Monday, December 10, 2018

Luther: “Our bodies are always exposed to Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devil’s spells.”

Here's a Martin Luther quote that appeared on the CARM discussion boards:

“Our bodies are always exposed to Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devil’s spells.” (Martin Luther)

This quote appears to have been posted by someone with sympathies to the Mormon church in response to a Lutheran participant (see my previous entry for details). The point for using it is to defend Mormonism. In another place the same person states, "...demons causing diseases, etc. like much of Christendom used to believe.? I dunno if there is an official LDS doctrine on that. Maybe we are allowed to have opinions on it. But if you wanna talk about Luther, the founder of the Reformation, he certainly believed that demons were responsible for all kinds of stuff that most today would call wacky superstition."

Documentation
No documentation was provided, but the same person posted the quote here also claiming, "As quoted by John Mark Ministries." I found two web-pages from John Mark Ministries using this quote. The first page, Quotes From Luther (2003) appears to have been written by the founder of JMM, Rowland Croucher (but I'm not entirely sure). What's interesting is that Croucher(?) listed a number of undocumented Luther quotes taken from someone who had posted them on an open newsgroup. Croucher(?) determined the quotes probably came via this page, from a person that said he "didn't keep track of the exact citations" because he compiled them for his own "amusement." Croucher(?) then goes on to defend Luther, saying at one point, "...we see that these quotes were not collected out of serious or honest interest, but merely for someone’s careless amusement. Thus, the sincerity and reasonableness of both the compilers of the quotes page and the users of these quotes is called into question."  The second JMM page is simply entitled, Martin Luther (2005). This page also contains a number of "shock" undocumented Luther quotes that appear to have been originally posted by someone going by the moniker,"Mark T." The page simply ends with this vague comment, "Despite the previous posts which discredit Martin Luther, all the good that he did for the Christian faith in the first half of the 1500’s. must be remembered." No documentation is provided for the quotes in question from this other web page.

The quote in the form it's in comes from William Hazlitt's edition of the Table Talk. Hazlitt does not provide a reference to the exact source he used for his translation. He numbers the comment, "DLXXXIII." If this entry is taken along with the previous (DLXXXII), both closely correspond to this German translation of the Tischreden:



While Hazlitt may have translated from a German source like this, it is not the original text. WA TR III, 131 (entry 2982b) presents how the text occurred in its original form, which was a mix of German and Latin:


Besides Hazlitt, LW 54:188 has provided a translation of WATR III, 131. Below are both Hazlitt's and that from LW 54.

Context

DLXXXII.  Dr. Luther discoursed at length concerning witchcraft and charms. He said, that his mother had had to undergo infinite annoyance from one of her neighbours, who was a witch, and whom she was fain to conciliate with all sorts of attentions; for this witch could throw a charm upon children, which made them cry themselves to death. A pastor having punished her for some knavery, she cast a spell upon him by means of some earth upon which he had walked, and which she bewitched. The poor man hereupon fell sick of a malady which no remedy could remove, and shortly after died. 
DLXXXIII. It was asked: Can good Christians and God-fearing people also undergo witchcraft? Luther replied: Yes; for our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but devil's spells.

LW 54:188
No. 2982b: Recollection of Witchcraft from His Youth
Between February 12 and March 13, 1533
Luther said many things about witchcraft, about asthma and nightmares, and how his mother had been tormented by a neighbor woman who was a witch: “She was compelled to treat her neighbor with deference and try to conciliate her, for the neighbor had through witchcraft caused her own children such sharp pain that they cried themselves to death. A certain preacher taxed her for this, though in general terms; he, too, was poisoned and had to die, for nothing could restore his health. She had taken the soil from his footsteps, had cast a spell over it, and had thrown it into the water; without this soil he couldn’t be healed.”
Then Luther was asked whether such things can also happen to godly people. He answered, “Yes, indeed. Our soul is subject to a lie. When it’s freed, the body remains subject to murder. I believe that my illnesses aren’t natural but are pure sorcery. However, may God liberate his chosen ones from such evils!”

Conclusion
In comparing Hazlitt to LW 54, the gist is the same, but the content has variations.  In regard to the quote in question, while Hazlitt has Luther blaming Satan for illness, LW has him referring to "pure sorcery." For Luther, this amounts to a distinction without a difference, for sorcery stems from Satan.
Even though this is a Table Talk quote and not something Luther actually wrote, there's really nothing incorrect or blatantly out-of-context. Luther did have a strong belief in the Devil and the power of Witchcraft.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Luther: "If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly"

I was asked about the authenticity of this quote:


This image above is typical of the many presentations of this quote. A simple Google search demonstrates its popularity; it's been cut-and-pasted endlessly. What I found interesting is that I didn't come across a lot of Lutheran websites using the quote. Rather, it appears to be most popular with those of a Calvinistic bent. Similarly, many of Luther's comments about free-will are more popular with Calvinists than Lutherans, at least that's been my experience... that's a topic though for another day. However pithy, witty, or heartwarming (particularly to Calvinists) this quote may be,  I'm not convinced Luther penned it.

Documentation
The English form of the quote is easy enough to track down. It comes from the sermon, Free Will a Slave by C.H. Spurgeon.  Commenting on John 5:40, Spurgeon states:
This is one of the great guns of the Arminians, mounted upon the top of their walls, and often discharged with terrible noise against the poor Christians called Calvinists. I intend to spike the gun this morning, or, rather, to turn it on the enemy, for it was never theirs; it was never cast at their foundry at all, but was intended to teach the very opposite doctrine to that which they assert. Usually, when the text is taken, the divisions are: First, that man has a will. Secondly, that he is entirely free. Thirdly, that men must make themselves willing to come to Christ, otherwise they will not be saved. Now, we shall have no such divisions; but we will endeavour to take a more calm look at the text; and not, because there happen to be the words "will," or "will not" in it, run away with the conclusion that it teaches the doctrine of free-will. It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free-will is nonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more than ponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogether different things. Free agency we may believe in, but free-will is simply ridiculous. The will is well known by all to be directed by the understanding, to be moved by motives, to be guided by other parts of the soul, and to be a secondary thing. Philosophy and religion both discard at once the very thought of free-will; and I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strong assertion of his, where he says, "If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free-will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright." It may seem a harsh sentiment; but he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free-will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that he gives both; that he is "Alpha and Omega" in the salvation of men.
The Spurgeon Center cites the date of the sermon as December 2, 1855. The date is relevant in trying to determine where Spurgeon took the quote from. Spurgeon's primary language was English. During this time period, there was only a limited pool of Luther's writings available in English. I think it's safe to rule out Spurgeon reading Luther in German; Spurgeon's education was limited, and I don't think he knew German. This is not to imply that Spurgeon was not intelligent or intellectual. I've read that he may have had a photographic memory. This website states, "Spurgeon had no formal education beyond Newmarket Academy, which he attended from August 1849 to June 1850, but he was very well-read in Puritan theology, natural history, and Latin and Victorian literature." Christian History says he was tutored in Greek and "his personal library eventually exceeded 12,000 volumes." Spurgeon's autobiography states his study of Latin began in 1845. So, it's possible Spurgeon could have read Luther in Latin. 

The pool, therefore, of  where Spurgeon could have taken the quote, even excluding German texts, is rather large: Luther's Latin writings, or perhaps a secondary source which simply cited it. It could have easily been something he picked up from a secondary Puritan source.  Despite this mountain of possible texts, in English, there are two specific books from Luther that discuss "free will" both very popular, and available to Spurgeon in 1855. 


The first is Henry Cole's 1823 English translation of Luther's De Servo Arbitrio (On The Bondage of the Will). There's nothing exactly matching the quote in question, but Luther does say to Erasmus, "While you establish Free-will, you make Christ void, and bring the whole scripture to destruction(p. 360), and also that the advocates for free-will deny Christ (p.357).  He states also,

First, God has promised certainly His grace to the humbled: that is, to the self-deploring and despairing. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled, until he comes to know that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsel, endeavours, will, and works, and absolutely depending on the will, counsel, pleasure, and work of another, that is, of God only. For if, as long as he has any persuasion that he can do even the least thing himself towards his own salvation, he retain a confidence in himself and do not utterly despair in himself, so long he is not humbled before God; but he proposes to himself some place, some time, or some work, whereby he may at length attain unto salvation. But he who hesitates not to depend wholly upon the good-will of God, he totally despairs in himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such an one, is the nearest unto grace, that he might be saved (p.56-57).
The second book is Luther's Table Talk. This anthology of second-hand statements from Luther was widely available in English during Spurgeon's lifetime. One of the chapters is specifically dedicated to Luther's comments on Free will. If Luther actually said what's attributed to him by Spurgeon, I believe Spurgeon may have been summarizing the following Table Talk passage. Note the sentence in bold lettering below.

Context
Another Discourse of Free-will.
 Ah, Lord God ! (saith Luther) why should we boast of our free-will, as if it were able to do any thing in divine and spiritual matters, were they never so small? For when we consider what horrible miseries the devil hath brought upon us through sin (which are innumerable and monstrous), then we might shame ourselves to death. 
For, first, free-will did lead us into original sin, and brought death upon us: afterwards, upon sin followed not only death, but all manner of mischiefs, as we daily find in the world; such as murder, lying, deceiving, stealing, and other evils, insomuch that no man is in safety the twinkling of an eye, neither in body nor goods, which always do hover and stand in danger. 
And, besides these evils, there is yet a greater (as is noted in the gospel), namely, that people are possessed of the devil, who maketh them mad and raging, so that, by reason of sin, the generation of mankind is nothing else but a stinking and filthy privy and habitation of devils. For there lieth on our necks everlasting death and God's wrath. Moreover, we are never in quiet but are plagued here on earth, both in body and soul. Now (said Luther) what goodness can such a spoiled and poisoned creature think, much less perform, that might be pleasing to God, in divine and spiritual matters which concern the salvation of our souls? 
In temporal things which pertain to body and wealth, and to this life, as to govern land and people, to rule in house-keeping, &c., free-will may do something that hath a shew and respect before men; but every thing that proccedeth not out of faith is sin, saith St. Paul. 
We know not rightly what we became after the fall of our first parents; what from our mothers we have brought with us. For we have brought altogether a confounded, a spoiled, and a poisoned nature, both in body and soul: and throughout the whole of man is nothing that is good, as the Scripture saith.
And this is my absolute opinion: (said Luther) he that will maintain and defend man's free-will, that it is able to do or work any thing in spiritual causes, (be they never so small) the same hath denied Christ. This I have always maintained in my writings, especially in those which I wrote against Erasmus Roterodamus; (one of the principal learned men in the whole world) and thereby will I remain, for I know it to be the truth: and though all the world should be against it, and otherwise conclude, yet the decree of the Divine Majesty must stand fast against the gates of hell. 
Touching this point, I find myself much wronged by some, (especially by the Synergists) who prate and allege, that I had altered my harsh opinion concerning free-will, and had mollified the same, (as they term it) seeing it is directly against their errors, and they falsely give out that they are my disciples. 
I confess that mankind hath a free will, but it is to milk kine, to build houses, &c., and no further: for so long as a man is at ease and in safety, and is in no want, so long he thinketh he hath a free will which is able to do something; but when want and need appeareth, so that there is neither meat, drink, nor money, where is then free-will? It is utterly lost, and cannot stand when it cometh to the pinch. But faith only standeth fast and sure, and seeketh Christ. 
Therefore faith is far another thing than free-will ; nay, free- will is nothing at all, but faith is all in all. 
I pray (said Luther) put it to the trial; art thou thou bold and stout, and canst thou carry it lustily with thy free-will when plague, wars, and times of dearth and famine are at hand? In the time of plague thou knowest not what to do for fear; then thou wishest thyself a hundred miles off. In time of dearth thou thinkest, Where shall I have to eat? Thy will cannot so much as give thy heart the smallest comfort in these times of need, but the longer thou strivest, the more it maketh thy heart faint and feeble, insomuch as it is affrighted even at the rushing and shaking of a leaf. These are the valiant acts which our free-will can do and achieve. 
But, on the contrary, faith is the Domina and empress: and although it be but small and weak, yet it standeth, and suffereth not itself to be utterly dejected. Faith hath great and mighty parts, as we see in holy Scripture, and on the loving disciples; waves, winds, seas, and all manner of misfortune do appear even unto death: who in such a case would not be affrighted? But faith (how weak soever) standeth like a wall, and little David- like assaulteth Goliah; that is, it fighteth against sin, death, and all danger, especially it fighteth valiantly when it is a strong and complete faith: a weak faith striveth well, but it is not so bold as strong faith.
Conclusion
Spurgeon's sermons were taken down by "loyal transcriptionists" and then "personally edited" by Spurgeon himself (source). Of the versions of Spurgeon's sermon I checked, the words attributed to Luther are always placed in quotes. It is possible though that Spurgeon may have been summarizing Luther rather than directly quoting Luther.

While I couldn't find anything that exactly matched this quote, it does reflect something Luther would have believed or stated. It surprises me though that such a clever quote, if it's really Luther's, would be so difficult to locate. I do not think Rev. Spurgeon concocted a Luther quote; rather he either was summarizing Luther, quoting someone quoting Luther, or perhaps he simply was mistaken that Luther said it (it was one of the Puritans, for instance). I'm open to correction. If someone has a better passage from Luther that fits what Spurgeon cited, please leave a comment.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Luther's Polygamy? A Response to Mormon Apologists

There was a derailed discussion on a discussion board concerning Mormonism and polygamy  (some of the discussion was deleted, some was moved here).  As is standard per this topic, a Mormon defender entered the following Martin Luther quote into evidence as proof that the great Reformer likewise advocated polygamy:
"I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter." - Martin Luther
To frame out the context of this discussion, a Mormon had stated, "Comments regarding Luther...and the followers of Luther...are appropriate in here when Luther actually approved of the very thing that followers of Luther are coming in here to lambaste US over." The Mormon goal is to point out "hypocrisy, double standards, 'mote and beam,' etc." In essence, as I see it, the Mormon argument is: if the polygamist finger is pointed at the Mormon church, don't ignore the fact that the same finger should also be pointed at Luther. One old Roman Catholic writer captured the heart of this controversy, "Perhaps this juxtaposition of Luther and the Mormon may be offensive to some of his friends. But we shall have the occasion to prove that Mormonism may confidently look up to Luther as a patron." On this topic, Rome's defenders have been supplying ammunition to Mormon apologists for years. We'll see below this very Luther quote came from a Roman Catholic author hostile to Luther and the Reformation.

It's easy to see why Mormons gravitate to this quote: it does indeed appear to present Luther as advocating blatant polygamy. Luther appears to be stating polygamy doesn't contradict scripture and that one should simply rely on their conscience and personal interpretation of "the word of God" to justify it. While I've been over this quote before, let's take a fresh look. We'll see that Luther was not advocating radical polygamy. We'll also see that the quote in context says something much different than the way it comes off in its propaganda form splattered all throughout cyberspace.

Documentation
The quote was cited as "Luter, Martin. De Wette II, 459, ibid., pp. 329–330." The person who provided the reference said it was taken from the website of a Christian group "extolling polygamy." Perhaps it was this one? The same exact reference in the same exact form is presented.

The English form of the quote is exact to that as found in Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther, minus "pp. 329-330," and it's highly probable this is where the quote, in this form, was taken from. I doubt that Father O'Hare was responsible for the English rendering, though I've not been able to identify which secondary source he took it from (his English version appears to be his solely). More often than not, Father O'Hare simply did the equivalent of a cut-and-paste from hostile sources against Luther and the Reformation.  Wherever he took it from, we'll see below that O'Hare's version plays fast and loose with the context. Father O'Hare stated,
Luther was an out-and-out believer in polygamy. To say that he did not "counsel" polygamy, or that he advised that it should be kept secret as a sort of matter of "conscience," is utterly beside the facts. When Brück, the Chancellor of the Duke of Saxe-Weimer, heard that Carlstadt in 1524 advocated polygamy he consulted Luther on the new and pernicious teaching. The Reformer, not in the least abashed, openly and distinctly stated: "I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter." (De Wette II, 459.) Many other clear statements wherein Luther sanctions polygamy might be reproduced here, but the one given above will suffice for the present.
In regard to the first part of the reference "De Wette II, 459": Dr. Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette was a Protestant scholar well-known for putting together an extensive collection of Luther's letters. Volume II:459 can be found here. The text reads,

This is the opening paragraph of a letter Luther wrote to Chancellor Gregory Brück on Jan. 27, 1524. Brück was a political figure-head (and supporter of the Reformation) in Electoral Saxony (LW 49:50). The letter does include comments about polygamy.

The second reference (not used by O'Hare) claims to be from the same De Wette volume, pointing to the earlier pages 329-330. These pages present Luther's letter to Spalatin, April 22, 1523 (the letter begins on page 329 and concludes on page 330). There is nothing though about polygamy in the letter, at all! If one does an online search for the phrase, "De Wette II, 459, ibid., pp. 329-330," you'll discover this bogus reference repeated throughout cyberspace, most notably in Wikipedia's page, Polygamy in Christianity (see footnote #38). "pp. 329-330" isn't a reference to De Wette II at all, but rather to the 1987 TAN reprint of Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther, pages 329-330. Those are the pages in which Father O'Hare utilizes De Wette II, 459 and uses the quote in question.

Context
To my knowledge, there is no official English translation of the short letter presented in De Wette II, 459. Extended sections are available, typically from hostile Roman Catholic sources. For instance, Hartmann Grisar presents it, as does Audin. The following excerpt comes from Roman Catholic writer, J. Verres, Luther, An Historical Portrait, pp. 312-313
When in 1524 Carlstadt, then at Orlamünde, advocated polygamy, Brück, the Chancellor of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, consulted Luther on this point. The reply was that such a thing could not be considered as forbidden in the new Law. Let the prince answer: "The husband must, by the word of God, be sure and certain in his own conscience, that it is lawful to him. Let him enquire of those who can make him sure through the word of God; whether this be done by Carlstadt or by anyone else this matters not to the prince. For if the man is uncertain, he cannot become certain through the consent of the prince, who in a matter of this sort cannot decide anything. It is the duty of the priests, to answer with the word of God . . .I confess that if a man wishes to marry several wives, I cannot forbid it, nor is it in opposition to the Holy Scriptures; but I would not that such an example should be introduced amongst Christians, who ought to omit even lawful things for the sake of avoiding scandal and leading a pure life, as S. Paul demands. For it is very unbecoming to Christians, eagerly to pursue, for their own comfort, their liberty to its last consequences and yet to neglect the common and necessary duties of charity. Therefore I have not in my preaching opened this window, and I hardly believe, a Christian can be so far abandoned by God, that a man who by God's action is hindered (from the use of conjugal rights) should be unable to contain himself. But let things go where they go. Perhaps they will even introduce circumcision at Orlamünde and will become Jews entirely."
Conclusion
When the Latin text is consulted from De Wette II, 459, O'Hare's version is demonstrably odd. He has reversed the sentences. The first sentence actually appears further into the text ("Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis"). O'Hare's second and third sentences appear before it. O'Hare simply produced a sloppy summary of the opening of the letter, if it's his English translation at all. 

But there are greater problems with O'Hare's rendering. Luther was not simply saying, as O'Hare wants his readers to believe,  that a person wanting to be a bigamist needs nothing more than a certain conscience to justify it.  True, Luther does say that a person wanting a second wife needs to be sure of it himself ("Oportere ipsum maritum sua propria conscientia esse firmum ac certum per verbum Dei, sibi haec licere,"). Roman Catholic writers have jumped all over this. What O'Hare and many of Rome's defenders leave out is Luther's emphasis, that the prince had no jurisdiction in such a matter because "It is the duty of the priests, to answer with the word of God." Grisar's English version renders it as "For if the fellow is not sure of his case, then the permission of the Prince will not make him so; nor is it for the Prince to decide on this point, for it is the priests business to expound the Word of God, and, as Zacharias says, from their lips the Law of the Lord must be learned. " Luther is not simply saying to look into your heart and then do what you want. He's saying that secular authority should not decide on the matter, but rather spiritual authority. This paradigm was used later by the Wittenberg theologians during the Phillip of Hesse scandal. Phillip sought permission from theological leaders to take a second wife.

After this, Luther does say "I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture," but that is not the conclusion of the sentence (as O'Hare has it).  He goes on to immediately say,
...but I would not that such an example should be introduced amongst Christians, who ought to omit even lawful things for the sake of avoiding scandal and leading a pure life, as S. Paul demands. For it is very unbecoming to Christians, eagerly to pursue, for their own comfort, their liberty to its last consequences and yet to neglect the common and necessary duties of charity. Therefore I have not in my preaching opened this window, and I hardly believe, a Christian can be so far abandoned by God, that a man who by God's action is hindered (from the use of conjugal rights) should be unable to contain himself. But let things go where they go.
O'Hare leaves this out entirely! Note this interesting observation from McGiffert:
Some of the radical Anabaptists undertook to introduce polygamy, appealing to the patriarchal order of society in justification of their position. Even among Luther's followers and associates there was no little uncertainty about the matter, as was not altogether surprising when the old order of things was undergoing revision at so many points, including the marriage of monks, priests, and near relatives. But Luther himself was unalterably opposed to any such revolution. Monogamy he considered, under ordinary circumstances, alone tolerable in a Christian community, and held that no Christian ruler has any moral right to legalize polygamy. At the same time, finding no explicit prohibition in the Bible, he believed exceptions might be allowed in certain extreme cases such as are now generally recognized in Protestant countries as justifying divorce. Writing Chancellor Bruck about the matter in 1524, he said: I confess I am not able to forbid anybody to take more than one wife if he wishes to do so, nor do the sacred Scriptures forbid him. But I do not want this custom introduced among Christians, for it behooves them to give up things which are permitted, that scandal may be avoided and honorable living promoted, as Paul everywhere demands.
When O'Hare states, "Luther was an out-and-out believer in polygamy" he either grossly ignored the context, or perhaps never saw the context.  Rome's defender Hartmann Grisar explained the situation which provoked the letter was the sickness of a wife preventing "matrimonial intercourse." One must not immediately place this situation in a 21st century context. Offspring in the sixteenth century were of vital importance. Luther's response was not an all out anything goes. Rather, the comment was directed to an exception (For more on the "exception," see my earlier blog article). It is true Luther allowed for polygamy, but only in a very narrow sense. Heinrich Boehmer points out that it was only to be in cases of,
...severe necessity, for instance, if the wife develops leprosy or becomes otherwise unfit to live with her husband… But this permission is always to be restricted to such cases as severe necessity. The idea of legalizing general polygamy was far from the reformers mind. Monogamy was always to him the regular form of matrimony… (Luther And The Reformation in Light of Modern Research, 213-214).
This radical comment from Luther under scrutiny here was prompted by Luther's ex-colleague, Carlstadt. Carlstadt condoned a man taking a second wife. Von Ranke says of Carlstadt,
His rash and confused mind led him entirely to confound the national with the religious element of the Old Testament. Luther expected that before long circumcision would be introduced at Orlamunde [where Carlstadt was preaching], and thought it necessary seriously to warn the elector against attempts of this nature [source].
After Carlstadt had become increasingly radical, he left Wittenberg's faculty. Carlstadt went to Orlamunde in the Thuringian countryside, right around the time this letter from Luther was written (Jan. 27, 1524). The interesting thing about the quote in question is that by this time, Luther had a grave distrust of Carlstadt, yet in this letter Luther states, "it is the priests business to expound the Word of God." The way I read it, Luther is saying that secular authorities are not to interpret the Bible on this point. Rather, it is the job of spiritual authorities. For better or for worse, Carlstadt was the spiritual authority in Orlamunde. Early in 1524 the Wittenberg faculty took steps in attempting to recall Carlstadt from Orlamunde in order to try to curb his radical nature. They still held out some sort of hope that he wasn't too far gone in his radical leanings. The bigger point for Luther was not bigamy as such, but that secular authorities didn't have jurisdiction to interpret the Bible.

Was Luther the "patron saint" of Mormon polygamy? Hardly. While one could disagree with Luther's exception in regard to bigamy or while one could easily say Luther was wrong to even offer an exception, it's simply historically inaccurate to say Luther supported bigamy or polygamy in a Mormon sense. Had a Mormon defender read this quote in context, the difficulty in squaring Luther's view with their view is easily seen.  

I think it's ridiculous for Mormon apologists to use Luther on this issue. They paint him as some sort of all out polygamist, where, as I've studied it, Luther's dabbling in polygamy was typically hypothetical and cautioned, or out right denied. True, Luther got himself into mess with the scandal of Phillip of Hesse, but even in that, he was reluctant to authorize the bigamous relationship Phillip wanted. It wasn't like he was looking to allow Phillip to have a good time with two wives. When the entire situation was exposed, Phillip's supporters began writing books defending polygamy. Luther then wrote things like, "Anyone following this fellow and his book and takes more than one wife, and thinks that this is right, the devil will prepare for him a bath in the depths of hell. Amen" (Martin Brecht, Martin Luther the Preservation of the Church Vol. 3 1532-1546 , p. 214).

Monday, November 19, 2018

CARM Discussion: Luther and Romans 3:28

Here's a conversation with one of Rome's defenders from the CARM Roman Catholic board on Luther and Romans 3:28. I began saving these interactions because they tend to vanish, There was no editing.

Originally posted by tester View Post
http://beggarsallreformation.blogspo...omans-328.html

Luther's actual reasoning for using "alone" in Romans 3:28
This is the sad part about those who use Luther's Open Letter On Translating against him. He actually goes on to give a detailed explanation of why he uses the word "alone" in Roamn 3:2/8 In the same document, in a calmer tone, Luther gives his reasoning for those with ears to hear:
“I know very well that in Romans 3 the word solum is not in the Greek or Latin text — the ******* did not have to teach me that. It is fact that the letters s-o-l-a are not there. And these blockheads stare at them like cows at a new gate, while at the same time they do not recognize that it conveys the sense of the text -- if the translation is to be clear and vigorous [klar und gewaltiglich], it belongs there. I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since it was German I had set about to speak in the translation.”
Luther continues to give multiple examples of the implied sense of meaning in translating words into German. He then offers an interpretive context of Romans:
“So much for translating and the nature of language. However, I was not depending upon or following the nature of the languages alone when I inserted the word solum in Romans 3. The text itself, and Saint Paul's meaning, urgently require and demand it. For in that passage he is dealing with the main point of Christian doctrine, namely, that we are justified by faith in Christ without any works of the Law. Paul excludes 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. Rather, Abraham was justified without circumcision and without any works, but by faith, as he says in Chapter 4: "If Abraham were justified by works, he may boast, but not before God." So, when all works are so completely rejected — which must mean faith alone justifies — whoever would speak plainly and clearly about this rejection of works will have to say "Faith alone justifies and not works." The matter itself and the nature of language requires it.”
..Previous translations of the word “alone” in Romans 3:23
Luther offers another line of reasoning in his “Open Letter on Translating” that many of the current Cyber-Roman Catholics ignore (and most Protestants are not aware of):
“Furthermore, I am not the only one, nor the first, to say that faith alone makes one righteous. There was Ambrose, Augustine and many others who said it before me.”
Now here comes the fun part in this discussion.

The Roman Catholic writer Joseph A. Fitzmyer points out that Luther was not the only one to translate Romans 3:23 with the word “alone.”
http://beggarsallreformation.blogspo...omans-328.html

The list includes Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Origen, Cyril of Alexandria,John Chrysostom,
and others
Nope. Luther had a very different meaning of "faith alone". It was NOT taught by any of the Fathers you mentioned. Luther was trying to use language to justify his inclusion and changing of the meaning of the Scripture. That's unfortunate. All one has to do is look at how he treated the canon of Scripture, deciding which books of the Old and New Testament that HE thought were inspired. How's that for someone thinking THEY alone can determine which books are inspired and which are not. And yes, he rejected New Testament as well as Old Testament books as not being inspired.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
Nope. Luther had a very different meaning of "faith alone". It was NOT taught by any of the Fathers you mentioned. Luther was trying to use language to justify his inclusion and changing of the meaning of the Scripture.
Hi Mark,

Your zeal for your beliefs and defense of Rome is duly noted, and appreciated. The following comments are based on a CARM debate on this topic I had back in 2008.

True, 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 they saw the thrust of the words in context implied “alone.” So, whether or not Luther had "a very different meaning" is irrelevant. Did you know even some Roman Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther? The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.”

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
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.
When Luther says, "urgently necessitated and demanded it," this is exactly what the point is in bringing out the fact that others previous to Luther saw the intent of the text. Luther approached the work of a translator honestly. If Luther was attempting to radically distort the New Testament, his work failed in many ways. Luther did not add the word “alone” to Galatians 2:16, nor did he remove “alone” from James 2. Even in his revision of the Latin Vulgate, Luther left the Latin of Romans 3:28 as it was, because the contrast was apparent.

The entire Roman Catholic crusade against Luther on this issue is entirely unjustified when evaluated by their own paradigms. To my knowledge, there was not any official dogmatic statement prohibiting Luther from either translating the Bible or translating Romans 3:28 as he did. There was not an infallible interpretation of Romans 3 during Luther’s translation work. Until such dogmatic declarations, those throughout church history previous to such cannot be held anathema for their positions or interpretations of Biblical passages. Further, there wasn’t a defined Roman position on Justification previous to Luther. Roman Catholics cannot even indict Luther’s understanding of justification, because previous to Trent, there was not “one” Roman Catholic understanding of justification.

JS


Originally posted by James Swan View Post

Hi Mark,

Your zeal for your beliefs and defense of Rome is duly noted, and appreciated. The following comments are based on a CARM debate on this topic I had back in 2008.

True, 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 they saw the thrust of the words in context implied “alone.” So, whether or not Luther had "a very different meaning" is irrelevant. Did you know even some Roman Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther? The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.”



When Luther says, "urgently necessitated and demanded it," this is exactly what the point is in bringing out the fact that others previous to Luther saw the intent of the text. Luther approached the work of a translator honestly. If Luther was attempting to radically distort the New Testament, his work failed in many ways. Luther did not add the word “alone” to Galatians 2:16, nor did he remove “alone” from James 2. Even in his revision of the Latin Vulgate, Luther left the Latin of Romans 3:28 as it was, because the contrast was apparent.

The entire Roman Catholic crusade against Luther on this issue is entirely unjustified when evaluated by their own paradigms. To my knowledge, there was not any official dogmatic statement prohibiting Luther from either translating the Bible or translating Romans 3:28 as he did. There was not an infallible interpretation of Romans 3 during Luther’s translation work. Until such dogmatic declarations, those throughout church history previous to such cannot be held anathema for their positions or interpretations of Biblical passages. Further, there wasn’t a defined Roman position on Justification previous to Luther. Roman Catholics cannot even indict Luther’s understanding of justification, because previous to Trent, there was not “one” Roman Catholic understanding of justification.

JS
Hello James. Your zeal in defending Luther and his theological novums of the 16th century is duly noted, and appreciated. 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."

Also, please note that Luther wasn't authorized to translate the Bible. This is not a small point. I think you would agree that translations matter. If they don't, then there's no reason you would discourage someone from using the New World Translation. You also seem to disregard Luther's disregard for 7 books of the Old Testament and 4 books of the New Testament. Luther was excommunicated and declared a heretic for many issues including his insistence on sola scriptura and setting himself up (and every individual) as the private judge of faith.

There is no "crusade" against Luther to posthumously anathematize him. One should be more concerned about Luther's crusade against the Church Christ founded. It wasn't a reformation, it was a rebellion.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
Hello James. Your zeal in defending Luther and his theological novums of the 16th century is duly noted, and appreciated. 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."
Hi Mark: It would be prudent to read Luther's Open Letter on Translating with a careful eye.

Luther's intention was to translate the Bible into an easily comprehended form of popular German. His translation at times employed forms of dynamic equivalence, as many translations do. Word-for-word translations can be cumbersome and awkward, and not appealing to average readers. 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 (in the very Luther document you're citing) the word "only" does not appear in the original Greek at Romans 3:28. He states, "I know very well that in the original text this word does not occur. Nevertheless it belongs in any good German translation... Whenever we place two things in opposition and want to make clear that we acknowledge or accept the one and reject the other, we use the word 'only.' "The farmer brings no money but corn only.' 'No, at the moment I really have no money, but only grain.' 'I have only eaten, but not yet drunk.' 'Have you only written, without rereading?' This is the form which we use in countless expressions: over against 'not' or 'none' we have the word 'only,' to make the contrast clear."

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
Also, please note that Luther wasn't authorized to translate the Bible. This is not a small point. I think you would agree that translations matter. If they don't, then there's no reason you would discourage someone from using the New World Translation.
First, let's visit your worldview for a moment. I'm a bit rusty on my infallible Roman decretals, so perhaps you can refresh my memory as to the infallible standard on who was and was not allowed to translate the Bible during Luther's day? If I recall, it wasn't until Trent that the Latin Vulgate was formally affirmed as Rome's official version. FYI: Most of Trent took place after Luther's death.

Now let's play in my world for a moment. You've seemingly appealed to your ultimate authority (Rome) as that which sets the rules as to who, or who cannot, translate the Bible. I don't accept that ultimate authority. In fact, the ultimate authority of Rome never sanctioned the very Bible Jesus used.

Now let's venture into a non-logical world. These do not logically follow:

1. Unless Rome authorizes a translation of the Bible, translations do not matter.
2. Unless Rome authorizes a translation of the Bible, then the New World Translation is an acceptable translation.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
You also seem to disregard Luther's disregard for 7 books of the Old Testament and 4 books of the New Testament.
I only casually visit CARM. If this was part of the discussion, I did not come across it, so my apologies. In regard to disregarding, I've written about Luther's canon numerous times, both here and elsewhere. A simple Google search would demonstrate that I've not disregarded Luther and the canon.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
Luther was excommunicated and declared a heretic for many issues including his insistence on sola scriptura and setting himself up (and every individual) as the private judge of faith.
Where? In the Edict of Worms? That was the most important document that declared him a heretic. Read the "Items" in the Edict, Where was Luther condemned for "sola scriptura" and "setting himself up (and every individual) as the private judge of faith"? Perhaps you're reading the document differently than I am, or perhaps I simply missed these points in my old age.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
There is no "crusade" against Luther to posthumously anathematize him. One should be more concerned about Luther's crusade against the Church Christ founded. It wasn't a reformation, it was a rebellion.
These three sentences of yours comprise merely your personal opinion. Each lacks substance, presenting your feelings. Similarly, I present my feelings: There is a concerted effort from some of Rome's defenders to continually attack Luther.
One should be more concerned with bringing Rome back into Christ's church than with attacking Luther.
There was a Reformation in the sixteenth century to overcome Rome's rebellion against Christ's church.

JS
Last edited by James Swan09-03-18, 12:31 AMReason: typos

Originally posted by James Swan View Post

Hi Mark: It would be prudent to read Luther's Open Letter on Translating with a careful eye.
I have. 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.

First, let's visit your worldview for a moment. I'm a bit rusty on my infallible Roman decretals, so perhaps you can refresh my memory as to the infallible standard on who was and was not allowed to translate the Bible during Luther's day? If I recall, it wasn't until Trent that the Latin Vulgate was formally affirmed as Rome's official version. FYI: Most of Trent took place after Luther's death.
The Church must approve any translations of the Bible. I suggest you look at John Tyndale, who was prior to ML, for more information.

Now let's play in my world for a moment. You've seemingly appealed to your ultimate authority (Rome) as that which sets the rules as to who, or who cannot, translate the Bible. I don't accept that ultimate authority. In fact, the ultimate authority of Rome never sanctioned the very Bible Jesus used.
What Bible did Jesus use? The Jews didn't have a closed canon until after 100AD.

Now let's play in my world for a moment. You've seemingly appealed to your ultimate authority (Rome) as that which sets the rules as to who, or who cannot, translate the Bible. I don't accept that ultimate authority. In fact, the ultimate authority of Rome never sanctioned the very Bible Jesus used.

Now let's venture into a non-logical world. These do not logically follow:

1. Unless Rome authorizes a translation of the Bible, translations do not matter.
2. Unless Rome authorizes a translation of the Bible, then the New World Translation is an acceptable translation.
I know you don't accept the authority of the Church. I am asking you about the New World Translation. Is it an acceptable translation to you? Who decides what is acceptable and what isn't? What about the KJV? Some say a Christian can ONLY read the KJV. The point is that you have no authority to say this translation is accepted and this isn't.

Where? In the Edict of Worms? That was the most important document that declared him a heretic. Read the "Items" in the Edict, Where was Luther condemned for "sola scriptura" and "setting himself up (and every individual) as the private judge of faith"? Perhaps you're reading the document differently than I am, or perhaps I simply missed these points in my old age.

Everything in that edict stems from him setting himself up as the private judge of faith from the Scriptures alone.

One should be more concerned with bringing Rome back into Christ's church than with attacking Luther.
There was a Reformation in the sixteenth century to overcome Rome's rebellion against Christ's church.
The Catholic Church is Christ's Church. We pray for and welcome the day when Protestants have unity with the Catholic Church again. I think the Joint Statement on the Doctrine of Justification between Lutherans and Catholics was a step in the right direction. God bless.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
I have. 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.
I will demonstrate that you did not read Luther's Open Letter on Translating carefully. You quote Luther stating"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." It appears to me you're relying on a less-accurate English translation of what Luther actually wrote. 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 rightly translates this, "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 sola. Now back up to my previous post where I stated:

"...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 they saw the thrust of the words in context implied "alone." So, whether or not Luther had "a very different meaning" is irrelevant. Did you know even some Roman Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther? The Nuremberg Bible (1483), "allein durch den glauben" and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say "per sola fede."
That you were misreading Luther should have been blatantly obvious, as he previously in the text does provide exegetical reasons for translating the verse the way he did. For whatever reason, you're fixated on a less-accurate English rendering of one sentence at the expense of the overall context. This sort of myopic misinterpretation of a basic text only leads me further away from Rome. It's the sort of interpretation that would have provoked Luther to use the old adage, "Sic volo, sic jubeo; sit pro ratione voluntas" (LW 35:185). It's the sort of interpretation that shows with clarity that Rome's defenders cannot see past their own biases as to what a text plainly says.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
The Church must approve any translations of the Bible. I suggest you look at John Tyndale, who was prior to ML, for more information.
Where, in Luther's day, was this infallibly stated? Why wasn't it until Trent (after Luther's death) that the Latin Vulgate was formally affirmed as Rome's official version?

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
What Bible did Jesus use? The Jews didn't have a closed canon until after 100AD.
Jesus appears to have used the Septuagint. Are you trying to say that until the entire New Testament was written, there was no actual Bible? Are you inferring that until Rome "authorizes" a Bible, there is not actually a Bible? If so, wow.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
I know you don't accept the authority of the Church. I am asking you about the New World Translation. Is it an acceptable translation to you? Who decides what is acceptable and what isn't? What about the KJV? Some say a Christian can ONLY read the KJV. The point is that you have no authority to say this translation is accepted and this isn't.
That's a good question, though tangential to your "Luther" ruckus on Romans 3:28. Briefly then, God has gifted his Church with a myriad of ancient manuscripts that collectively preserve the original text. Subsequently, He's provided humanity with those who have been gifted in linguistics and translating. THE NWT, when juxtaposed against both of these, falls short.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
Everything in that edict stems from him setting himself up as the private judge of faith from the Scriptures alone.
As I suspected, you don't appear to have any idea of what the Edict of Worms states. Your saying, "Luther was excommunicated and declared a heretic for many issues including his insistence on sola scriptura and setting himself up (and every individual) as the private judge of faith" is simply a repeating of an accepted modern narrative put forth by Rome's defenders at the expense of historical documents.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
The Catholic Church is Christ's Church. We pray for and welcome the day when Protestants have unity with the Catholic Church again. I think the Joint Statement on the Doctrine of Justification between Lutherans and Catholics was a step in the right direction. God bless.
That's fine to finish with your opinion. Here then is mine: The Roman sect needs to repent and fall under the authority of the Sacred Scriptures. This does not necessarily mean that all those with allegiance to Rome are not part of the Catholic and universal church. There may be those within Rome that embrace the righteousness of Christ alone, but this is despite Rome's official teaching.

JS
Last edited by James Swan09-03-18, 12:23 PM.

Originally posted by James Swan View Post

The Roman sect needs to repent and fall under the authority of the Sacred Scriptures.
It already does, in case you didn't know. It is authoritative as theopneustos, God breathed. Nothing the Church teaches is contradicted in Scripture.

But let's assume you meant the authority of Sacred Scriptures allein. How exactly would that work? Whose interpretation of Scripture should the Church rely on? Lutheran? Reformed? Pentecostal? Methodist? Mormon? Baptist? Which Protestant group claims infallibility?

I am a convert to the Catholic faith because I realized that I was basing my beliefs on my own personal opinions of Scripture or on the fallible opinions of Protestant ministers. That's not how God intended it or Christ set it up. It is ultimately an unworkable way to understand the Christian faith.
Last edited by Mark Rome09-03-18, 01:12 PM.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
I am a convert to the Catholic faith because I realized that I was basing my beliefs on my own personal opinions of Scripture or on the fallible opinions of Protestant ministers. That's not how God intended it or Christ set it up. It is ultimately unworkable to understand the Christian faith.
Mark: When you joined Rome, that was also a personal choice you made based on your belief and your own personal opinion. You had to choose this infallible interpreter over that infallible interpreter.

As I stated many years ago:

To put it bluntly, those that have chosen to become Roman Catholics have to use their own private judgment to do so. One who converts to Rome had to engage in private judgment when making a decision to become Roman Catholic. Those touting Catholic "certainty" over against Protestant "uncertainty" are putting forth a double standard. They are claiming that their position is certain, while anything else is uncertain. But their own decision to become Catholic comes from their own private judgment. Svendsen notes of the convert to Rome:

"The fact is, he had to engage in the very same principle of private judgment that we all must use to decide among the various options; namely, a thinking, objective reasoning process, apart from reliance upon the system to which he would eventually subscribe. But it is that very same principle of private judgment that leads him to Rome and others of us away from Rome. Certainly Rome condemns the decision we reached, but she cannot condemn the principle we used to that decision, since it is the very same principle that all Roman Catholics must use to decide that Rome is the 'true' church. The Roman Catholic cannot introduce a double standard at this point and still be consistent." [Source: Eric Svendsen, Upon This Slippery Rock, 34].

Thus, the Catholic convert used private judgment and private interpretation to choose Rome, but in the next breath condemns the Protestant for using private judgment and private interpretation.
Once again, I do appreciate your zeal, and I do not mean that mockingly. It's just not a tenable position.

Regards, JS

Originally posted by James Swan View Post

Mark: When you joined Rome, that was also a personal choice you made based on your belief and your own personal opinion. You had to choose thisinfallible interpreter over that infallible interpreter.

As I stated many years ago:



Once again, I do appreciate your zeal, and I do not mean that mockingly. It's just not a tenable position.

Regards, JS
The thing is, James, you do not have an infallible interpreter. I do not claim to be infallible, but it doesn't follow that the Church isn't infallible. The question everyone must answer is "How do you know what the Christian faith is?"

It is everyone's responsibility to examine the truth claims of the Catholic Church. Some haven't (yet) recognized the truth claims of the Catholic Church either through ignorance or through deeply ingrained biases against the Catholic faith. Some may be obstinate about it, but I am not their judge, God is their judge.

I do sincerely appreciate your zeal to defend Martin Luther. Had he been a true reformer, it's quite possible that he would be Saint Luther in the Church today. Yours just is not a tenable position. Blessings.

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
The thing is, James, you do not have an infallible interpreter. I do not claim to be infallible, but it doesn't follow that the Church isn't infallible. The question everyone must answer is "How do you know what the Christian faith is?"

It is everyone's responsibility to examine the truth claims of the Catholic Church. Some haven't (yet) recognized the truth claims of the Catholic Church either through ignorance or through deeply ingrained biases against the Catholic faith. Some may be obstinate about it, but I am not their judge, God is their judge.

I do sincerely appreciate your zeal to defend Martin Luther. Had he been a true reformer, it's quite possible that he would be Saint Luther in the Church today. Yours just is not a tenable position. Blessings.
Mark, you made a fallible personal decision as to which infallible interpreter you desired to follow. You could have chosen a number of alleged infallible interpreters.... The Mormon church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. There's a confusing number of infallible interpreters out there, all claiming to speak infallibly for God. The question for you to consider is one posed by Eric Svendsen many years ago..."How can you be certain that you are in the truth since all you have to go on is your own fallible private judgment that Rome is right?"

I realize your "sincere appreciation" is a spin on what I wrote previously. Ah well, I really did mean it. It takes a lot of courage to defend Rome in a hostile environment. It doesn't take any such courage for me to post here about the Reformation.

In regard to Luther, it appears I was able to respond to your charges in such a way as to shut the Luther part of our interaction down. Luther's Open Letter on Translating is one of my favorite Reformation documents, thanks for presenting the opportunity to revisit that writing.

Regards JS
Last edited by James Swan09-03-18, 10:39 PMReason: formatting, typo

Originally posted by James Swan View Post

In regard to Luther, it appears I was able to respond to your charges in such a way as to shut the Luther part of our interaction down. Luther's Open Letter on Translating is one of my favorite Reformation documents, thanks for presenting the opportunity to revisit that writing.
Actually you didn't. As I have quoted, Luther admits that he added the word alone because he felt that St Paul's meaning "urgently necessitated and needed it". You can argue all you want about how it was just a sincere language issue, but you can't get around Luther explaining that he is the one who understands what Paul meant. To quote him, "Dr. Martin Luther will have it so and he says that a p0pe and an *** are the same thing." I too like Luther's Open Letter on Translating because it is apparent for all to see just how arrogant he was and how he placed himself above all in translating Scripture.

I can see that Luther took great liberties with the Scriptures, can you? It was a pattern of his, including mutilating the Bible and casting doubt on inspired books. If a Luther came along today and did something similar, he would be shunned by most all, probably including you.


Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
Actually you didn't. As I have quoted, Luther admits that he added the word alone because he felt that St Paul's meaning "urgently necessitated and needed it". You can argue all you want about how it was just a sincere language issue, but you can't get around Luther explaining that he is the one who understands what Paul meant. To quote him, "Dr. Martin Luther will have it so and he says that a p0pe and an *** are the same thing." I too like Luther's Open Letter on Translating because it is apparent for all to see just how arrogant he was and how he placed himself above all in translating Scripture. I can see that Luther took great liberties with the Scriptures, can you? It was a pattern of his, including mutilating the Bible and casting doubt on inspired books. If a Luther came along today and did something similar, he would be shunned by most all, probably including you.
I am willing to look at Luther's "great liberties with the Scriptures," in fact, I could list a number of ways in which I disagree with Luther or find him at fault. The problem is, first, you have not made a compelling case on Luther and Romans 3:28. I've demonstrated you overtly misread Luther. You provided no coherent counter response to the information I provided. In fact you avoided it and then simply restated your refuted position above in this response. Repeating the same thing over and over again reminds me of the old song by Genesis, "I know what I like, and I like what I know."

Second, the Beatles had a line, "Nothing's going to change my world." It strongly appears you're not willing to consider the verity of any information other than that which promotes your own worldview. Let me flesh this out: Roman Catholic scholar Joseph A. Fitzmyer also read Luther's Open Letter on Translating and stated, "Although 'alleyn/alleine' finds no corresponding adverb in the Greek text, two of the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him[Romans, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday) 1993, 360]. Fitzmyer then lists a number of people previous to Luther to substantiate Luther's point. Fitzmyer's list was already provided to you. You were not able to cogently place the facts into your worldview. You simply dismissed Fitzmyer's work by saying:

Originally posted by Mark Rome View Post
Nope. Luther had a very different meaning of "faith alone". It was NOT taught by any of the Fathers you mentioned. Luther was trying to use language to justify his inclusion and changing of the meaning of the Scripture. That's unfortunate.
Luther was not the devilish translator you're slandering him to be. It's within the realm of possibility to use the word "alone" in Romans 3:28 in translation. Fitzmyer saw this. Why can't you? What would you really be giving up by simply letting the facts fall where they will? Simply admitting that it's within the realm of proper translation to use the word "alone" is not conceding that Luther's "sola fide" is right. This does not follow. After producing the list to substantiate Luther's point, Fitzmyer goes on to say, "Even so, one must further ask whether Luther meant by 'only' what his predecessors meant" (p.362). Perhaps you missed it when I also previously stated, "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.'"

My time is limited on CARM, so unless you're willing to actually interact with the facts beyond repeating the same thing over and over, in the word's of Groucho Marx:

Hello, I must be going
I cannot stay
I came to say
I must be going
I'm glad I came
But just the same
I must be going, la-la!

JS


Originally posted by James Swan View Post

My time is limited on CARM, so unless you're willing to actually interact with the facts beyond repeating the same thing over and over, in the word's of Groucho Marx:

Hello, I must be going
I cannot stay
I came to say
I must be going
I'm glad I came
But just the same
I must be going, la-la!

JS
Paul did not intend to say "faith alone" in Romans 3:28. If he had, he would have written it. You've already admitted that Luther through that Paul meant to say "faith alone". You've also agreed that the word alone isn't in the Greek. This is why the Church is very careful with Bible translations. Guess what? The Church even burned bad translations of the Bible. You know what? If I see a copy of the NWT translation at a used book store, I would buy it and burn it rather than have someone unsuspecting buy it and be led into heresy.

Paul was the most prolific writer of the New Testament when it comes to faith and not once did he use the phrase "faith alone". If he wanted to say we are justified by faith alone, he would have. But he didn't.

Since your time is limited, I'll let your song be the your "swan song"  I am sure you will respond so I'll let you have the last word since my time is limited too. Blessings.