Friday, December 15, 2017

Melanchthon: Luther was so immoral "that he wished they would remove him from the office of preaching”

Here's a Martin Luther-related excerpt that appeared on the Catholic Answers Forums:

“He was so well aware of his immorality,” we are informed by Melanchthon, “that he wished they would remove him from the office of preaching.” (Sleidan, Book II, 1520).

With this snippet, alleged testimony from Melanchton is brought forth indicting Luther not only of immorality, but of being so sinful that Luther wanted to be removed "from the office of preaching." Melanchthon was one of Luther's closest friends, so here would be compelling testimony not only of Luther's depravity, but also a demonstration that he was in no way qualified to usher in a reformation of the church.  A closer look at this quote though will show Melanchthon never said or wrote this. Further, we'll see that the quote ultimately amounts to propaganda: the historical context of the quote is being ignored in order to perpetuate a false historical paradigm.

Plagiarism
The person who posted the quote provides obscure documentation ("Sleidan, Book II, 1520"). Such obscurity usually indicates that the material was not taken from an actual straight reading of text written by Luther . This person also stated,
I am a convert from Protestantism who used to idolize Luther until I read his writings (eventually). Before, and while undertaking my doctorate (early music history + performance), I had learned to read primary sources, this is what also lead me to the Catholic Church - the Apostolic Fathers + St Augustine + Aquinas. Today many people will watch a movie about Luther and think they are well informed about him.
I do question the validity of this testimony of learning, especially the claim of reading Luther's writings and the ability to read primary sources to form opinions. Of the two posts of Luther material this person presented in this discussion (#1#2), neither demonstrates a straight reading of Luther. The material was probably taken from a few web-pages, then cut-and pasted over on to the Catholic Answers discussion forum. I suspect this pagethis page, and perhaps this page was utilized. Unless the person posting this material on Catholic Answers wrote these links, much of the content of these posts is blatant plagiarism. For this quote particularly, this web-page appears to be that which was plagiarized.

Even if he (she?) did compose this web page (or one of the others), I still doubt any of the material came from a straight reading (or "studying") of the "primary sources" for Luther. Some of what was posted was directly plagiarized from Father Patrick O'Hare's, The Facts about Luther, most likely, the quote above under scrutiny as well. The quote appears in a similar form in Father O'Hare's book on page 319. O'Hare states, "He was so well aware of his immorality," as we are informed by his favorite disciple, "that he wished they would remove him from the office of preaching." (Sleidan, Book II, 1520)." It appears Father O'Hare himself plagiarized this sentence. The earliest I've traced it  back is to the English translation of Jean François Marie Trévern's Amicable Discussion (1828). Trévern's original French can be found here:


Trévern similarly documents the quote as "Sleid. liv. II, an 1520." What was posted on the Catholic Answers discussion forum (and this web-page also) is an obvious plagiarism of something Father O'Hare published over one hundred years ago, and something Father O'Hare took from something published long before him. Whether the person at Catholic Answers took the quote from O'Hare's book or not, someone at some point did, and that's why it's on the Internet (now being disseminated by cut-and-paste plagiarism). To borrow from this Catholic Answers participant: today many people will read a biased and poorly researched web-page or book about Luther and think they are well informed about him.

Documentation
The documentation refers to "Sleidan, Book II, 1520." No explanation from O'Hare or Trévern is provided as to what this reference means. I searched a number of texts using the quote under scrutiny, and I found no explanation as to what the reference is pointing to.

The reference appears to be to the author Johann Sleidan (Johannes Sleidanus), a sixteenth-century Reformation historian (1506–56). Sleidan put together "a chronological narrative of the reformation from 1517 until 1555." It was a series of twenty-five books. "Book II" therefore is just that: the second volume of the series.  "1520" is not a page number. It refers to the content of Book II: the year 1520. The series was entitled, De Statu Religionis Et Reipublicae, Carolo Quinto, Caesare, Commentarii: Cum Indice luculentissimo. pars altera. Volume 2 can be found here. The relevant text reads as follows:


This entirety of Sleiden's series was translated into English by Edward Bohun:
The general history of the Reformation of the Church from the errors and corruptions of the Church of Rome, begun in Germany by Martin Luther with the progress thereof in all parts of Christendom from the year 1517 to the year 1556 / written in Latin by John Sleidan ; and faithfully englished. To which is added A continuation to the Council of Trent in the year 1562 / by Edward Bohun.
Published in English in 1689, the whole series is available online here in English and here . Book Two is available here and here. Amazon sells a reprint of the English translation. It's probable that Trévern relied on a French translation of Sleidan, the relevant text can be found here. Below is the English translation of the text in question.


Context
To the same effect, on the same day, Luther writes to the Bishop of Mersburgh, that as to his Doctrin, his Conscience bore him witness that it was the same that Christ and his Apostles had taught:* But because his Life and manners were not in all things answerable to the Purity of his Profession, he could even wish that he were silenc'd from Preaching, as being unworthy to exercise that Sacred Function: That he was not moved either by the hopes of Gain or Vain-glory; but that the End to which all his Endeavours were directed, was to imprint a-fresh in the minds of Men those eternal Truths, which were now almost utterly defaced, or else obscured by a gross and wilful stupidity; That those who condemn his Writings, were hurried on by the violence of their Passions; and promoted their own ambitious designs, under the specious pretence of upholding the Authority of the Bishop of Rome: That a great many Foreigners, famous both for Parts and Learning, had by their Letters approved of his Works, and thanked him for his obliging the Publick with them: That this confirm'd him in his Opinion, that his Doctrin was Orthodox: He beseeches him therefore to shew some Fatherly tenderness towards him; and if he had hitherto erred, to guide him now into the right way: That he could not as yet get his Cause to be heard, although he had been importunate in requesting it: That he should think it a great happiness to be convinced of any of his Errours, and they should find he had been mis∣represented by those who had possessed the World with a belief of his Obstinacy.
Conclusion
The immediate thing to notice first is that the very source being cited (Sleidan), does not say Melanchthon said or wrote what's purported. Patrick O'Hare and Jean François Marie Trévern are also wrong when they stated, "as we are informed by his favorite disciple." According to Sleidan, the comment was written by Luther in a letter to "the Bishop of Mersburgh." It wasn't being reported by anyone.  Even if it was the bishop's comment, that bishop was no disciple of Luther, but rather a high-ranking Roman Catholic bishop. The second thing to notice is that Sleidan doesn't mention sexual immorality. He says specifically "life and manners" in comparison to the "Purity of his Profession." Given Luther's meticulous conscience of his own sin and his awareness of the office of minister of the Gospel, this comment need not mean anything as outrageous as Luther's detractors speculate.

A third aspect is to determine if Luther actually wrote a letter admitting his immorality and his wish to be removed from the office of preaching. On February 4, 1520 Luther wrote two similar letters: one to Albrecht, archbishop of Mayence, and another to Adolphus, bishop of Merseburg. These letters can be found in WAbr 2:398-403. While a lengthy section of the letter to Albrecht was translated into English, the letter to Adolphus has not (as far as I can determine). In the letter to Bishop Adolphus, Luther says in part:


One notices that the letter opens with a fair amount of zealous flattery, as if one were addressing royalty. He then mentions all the charges being brought against him by his detractors, and they should not be believed.  Luther eventually says:"usque hodie opto a publicj moveri, relicto docendi negotio,... Scio, quod non vivo, quae doceo, ideoque taedet me officii hujus: tantum abest, ut gloriam quaeram, ut multi mihi imponunt." The immediate question that should come to mind is: why would Luther write a letter to a Roman Catholic bishop, a bishop that was hostile to Luther's plight, and say this? It doesn't make any sense.

The answer comes in understanding this historical context of February 1520. Luther was stirring up a reformed movement in a number of ways, and not all of his ideas were met with approval. For instance, at the time he was arguing that the cup should be given to the laity in the Lord's Supper. Heinrich Boehmer explains,
His suggestion regarding the restoration of the cup to the laity caused such offense at the Dresden court that Duke George denounced him to the Elector on December 27 as a secret Hussite. Moreover, Duke George immediately mobilized the bishops of Meissen and Merseberg against the "very Pragueish" Treatise on the Lord's Supper.  The bishop of Meissen responded by issuing a mandate of his own against the sermon on January 24 [Martin Luther: Road to Reformation, p. 303].
Boehmer says that the Elector found all this "exceedingly disagreeable" and asked Luther to write an "immediate pacifying explanation to the archbishop of Mainz and the bishop Merseberg and probably several other prelates." Before sending the letters, the Elector wanted to look over what Luther had written. After a series of other events that further complicated the relationship between Luther and the bishop of Meissen, "on February 22, Luther brought himself to the point of signing the letters to the archbishop of Mainz and the bishop of Merseburg" (Boehmer, p.304).  An excerpt from one of these letters can be found here.  When Luther writes that "his Life and manners were not in all things answerable to the Purity of his Profession, he could even wish that he were silenc'd from Preaching," he's not making bold personal confessions to his friends, he's attempting to smooth over the bishop by humbling himself (at the order of the Elector). Boehmer explains the response Luther received:
The two prelates were apparently surprised beyond measure at Luther's wholly unexpected readiness to be corrected by them. The bishop of Merseburg could not keep from imparting a sort of censure in his response, but in the conclusion he was very friendly and suggested a personal meeting with Luther [Boehmer, p.304-305].
For a slightly different explanation of the historical context, see Martin Brecht's discussion in Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, 1483-1521, pp. 357-358. Brecht thinks it may have been  Karl von Miltitz acting "on behalf of Electoral Saxony" who contacted Bishop Adolf of Mersburg to see if it was he who was complaining about Luther to the Pope. Brecht says "Luther was instructed by the court to write letters to bishop Adolf of Mersburg and Albrecht of Mainz about the accusations raised against him." Brecht says the letter "would scarcely mollify the bishop of Mersburg." Miltitz was a papal nuncio and active in attempting to reconcile Luther with the Papacy during this time period. Miltitz was also responsible in getting Luther to write a letter to the Pope, in "the conventional, curialistic style," but the letter was not sent.

Despite the clarity of this historical information, the quote has been used, whole or in part, by those who typically who hold an untenable historical view of Luther. This view paints Luther as grossly antinomian. Those espousing this view are often defenders of the Roman church (but not limited to them).  Historically, such shocking quotes served as propaganda used by pre-1930 Roman Catholic controversialists. The champion of this view was Heinrich Denifle (1844-1905), an Austrian Roman Catholic historian. For Denifle, one of Luther's major problems was lust and immorality. It was Luther's craving for sex that led him to not only break his monastic vows, but to revolt against the established Roman church.   Denifle would use statements like this to prove Luther invented the doctrine of justification to excuse his gross immorality.  Denifle's Luther was an immoral, lust, and sex crazed monk. A section of the very quote in question makes it into Denifle's analysis
“As I knew,” says Solomon, “that I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it, * * * I went to the Lord and besought him." The Church opposes a spiritual to the carnal “uri.” “Burn, O Lord, with the fire of the Holy Ghost, our reins and our heart, that we may serve thee with a chaste body and please with a clean heart,'' is the prayer in the "Missa in tentatione carnis." Our Saviour Himself counsels watching and constant prayer as a means of not succumbing to temptation. Indeed, Luther a short time before knew this well too. As the strongest weapon against evil desire, he recommends "prayer, contemplation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, as well as the word of God," and a few years earlier he holds up watching and fervor of spirit as an unfailing remedy against carnal lust. I have said that he then still knew this, but not that he still put it into practice. From and after 1516, on his own confession, he seldom found time to acquit himself of the prescribed prayers, the hours, and to celebrate Mass. What he acknowledged in 1520 was even then already verified of himself: "I know that I do not live according to what I teach." ["Scio quod non vivo quae doceo." To Bishop Adolf of Merseburg, February 4, 1520, " Brief wechsel," 2, p. 312].
Notice for Denifle, there's not any sort of mention about either the context or the historical situation that provoked the letter. Rather, Denifle rips it from its context and uses it to propel his predetermined interpretation of Luther. Another Roman Catholic historian, Hartmann Grisar, fair only a little better:
Yet Luther speaks ably enough in 1517 of the urgent necessity of spiritual exercises, more particularly meditation on the Scriptures, to which the recitation of the Office in Choir was an introduction: " As we are attacked by countless distractions from without, impeded by cares and engrossed by business, and as all this leads us away from purity of heart, only one remedy remains for us, viz. with great zeal to 'exhort each other' (Heb. iii. 13), rouse our slumbering spirit by the Word of God, reading the same continually, and hearing it as the Apostle exhorts." Not long after he is, however, compelled to write: "I know right well that I do not live in accordance with my teaching." ["Scio quod non vivo quae doceo." To Bishop Adolf of Merseburg, February 4, 1520, " Brief wechsel," 2, p. 312].
One could easily dismiss the comments from the Catholic Answers discussion forum which opened this blog post, for the Internet is filled with unsubstantiated nonsense. One could even go so far as to give Father O'Hare a pass. He was a popular priest living in a time period in which anti-Reformation polemic was standard. He was a pop-apologist before there was such a thing as Catholic Answers. Denifle and Grisar though were trained historians. They should have been able to navigate correctly through the facts. Their use of the quote demonstrates that for all of us, worldview determines interpretation, sometimes at the expense of accuracy.  

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Luther: “As little as one is able to remove mountains, to fly with the birds, to create new stars, or to bite off one’s nose, so little can on escape unchastity”

Here's a Martin Luther-related excerpt that appeared on the Catholic Answers Forums:

In studying Luther, we must remember that his cardinal dogma when he abandoned Catholic teaching was that man has no free will, that he can do no good, and that to subdue animal passion is neither necessary nor possible. He insists that the moral law of the Decalogue is not binding, that the 10 Commandments are abrogated and that they are no longer in force among Christians. “We must remove the Decalogue out of sight and heart”(De Wette, 4, 188). “If we allow them — the Commandments – any influence in our conscience, they become the cloak of all evil, heresies, and blasphemies.” (Comm. Ad Galatians). “If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid 10 Commandments, tell him right out: chase yourself to the Jews." (Wittenb. Ad 5, 1573). “As little as one is able to remove mountains, to fly with the birds, to create new stars, or to bite off one’s nose, so little can on escape unchastity.” (Alts Abenmachlslehre, 2, 118)

A number of quotes are presented. This entry will concentrate on the last quote: "As little as one is able to remove mountains, to fly with the birds, to create new stars, or to bite off one’s nose, so little can on escape unchastity. (Alts Abenmachlslehre, 2, 118)." As to the other quotes, I've covered most of them already as part of my Luther, Exposing The Myth series, or elsewhere on this blog.

This is one of those quotes that I categorically classify as the "Antinomian Luther." They are typically posted by those dedicated to defending the Roman church (but not limited to them!).  Historically, such "shock" quotes served as propaganda used by pre-1930 Roman Catholic controversialists. Notice in the paragraph above, the Catholic Answers participant says Luther believed "to subdue animal passion is neither necessary nor possible." Then quotes are brought forth to demonstrate Luther was fundamentally immoral and rejected God's law. The champion of this view was Heinrich Denifle (1844-1905), an Austrian Roman Catholic historian. For Denifle, one of Luther's major problems was lust and immorality. It was Luther's craving for sex that led him to not only break his monastic vows, but to revolt against the established Roman church.

Let's take a closer look at this quote and see what's going on. Let's see if the historical record proves Luther was a sex-driven person who abandoned God's law to fulfill his fleshly desires.

Plagiarism 
The person who posted the quote provides obscure documentation.  This person also stated,
I am a convert from Protestantism who used to idolize Luther until I read his writings (eventually). Before, and while undertaking my doctorate (early music history + performance), I had learned to read primary sources, this is what also lead me to the Catholic Church - the Apostolic Fathers + St Augustine + Aquinas. Today many people will watch a movie about Luther and think they are well informed about him.
I do question the validity of this testimony of learning, especially the claim of reading Luther's writings and the ability to read primary sources to form opinions. Of the two posts of Luther material this person presented in this discussion (#1, #2), neither demonstrates a straight reading of Luther. The material was probably taken from a few web-pages, then cut-and pasted over on to the discussion forum. I suspect this page, this page, and perhaps this page was utilized. Unless the person posting this material on Catholic Answers wrote these links, much of these posts were blatant plagiarism. Even if he (she?) did compose one of these web pages, I still doubt any of the material came from a straight reading (or "studying") of the "primary sources" for Luther. Some of what was posted was directly plagiarized from Father Patrick O'Hare's, The Facts about Luther, especially the quote above under scrutiny. The paragraph appears in almost the exact form in Father O'Hare's book on pages 314-315. O'Hare uses it to question Luther's morality: to prove his "disturbed conscience," and that "he was not a God-inspired man and had no claim to be considered even an ordinary reformer or spiritual guide." O'Hare states, 
In studying Luther, we must remember, that his cardinal dogma when he abandoned Catholic teaching, was that man has no free-will, that he can do no good and that to subdue animal passion is neither necessary nor possible. He insisted that the moral law of the Decalogue is not binding, that the Ten Commandments are abrogated and that they are no longer in force among Christians. "We must," he says, "remove the Decalogue out of sight and heart." (De Wette, 4, 188.) "If we allow them—the Commandments—any influence in our conscience, they become the cloak of all evil, heresies and blasphemies." (Comm. ad Galat. p. 310.) "If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid Ten Commandments, tell him right out: chase yourself to the Jews." (Wittenb. ad. 5, 1573.) Having thus unceremoniously brushed aside the binding force of the moral law, we do not wonder that he makes the following startling and shameless pronouncements. "As little as one is able," he says, "to remove mountains, to fly with the birds (Mist und Ham halten), to create new stars, or to bite off one's nose, so little can one escape unchastity." Alts Abendmahlslehre, 2, 118.) Out of the depths of his depraved mind, he further declares: "They are fools who attempt to overcome temptations (temptations to lewdness) by fasting, prayer and chastisement.  For such temptations and immoral attacks are easily overcome when there are plenty of maidens and women." (Jen. ed. 2, p. 216.)
Whether the person at Catholic Answers took the quote from O'Hare's book or not, someone at some point did, and that's why it's on the Internet (now being disseminated by cut-and-paste plagiarism). To borrow from this Catholic Answers participant: today many people will read a biased and poorly researched web-page or book about Luther and think they are well informed about him.

Documentation
O'Hare does cite a reference for the quote in question: "Alts Abendmahlslehre, 2, 118." This cryptic reference occurs numerous times in nineteenth-century Luther-related materials, primarily German writings, and then fizzles out in twentieth-century usage.The reference appears to point to the second volume in a book in regard to the Lord's Supper. Whatever is meant by this reference, versions of this quote with a similar reference can be traced back in its polemical usage to at least 1781. For instance,  this eighteenth-century author says Luther lived his early years in constant lust and fornication, and that he freely admitted he was unable to live a chaste life. He the cites the quote under scrutiny:


Notice with this book, also mentioned is a "2" and a "118," which is similar to what O'Hare is citing, but it leaves out "Alts Abendmahlslehre." Unfortunately, what's being referred to by Father O'Hare and this other reference isn't clear to me. "Alts" could be referring to the Altenberg edition of Luther's collected writings. If O'Hare and this author are citing volume 2 page 118 of the Altenberg edition, there's nothing on this page similar to the quote in question, nor is this treatise about the Lord's Supper. Interestingly though, notice the "T. 2. 292" from the 1781 book above. There is something very similar to the quote on p. 292 of Altenberg, volume 2 (which will be discussed below).

Another reference that also occurs with this quote at times is "Gottlieb. 2. Ausg. S. 245." For instance, this book from 1896 uses the quote and adds the Gottlieb reference:

"Gottlieb. 2. Ausg." refers to Briefe aus Hamburg: ein Wort zur Vertheidigung der Kirche gegen die Angriffe von sieben Läugnern der Gottheit Christi, Volume 2 by Gottlieb (Tilmann Pesch SJ). Here is Page 245:


Gottlieb simply cites the quotes with the "Alts Abendmahlslehre"  reference: "In abundance, Luther often says it outright, after man Pure, chaste life is impossible. As little as I can paint away mountains, fly with the birds, hold manure and urine, darken the sun, create new stars, and bite my nose, I can not let go of fornication (Alte Abendmahlslehre 2. 118)."

Context
I'm not sure what source is meant by "Alte Abendmahlslehre 2." However,  as stated above, there is something very similar to the quote on p. 292 of Altenberg, volume 2 (cited in the 1781 text).  Page 292 states:


This page is part of Letter Luther wrote in August 1523 to the Burgemeister at Nuremburg."to resist papal pressures and to appoint an evangelical preacher." Jules Michelet explains:
One of the points which gave the greatest disquietude to the Reformer was the abolition of monastic vows. In 1522, he sent forth an exhortation on this subject to the four mendicant orders. The Augustines, in the month of March, the Carthusians in August, declared energetically in his favour.
To the lieutenants of his imperial majesty at Nuremberg, he writes, in August, 1523: "It is inconsistent with the nature of God to require vows which it is impossible for human nature to keep. . . Dear lords, we implore you to unbend in this matter. You know not what horrible and infamous cruelties the devil exercises in convents; render not yourselves accomplices in his wickedness, charge not your consciences with his guilt. If my bitterest enemies knew that which I learn every day from all the countries about us—ah, I am sure they would at once assist me in overthrowing the convents! You compel me to cry out louder than I otherwise would. Give way, I entreat you, ere these scandals burst forth more scandalously than they need to do."
It is in the context of this letter that something very similar to the quote occurs. This letter can be found in Sämtliche Werke, Volumes 53, 182-190 with the quote on page 188 and also in WABr 3:367-374, with the relevant section on page 372:


To my knowledge, this letter has no official English translation. In this section, Luther says that unless God provides a miracle of chastity, a vow of chastity is impossible to keep. It would be like the miracle of a person flying like a bird (Wer will doch fliegen geloben wie ein Vogel, und halten, es sei denn Gottes Wunderzeichen da?). Mankind was not created for chastity, but rather to be fruitful and multiply. To impose a vow of chastity on someone naturally born to procreate is like a person trying to hold their dung and urine (Mist oder Harn halten).  

Conclusion
I would be surprised if  "Alte Abendmahlslehre 2. 118" said anything different than what Luther 's letter from August 1523 to the Burgemeister at Nuremburg says above. I would also be surprised if some other context (other than this letter) the quote is purported to have been taken from actually exists. True, some of the key phrases are missing from the August 23 letter:  "...to remove mountains, to create new stars, or to bite off one's nose...". After going through years of these quotes, one thing I've noticed is that when a Luther quote provides a number of statements together saying the same thing, they can at times be secondary summary statements put together by someone reading Luther. 

One thing is clear from the context: Luther believed in celibacy for those who were given it by God. Otherwise, Luther believed in the married life as the norm for human beings. Biologically, people are typically designed with the desire to procreate. This desire can either be carried out in a God pleasing way (marriage) of a non-God pleasing way (fornication). During Luther's time, the monks and nuns were plagued with fornication because of the unnatural vow they took. Some of Luther's detractors though (like Denifle and O'Hare) painted a much different picture: Luther was simply espousing blatant fornication. Perhaps these men took issue with Luther here because they themselves worked hard at keeping their vow of celibacy.

Luther wrote often on vows and chastity. In his extended treatment of 1 Corinthians 7, he ends with this summary that well explains his view:
Now we may summarize this chapter thus: It is well not to marry unless it is necessary. It becomes necessary when God has not given us the rare gift of chastity, for no one is created for chastity, but we are all born to beget children and carry the burdens of married life, according to Gen. 1; 2, and 3. Now, if someone should not suffer from this necessity, he would be the exception solely by the grace and the miraculous hand of God, not because of command, vow, or intent. Where God does not effect this, it may be attempted, but it will come to no good end. Therefore they are nothing but abominable murderers of souls who put young people into monasteries and nunneries and keep them there by force, as though chastity were something that could be put on and off like a shoe and something that is in our hand. Meanwhile they themselves take quite a different view and drive others to attempt what they have never even raised their little finger to attempt or would not be able to. It is easy to say: “Be chaste,” but why are you not chaste? It is great for you to eat like a pig and drink like a horse while telling me to fast! But enough said for those who are willing to listen. And what more can one say to those who will not listen? May God enlighten them or prevent them from strangling souls in this fashion! Amen. (LW 28:55-56).

Friday, December 01, 2017

Luther: Since the downfall of Popery...the people have learned to despise the word of God

This Martin Luther quote showed up on the Catholic Answers Forums:

Luther expressed remorse on the effects of his “faith alone and flee from good works” doctrine on the German people at the time:

“Since the downfall of Popery and the cessations of excommunications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word of God. They care no longer for the churches; they have ceased to fear and honor God….I would wish, if it were possible, to leave these men without a preacher or pastor, and let them live like swine. There is no longer any fear or love of God among them. After throwing off the yoke of the Pope, everyone wishes to live as he pleases.”

This is one of those quotes that I categorically classify as "Did Luther Regret the Reformation?" They are typically posted by those dedicated to defending the Roman church.  Historically, such "shock" quotes served as propaganda used by pre-1930 Roman Catholic controversialists. Those writers put forth the conclusion that the Reformation was a failure: it didn't produce any real fruit, and Luther's own words and the state of Protestantism at the time prove it. The argument goes: Protestantism isn't a movement of the church. It is the result of heresy, and heresy never leads anyone to true holiness. Then statements are typically brought forth from Luther's career, indicting him of regret for starting the Reformation. Most of these pre-1930 books had fallen into obscurity, but with the arrival of the information explosion brought forth by the Internet, these quotes made a comeback. It's not at all uncommon to visit discussion forums like Catholic Answers and find these "regret" quotes taking center-stage.

Let's take a closer look at this quote and see what's going on. Let's see if the quote proves Luther's "remorse on the effects of his 'faith alone and flee from good works' doctrine," or it proves something quite different: that previous to Luther the people were compelled to support the Roman church, and in fact it was a monetary controversy (indulgences) that played a crucial role in sixteenth century history. While Luther was angry that once the people were not financially compelled, support for the local church dwindled, he was not remorseful about freeing the church from the overbearing Papacy.

Plagiarism
The person who posted the quote provides no documentation. However, this person also stated,
I am a convert from Protestantism who used to idolize Luther until I read his writings (eventually). Before, and while undertaking my doctorate (early music history + performance), I had learned to read primary sources, this is what also lead me to the Catholic Church - the Apostolic Fathers + St Augustine + Aquinas. Today many people will watch a movie about Luther and think they are well informed about him.
I do question the validity of this testimony of learning, especially the claim of reading Luther's writings and the ability to read primary sources to form opinions. Of the two posts of Luther material this person presented in this discussion (#1, #2), neither demonstrates a straight reading of Luther. The material was probably taken from a few web-pages, then cut-and pasted over on to the discussion forum. I suspect  this pagethis page, and perhaps this page was utilized. Unless the person posting this material on Catholic Answers wrote these links, much of these posts was blatant plagiarism. Even if he (she?) did compose one of these web pages, I still doubt any of the material came from a straight reading of the "primary sources" for Luther. Some of what was posted was directly plagiarized from Father Patrick O'Hare's, The Facts about Luther, especially the quote above under scrutiny. The quote appears in the exact form in Father O'Hare's book on page 130. O'Hare uses it to "call Luther himself as witness and give his own declaration as to the effects produced upon morality and religion by the new gospel of 'faith without works.'" O'Hare's book states,
"Since the downfall of Popery, and the cessations of excommunications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word of God. They care no longer for the churches; they have ceased to fear and honor God. ... I would wish if it were possible to leave these men without preacher or pastor, and let them live like swine. There is no longer any fear or love of God among them. After throwing off the yoke of the Pope every one wishes to live as he pleases." (These and numerous other lamentations may be found in Walch ed.)
Whether the person at Catholic Answers took the quote from O'Hare's book or not, someone at some point did, and that's why it's on the Internet (now being disseminated by cut-and-pasted and plagiarism). To borrow from this Catholic Answers participant: today many people will read a biased and poorly researched web-page or book about Luther and think they are well informed about him.

Documentation
One thing to notice immediately is that Father O'Hare doesn't really document the quote either. He simply alludes to the old Walch version of Luther's Works, as if he's guessing. I suspect O'Hare took the quote from either Martin John Spalding's The History of the Protestant Reformation (1860), or more likely,  Jean Marie Vincent Audin's History of the Life, Writings, and Doctrines of Martin Luther (1841). O'Hare cites both a number of times, and the wording of the quote is a close match. Spalding actually breaks the quote up. The first part found on page 258, and the later part found on  page 403. Spalding uses the reference,  "Luther, Werke, edit. Altenberg, tom, iii, 519," and also "Reinhardt—Sammtliche Reformations predigten, tom, iii, p. 445" (and also page 446).  J.M. Audin's uses the quote with a larger context on p. 352:
Since the downfall of popery, and the cessation of its excommunications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word of God. They care no longer for the churches: they have ceased to fear and honour God. It is the duty of the elector, as supreme chief, to watch over and defend the sacred work, which every one abandons. It is his duty to oblige the cities and villages, to raise schools, sound masterships, and support pastors, as they are bound to make bridges, roads, and raise public edifices. I would wish, if it were possible, to leave these men without preacher or pastor, and let them live like swine. There is no longer any fear or love of God among them. After throwing off the yoke of the pope, every one wishes to live as he pleases. But it is the duty of all, especially of the prince, to bring up youth in the fear and love of the Lord, and provide them with teachers and pastors. If the old people care not for these things, let them go to the d—l. But it would be a shame for the government to let the youth wallow in the mire of ignorance and vice" [Luther's werke, Ed. of Altenberg, t. III. p. 519. Reinhard's Sämmtliche Reformations predigten, t. 3. p. 445].
Audin cites the same references (also in his original French version) as Spalding, and in fact, every
example of the quote I could find (in this English form) used the same documentation. Looking at the later reference first, here is Reinhard's Reformations Predigtentom, iii, p. 445-446. This context contains a discussion about Luther's view on schools and education, including an extended passage from Luther's  An die Ratsherren aller Städte deutschen Landes, dass sie christliche Schulen aufrichten und halten sollen (1524) (LW 45:339-378), but there is no inclusion of the quote in question. The context presented by both Audin and Spalding give off the appearance that the quote is from Luther's 1530 treatise, "A Sermon on Keeping Children in School" (LW 46:207-257), but the quote is not found in that treatise either.

In regard to the first reference, "Luther's werke, Ed. of Altenberg, t. III. p. 519," this is to the Altenberg edition of Luther's works, "Die Altenburger Ausgabe von Luthers" (1661-1664),  Alle Deutschen Bücher und Schrifften des theuren, seeligen Mannes Gottes, Doctor Martini Lutheri: XXV.-XXVIII. Jahr, Volume 3. Here is page 519.



The quote is from a letter Luther penned to Elector John of Saxony, November 22, 1526.  The letter can also be found in WA Br 4:135-137 (a nice clear German copy of the letter can be found here). As alluded to by O'Hare, the text is in Walch (21:156). The letter was not included in the English edition of Luther's Works, but was translated by Preserved Smith in Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, vol II, p.383-385. There is another English translation here, and a partial English translation here.

Context
743. LUTHER TO THE ELECTOR JOHN OF SAXONY.
DeWette, iii, 135. German. (Wittenberg), November 22, 1526. 
Grace and peace in Christ. Serene, highborn Prince, gracious Lord. For a long time I have brought no supplications to your Grace, and they have now accumulated. I hope your Grace will .be patient. There is nothing else for me to do. 
In the first place, gracious Lord, the complaints of the pastors almost everywhere are immeasurably great. The peasants will simply not give any more, and so great is this ingratitude for God's holy Word among the people that beyond all doubt God has a great plague in store for us. If I knew how to do it with a good conscience I would even help to bring it about that they should have no pastors or preachers and live like swine, as, indeed, they do. There is no fear of God and no discipline any longer, for the papal ban is abolished and everyone does what he will
But because all of us, and especially the rulers, are commanded to care for the poor children who are born every day and are growing up, and to keep them in the fear of God and under discipline, we must have schools and pastors and preachers. If the older people do not want them, they may go to the devil; but if the young people are neglected and are not trained, it is the fault of the rulers, and the land will be filled with wild, loose-living people. Thus not only God's command, but our own necessity compels us to find some way out of the difficulty.
But now the enforced rule of the Pope and the clergy is at an end in your Grace's dominions, and all the monasteries and foundations fall into your Grace's hands as the ruler, the duty and the difficulty of setting these things in order comes with them. No one assumes it, or can or ought assume it. Therefore, as I have said to your Grace's chancellor, and to Nicholas von Ende, it will be necessary for your Grace, as the person whom God has called to this work and entrusted with the remedy, to have the land visited as quickly as possible by four persons; two whose specialty is taxes and property, and two who are competent to pass on doctrine and character. These men, at your Grace's command, ought to have the schools and parishes set in order and provided for, where it is necessary.
If there is a town or a village which can do it, your Grace has the power to compel it to support schools, preaching places and parishes. If they are unwilling to do this or to consider it for their own salvation's sake, then your Grace is the supreme guardian of the youth and of all who need his guardianship, and ought to hold them to it by force, so that they must do it. It is just like compelling them by force to contribute and to work for the building of bridges and roads, or any other of the country's needs. 
What the country needs and must have ought to be given and helped along by those who use and enjoy the country. Now there is no more necessary thing than the education of the people who are to come after us and be the rulers. But if they cannot do it and are overburdened with other things, there are the monastic properties which were established chiefly for the purpose of relieving the common man, and ought still be used for that purpose. Your Grace can easily think that in the end there would be an evil rumor, and one that could not be answered, if the schools and the parishes went down and the nobles were to appropriate the monastic properties for themselves. This charge is already made, and some of them are doing it. Since then these properties are of no benefit to your Grace's treasury, and were given in the first place for purposes of worship, they ought rightly to serve this purpose first of all. What remains over your Grace can apply to the country's needs, or give to the poor. 
In the second place, Doctor Carlstadt has earnestly begged me to write your Grace to allow him to live at Kemberg, for he cannot stay in the villages because of the churlishness of the peasants, as your Grace can learn from this letter of his and the one to John von Greffendorf; and yet he shrinks from writing to your Grace himself. Since he has so far been quiet in public, and some of us, including Hans Metzsch, think it is a good thing because the provost of Kemberg could more easily have an eye on him, therefore I, too, humbly ask that your Grace will graciously grant him his request, although your Grace has already done a great deal and made himself much talked about on his account. God will repay your Grace the more richly. For his soul he is himself responsible; to his body and his family we ought to do good. The grace of God be with us. Amen.
 Your Grace's humble servant, Martin Luther
After going through this text, it becomes apparent that Audin (and his English translator) were a little loose with their translation of the context. The first thought in the German fourth paragraph actually appears to be the first thought in Audin's translation:  "But now the enforced rule of the Pope and the clergy is at an end" =  "Since the downfall of popery, and the cessation of its excommunications and spiritual penalties." The opening of the fourth paragraph in German text reads, "Nun aber in... Fürstenthum päbstlich und geistlicher Zwang und Ordnung aus ist." Audin completely took out "Erstlich, gnädigster Herr, ist des Klagens über alle Maß viel der Pfarrherrn fast an allen Orten" and appears to have replaced it with a translation of "Nun aber in... Fürstenthum päbstlich und geistlicher Zwang und Ordnung aus is"! This sentence from the fourth paragraph has to do with the fact that sine the Papal rule had ended in Germany, the "monasteries and foundations" were now under the control of the Elector. Martin Brecht explains, "In taking over the monasteries and foundations, significant portions of the possessions of the church had come to the sovereign, and therefore he was responsible for regulating the church's financial affairs" (Brecht, Luther 2, p. 280). In context, Luther is saying that since the papal rule has come to end, "the monasteries and foundations fall into your Grace's hands as the ruler." In the English translation I've utilized (Preserved Smith), what had ended was an "enforced papal rule" that produced funds to support local parishes. If one compares the rest of Audin's translation of the letter (above) with the original, there are some other curious features. For instance, Audin interjects comments made much later in the letter into earlier places. Notice where he puts the part about "bridges, roads, and raise public edifices." This he places before "I would wish, if it were possible, to leave these men without preacher or pastor." Overall, Audin created a piece of propaganda.

Historical Context
The context is a snapshot of the historical financial crisis of the local parishes and Luther's concern.  Arthur Cushman McGiffert has a helpful discussion of the situation starting here. This author states,
One of the principal difficulties the new movement had to face was the lack of adequate financial support. In many cases those in control of ecclesiastical livings were out of sympathy with the Reformation and refused to employ the funds for the support of evangelical preachers. In other cases the abolition of indulgences, private masses, and the like, greatly reduced the income of the churches, and too little was left to maintain a regular incumbent. In the summer of 1525, Luther advised the new elector not to respect the right of patronage when it operated to the disadvantage of the Reformation, and in the autumn he urged him to use his authority to prevent the complete impoverishment of the churches and to turn existing funds to the support of the gospel. Thus he wrote on the thirty-first of October:
"As the university is now in good order and the subject of worship has been taken in hand, there are two other matters demanding the attention of your Grace as civil ruler. The first is the wretched condition of the parishes. No one gives, no one pays. Offerings have ceased, and regular incomes are lacking altogether or are too meager. The common man respects neither preacher nor pastor, so that unless the parishes and pulpits are taken in hand by your Grace, and proper support provided, in a short time there will be no homes for the clergy left, and no schools or pupils. Thus God's word and service will fall to the ground. Therefore may your Grace permit God to make still further use of you, and may you be his true instrument, to your Grace's comfort and satisfaction of conscience. For to this God certainly calls you through us and through the existing need. Your Grace will find a way of doing it. There are cloisters, foundations, endowments, and funds enough, if your Grace will appropriate them to this purpose. God will also add his blessing, and will give the business success."
 In the letter from November 22, Luther suggests forming a small committee to visit the local churches to assess the situation. McGiffert reports that this advice was followed, and these visits "found things in a very deplorable state." According to Martin Brecht:
One of the chief considerations was assuring that pastors and teachers receive a regular income. The difficulties that remained in this field occupied [Luther] for many years and had to be addressed again and again. Although large sums had earlier been spent for the clergy, now people were unwilling to give even a portion for pastors and teachers, so they had to go hungry or were considerably underpaid. Luther saw this as disdain for God and his Word. 
Brecht also includes a discussion about the letter from November 22, 1526, "The peasants were no longer paying their church obligations, and God's punishment for such ingratitude toward his Word was making itself known. Now that the sanction of the ban no longer existed, the will to pay had collapsed" (Brecht 2, 280-281).

Conclusion
The context certainly does not prove Luther was showing "remorse on the effects of his 'faith alone and flee from good works' doctrine" as the Catholic Answers participant suggests.  Rather, Luther was quite committed to the Reformation on November 22, 1526, this despite his angry concern for the lack of funds being contributed to the welfare of the new church.

When some of Rome's defenders read Luther's comments from this letter, they view them as his admission to the failure of the Reformation. If one were to turn the argument around, the previous societal situation in which people were compelled to support the Papal church must mean that the "gospel" of the papal church was a success. This hardly follows, since many within the Roman church now admit to the societal and financial abuses perpetrated by her previous to the Reformation. People contribute funds to all sorts of organizations. If one simply uses the financial success of a church as proof for its God-ordained "gospel," then Benny Hinn or the Mormon church must be demonstrating the positive effects of their teaching.

The letter is straightforward: people had been previously compelled to support the papacy, and the papacy supported the local parishes. Now that people were no longer being compelled, the people no longer gave enough funds to maintain the local churches. Perhaps Rome's defenders see this as an immediate "failure" of the Reformation. Perhaps. Would it not make more sense though to see this situation as the growing pains of churches now cut off from the Papal machine? Of course funds were insufficient. Had you or I been financially bled by an an institution, freedom from it would give one pause before contributing somewhere else. Regardless, the Lutheran church did manage to financially survive past the sixteenth century, and continues to this day. 

Of course Luther would complain about the lack of financial support for the church. Is this complaining "remorse" for the "effects" of the gospel? Not at all, despite his lamenting over the situation, Luther went on to preach the gospel and be an advocate for the well-being of the local churches for the rest of his life.