Sunday, February 12, 2006

How To Eliminate Blog Readers: Bore Them With Tedium

I’m guessing a few you aren’t sure what Mary’s Immaculate Conception is- it is the Roman Catholic dogma that Mary was preserved free from all stain of original sin. In other words, Mary was born without the stain of original sin, and hence committed no personal sin. This isn’t a debatable point for Roman Catholics- “To think otherwise than has been defined by [The Roman Catholic Church], let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the church.”

On a blog back, a Catholic Apologist stopped by to “refresh my memory” on his opinion of this subject (his self-imposed “loophole” allows him to interact with me, a notorious anti-catholic).

I’m tempted to say a great way for me to eliminate blog readers would be to launch into a deep analysis of Martin Luther’s understanding of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. I’ve always felt that only a few people even care about this subject. I really only find the subject interesting because Roman Catholics frequently bring it up. If they didn’t bring it up, I would probably not even have bothered to research it.

But why do they bring it up? Protestants should be somewhat familiar with Roman Catholic criticism of Martin Luther. Fairly common topics include: Luther’s alleged antinomianism, his rejection of certain canonical books, his alleged desire to be a Protestant pope, and some even argue Luther’s partial responsibility for Nazi Germany. But when it comes to the topic of Mary, Roman Catholic sentiment towards Luther shifts considerably. Luther becomes the staunch supporter of Mary; a leader that all contemporary Protestants should learn a great lesson in Mariology from.

In the same blog back, John Mark commenting on the Roman Catholic Luther quiz said, “What's interesting is that [the Roman Catholic author of the Luther quiz] wants to paint Luther as a bad guy as to the RCC. At the same time in the same context she wants to portray Luther as agreeing with the RCC so she could then argue that we should hold to certain doctrines since Luther did. That's playing both sides against the middle.”

As a Roman Catholic would say John Mark, “Bingo.”

This is exactly what I see one particular Romanist doing- though in fairness to him, his opinion of Luther has gotten better over the years. His original papers though on Luther definitely went in the direction John Mark suggests.

I have a strong level of certainty that the main reason in cyber-space that Luther’s “opinion” on the Immaculate Conception is even mentioned is because of certain Romanist websites. About 5 or 6 years ago I came across this Luther quote:

"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin" (Sermon: "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527")

Now if you were to try to track down this quote 5 or 6 years ago you would have a tough time. I know I did. The sermon it comes from isn’t available in English. It’s main source back then seemed to be one particular Romanist website. Had Romanists actually went out and read Luther’s sermon in German and then posted this quote? No, they didn’t. They found it in the work of Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar.

Grisar though points out that “As Luther’s intellectual and ethical development progressed we cannot naturally expect the sublime picture of the pure Mother of God, the type of virginity, of the spirit of sacrifice and of sanctity to furnish any great attraction for him, and as a matter of fact such statements as the above are no longer met with in his later works.” Now the Romanists left this information out. Oops.

Hence the debate between myself and Romanism. After I went out and got a hold of Grisar’s book, some Romanists were forced to actually research this topic since the very source they used denied Luther’s lifelong commitment to the Immaculate Conception. The content of a recent blog back is just that- a defense of Luther’s lifelong belief in the Immaculate Conception.

My analysis of Luther’s understanding of the Immaculate Conception is found here:

Luther’s Theology of Mary

Luther’s Theology of Mary: A Response

Counter replies of this subject can be found here:

Counter-Reply: Martin Luther's Mariology (Particularly the Immaculate Conception): Has Present-Day Protestantism Maintained the "Reformational" Heritage of Classical Protestant Mariology?

Second Reply Concerning Martin Luther's Mariology

Since I want to keep readers, not eliminate them, I would rather any of you actually interested in this subject simply read the above links. If you read through this material and have any questions, or you can find a point from these links that really begs to be responded to, let me know. The Romanist who wrote them says he re-posted his material in my blog back to “refresh my memory”. Again, after perusing through it, I’m reminded of what I wrote to him:

I have taken a fair amount of time to compare and contrast [his] comments to my paper, check his references, and cite the same sources he utilized…. Since I do not plan on writing any further responses to [his] material on Luther and Mary, I tried to be as thorough as possible…. my only desire is to exhaust the topic, and move on... Unless he presents some compelling relevant information, this will be my only response.”

By the way, the key word is “compelling”.