Sunday, September 23, 2018

Calvin: We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself

Here's a curious Roman Catholic use of a quote from John Calvin:
We all know obedience is a bad word in Protestantism. People LOVE doing what they want to do and not being told they can't. That's the heart of Protestantism. "Nobody tells me what to do or think, even about my own salvation." It's devilishly attractive too. (link)
You should obey John Calvin and your pastors. He said so. "We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself." (Calvin's letter to Sadoleto) (link)
In the context of the discussion, all Protestants are portrayed as blatant antinomians, heeding no one but their own inner feelings. John Calvin's words are then put forth to demonstrate that authority-denying Protestants should heed the words of a founding Protestant and submit to church authority.  Let's take a look at this quote and see what exactly Calvin was saying.


Documentation
The documentation provided is "Calvin's letter to Sadoleto." It's odd to find one of Rome's defenders citing this treatise. Sadoleto was the archbishop of Carpentras. He was seeking to sway Geneva back to Roman Catholicism. Calvin had been ejected from Geneva, but was requested to respond on their behalf. Calvin's entire tract is a strong argument against Rome and stands as one of the Reformation's most popular writings. It's ironic, therefore, to find one of Rome's defenders sifting this tract to find material for polemical use.

I found two English versions of this sentence with one minor difference. Some texts use "We admit therefore, that..."  for instance in the Selected Works of John Calvin, vol. 1, p.114 (pdf). There is also another version with an extra comma: "We admit, therefore, that..." as in this text.  While this  other Roman blogger uses the quote here, there does not appear to be heavy Roman Catholic use of this quote. I mention this because It may actually be that the defender of Rome utilizing this quote actually sifted it himself, which is somewhat of a rare occurrence. Rome's cyber-defenders typically do not read Calvin. They simply utilize secondary sources.

Context
Calvin actually argues against the absolute authority of the Roman church. He states, "That I may altogether disarm you [Sadoleto] of the authority of the Church, which, as your shield of Ajax, you ever and anon oppose to us, I will show, by some additional examples, how widely you differ from that holy antiquity." He then goes on to list numerous examples of why the Roman church does not have the pedigree of authority,  juxtaposing this against the true authority of the universal church:
Ours be the humility, which, beginning with the lowest, and paying respect to each in his degree, yields the highest honor and respect to the Church, in subordination, however, to Christ the Church's head; ours the obedience, which, while it disposes us to listen to our elders and superiors, tests all obedience by the word of God; in fine, ours the Church, whose supreme-care it is humbly and religiously to venerate the word of God, and submit to its authority (link).
Calvin then contrasts the Roman church with the Protestant church:
But whatever the character of the men, still you say it is written, "What they tell you, do." No doubt, if they sit in the chair of Moses. But when, from the chair of verity, they intoxicate the people with folly it is written, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," (Matthew 16:6.) It is not ours, Sadolet to rob the Church of any right which the goodness of God not only has conceded to her, but strictly guarded for her by numerous prohibition. For, as pastors are not sent forth by Him to rule the Church with a licentious and lawless authority, but are astricted to a certain rule of duty which they must not exceed, so the Church is ordered (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1) to see that those who are appointed over her on these terms faithfully accord with their vocation. But we must either hold the testimony of Christ of little moment, or must hold it impious to infringe in the least degree on the authority of those whom he has invested with such splendid titles! Nay, it is you who are mistaken in supposing that the Lord set tyrants over his people to rule them at pleasure, when he bestowed so much authority on those whom he sent to promulgate the gospel. Your error lies here, viz., in not reflecting that their power, before they were furnished with it, was circumscribed within certain limits. We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself, but they must be pastors who execute the office entrusted to them. And this office, we maintain, is not presumptuously to introduce whatever their own pleasure has rashly devised, but religiously and in good faith to deliver the oracles which they have received at the mouth of the Lord. For within these boundaries Christ confined the reverence which he required to be paid to the Apostles; nor does Peter (1 Peter 4:11) either claim for himself or allow to others anything more than that, as often as they speak among the faithful, they speak as from the mouth of the Lord. Paul, indeed, justly extols (2 Corinthians 12:10) the spiritual power with which he was invested, but with this proviso, that it was to avail only for edification, was to wear no semblance of domination, was not to be employed in subjugating faith (link).
Conclusion
From the context, one can see that Calvin is careful to distinguish Rome's alleged authority over against the actual authority of the church as derived from Scripture. Notice that the sentence being used was not cited in full: "We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself, but they must be pastors who execute the office entrusted to them." Calvin is arguing that one is not to blindly bow down to the authority of the church. Her authority is to be followed if the offices are obedient to Christ, and are not corrupt and abusive. Calvin goes on to say that even if the pope could be proven to have been the successor of Peter, it wouldn't matter if the pope did not maintain his fidelity to Christ and the purity of the gospel. Rome's defenders, particularly many of them in the sixteenth century, were defending the alleged infallible authority of a corrupt institution. It's simply unfair to rip Calvin's words from their context and apply them to the current condition of the Protestant church.

Rome's defender though does have a valid point with his Calvin quote in one sense: there are indeed "Protestants" (for lack of a better word), that are a law unto themselves. They are the type I refer to as, "Me in the woods, under a shady tree, with my Bible, waiting to hear directly from the Holy Spirit." For such people, confessions of faith, pastors, elders, deacons, any sort of organized structure, is inconsequential. Even more abhorrent is to suggest to such a person that church history is a beneficial enterprise, documenting the ways in which the Spirit of God has worked with His church.  For people like this, I consider them more the in the vein of Anabaptism and the radical Reformation, or as Luther referred to them, Schwärmer, rather than in the tradition of the magisterial Reformers.

On the other hand, Rome's defender does not have a valid point, presenting merely a caricature and strawman. I've been involved with various Protestant churches my entire life: baptist, non-denominational, mildly charismatic, and Reformed. I have friends and acquaintances in all of these traditions. All of them have authority structures in place. It's simply unfair for Rome's defenders to lump all of Protestantism into the category of antinomian radicals. In my experience, these people do not represent the majority of contemporary Protestantism.

With Roman Catholics, always keep a look out for the double standard.  Are there not Roman Catholics who disagree with the Papacy? Are there not Roman Catholics that pick and choose what they want to believe? I know Roman Catholics that do not show full obedience to what their church teaches. They are in the category I refer to as "Antinomian Roman Catholics." I was friends with one Roman Catholic that went to Mass regularly, but said he didn't believe in Purgatory. I've met more than one Roman Catholic that denies their church's stance on abortion. I've met more than one Roman Catholic that follows a different paradigm in regard to divorce and remarriage. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Luther: The Pope is not Subject to God's Commandments?

Rome's defenders often voice severe disapproval with Luther's private counsel to Jerome Weller. Weller, a man plagued by despair and depression, was instructed by Luther in a letter to "put the whole law entirely out of our eyes and hearts." A review of this letter and advice can be found here. Older generations of Rome's polemicists typically used the Weller letter to demonstrate Luther was an antinomian. Despite this myth being debunked for centuries, it still circulates in cyberspace, used by not only Rome's defenders, but just about anyone with an an ax to grind against Luther or the Reformation.

I'm so accustomed to seeing this argument against Luther that I was surprised to find a very similar argument being made by Luther himself about the papacy. In his tract, Why the Books of the Pope and His followers Were Burned by Doctor Martin Luther, 1520, the very first reason Luther gives is that they teach the following:
It is not required of the pope and his adherents that they be subject to God's commandments and obey them." He clearly writes this abominable teaching in the chapter 'Solitae", de majoritate et obedientia* where he expounds Peter's words You ought to be subject to every authority, by declaring that St. Peter did not mean himself nor his own successors, but their subjects. [Bertram Lee Wolf, Reformation Writings of Martin Luther Vol. II (London: Lutterworth Press, 1956), p. 78]. 
Did the Papacy really say that they, as an institution, were not subject to God's commands, or was Luther making it up? Who is the true antinominan... Luther or the papacy? Let's take a closer look.

Documentation
The version of this text being utilized was that done by Bertram Lee Wolf. Wolf provides a footnote (*): "A quotation from the corpus juris canonici.... Here the reference is to Solitae, 6, de majoritate et obedientia, tit.33. lib. I." For the same text, Luther's Works likewise references, "Solitae, Decretalium Gregorii IX i. tit. XXXIII: De maioritate et obedientia, cap. 6. Corpus Iuris Canonici, ed. Aemilius Friedberg (Graz, 1955), II, cols. 196–198" (LW 31:385, fn. 2). Both of these sources are referring to Corpus Iuris Canonici, or Canon Law. The particulars being referred to by Luther are the Decretales Gregorii IX. These were ordered by Pope Gregory IX. According to Luther's Works, here was Canon Law as Luther new it:
In Luther’s time canon law consisted of three parts: (1) the Decretum Gratiani, named after the monk Gratian who issued a collection in Bologna in 1150; (2) the Decretalium Gregorii IX. libri quinque, five books named after Pope Gregory IX, who continued the first collection between 1230 and 1234; and (3) the Liber sextus, the “sixth book” issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298 as a supplement to the five books. Finally, the extravagantes, and appendix, were added to the whole collection by Clement V in 1313. This addition was also called the “seventh book” (liber septimus) or “Clementine constitutions” (constitutiones Clementinae) (LW 39:281, fn. 34).
Context
I could find no full English translation of this canon law text. This link though includes the section of canon law being referred to by Luther (in Latin). When Luther cites, "Solitae," he appears to be citing the first word of the lengthy paragraph below.  The phrase, "de majoritate et obedientia" is included in the title:

D e c r e t a l i u m
G r e g o r i i  p a p a e  I X
c o m p i l a t i o n i s
 l i b e r  I
 T i t u l u s    X X X I I I
 De maioritate et obedientia.

Capitulum VI.


Imperium non praeest sacerdotio, sed subest, et ei obedire tenetur. Vel sic: Episcopus non debet subesse principibus, sed praeesse. H. d. et est multum allegabile.
Idem illustrissimo Constantinopolitano Imperatori.

Solitae benignitatis affectu +recepimus literas, quas per dilectum filium archidiaconum Durachii, virum providum et fidelem, imperialis nobis excellentia destinavit, per quas intelleximus, quod literae, quas per dilectum filium I. capellanum nostrum, tunc apostolicae sedis legatum, tibi transmisimus, imperio tuo praesentatae fuerant et perlectae. §. 1. Mirata est autem imperialis sublimitas, sicut per easdem nobis literas destinasti, quod te nisi fuimus in nostris literis aliquantulum increpare, licet non increpandi animo, sed affectu potius commonendi quod scripsimus meminerimus nos scripsisse. Huic autem tuae admirationi non causam, sed occasionem praebuit, sicut ex eisdem coniecimus literis, quod legisti, beatum Petrum Apostolorum principem sic scripsisse: «Subditi estote omni humanae creaturae propter Deum, sive regi, tanquam praecellenti, sive ducibus, tanquam ab eo missis, ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum.» +Volens enim, de quo nos rationabilius admiramur, imperatoria celsitudo per haec et alia, quae induxit, imperium sacerdotio dignitate ac potestate praeferre, ex auctoritate praemissa triplex trahere voluit argumentum, primum ex eo, quod legitur: «subditi estote;» secundum ex eo, quod sequitur: «regi tanquam praecellenti;» tertium ex eo, quod est adiectum subsequenter: «ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum;» per primum subesse sacerdotium, per secundum imperium praeeminere, per tertium imperatorem tam in sacerdotes quam laicos iurisdictionem, immo etiam gladii potestatem accepisse praesumens. Quum enim et boni quidam sint sacerdotes, et quidam eorum malefactores exsistant, is, qui secundum Apostolum gladium portat ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum, in malefacientes presbyteros excessus praesumptos potest ultore gladio vindicare, quum inter presbyteros et alios Apostolus non distinguat. §. 2. Verum si etpersonam loquentis, et eorum, ad quos loquebatur, ac vim locutionis diligentius attendisses, scribentis non expressisses taliter intellectum. Scribebat enim Apostolus subditis suis, et eos ad humilitatis meritum provocabat. Nam si per hoc, quod dixit: «subditi estote,» sacerdotibus voluit imponere iugum subiectionis, et eis praelationis auctoritatem afferre, quibus eos subiectos esse monebat, sequeretur ex hoc, quod etiam servus quilibet in sacerdotes imperium accepisset, quum dicatur: «omni humanae creaturae.» Quod autem sequitur, «regi tanquam praecellenti,» non negamus, quin praecellat imperator in temporalibus illos duntaxat, qui ab eo suscipiunt temporalia. Sed Pontifex in spiritualibus antecellit, quae tanto sunt temporalibus digniora, quanto anima praefertur corpori, licet non simpliciter dictum fuerit: «subditi estote,» sed additum fuerit: «propter Deum,» nec pure sit subscriptum: «regi praecellenti,» sed interpositum forsitan fuit non sine causa, «tanquam.» Quod autem sequitur: «ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum,» intelligendum non est, quod rex vel imperator super omnes et bonos et malos gladii acceperit potestatem, sed in eos solummodo, qui utentes gladio eius sunt iurisdictioni commissi, +iuxta quod Veritas ait: «Omnes, qui acceperint gladium, gladio peribunt.» Non enim potest aut debet quisquam servum alterius iudicare, quum servus domino suo secundum Apostolum stet aut cadat. Ad id etiam induxisti, quod, licet Moyses et Aaron secundum carnem fratres exstiterint, Moyses tamen princeps populi, et Aaron sacerdotii potestate praeerat, et Iesus successor ipsius imperium in sacerdotes accepit. David quoque rex Abiathar pontifici praeeminebat. Ceterum licet Moyses dux populi fuerit, fuit etiam et sacerdos, qui Aaron in sacerdotem unxit, et cui Propheta sacerdotium recognoscens: «Moyses» inquit «et Aaron in sacerdotibus eius.» Quod vero de Iesu, id est Iosue, ad commendandam praelationem eius scripsisti, magis secundum spiritum, quam literam debet intelligi, quia secundum Apostolum litera occidit, spiritus autem vivificat, pro eo, quod ipse veri Iesu figuram expressit, qui populum suum in terram promissionis induxit. David etiam quamvis diadema regium obtineret, Abiathar sacerdoti non tam ex dignitate regia, quam auctoritate prophetica imperabat. Verum quicquid olim fuerit in veteri testamento, nunc aliud est in novo, ex quo Christus factus est sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech, qui se non ut rex, sed ut sacerdos in ara crucis hostiam obtulit Deo Patri, per quam genus redemit humanum, circa illum praecipue, qui successor est Apostoli Petri et vicarius Iesu Christi. §. 3. Potuisses autem praerogativam sacerdotii ex eo potius intelligere, quod dictum est: non a quolibet, sed a Deo; non regi, sed sacerdoti; non de regia stirpe, sed de sacerdotali prosapia descendenti, de sacerdotibus videlicet, qui erant in Anathot: «Ecce constitui te super gentes et regna, ut evellas et dissipes, aedifices et plantes» +Dictum est etiam in divina lege: «Diis non detrahes, et principem populi tui non maledices» quae sacerdotes regibus anteponens istos Deos et alios principes appellavit. §. 4. Praeterea nosse debueras, quod fecit Deus duo magna luminaria in firmamento coeli; luminare maius, ut praeesset diei, et luminare minus, ut praeesset nocti; utrumque magnum, sed alterum maius, quia nomine coeli designatur ecclesia, iuxta quod Veritas ait: «Simile est regnum coelorum homini patri familias, qui summo mane conduxit operarios in vineam suam.» Per diem vero spiritualis accipitur, per noctem carnalis secundum propheticum testimonium: «dies diei eructat verbum, et nox nocti indicat scientiam.» Ad firmamentum igitur coeli, hoc est universalis ecclesiae, fecit Deus duo magna luminaria, id est, duas magnas instituit dignitates, quae sunt pontificalis auctoritas, et regalis potestas. Sed illa, quae praeest diebus, id est spiritualibus, maior est; quae vero [noctibus, id est] carnalibus, minor, ut, quanta est inter solem et lunam, tanta inter pontifices et reges differentia cognoscatur. Haec autem si prudenter attenderet imperatoria celsitudo, non faceret aut permitteret venerabilem fratrem nostrum Constantinopolitanum patriarcham, magnum quidem et honorabile membrum ecclesiae, iuxta scabellum pedum suorum in sinistra parte sedere, quum alii reges et principes archiepiscopis et episcopis suis, sicut debent, reverenter assurgant, et eis iuxta se venerabilem sedem assignent. +Nam et piissimus Constantinus quantum honoris exhibuerit sacerdotibus, tua sicut credimus, discretio non ignorat. §. 5. Nos autem etsi non increpando scripserimus, potuissemus tamen rationabiliter increpare, +quum B. Paulus Apostolus episcopum instruens ad Timotheum scripisse legatur. «Praedica verbum, insta opportune, importune, argue, obsecra, increpa in omni patientia et doctrina.» Non enim os nostrum debet esse ligatum, sed patere debet ad omnes, ne secundum propheticum verbum simus canes muti, non valentes latrare. Unde correctio nostra tibi non debuit esse molesta, sed magis accepta, quia pater filium, quem diligit, corripit, et Deus quos amat arguit et castigat. Debitum igitur pastoralis officii exsequimur, quum obsecramus, arguimus, increpamus, et non solum alios, sed imperatores et reges opportune et importune ad ea studemus inducere, quae divinae sunt placita voluntati. §. 6. Nobis autem in B. Petro sunt oves Christi commissae; dicente Domino: «Pasce oves meas,» non distinguens inter has oves et alias, ut alienum a suo demonstraret ovili, qui Petrum et successores ipsius magistros non recognosceret et pastores; ut illud tanquam notissimum omittamus, quod Dominus dixit ad Petrum, et in Petro dixit ad successores ipsius: «Quodcunque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum et in coelis etc.,» nihil excipiens, qui dixit: «quodcunque.» +Verum his diutius insistere nolumus, ne vel contendere videamur, vel in huiusmodi delectari, quum, si gloriari expediat, non in honore, sed in onere, non in magnitudine, sed in sollicitudine sit potius gloriandum, quum et Apostolus in infirmitatibus glorietur. Novimus esse scriptum: «Omnis qui se exaltat, humiliabitur, et qui se humiliat, exaltabitur;» et iterum: «Quanto maior es, humilia te in omnibus;» et alibi: «Deus superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam.» Propter quod exaltationem nostram in humilitate ponimus, et humilitatem nostram exaltationem maximam reputamus. Unde etiam servos non solum Dei, sed etiam servorum Dei nos esse scribimus et fatemur, et tam sapientibus quam insipientibus secundum Apostolum sumus debitores. §. 7. Utrum autem imperatoriam excellentiam ad bonum et utile per literas nostras duxerimus invitandam, utrum tibi iusta suggesserimus et honesta, tua sollicitudo discernat, quum non nisi ad utilitatem ecclesiae et terrae Hierosolymitanae subsidium nos te meminerimus invitasse. [Inspiret igitur etc.


Conclusion
At first, it appears that Luther first overstates what this text actually says. He says, "The pope and his men are not bound to be subject and obedient to God's commands" (LW 31:385). Left like this, the actual text from Canon Law does not support this, so Luther would be guilty of misusing the text. The text is not saying that the pope and papacy are not subject to all of God's commands found in Scripture, like for instance, the Decalogue. Luther though refines his point and explains which command he means:
He records this atrocious teaching clearly in the chapter where he explains the words of St. Peter, who says, "Be subject to every human institution," [1 Peter 2:13] thus: St. Peter did not thereby refer to himself or his successors, but rather to his subjects" (LW 31:385).
The text does comment on the application of 1 Peter 2:13 ("Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme..."), and says that the secular government is not above the pope and papacy in regard to authority. The Papacy need not obey secular authorities. In essence, this is a denial of a Biblical commandment, and accordingly, against God's law. The text states, "Imperium non praeest sacerdotio, sed subest, et ei obedire tenetur," and also:
Huic autem tuae admirationi non causam, sed occasionem praebuit, sicut ex eisdem coniecimus literis, quod legisti, beatum Petrum Apostolorum principem sic scripsisse: «Subditi estote omni humanae creaturae propter Deum, sive regi, tanquam praecellenti, sive ducibus, tanquam ab eo missis, ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum... 
...Verum si etpersonam loquentis, et eorum, ad quos loquebatur, ac vim locutionis diligentius attendisses, scribentis non expressisses taliter intellectum. Scribebat enim Apostolus subditis suis, et eos ad humilitatis meritum provocabat. Nam si per hoc, quod dixit: «subditi estote,» sacerdotibus voluit imponere iugum subiectionis, et eis praelationis auctoritatem afferre, quibus eos subiectos esse monebat, sequeretur ex hoc, quod etiam servus quilibet in sacerdotes imperium accepisset, quum dicatur: «omni humanae creaturae.» Quod autem sequitur, «regi tanquam praecellenti,» non negamus, quin praecellat imperator in temporalibus illos duntaxat, qui ab eo suscipiunt temporalia. Sed Pontifex in spiritualibus antecellit, quae tanto sunt temporalibus digniora, quanto anima praefertur corpori, licet non simpliciter dictum fuerit: «subditi estote,» sed additum fuerit: «propter Deum,» nec pure sit subscriptum: «regi praecellenti,» sed interpositum forsitan fuit non sine causa, «tanquam.» Quod autem sequitur: «ad vindictam malefactorum, laudem vero bonorum,» intelligendum non est, quod rex vel imperator super omnes et bonos et malos gladii acceperit potestatem, sed in eos solummodo, qui utentes gladio eius sunt iurisdictioni commissi...
Luther went on to provide a number of other reasons taken from canon law as to why he had it burned. That Luther burned papal documents was in response to the bonfires that burned his books.  John Warwick Montgomery stated that Rome's defender Hartmann Grisar "...argued that his symbolic burning of the canon law reflected a deep-seated antinomianism on the Reformer’s part: Luther was allegedly jettisoning law in favor of personal, individual spiritual experience" (Luther and Canon Law, Bibliotheca Sacra, 158, 218). I don't know where Grisar actually stated that, but it would not surprise me.  Montgomery counters, 
Luther was anything but a sixteenth-century charismatic mystic opposing the ordered structure of corporate Christianity to his inner spiritual vision. What led Luther to desire that the existing canon law be “utterly blotted out” was his studied conviction that the canon law of his day functioned chiefly to support a theologically corrupt church authority that operated at cross-purposes to the gospel itself ( Luther and Canon Law. Bibliotheca Sacra, 158, 223–224).

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Concerning the Prevention of Boredom During Sermons That Are All Too Long.

Her'e's a tidbit from Jerome Weller's, Luther's Guide for the Proper Study of Theology, 1561. Weller was a pupil and friend of Luther's. The document is a short read (7 pages), but has some interesting tips, and even some humorous stuff. For instance:
Fifth: concerning the prevention of just boredom during sermons that are all too long.
Fifth, he should always pay attention that he not preach longwinded sermons and overburden the hearers through the treatment of many points, so that they be filled with boredom of the Word. I remember that Dr. Luther had said to a theologian, who was accustomed to preaching two hours long, "You arouse boredom of the Word." In addition, Melanchthon had once made this remark, which was already spoken by a speaker at the table, "A speaker, both a secular and ecclesiastical one, must speak in a very captivating and lovely manner, in order to avoid the boredom of his hearers, if he speaks longer than a half an hour. None of the senses, he said, will tire faster than hearing." This is excellently spoken about by both Luther and Melanchthon. Just as those are counted as the most skilled musicians, who stop when the song is the most beautiful, in order to make a stronger desire for listening in their hearers, so too those are recognized as the best speakers, who know what is sufficient, i.e., who understand how to begin and stop. No one can do this better than he who observes method in speaking. One cannot say again how necessary method is for teaching. It causes the hearers always to take home something out of the sermon. Although it is of great praise for a preacher to set the subject of his speech in a proper clear light, and to make an impression on the hearts of his hearers, he also cannot still bring this about, if he does not properly apply himself to method as also is evident in the writings of Luther and the greatest speakers. There are still more directions that could be given concerning the virtues of a preacher, which you can hear from others in due course. Therefore, this short list pleases me. He lives well in the Lord who wants to give you his tongue and wisdom both for preaching and confessing Christ. Live well in the Lord.
I was having lunch with a pastor a few years back, and he told me that one congregant would hold up his arm with his watch on it if he went beyond the allotted time. There is a tradition I've seen (particularly among some Reformed Baptists) that long sermons represent a zeal and love for God over and above shorter sermons, and by extension, those who want to hear long sermons are those who really want to hear the Word of God.

Perhaps. I suspect the length of a sermon falls under the category of adiaphora. I read an interesting theory that the Book of Hebrews was actually an early Christian sermon. The book was said to take about an hour to read. Long orations though can also have some interesting consequences (Acts 20:7-12). So for those who enjoy long sermons, enjoy them. I realize there are some people gifted to captivate an audience. Frankly, I'm with Weller and Luther on this one, unless a speaker has a true gift. 

Addendum #1
There are some long sermons from Luther, for instance, his lengthy sermon on 1 john 4 16-21 (WA 36:416 - 477). More often than not, Luther's sermons are shorter, and easily read in one sitting.

Addendum #2
I posted this same snippet some time back on the CARM discussion boards. One of Rome's defenders decided to use it as an opportunity to attack Luther via his advice given to Jerome Weller, that he "encouraged him to sin and to set aside the commandments of God." I will post that discussion sometime in the future. 

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Luther Admitted He Was Not Following the Rules of Language When He Translated Romans 3:28?

Here's a Martin Luther-tidbit from one of Rome's defenders on the CARM boards:
You do realize that Luther admits that he didn't add the word alone due to the rules of language but because he said that is what Paul meant to say. That's Luther's own admission, so yes, Luther added the word alone so that it read like what he thought is should say. So much for a person who held Scripture in such high regard.
And also:
In his An Open Letter on Translating: "So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it." Luther inserted his own theology into the text.
And also:
As I have stated already, Luther admits he did not use the rules of language as the basis for adding the word alone. "However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it."
And also:
All of your appeals to the German language mean nothing because Luther freely admits, as I have quoted, that he was not following the rules of language when he inserted the word alone. He did it because he believed that Paul meant to say alone.
The polemic is blatant: Luther is said to have simply added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 to fit his theological agenda. The basis for this is a statement Luther himself made,  "I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself." let's take a look at this quote and see if it substantiates this typical Roman Catholic narrative.

Documentation
The sentence is said to come from Luther's An Open Letter on Translating. This refers to a document Luther wrote in 1530 which covered the topics of justification by faith alone, his methodology in regard to his German translation of the Bible, and the intercession and prayer to the saints. This document was originally written in German, "Ein sendbrieff D. M. Luthers. Von Dolmetzschen und Fürbit der heiligenn" (WA 30 II, 627-646). The comment can be found on page 640:


As far as I can tell, the English rendering of the sentence being utilized was taken from a version originally put up on the Project Wittenberg website. Project Wittenberg has been around for quite a few years now. This website was up and running years before the onslaught of Google Books. At one time, it was one of the few places one could go to read Luther's writings online in English. Some of the versions of Luther's texts on Project Wittenberg appear to be unique to their website. Their version of An Open Letter on Translating, was put together by Gary Mann, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Religion/Theology Augustana College Rock Island, Illinois. Mann's translation reads,
So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it. 
Mann's English translation is not the only one available. One of the most enduring translations was that done by Charles Michael Jacobs in the Philadelphia Edition of Luther's Works (PE 5:10-27). This translation was revised by LW 35:175-200. In PE 5, the comment can be found on page 20. In LW 35, page 195. For the context, Mann's translation will be used below.

Context
So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3 as the text itself, and St. Paul's meaning, urgently necessitated and demanded it. He is dealing with the main point of Christian doctrine in this passage - namely that we are justified by faith in Christ without any works of the Law. In fact, he rejects all works so completely as to say that the works of the Law, though it is God's law and word, do not aid us in justification. Using Abraham as an example, he argues that Abraham was so justified without works that even the highest work, which had been commanded by God, over and above all others, namely circumcision, did not aid him in justification. Instead, Abraham was justified without circumcision and without any works, but by faith, as he says in Chapter 4: "If Abraham is justified by works, he may boast, but not before God." However, when all works are so completely rejected - which must mean faith alone justifies - whoever would speak plainly and clearly about this rejection of works would have to say "Faith alone justifies and not works." The matter itself and the nature of language necessitates it.
Conclusion
Whatever English translation one uses, Luther does provide reasons as to why he used the word solum in his German translation. Luther's intention was to translate the Bible into an easily comprehended form of popular German. His translation at times employed dynamic equivalence (as many translations do). Word-for-word translations can be cumbersome and awkward, and can miss the thrust of the original thought. Rather, many translations seek to maximize readability with a minimum of verbal distortion by translating according to “concept.” In translating Romans, Luther tried to present the impact of what the original Greek had on its first readers, and to present the German style and idiom equivalent for his readers.

An honest translator, Luther freely admitted the word “only” does not appear in the original Greek at Romans 3:28. He states, 

Here, in Romans 3[:28], I knew very well that the word solum is not in the Greek or Latin text; the papists did not have to teach me that. It is a fact that these four letters s o l a are not there. And these blockheads stare at them like cows at a new gate. At the same time they do not see that it conveys the sense of the text; it belongs there if the translation is to be clear and vigorous. I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since it was German I had undertaken to speak in the translation. But it is the nature of our German language that in speaking of two things, one of which is affirmed and the other denied, we use the word solum (allein) along with the word nicht [not] or kein [no]. For example, we say, “The farmer brings allein grain and kein money”; “No, really I have now nicht money, but allein grain”; “I have allein eaten and nicht yet drunk”; “Did you allein write it, and nicht read it over?” There are innumerable cases of this kind in daily use.
In all these phrases, this is the German usage, even though it is not the Latin or Greek usage. It is the nature of the German language to add the word allein in order that the word nicht or kein may be clearer and more complete. To be sure, I can also say, “The farmer brings grain and kein money,” but the words “kein money” do not sound as full and clear as if I were to say, “The farmer brings allein grain and kein money.” Here the word allein helps the word kein so much that it becomes a complete, clear German expression. (LW 35:188-189).
Granted though, Rome's defender has seized upon Luther's seeming admission that he "was not depending upon or following the nature of language when I inserted the word "solum" (alone) in Rom. 3." This does seem like a blatant denial of the syntax and grammar of the original text. The solution comes by looking carefully at the original German text and other English translations. The German text of this sentence reads in part, "Aber nu hab ich nicht allein der sprachen art vertraut und gefolgt, daß ich Röm. 3, 28. solum (allein) hab hinzugesezt; sondern der Tert und die Meinung Pauli fodern und erzwingen es mit Gewalt." (WA 30 II:640). LW 35:195 translates this as, "Now I was not relying on and following the nature of the languages alone, however, when, in Roman 3[:28] I inserted the word solum (alone)." PE 5:20 translates similarly, "Now however, I was not only relying on the nature of the languages and following that when, in Romans iii, I inserted the word solum, 'only,' but the text itself and the sense of St. Paul demanded it and forced it upon me." Luther is saying that he did not only follow the nature of the language, but also saw the thrust of the text demands using "alone."

The need for "alone" in Romans 3:28 was not unique to Luther. Luther mentions others before him translated Romans 3:28 as he did (for example, Ambrose and Augustine). The Roman Catholic writer Joseph Fitzmyer verified Luther’s claim and also presented quite an extensive list of those previous to Luther doing likewise. Even some Roman Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “nur durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.” It is entirely possible Luther’s understanding of “faith alone” differs from those before him, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the thrust of Romans 3:28 implies “alone.” Others previous to Luther may have differed in theological interpretation, yet saw the thrust of the words implied “alone.” Hence, as a translator, Luther holds company with others, and cannot be charged with a mistranslation. If he’s guilty of such a charge, so are many before him.