Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Interfaith Mary: "Mother Mary And Martin Luther," Reviewed

The web-page, Mother Mary And Martin Luther was put together by a Roman Catholic convert  ("an interfaith, bridge building kind of woman"). The author demonstrates the odd diversity among those claiming to be within the confines of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church. This convert hosts the "Interfaith Mary" site. According to the bio page, the author hopes for "the ordination of Catholic women priests soon," and claims to "attend mass almost every day, spend 2-3 hours daily in some kind of spiritual practice, and fast twice a week. All this is in response to the call of Mother Mary in her apparitions in Medjugorje." This person embraces Marian devotion with an interesting twist: she disagrees with Mary (or rather, the apparitions of Mary) on some issues, like reincarnation, divorce and celibacy. The author also appears to embrace some form of universalism (as demonstrated in the picture on the left).

Let's take a closer look at the interpretation of Martin Luther's Mariology put forth by the Interfaith Mary website. We'll see a number of flaws, including poor documentation, unsubstantiated assertions, out-of-context quotes, untenable historical conclusions, and in some instances, a rewording and plagiarism of someone else's article about Luther's Mariology. Overall, we'll see that the "interfaith" Luther being presented was not the Luther of history.
Martin Luther (like most theologians) condemned any Christian who regards Mary as equal to Jesus or who implies that Jesus alone is somehow incomplete without a feminine expression of God by his side. This is what patriarchal training taught his mind to think. His heart on the other hand, seems to have known that it did indeed need a heavenly mother along with its heavenly father. And so he confessed: "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart." (Sermon, Sept. 1st 1522)
The opening sentences expresses the author's leanings towards some sort of undefined feminist theology. The implication appears to be that Martin Luther and "most theologians" (males?) hold an imbalanced understanding of the attributes and/or relationship of Jesus Christ and Mary, and that error stems from "patriarchal training." The author also appears to be saying that cerebral facts about theology are trumped by internal feelings because the evidence shows that despite the patriarchal theological system he was reared in, Martin Luther's "heart" needed a "heavenly mother." This is the typical heart vs. head dichotomy,  a logically inconsistent paradigm that ignores the obvious: it's the head that says heart reasoning has a superior knowledge. Perhaps there's a bit of truth with the heart / head reasoning model in that, people do reason according to what their "heart" (emotions, passions, feelings, etc,) are committed to, including feminism, universalism, reincarnation, etc.

For proof of this paradigm, Luther "confessed" on Sept 1, 1522 that "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart." The date for this quote is wrong, it actually comes from a sermon dated September 8. The dating error popularly exists in cyberspace because whoever originally cut-and-pasted this quote never checked it for accuracy. Luther isn't saying what this Mariologist thinks he is saying, that Luther's "heart" needed a "heavenly mother." In context, Luther's point is that whatever respect Mary was due to her, the church of his day had collectively gone far beyond it. "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart" is not a positive statement, but a negative statement. This sentence placed back in its context is in regard to excessive Marian devotion, a devotion so rooted in the human heart that "no one wants to hear any opposition to this celebration" of the feast of Mary's birth. Luther goes on to wish this festival day in regard to Mary should be forgotten,  "For there is nothing in the Scriptures about it [Mary's birth]."  Rome distinguishes between kinds of worship. Mary can receive the highest form of worship/veneration, hyper-dulia, short of the worship of God. This type of worship is expressed in prayers, songs, ceremonies and pilgrimages. Luther abandoned the  latria / dulia distinction because biblically, it refers to the same thing. If you search out the times Luther used the word “veneration,” you will find most often an entirely negative meaning applied to the term. The question that needs to be asked to the Interfaith Mary author is what exactly is Marian devotion and veneration? What does it mean for her particular brand of Roman Catholicism to be devoted to or venerate Mary, and what does it mean for Luther to be devoted to or venerate Mary? They are not the same thing.
If one believed Rev. Peter Stravinskas, then this inscription on his heart would be reflected in the inscription on his tomb. Stravinskas published a generally good article on "The Place of Mary in Classical Fundamentalism", but I'm afraid his source made one pious mistake: It maintains that the relief of the Coronation of the Virgin and inscription by Peter Vischer the Younger which is to be found in the Wittenberger Schlosskirche, where Luther is buried, goes with Luther's tomb. I wish it were so, but actually it is the memorial plaque for Henning Göde, the last Catholic Prior of the church, who died in 1521, right during the most turbulent time of Luther’s Reformation.One might credit all the generations of Protestants who took no offense with this very Catholic plaque right next to Luther’s and left it there.
Kudos to the Interfaith Mary website for debunking this false fact. Unfortunately, the Luther's-burial-vault-Mary's-inscription myth still pops up from time to time. Even earlier versions of this Interfaith Mary web-page perpetuated it, see particularly the 2004 version and the 2005 version. In these earlier versions "This inscription on his heart is reflected in the inscription on his tomb" was not negated, but rather served as support for the previous Luther "veneration" quote. The major culprit for the Luther-tomb-myth has been Rome's defender, Peter Stravinskas. His source that "made one pious mistake" was the 1970 Marian Studies article by William Cole: Was Luther a Devotee of Mary? (pages 193-194). Cole states, "... yet is beyond dispute that the sepulcher of Luther has a Marian sculpture." Cole gives off the impression that it was Luther's tomb. He ambiguously says, "Luther was buried by the tomb of Henningus Goden. The sculptural chamber had been adorned by Peter Vischer in 1521 with a sculptural representation of the coronation of Mary..." Perhaps this was simply poorly worded by Cole, yet the information was deliberately worded to prove Cole's earlier assertion that "Luther himself wished to retain images of Mary in homes as well as in Churches." This is the only shred of evidence Cole provides in this section to prove Luther wish to retain Mary images in churches. Cole does not provide any information as to why the sculpture was placed in the tomb, he simply declares it to be Luther's doing.
Generally Luther was against any invocations of saints and against asking for their intercession. But Mother Mary, whom he was happy to call the Mother of God, was a case apart, unlike any other saint. This is probably because he recognized the Biblical precedent for Mary’s intercession. After all, at the wedding in Cana, she obtained help from Jesus for the party even though her son tried to resist her nudging. (John 2 :1-11) So, no wonder that Catholics say, Jesus can’t refuse the requests of his mother.
"Generally" is only a correct way to describe Luther's rejection of the use of the saints if one considers that earlier in his Reformation career, he did allow for the intercession of the saints and Mary. However, for the bulk of his Reformation career, he denied it, including asking for Mary's intercession (she was not an exception or a "case apart"). This denial was not simply a passionless admittance from time to time. Saint worship was equivalent to heathenism, idolatry, and a rejection of Christ (for example, see LW 41:204). Mary was "made a common idol with countless services, celebrations, fasts, hymns, and antiphons" (LW 34:54). The pope's servants "made of Christ a judge and jailer and directed us to the dear mother of God, Mary, and other saints, as if they were our mediators and advocates who represented us before God and acquired grace for us" (LW 57:266). She was put in the place of Christ as a mediator (LW 57:114). Many more similar statements from Luther could be brought forth to demonstrate Mary was not any sort of exception to Luther's rejection of the intercession of the saints.

Therefore, that Luther "probably... recognized the Biblical precedent for Mary’s intercession" is an entirely unfounded claim. No evidence from Luther is presented as to his understanding of John 2:1-11. I found an instance that, according to Luther, Christ's harsh reply was due to Mary wanting "God's work done badly" (LW 76"244). When Mary went on to say, "Do whatever he tells you," Luther said, "the mother of Christ pointed the servants away from herself to Christ and she did not tell them: 'Do whatever I say,' but 'Do whatever he tells you.' Everyone is to be pointed in the right direction" (LW 76:245). In any of  his expositions of John 2:1-11 that I've been able to locate, Luther does not say what "Catholics say," that Christ "tried to resist her nudging" but he couldn't "refuse the request of his mother." Read for yourself some of Luther's comments on John 2:1-11 in regard to the interaction between Christ and Mary. Of the sermons Luther preached on this text I located, the subject matter is marriage, not Mary.
“In the resolutions of the 95 theses Luther rejects every blasphemy against the Virgin and thinks that one should ask for pardon for any evil said or thought against her.”
This sentence is an undocumented citation ("...").  The sentence appears to be taken from Peter Stravinskas who extracted it from William Cole's "Was Luther a Devotee of Mary?" page 116.  What Stravinskas leaves out is that Cole places the sentence in the context of Luther's "pre-Reformation period" (Cole, 115), a period in which Luther still adhered to medieval Mariolatry. The "resolutions" are Luther's further explanations of the 95 Theses. Cole is referring to the explanation of point 75 (where indulgences are so powerful that "they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness"). Luther says of this, "I am forced to call them foolish who hold such opinions, and we should beg pardon from the holy virgin because we are compelled to say and think such things" (WA 1:622; LW 31:240). Luther himself admits elsewhere that during his earlier years, he had a much greater (and misguided) reliance on Mary:  "'Christ is given to scolding and punishing, but Mary has nothing but sweetness and love.' Therefore Christ was generally feared; we fled from Him and took refuge with the saints, calling upon Mary and others to deliver us from our distress" (LW 22:377). That Luther wrote what he did in his "resolutions of the 95 theses" is not an actual expression of Luther praying to Mary, nor does it fairly represent his mature position which denied the intercession of Mary and the saints.
He preached on Mary on all her feast days, more so than most Catholic priests do today. This custom was continued for about a century after Luther’s death. He was also comfortable with keeping celebrated images of Mary in his churches where they remained until the time of “Enlightenment” in the 18th century.
This paragraph appears to be a rewrite of something from the Stravinskas article:  
[Luther's] custom of preaching Marian sermons on the Marian feasts continued in the Lutheran Church a hundred years after his death. Following the example of Luther other great songwriters of the Reformation glorified the greatness of Mary's divine maternity. This lasting piety towards the Mother of God found an outlet in piety so that generally the celebrated pictures of the Madonna and her statues from the Middle Ages were retained in Lutheran churches. According to Heiler, it was only the spirit of the Enlightenment with its lack of understanding of the mystery of the Incarnation, which in the 18th century began the work of destruction.
Stravinskas is once again citing Cole (pp. 101-102).  Cole is actually citing someone else: Friedrich Heller, whose position he refers to as "extreme" in contradistinction to earlier interpretations of Luther's Mariology (p. 101). By the time the information made it to the Interfaith Mary webpage, Heiler has been eliminated completely, even though the "extreme" points are his.

Luther abandoned the festival of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, her birth, and her Assumption, because they did not focus on Christ. He retained the Annunciation, the Visitation, and Purification. These did focus on the birth of Christ, not Mary. When one actually reads Luther’s "Marian" sermons, one finds that Mary is usually not the main subject, Christ is. Mary is often simply mentioned in passing, with perhaps a few paragraphs allotted to discussion about her. There are exceptions to this, but the older Luther became, the less his "Marian" sermons dwelled on Mary.
What did Luther think of the most famous Marian prayers? He directed that the Magnificat be sung daily in all churches. He conceded that the Hail Mary could form part of a healthy prayer life, though he doubted most believers’ ability to pray it with the correct attitude. But the Hail Holy Queen and the Queen of Heaven he condemned as extravagant and “unevangelical”.
The second sentence is a direct plagiarism of Stravinskas: "For example, he directed that the  Magnificat was to be sung daily in all churches. " The rest of the sentences appear to be reworded versions of Stravinskas from his same paragraph: "While struggling mightily with the Ave Maria , especially because he was exercised over the failure of people to pray it correctly and with the proper attitude, he did concede that it could likewise form part of the prayer life of a true believer. He concluded, on the other hand, that the 'extravagances' of the  Salve Regina and Regina Caeli were 'unevangelical.'"  Stravinskas says these comments are based on Cole, pp. 183-190.

Cole says that in 1544 Luther "asked that in all churches the canticle of the sung daily, since it is inspired by the Holy Spirit" (Cole, 183; He cites WA 49:492 and WA 29:451). Luther does not mean singing the Magnificat in devotion to Mary! The Magnificat is to be used because it is "inspired by the Holy Spirit." The "Hail Mary" comments appear to be summarizing Cole's lengthy and complicated discussion of Luther's view (see my review here of Cole's view). If in Roman Catholicism the Hail Mary is fundamentally a prayer to Mary, that's not what Luther had in mind. For Luther, one could praise God for the gifts given to Mary, but praying to her, or using her as an intercessor was not spiritually correct. Cole notes Luther explicitly says, "It is no prayer." Luther was not a radical reformer: instead of abandoning the Hail Mary, Luther allowed it as a form of meditation and a way to praise God, even though "It were best that the Hail Mary should entirely be laid aside because of the abuses connected with it." If it has to be used at all, this is how one uses it correctly with a "good (firm) faith," as a contemplative meditation. For the "Hail Holy Queen and the Queen of Heaven" prayers, the Interfaith Mary webpage is correct in mentioning Luther's severe disapproval. The word attributed to Luther, "unevangelical" (done so by both Interfaith Mary and Peter Stravinskas) was probably lifted from Cole: "The Reformation turned against all prayers and songs that contained unevangelical statements" (Cole, 188). It doesn't appear to be a word Luther used in describing these false prayers, (if it was, it was their responsibility to document it).  Stravinskas attributes the word "extravagances" to Luther as well, but I've yet to find where he took it from Cole's article.

In the final section of the Interfaith Mary article, eight of Luther's Marian statements are listed. Most of them are not adequately documented. They look like cut-and-pastes from Roman Catholic webpages that were circulating in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Some of Rome's better known apologists are responsible for popularizing a few of the quotes in these bogus forms. Most of them were taken from secondary sources, not an actual reading of the appropriate contexts, and I suspect that even those taken directly from Luther were not taken from the author's actual reading of Luther. Let's briefly take a look at them:
 Luther quotes on Mary:
"(She is the) highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ … She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still, honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to hurt neither Christ nor the scriptures." (Sermon, Christmas, 1531)
I've addressed this quote here. It originally came from Cole's article. It isn't one quote, it's two quotes from two different pages of Luther's sermon pasted together to make one quote. Typical of Luther, the majority of the sermon isn't about Mary. Rather, the first sections are about the blessed mystery of the humanity of Jesus. Luther goes on for the first 16 points and barely mentions Mary. In the primary sources I checked,  I didn't find the phrases "wisdom and holiness personified" or "injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures." 

There's no denying Luther said lofty and nice things about Mary. Luther though abandoned the distinction between latria and dulia, so, Luther saying nice things about Mary does not equal Rome's version of devotion to Mary, especially the "Mary" of the Interfaith Mary website. She believes that Mary was chosen by God because of her own innate qualities: she was special and holy without Jesus, which was why she was chosen to become his mother.  She says elsewhere, "God chose Mary for her own qualities to become his mother. Before she conceived Jesus" and "Mary didn’t become holy because Jesus was her son; Jesus became her son because she was already holy." In the same context this Luther quote comes from, he goes on to say,
"If one praises the mother, the praise ought to be like the wide ocean. If either one is to be forgotten, it is better to forget the mother rather than the child. Under the papacy, however, the child has all but been forgotten, and attention riveted only on the mother. But the mother has not been born for our sakes; she does not save us from sin and death. She has, indeed, begotten the Savior! for this reason we are to wean ourselves away from the mother and bind ourselves firmly to this child alone!"
These sentences occur immediately after the quote used by the Interfaith Mary website. It's obvious to see the selective citation employed by the author (if she actually read Luther's context). For Luther, Mary is to be forgotten if she gets in the way of Jesus Christ. Contrarily, the author believes "Mary’s power and grace come from all three persons of the trinity." This is the opposite of Luther's Mary. Even with his lofty description of her in his commentary on the Magnificat, Luther reiterates how Mary is nothing without Christ: "O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, you were nothing and all despised; yet God in His grace regarded you and worked such great things in you" (LW 21:322), "as we ascribe merit and worthiness to her, we lower the grace of God and diminish the truth of the Magnificat" (LW 21:322), "Whoever, therefore, would show her the proper honor must not regard her alone and by herself, but set her in the presence of God and far beneath Him, must there strip her of all honor, and regard her low estate" (LW 21:322).   
"It is the consolation and the superabundant goodness of God, that humanity is able to exult in such a treasure. Mary is its true Mother …" (Sermon, Christmas, 1529)
"Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us, even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees… If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is we ought also to be, and all that he has ought also to be ours, and his mother is also our mother." (Sermon, Christmas 1529)
I'm uncertain which secondary source these quote were lifted from. I traced their online life as far back as 1998. The date for the sermon is actually 1522, not 1529, but it was republished many times. The contexts can be found in LW 52:15-16 and LW 75:216. In those context there's nothing shocking or focused on Mary. Luther's point is that "Christ is born for you and his birth is yours." His birth is given to his people spiritually: "In this manner Christ takes to himself our birth and absorbs it in his birth; he presents us with his birth so that we become pure and new in it, as if it were our own, so that every Christian might rejoice in this birth of Christ and glory in it no less than if he, too, like Christ, had been born bodily of Mary" (LW 52: 15). "This is the great joy, of which the angel speaks, this is the consolation and the superabundant goodness of God, that man (if he has this faith) may boast of such treasure as that Mary is his real mother, Christ his brother, and God his father" (LW 52:15).  "But see to it that you make his birth your own, and that you make an exchange with him, so that you rid yourself of your birth and receive, instead, his. This happens, if you have this faith. By this token you sit assuredly in the Virgin Mary’s lap and are her dear child. This faith you have to practice and to pray for as long as you live; you can never strengthen it enough. That is our foundation and our inheritance; on it the good works are to be built" (LW 52:16). Luther's emphasis is on the connection of the believer to Christ, not on Mary's spiritual maternity. Notice how the author cut out "Christ his brother, and God his father" from her citation of Luther! Read an excerpt of the extended context here
"People have crowded all her glory into a single phrase: The Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the tress." (From the Commentary of the Magnificat)
I'm uncertain as to which secondary source this quote was lifted from. A similar online version can be found as far back as 2000 (with the word "men" used instead of the inclusive, "people").  The quote does come from Luther's exposition of The Magnificat (It can be found at LW 21:326). A footnote at this very place in the LW text describes Luther's comments here as "elements of medieval Marian piety." In Luther's exposition, he does write lofty things about Mary, and it should be admitted that Rome's defenders are within their right to point to this evidence. There are other Roman Catholics though that think Luther's treatise is not the positive Mariology it purports to be. Hartmann Grisar saw it as "an unbridled spirit of attack and of hate."Hilda Graef  "thought the spirit differs considerably from that of the traditional interpretation" [Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion Vol. II (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965), pp. 7-8].  In this very context, Mary's "glory" is that she bore Christ. Luther goes on to say, "Though certain scribblers make much ado about her worthiness for such motherhood, I prefer to believe her rather than them. She says her low estate was regarded by God, not thereby rewarding her for anything she had done, but, 'He has done great things for me,' He has done this of His own accord without any doing of mine. For never in all her life did she think to become the Mother of God, still less did she prepare or make herself meet for it" (LW 21:327).  Whatever niceties Luther was saying about Mary, it was different than that which was popular at the time, and different than the interpretation of the Interfaith Mary author.
"God did not receive his divinity from Mary, but it does not follow that it is therefore wrong to say that God was born of Mary, that God is Mary’s Son, and that Mary is God’s mother. … She is the true mother of God and bearer of God. … Mary suckled God, rocked God to sleep, prepared broth and soup for God, etc. For God and man are one person, one Christ, one Son, one Jesus, not two Christs… just as your son is not 2 sons… even though he has two natures, body and soul, the body from you, the soul from God alone." (On the Councils of the Church, 1539)
I'm uncertain which secondary source this quote was lifted from. I traced its online life as far back as 1998. It may be that whoever compiled this quote actually took it directly from LW 41. Whoever did it, it's obviously poorly documented (no page number or edition). Its compilation is even more troubling. The first sentence appears at LW 41: 99, the rest (separated by a fair amount of text) is a choppy citation from LW 41:100. One would never know from this pieced together quote that Luther is critiquing the Christology of Nestorius and his trouble with the phrase "mother of God." Some contemporary Protestants may distance themselves from the title, “Mother of God,” and perhaps for good reason. The term has evolved in its usage. What was once a rich theological term expressing a doctrinal truth about Christ developed quickly into a venerating praise to Mary. Unlike modern Protestants, Luther did not shy away from using the term, “Mother of God,” and he was fully cognizant of its correct usage.
Luther believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity and in her Immaculate Conception. Only the latter he didn’t think should be a dogma that people are obliged to believe. "It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul, infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin." (Sermon, "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God", 1527)
These are shockers that Rome's defenders often utilize. Yes, Luther did have a lifelong belief in her perpetual virginity. He also did hold to the immaculate conception, but only early in his career. I've argued elsewhere he did not maintain it. Luther's later view appears to be that at Christ's conception the Holy Spirit sanctified Mary so that the child would be born with non-sinful flesh and blood. It's true that he says that people are not obliged to believe in the immaculate conception as dogma (LW 32:79-80).

I've done a lot of work on the quote Interfaith Mary provided. This quote made its way into a cyber space when one of Rome's defenders took it from Hartmann Grisar's, Luther Vol. IV. What Rome's defenders typically leave out is Grisar's analysis: he says the quote was eliminated from the text not long after it was published. There's even speculation that the quote didn't originate from Luther at all, but rather Stephan Roth (LW 58:434-435, fn. 10). See my full analysis here.
"…she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin… God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil… God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her." (Luther’s Works, ed. H. Lehmann, Fortress Press, 1968, vol. 43, p.40). 
This quote was taken from LW 43:40, with only minor editing by whoever originally compiled it. It comes from Luther's Personal Prayer Book, 1522. This quote was written before Luther's position on Mary's sinlessness changed. Rather than discussing Mary’s sinlessness, Luther's later writings insist Christ’s sinlessness was due entirely to the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit during his conception. In 1532 he preached: "Mother Mary, like us, was born in sin of sinful parents, but the Holy Spirit covered her, sanctified and purified her so that this child was born of flesh and blood, but not with sinful flesh and blood" (Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, Vol. 3, ed. John Nicholas Lenker.  (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 291).
"We can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her." (Personal Prayer Book, 1522)
Despite the shoddy documentation, this quote is also from Luther's Personal Prayer Book, 1522 (LW 43:39). One thing that isn't clear in this sparse presentation is exactly who Luther says the Hail Mary is supposed to be directed to. The "meditation" and "respect" is not to go to Mary, because as Luther wrote in the same context,  "no one should put his trust or confidence in the Mother of God or in her merits, for such trust is worthy of God alone and is the lofty service due only to him" (LW 43:39). He gives the following analogy of how the prayer should be used:
It is very much the same when I am moved by a view of the heavens, the sun, and all creation to exalt him who created everything, bringing all this into my prayer and praise, saying: O God, Author of such a beautiful and perfect creation, grant to me.… Similarly, our prayer should include the Mother of God as we say: O God, what a noble person you have created in her! May she be blessed! And so on. And you who honored her so highly, grant also to me.… (LW 43:39).
He says also, "we should make the Hail Mary neither a prayer nor an invocation because it is improper to interpret the words beyond what they mean in themselves and beyond the meaning given them by the Holy Spirit" (LW 43:39). One could use it to meditate on the gifts of grace God gave to Mary, thereby knowing the biblical personage Mary and respect her. He goes on to add, "in the present no one speaks evil of this Mother and her Fruit as much as those who bless her with many rosaries and constantly mouth the Hail Mary. These, more than any others, speak evil against Christ’s word and faith in the worst way" (LW 43:40).

If you engage Rome's apologists at some point you will come across Roman Catholic criticism of Martin Luther. Fairly common topics include: Luther’s alleged antinomianism, his rejection of certain canonical books, his alleged desire to be a Protestant pope, or his responsibility for Nazi Germany. Interestingly though, when it comes to the topic of Mary, Roman Catholic sentiment towards Luther shifts considerably. Luther becomes the staunch supporter of Mary; a leader that all contemporary Protestants should learn a great lesson in Mariology from. This drastic shift is puzzling; particularly since Luther’s abandoning of the intercession of the saints and his doctrine of justification significantly changes his Marian approach. It's true, Luther had a Mariology. It reflected his commitment to Christ, and stood in antithesis to popular Catholic belief in the sixteenth century. While there may be some points of agreement with Rome's current Mariology, It's fundamentally a different Mary. Luther's Mary isn't to be prayed to or be worshiped. If nice things are to be said about her, they are not said to her. They are said to God.

Interfaith Mary's Mother Mary And Martin Luther has been around since at least 2004. I've even mentioned it a few times on this blog. My concerns are with the quality of the material being disseminated by the article.  The author claims a theological degree, a "director of religious education," and attends "mass almost every day," spending "2-3 hours daily in some kind of spiritual practice." One would've expected a different caliber article based on the credentials. Perhaps we'll at least see a future revision that reflects truth and accuracy. 

1 comment:

zipper778 said...

I know that this is an older post now, but I wanted to thank you for posting the debunking of the "Luther's-burial-vault-Mary's-inscription myth". I have watched the debate between White and Stravinskas over Purgatory and that one bit of evidence that Stravinskas gave seemed odd to me. I'd never read anything in Luther's writings that would make me think that he would wish to be buried like that, so I always suspected that this was yet another piece of false information coming from a Roman Catholic apologist. So, again, thank you.

Btw, that Purgatory debate is devastating to the Roman Catholic position. Here is a self proclaimed apologist and he had virtually no rebuttal to Dr. White. I wish I could have been in the audience that day.