion that if we, as righteous men, ought to live from faith and if the righteousness of God contribute to the salvation of all who believe, then salvation won’t be our merit but God’s mercy. My spirit was thereby cheered. For it’s by the righteousness of God that we’re justified and saved through Christ. These words [which had before terrified me] now became more pleasing to me. The Holy Spirit unveiled the Scriptures for me in this tower.”

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 54, pp. 193–194). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.


Addendum #3 Hartmann Grisar on The Tower Incident
I want to make mention of one of the most detailed and tedious studies on the tower experience and the phrase "in cloaca" available in English. This study (first published in German) actually precedes the interpretation of Erikson by many decades: Hartmann Grisar, Luther vol. 6 p. 504- 510 (cf. vol. 1, p.396-397). Grisar was a Roman Catholic historian who belong to the period of destructive criticism of Luther and the Reformation. While one may disagree with his interpretations of the facts in regard to his overall opinion about Luther, over the years I've found his documentation to be useful.  In his analysis of the Table Talk statements in question, Grisar concludes that the word abbreviated "Cl." can only mean "cloaca." Grisar states that it is probable that a later copyist of the Table Talk notes was embarrassed by the word so made it into an abbreviation:
The mention of the cloaca explains the entry of Johann Schlaginhaufen in his notes of Luther's own words in 1532: "This art the Spiritus sanctum infused into me in this Cl." Cloaca is abbreviated into Cl., probably because Schlaginhaufen's copyist, was reluctant to write it out in full alongside of the account of the inspiration which Luther had received from the Holy Ghost; the editor suggests we should read "Capitel"; but the chapter-house is not to be thought of. Strange indeed are the interpretations which have been given, even in recent times, by the unlearned to many of the expressions in our texts. The " locus secretus " was supposed to be " a special place allotted to the monks in the tower," whereas it is clear that the " secret chamber " was simply the closet or privy, a word which occurs often enough in Luther's later abuse of the Papists. In olden times it was very usual to establish this adjunct on the city wall and its towers, the sewage having egress outside the town boundaries[link]
In response, Lutheran historian J.M. Reu commented,
It is characteristic for Grisar's mind and method when starting from a very doubtful text, that he attempts to prove that Luther found this important and saving explanation in the privy; but even if he were right, what would it matter ? Kawerau and Scheel on this point strike Grisar home in a way deserved by him [link]
The expression "locus secretus," which Cordatus uses, does by no means necessarily mean privy, and when Khumer's text reads "Turm und Kloake," so this reading is entirely uncertain, being very probably only an incorrect solution of the abbreviation "cl." found in Schlaginhaufen's text. The correct solution seems to be claustrum or cella. Lauterbach's text offers : "in hac turri et hypocausto" [link].

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Everyday is Reformation Day here on this blog!

Here is an old blog post that I think is worth re-posting: (On the Bondage of the Will; with Luther's famous quote to Erasmus, and Dr. White's debate on the bondage of the will with Wesleyan theologian, Dr. Blakemore.)

Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Everyday is Reformation Day here on this blog!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Marketing the Celebration of the Reformation


I haven't been posting as much because I've been busy revising many of my blog old entries. In the meantime, here's something from Luther Quest I came across a while back (ht: RS (Carl Vehse). While I understand that people like to have tangible identifiers of their interests and passions, some of this stuff displays more of a theology of glory than a theology of the cross.



Playmobil's Luther 

Reformation 500 Musical Bottle Opener 

Martin Luther "Here I stand" socks 

Reformation Christmas ornaments 

Luther's Rose Frisbee 

Reformation 500 Dog Collar "Give Fido a little something special with our Reformation 500 dog collar." 

Luther's Mallet Lapel Pin (Gold tone) "This mini mallet lapel pin is a reminder of Luther nailing his 95 Theses." 

Martin Luther Drink Coasters (Pack of 4) 

Reformation 500 Golf Tees (20/bag) "Tee up for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation! Each wooden tee proudly proclaims the Reformation 500 theme." 

Reformation 500 Shot Glass "Cheers! Here's to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation!" 

Nailed It. Sticky Notes 

Lutheran Ninja Stress Reliever "In October of 1517 Martin Luther changed the world by living out his faith, studying scripture and honoring the Lord. He tirelessly wrote thought provoking and challenging words and was steadfast in following Jesus. You could you say he was a Lutheran Ninja! As we prepare for Reformation Day 2015 we invite you to become a Lutheran Ninja." 

Martin Luther Reformation Balloons (made of mylar). 

Reformation Day - October 31, 1517 Dog T-Shirt


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ?

Here's one from the Catholic Answers forums:

Sep 26, '16, 4:12 am
Junior Member
Join Date: November 29, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 318
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

Mimicking the style of St. Paul he wrote

"I, Martin Luther, by the grace of God, ecclesiastes in Wittenberg, to the popish bishops grace and peace. This title I now assume with the utmost contempt of you and Satan, that you may not plead ignorance. And should I style myself an evangelist by the grace of God, I could sooner prove my claim to this title, than you to that of bishop. For I am certain that Christ himself calls me so, and looks upon me as an ecclesiastes. He is that master of my doctrine. Neither doubt I, but in the great day of accounts he will be my witness, that this doctrine is not mine, but the doctrine of God, of the spirit of the Lord, and of the pure and sincere gospel.

So that should you kill me, ye bloodsuckers, yet you will never extinguish either me, or my name, or my doctrine, unless Christ be not living. Since now I am certain that I teach the word of God, it is not fit I should want a title for the recommending of this word, and work of the ministry, to which I am called by God; which I have not received of men, nor by men, but by the gift of God, and revelation of Jesus Christ—And now I declare beforehand, that for the time to come, I will not honor you so far, as to condescend to submit myself, or my doctrine to your judgment, or to that of an angel from heaven." Tom. 2, fol. 305, 2.

A participant at Catholic Answers posted this quote apparently to insinuate Luther claimed himself infallible and the Roman church fallible. Others responded, "It does seem that way in word and action. This narrative only reinforces what we already know." "Dr. David Anders, host of EWTN's "Called to Communion" believes that ML was manic-depressive, based on historical records of his radically variable behavior." "If not infallibility, ML was certainly filled with condemnation of those who disagreed with him. I think this is a distinction without a difference." In fairness to the discussion, there were participants which did not throw Luther under the bus.

A basic search of this quote reveals this English form dates back to at least to the early 1800's (183118441845, etc.), typically used by the defenders of Rome.  Other English versions of it also can be found in this time period (1817). Henry O'Connor references parts of it, as does Verres.

Variations of this quote focusing on Luther saying his doctrine will not be judged by either the papacy or "an angel from heaven" have been used against Luther for quite a long time by Roman Catholics. Cochlaeus (a contemporary of Luther's) cites it as a savage and rebellious statement. Jacques Maritain cites it as an example of "egocentrism: something much subtler, much deeper, and much more serious, than egoism; a metaphysical egoism." Patrick O'Hare alludes to the quote as an example of Luther's "disregard for all authority save his own." Henry O'Connor uses it as an example of Luther claiming his own authority and infallibility: "Did any Pope ever proclaim his Authority and Infallibility in a more unmistakable manner?" J. Verras cites it as Luther's "high opinion of himself" and "inexpressible contempt for all who dare to oppose him or to disagree from him." Hartmann Grisar uses it as an example of Luther's growing insistence on private revelation from God. An old copy of Catholic Weekly infers that Luther may have been insane by making such a statement.

Documentation
The documentation refers to "Tom. 2, fol. 305, 2." This refers to a page from the second edition of the Wittenberg edition of Luther's Works (the edition I located has the quote at fol. 306, 2).  In context, the quote does not read as it's being cited. It's been pieced together from multiple paragraphs, a typical tactic of Rome's defenders.  The text being cited is truncated from the Latin text of Luther's Adversus falso nominatum ordinem episcoporum (1522). The original German version can be found in WA 10 2:105 (Wider den falsch genantten geystlichen stand des Babst und der bischoffen). The German text has been translated into English in LW 39:239-300 (Against the Spiritual Estate of the Pope and the Bishops Falsely So Called). The quote can be pieced together from pages 247-249.


Context
Martin Luther, ecclesiastic in Wittenberg by the grace of God: To the papal bishops [I offer] my service and self-understanding in Christ.
Although I might be regarded as a fool by you, dear lords, because of the haughty title I call myself, an ecclesiastic by the grace of God, you should know that I am not at all surprised by this. You curse, slander, condemn, persecute, and possibly even burn me as a heretic for the sake of a high and noble cause. In this you act as you please, according to the pleasure of your idol. As a result of God’s disfavor you have the virtue that you do not want to listen. Neither do you want to give an answer. Instead, like the hardened Jews you blasphemously and stubbornly want to condemn me without a hearing, without investigating the cause, without overcoming me. You are not even ashamed of letting a man defy you so frequently with such good reason. Very well then, since it is a question of lowering the horns and acting with brute force, I too have to lower my horns and risk my head for my Lord. In order to get things started, I call myself an ecclesiastic by the grace of God in defiance of you and the devil, although you call me a heretic with an abundance of slander. And even if I called myself an evangelist by the grace of God, I would still be more confident of proving it than that any one of you could prove his episcopal title or name. I am certain that Christ himself, who is the master of my teaching, gives me this title and regards me as one. Moreover, he will be my witness on the Last Day that it is not my pure gospel but his. Thus your raging and raving is not going to help you at all. Rather, the more you rage and rave, the haughtier we shall be toward you, with God’s help, and [the more we] shall despise your disgrace. Even though you might take my life, since you are murderers, you will annihilate neither my name nor my teaching. For you too will have to die at last and put an end to murder.
Now that I am deprived of my titles through papal and imperial disfavor and my bestial character is washed away with so many bulls that I need never be called either Doctor of Holy Scripture or some kind of papal creature, I am almost as shocked as an ass who has lost its bag. For these masks were my greatest shame before God. I too was once in error (which I learned from your crowd at great price and with great effort), a liar, a cheater, a seducer, and a blasphemer against God’s pure teaching, as you are now. But the Father of all mercy did not look at my vice, blasphemy, and my very sinful, evil life; instead, out of the infinite richness of his grace, he permitted me to know his Son, Jesus Christ, and to teach [him] to others, until we were certain of his truth. However, I need not have any title and name to praise highly the word, office, and work which I have from God and which you blind blasphemers defile and persecute beyond measure. I trust my praise will overcome your defiling, just as my justice will overcome your injustice. It does not matter if, with your blasphemy, you are on top for the moment.
Therefore, I now let you know that from now on I shall no longer do you the honor of allowing you—or even an angel from heaven—to judge my teaching or to examine it. For there has been enough foolish humility now for the third time at Worms, and it has not helped. Instead, I shall let myself be heard and, as St. Peter teaches, give an explanation and defense of my teaching to all the world [I Pet. 3:15]. I shall not have it judged by any man, not even by any angel. For since I am certain of it, I shall be your judge and even the angels’ judge through this teaching (as St. Paul says [I Cor. 6:3]) so that whoever does not accept my teaching may not be saved—for it is God’s and not mine. Therefore, my judgment is also not mine but God’s.
Finally, dear lords, let this be the conclusion: If I live you shall have no peace from me, and if you kill me you shall have ten times less peace, for I shall be, as Hosea says, a bear on the road and a lion in the street [Hos. 13:8]. No matter how you handle me, you shall not have your will until your iron head and stiff neck are broken with either grace or disgrace. If you do not improve as I would like to see you do, then it is agreed that you threaten with hostility and I do not care. May God grant that you know yourselves. Amen. (LW 39:247-249)

Conclusion
This treatise was in part provoked by the sale of indulgences. Note the opposing gospel of indulgences put forth from Rome that Luther opposed in his treatise:
On September 15, 1521, Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz celebrated the annual festival of relics at his newly built cathedral, the Church of St. Moritz and Mary Magdalene in Halle, with the official announcement that indulgences would be granted to all visitors to the exhibition of relics. Anyone who prayed at a shrine and gave alms was promised an indulgence of four thousand years; anyone who confessed his sins to one of the priests hearing confessions in the cathedral during the ten days of the celebration would receive a plenary indulgence. Pope Leo X had issued a bull in 1519 granting the cathedral of Halle the same privileges granted to the Church of St. Peter in Rome: its confessors were authorized to absolve cases usually absolved only by the apostolic see in Rome; in addition, they could convert vows into financial contributions for the completion of the Halle cathedral—privileges not unusual in the established indulgence practice of the Roman curia. (LW 39:241).
Luther wrote against this and other severe results of the "gospel" of Papalism as well in an earlier treatise that was blocked from publication by Elector Frederick, and its possibility of "a threat to public peace" (LW 39:241). An angered Luther then went on to compose a similar but more general writing against indulgences: Against the Spiritual Estate of the Pope and the Bishops Falsely So-Called.  LW notes, "Luther... was more concerned with the evil of the indulgences than with the person of the archbishop of Mainz. 'I wanted to put an end to ungodliness,' he wrote to Melanchthon on January 13, 1522" (LW 39:243).LW 39 also explains: "Luther’s highly polemical and satirical language, more evident in this treatise than in others, was prompted by the recurrence of the indulgence traffic in the territory of Albrecht of Mainz" (LW 39:244). Included also were arguments for the right of priests to marry, and the right of an individual to criticize or correct an authority when that authority is corrupt. 

It's obvious from the context above that Luther was highly polemical, and I would add, seemingly (or justifiably) angry.  That Roman Catholic interpreters pounce on these statements is a telling sign of missing the point (and perhaps never even bothering to read the entire document this quote was taken from). Note some of the words typically left out in Roman Catholic versions of the quote:
I shall no longer do you the honor of allowing you—or even an angel from heaven—to judge my teaching or to examine it. For there has been enough foolish humility now for the third time at Worms, and it has not helped. Instead, I shall let myself be heard and, as St. Peter teaches, give an explanation and defense of my teaching to all the world [I Pet. 3:15].
Luther had subjected himself to the judgment of Rome, and to what result? Obfuscation and subterfuge! Luther then states he's going to give an explanation and defense, which he does. Towards the end of the treatise,  after pages of scriptural argumentation against Rome, Luther sums it all by stating one needs to judge his arguments for yourself:
If someone said to me at this point, “Previously you have rejected the pope; will you now also reject bishops and the spiritual estate? Is everything to be turned around?” my answer would be: Judge for yourself and decide whether I turn things around by preferring divine word and order, or whether they turn things around by preferring their order and destroying God’s. Tell me, which is right: for them to turn God’s order around, or for me to turn their blasphemous devil’s order around? Do not look at the work itself but at the basis and reason for the work. Nobody should look at that which opposes God’s word, nor should one care what the consequences may or may not be. Instead, one should look at God’s word alone and not worry—even if angels were involved—about who will get hurt, what will happen, or what the result will be (LW 39:279).
Further, the quote in its historical context shows that there were two "teachings" in conflict. For instance, in regard to indulgences, there was that put forth by Luther (indulgences are not of divine authority) and that put forth by Rome (indulgences are of divine authority). Luther states:
In all the indulgence bulls [the Pope] promises forgiveness of sins to all those who have repented and confessed. This is the worst poison and most harmful seduction emanating from that supreme seducer, the pope, and from his masks. Christ, Matthew 9[:2], did not say to the paralytic, “If you put money in the box your sins are forgiven.” Rather, he said, “Be of good courage,” or, “Trust firmly and your sins are forgiven.” These wolves and damned masks tear people away from this blessed faith and trust in God’s sheer grace which alone grants forgiveness of sins. Instead, they lead people to put their trust in bulls, paper, and money so that simple minds learn to rely on their own works and not on God’s grace. The accursed pretension of such bulls is abominable beyond imagining, because it condemns and destroys God’s first and foremost commandment, namely, the commandment which teaches trust in God’s grace alone. They teach trust in paper and wax, that is, in their invalid and accursed lies (LW 39:275).
In one instance during his treatise, Luther mentions that indulgences went as far as "to preach that people may keep their ill-gotten goods if they give them a portion of them and also let them have the profits from them" (LW 39:273). How does Luther respond, by declaring his own infallible authority? No, he refers back to the Scripture "You shall not steal." Throughout the treatise, Luther simply refers to the clear words of Scripture to refute Rome. For instance:
St. Paul said to Titus that he should appoint a married and blameless bishop in every town [Titus 1:5–7]. That is undoubtedly God’s order, will, and opinion. Our papal bishops fight against this; they removed the bishops from every town and made themselves bishops over many towns. But St. Paul stands here—indeed, the Holy Spirit stands here firmly and strongly—saying that every town should have a bishop and that they must all be equals. St. Paul speaks of every town and considers all bishops to be equal (LW 39:278).
In the (introduction) Luther states, "I am certain that Christ himself, who is the master of my teaching, gives me this title [ecclesiastic] and regards me as one. Moreover, he will be my witness on the Last Day that it is not my pure gospel but his." Luther is claiming he's been given his teaching from Christ. Does he claim, like Paul, that Christ appeared to him? No. What he's speaking about is the teaching of Scripture. This brief snippet from the Theological Quarterly of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri sums this up far better than I ever could:
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]

Addendum
Yesterday, 9:05 am
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Default Re: Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

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Originally Posted by DaddyGirl View Post
Where does this quote/writing come from?
If these are his words, it doesn't sound like he's claiming "infallibility" for himself with them.
.
The documentation refers to "Tom. 2, fol. 305, 2." This refers to a page from the second edition of the Wittenberg edition of Luther's Works (the edition I located has the quote at fol. 306, 2). This is the Latin version. The original German version can be found in WA 10 2:105 (Wider den falsch genantten geystlichen stand des Babst und der bischoffen). The text was written in 1522, early in Luther's Reformation battle.

Someone already mentioned the treatise is found in English in LW 39 (Against the Spiritual Estate of the Pope and the Bishops Falsely So Called). In context, the quote does not read as it's being cited. It's been pieced together from multiple paragraphs pieced together from pages 247-249.

My opinion is that the context demonstrates that Luther was highly polemical, and I would add, seemingly (or justifiably) angry.He was not claiming infallibility in the Catholic sense.

Here's a question to think about related to this:

If I quote this verse of scripture here on this forum:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Am I speaking infallibly?
Yesterday, 9:12 am
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Default Re: Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

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Originally Posted by TertiumQuid View Post
Here's a question to think about related to this:

If I quote this verse of scripture here on this forum:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Am I speaking infallibly?
Ha! No, of course not. You are repeating what has been infallibly declared inerrant!
 Yesterday, 3:03 pm
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Default Re: Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

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Originally Posted by rcwitness View Post
Ha! No, of course not. You are repeating what has been infallibly declared inerrant!
But isn't "repeating" also speaking?

I posed the question within the confines of the Luther quote in question to bring out the nuances of what is meant by infallibility. I've not read any of Dpoc41's posts previous to this discussion, so I can only guess as to the intention as to why this particular Luther quote was posted (with a reference to a text most people could not locate and also written in a language probably most here cannot read). It appears to me it was posted to insinuate Luther claimed himself infallible and the Catholic church fallible.

The context of the document being cited doesn't assert Luther thought himself infallible in the sense that he was receiving revelation or speaking infallibly on behalf of God ("from the chair" of Luther). In Luther's mind, it was the Bible which was the sole infallible document, so when he quoted scripture, he was appealing to the infallibility of the Scriptures. Luther's thoroughly believed that his "teaching" was simply repeating the doctrine found plainly in sacred scripture.
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Default Re: Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

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Originally Posted by TertiumQuid View Post
But isn't "repeating" also speaking?

I posed the question within the confines of the Luther quote in question to bring out the nuances of what is meant by infallibility. I've not read any of Dpoc41's posts previous to this discussion, so I can only guess as to the intention as to why this particular Luther quote was posted (with a reference to a text most people could not locate and also written in a language probably most here cannot read). It appears to me it was posted to insinuate Luther claimed himself infallible and the Catholic church fallible.

The context of the document being cited doesn't assert Luther thought himself infallible in the sense that he was receiving revelation or speaking infallibly on behalf of God ("from the chair" of Luther). In Luther's mind, it was the Bible which was the sole infallible document, so when he quoted scripture, he was appealing to the infallibility of the Scriptures. Luther's thoroughly believed that his "teaching" was simply repeating the doctrine found plainly in sacred scripture.
That's what all denominations believe. Even Calvin and several other Reformers whom Luther strongly opposed.

2nd Peter warns against twisting Scriptures. But Catholics do it all the time also. Only the Magisterium, when under lawful conditions, declares a matter of faith and morals (or Biblical interpretation) has binding authority and is free from error. All of us members (hierarchy as well) can be right, or wrong.

If we are led by faith, we will receive the Declarations of the Church as free from error. Even as we have accepted the Canon of Scripture with all of its parts.
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Default Re: Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

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Originally Posted by TertiumQuid View Post
But isn't "repeating" also speaking?
Yes. And I don't doubt that there have been instances in which somebody infallibly repeated something that had previously been said.

But I think RCW's point is that you don't necessarily have to exercise infallibility in order to say something true.

P.S. Are you familiar with Scott Hahn's phrase "a fallible list of infallible documents"?
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Default Re: Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

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Originally Posted by Peter J View Post
But I think RCW's point is that you don't necessarily have to exercise infallibility in order to say something true.
Right. And I think the OP is addressing a particular position that Evangelicals take when they assert something they believe. That is, when they claim and teach something to be true without acknowledging that they could be wrong.
oday, 2:24 pm
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Default Re: Did Luther claim for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ ?

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Originally Posted by rcwitness View Post
I think the OP is addressing a particular position that Evangelicals take when they assert something they believe. That is, when they claim and teach something to be true without acknowledging that they could be wrong.
FWIW, I did not interpret the OP in this sense.

I think the OP was making a simple point rather than the deeper issues you're raising.

The OP used an obscure out-of-context quote from Luther in order to say the answer to the question asked was, YES: Luther claimed for himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ.

The quote itself served as a typical snippet of propaganda, pieced together from multiple paragraphs (spanning at least three pages). The reference given was to a text most people could not locate and also written in a language probably most here cannot read.

As I stated earlier, I've not read any of Dpoc41's other posts previous to this discussion, so this is only a guess as to the intention as to why this particular Luther quote was posted.

Thanks though for the interesting dialog on related issues.