Sunday, December 30, 2007

An Ancient Voice For The Day #23

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commentary on 2 Timothy 3:15-4:2:

"And the fact that from a child you have known the sacred writings, which are capable of instructing you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (v. 15). And since he had borne further witness to the extent of the power in the sacred writings, he emphasizes as well the benefit stemming from them. All Scripture is divinely-inspired and of benefit (v.16). Making a distinction, he sets the writings apart from the works of human wisdom, referring to the spiritual Scripture as divinely-inspired: the grace of the divine Spirit spoke through the inspired authors of Old and New Testaments. It follows that the Holy Spirit is God if the Spirit’s Scripture is, as the apostle says, divinely-inspired. He brings out the kinds of benefit. For teaching: what we did not know we learned from there. For censure: it censures our lawless life. For correction: it urges the backsliders to return to the straight and narrow. For training in righteousness: it drills us in the forms of virtue. So that whoever belongs to God may be well prepared, equipped for every good work (v.17). All these virtues bring about perfection and relate us to the God of all. Having thus brought out the benefit of the divinely-inspired Scripture, he bids him make it available to everyone, and instills dread by his adjuration. I adjure you, therefore, in the presence of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is due to judge living and dead: in view of his coming and kingdom, preach the word (4:1-2)."

Source: Robert Charles Hill, trans., Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), pp. 245-246..

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Underwhelming Majority at Trent

Since James posted about Cardinal Seripando's opinion of the biblical canon at the Council of Trent (over at the Aomin blog), I thought I would add an old post from my blog related to the "holy-spirited-guided majority vote":

Here is something on the surface level that just doesn’t make sense.
“The Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain) approved the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon including the Deuterocanonical Books.”
-Wiki, Metzger (pg. 246)

If the ratification of the biblical canon at Trent was just a formality, why such an underwhelming vote? If the Council of Trent was simply affirming the same canon that had been held by the Church since the 4th century, wouldn’t you expect a better consensus than 44% yea, 27% nay, and 29% abstaining?

From a strictly human perspective, a 44% majority is far from convincing me that the council members at Trent were sure of the historical witness to the exact nature of the canon. From a divine perspective, a 44% majority is a weak testament to a supposedly “holy-spirit-guided”, infallible council.

(for those unfamiliar with this topic, the typical RC argument is that the canon was conclusively decided by the Roman Catholic Church at the councils of Hippo/Carthage (4th century) and only officially "reaffirmed" at Trent. This argument is made to imply an "indebtness" of all Christians to Holy Mother Church, but in reality, the exact composition of the biblical canon was disputed up until the time of the Reformation and even at the Council of Trent as James' Aomin post has highlighted.)

"THE point that we have arrived at now, if you remember, is this—The Catholic Church, through her Popes and Councils, gathered together the separate books that Christians venerated which existed in different parts of the world; sifted the chaff from the wheat, the false from the genuine; decisively and finally formed a collection—i.e., drew up a list or catalogue of inspired and apostolic writings into which no other book should ever be admitted, and declared that these and these only, were the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament. The authorities that were mainly responsible for thus settling and closing the 'Canon' of Holy Scripture were the Councils of Hippo and of Carthage in the fourth century, under the influence of St. Augustine (at the latter of which two Legatees were present from the Pope), and the Popes Innocent I in 405, and Gelasius, 494, both of whom issued lists of Sacred Scripture identical with that fixed by the Councils. From that date all through the centuries this was the Christian's Bible." Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church

(Update: Additional details regarding this vote at Trent have been presented. Please see this post and this post)

Overview Of Luther's Writings About Zwingli

Below is a summary of Luther's writings in regard to Zwingli. If you've stumbled upon this page, it was written in response to Roman apologist Steve Ray (and a few of his cyber-friends) who insisted in fabricating a bogus Luther quote in which Luther was said to have written a letter to Zwingli. (JS 10/19/2015)

"Nowhere did Luther's character shine forth more strikingly than in this controversy on the Lord's Supper. Never were more clearly displayed that firmness with which he clung to a conviction which he believed to be Christian, his faithfulness in seeking for no other foundation than Scripture, the sagacity of his defence, his animated eloquence, and often overwhelming powers of argumentation. But never also were more clearly shown the obstinacy with which he adhered to his own opinions, the little attention he paid to the reasons of his opponents, and the uncharitable haste with which he ascribed their errors to the wickedness of their hearts, or to the wiles of the devil. " One or other of us," said he to the Strasburg mediator, " must be ministers of Satan—the Swiss or ourselves." [source]

I pointed out earlier that there are really only three main writings from Luther directed toward Zwingli (I still haven't found any letters from Luther to Zwingli). That is, there are three specific documents in which Luther took the time to write directly and at length against Zwingli and the Swiss. There are though, a few lesser known documents as well. Here is an overview of Luther's writings against Zwingli, including some of these lesser known writings:

1. Letter to the Reutlingen Congregation
"Luther’s first public utterance came in January 4, 1526, with the appearance of his letter to the Reutlingen congregation, admonishing them to resist Karlstadt’s and Zwingli’s views" (WA 19, 118 ff.; St. L. 17, 1539 ff.) [LW 37 Introduction, electronic edition]. On January 20, 1526, Luther mentions Zwingli, Carlstadt, and Oecolampadius in a letter saying, "God raises up the faithful remnant against the new heretics; we greatly hope that Christ will bless the undertaking. I would write against them if I had time, but first I wish to see what [Theobald] Billican does" [Preserved Smith, The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, 240].

2. Preface to the Swabian Syngramma

"In June, 1526, he published his Preface to the German edition of the Swabian Syngramma, in which he identified Karlstadt, Zwingli, and Oecolampadius as three heads of a new sect" (WA 19, 457 ff., St. L. 20, 577 ff. The Syngramma itself is printed in German translation in St. L. 20, 522 ff.). [LW 37 Introduction, electronic edition]. This is book is more directed towards the argumentation of Oecolampadius rather than Zwingli. LW 36 explains,

"Another minor encounter in 1526 was Luther’s Preface to the German translation of a Latin document composed by Brenz on behalf of a number of Swabian pastors to refute the position of Oecolampadius. The document is known as the Swabian Syngramma. It was published in January, 1526, and Luther was greatly pleased with it. The German translation by Agricola together with Luther’s preface appeared in June. The preface warned against the “new dreams about the sacrament” and again urged steadfastness in the words of Christ. A little later a second German translation of the Syngramma appeared, apparently with Luther’s encouragement, and it carried a second and more emphatic preface by Luther because by this time (September, 1526) the Swiss were claiming Luther’s assent to their views." [LW 36:331]

3. Sermon: Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ against the Fanatics

"His first independent treatise on the controversy, appearing in early autumn, 1526, The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ—Against the Fanatics, was simply a pastoral presentation of his views, edited by friends from three Easter sermons" [LW 37 Introduction, electronic edition].

"It is uncertain what part Luther himself had in the publication of this 'sermon.' Two copies of the three sermons he preached at Easter, 1526, are extant; apparently they were written down by his hearers. A comparison of these two copies with the text of the “sermon” published six months later indicates that a number of additions were made in preparing the materials for publication. These additions do not in all cases fit into the logic of the sermons themselves. This lack of continuity suggests that it was not Luther himself who prepared the sermons for publication. Certainly Luther could not have regarded them as a systematic polemic against the Swiss theologians. They were clearly intended as popular instruction for the laity and were adapted to the educational and doctrinal background of his Wittenberg congregation. It is therefore unlikely that Luther himself would have added to the title the phrase, 'Against the Fanatics.' Nor would he have chosen a title that covers only the first two of the sermons unless he had intended to omit the sermon about the confession of sins" [LW 36:332].

The complete sermon "Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ against the Fanatics" is available in LW 36.

4.That These Words of Christ, “This Is My Body,” Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics

[March 1527] Available in LW 37. This treatise can be found under different titles, more-a-less saying the same thing in English. For instance, Preserved Smith refers to it as "That these Words of Christ, 'This is my Body,' still stand against the Ranting Spirits" [The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, p.241]. In Robert Kolb's book Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, and Hero, Kolb documents how regularly this treatise appeared in versions of Luther's collected writings, and also makes note of it being republished, sometimes only partially, sometimes edited for polemical purposes, manipulating Luther's words (for instance, The Wittenberg Edition deleted Luther's criticism of Bucer from this treatise [see Kolb, 146].

"The text of the treatise, both Luther’s manuscript and the printed edition with annotations, is found in WA 23, 64–283; in modernized German in Br A 4, 335–480, and in St. L. 20, 762–893 (printed version alone). [WA D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimar, 1883– ).Br A Luthers Werke für das christliche Haus, edited by Georg Buchwald et al., 4th edition (Leipzig, 1924). St. L. D. Martin Luthers sämmtliche Schriften, edited by Johann Georg Walch. Edited and published in modern German, 23 vols. in 25 (2nd ed., St. Louis, 1880–1910]" [LW 37:6].

5. Confession Concerning Christ's Supper

[1528] Available in LW 37. "This treatise was indeed his last published word on the controversy, until under provocation from Schwenkfeld he took up his pen once more in 1544, to indicate in his Brief Confession on the Holy Sacrament that he still maintained the same views. He paid no attention to the lengthy and bitter rebuttals by Oecolampadius and Zwingli, which, hastily written for the autumn fair and printed together in one volume, added nothing essentially new to the controversy: Concerning Dr. Martin Luther’s Book Entitled “Confession”: Two Answers, by John Oecolarnpadius and Ulrich Zwingli. Nor did he take notice of the host of lesser treatises that continued to appear against him"[LW 37: 157].

6. The Marburg Colloquy
[1529] Various notes recorded the dialog between Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, and Oecolampadius. For the sake of documentation, here is one such account of the proceedings from Raget Christoffel, a biographer of Zwingli. Note how the perspective of dialog favors Zwingli (the dialog of Zwingli's is more full). Christoffel records that "there were no Papists at the Conference, as Luther and Melanchthon desired, to decide which party gained the victory..." I mention this, because I can see already that one dedicated to Roman Catholicism may wish to interpret this as Luther somehow recognizing the authority of Rome in this controversy. [Here is another, much longer version of the same event]

The Landgrave's Chancellor, Johu Feige, opencd the Disputation, in a speech, in which he exhorted the members that they should act, as had been done on like occasions, when learned men came together, who had previously written somewhat sharply against each other, that is, they should banish from their minds all ill-humour and bitterness of feeling.

"Whoever should do this would, at the same time, discharge his duty, and obtain glory and commendation. Others, however, who disregarded unity, and who obstinately persisted in some notion once adopted by them (the mother of all heresies), would thereby afford indubitable evidence against themselves that the Holy Spirit did not rule in their hearts."

The Landgrave, so simply attired that no one could have taken him for a prince, took his seat at the same table, at which Zwingli and OEcolampad, on the one side, Luther and Melanchthon on the other, sat to decide whether the Reformed Evangelical Church, resting on one basis of faith, was henceforth to remain united, or whether it was to be rent into two great parties. The poet Cordus, cried in name of the Church to its here assembled leaders: "Puissant princes of the Word, whom the august hero Philip has called to avert from us schism, and to shew us the way of truth; the imploring church falls at your feet, drowned in tears, and conjures you, in Christ's name, to set forward the good cause, that the world may recognise in your resolutions the work of the Holy Ghost himself."

Before the Conference began, Luther took up a piece of chalk, and, in large letters, he wrote upon the table the words, " This is my body," with the object, doubtless, that, when arguments failed, he might all the more firmly cling to the outward letter, since, verily, he was resolved not to yield a hairbreadth." The Conference began between Luther and OEcolampad, Luther defending himself, in a long speech, against the imputation that he, in any respect, agreed with the doctrine of the Supper held by his opponents; he was at variance with them here, and would be for ever so, Christ himself having said, with sufficient clearness, "Take, eat, this is my body." By the letter of these words he would abide. If his adversaries had anything to advocate against the truth he would hear it, and answer it.

OEcolampad replied, after calling upon God for illumination, "It is undeniable that, in the Word of God, figurative modes of expression occur; thus, for example, " John is Elias," " The rock was Christ," " I am the vine." A similar figure is contained in the words, " This is my body."

Luther grants there are tropes in the Bible, but the latter passage is not one of these. He inquires: Why should the spiritual partaking exclude the corporeal?

OEcolampad : Christ teaches, the Jews, John vi., who thought He exacted from them the eating of His real body, and the drinking of His real blood, that He was, in verity, eaten and drunk when He was believed upon, for that His flesh profited nothing ! Now, that which Christ rejected in John vi. He cannot well be supposed to have admitted, or commanded, in the words of the Holy Supper.

Luther: The Jews thought they were to eat Christ like a piece of "roasted pork." By the spiritual partaking, the corporeal is not annulled.

OEcolampad: To impute such a sense to the words of Scripture is to give them a sense somewhat gross. That Christ is in the bread is a notion, and no subject of faith; it is dangerous to ascribe so much to the outward thing.

Luther: If we, at God's command, raise a straw-halm, or a horse-shoe, from the ground, it is a spiritual act. We must regard Him who speaks, not that which is said. God speaks, and miserable man must listen. God commands, the world has to obey, and we all ought to kiss the Word, and not take upon ourselves to look for arguments.

OEcolampad: But of what use is the partaking by the mouth when we have that by the Spirit ?

Luther: I do not concern myself as to what we require, I look only at the words as they stand written: " This is my body." It is to be believed and done unconditionally. It must be done. If God were to command me to eat dung, I should do it, knowing well that it would be wholesome for me.

Zwingli now took part in the dialogue. He began by administering a sharp rebuke to Luther for his declaration at the very outset of the debate, that he was resolved not to depart from the opinion he had formed; for, in this manner, all farther instruction out of the Scriptures was rendered impossible. Scripture must always be interpreted by Scripture. Were we to adhere to the letter of the text we must conclude that Christ had full brothers. The sentences of Holy Scripture are not dark or enigmatical, like (he oracular responses of the demons, but they are clear and plain, if we only compare the one with the other. He then went into a more minute exposition of the section in John vi., and drew from it the conclusion: " If the Lord here expressly testifies that His flesh profiteth nothing in the corporeal partaking of it, He certainly would neither have enjoined upon His disciples, nor upon us, in the Supper, the doing of a profitless thing, that is, the corporeal eating of His body. To this He says : ' When ye shall see the Sou of man ascend to where he was before,' from which they might conclude that they are not to eat really, or corporeally, of His flesh."

Luther: In the gospel, "brother" signifies a cousin, or a relation. The words of institution cannot be so explained. Christ says, " This is my body," and it must be so. When Christ says, " the flesh profiteth nothing," He is not speaking of His own but of our flesh.

Zwingli: The soul is nourished by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

Luther: The body is eaten by the mouth, the soul does not partake of it corporeally.

Zwingli: It is then a food of the body and not of the soul.

Luther: I have said, and say it again, the body is not corporeally eaten into our body, and will reserve it, whether the soul also eats it.

Zwingli: You say this, however, without being able to prove it by Scripture. Besides, you first denied that the soul eats the body, and now you will have it reserved.

Luther: Your whole object is to catch me in my words.

Zwingli: No; but you speak of things that contradict each other, and it is necessary to point out the truth.

Luther: I abide by the words of Christ, "This is my body." They are the words of God. If the Lord were to set before me wooden apples, and command me to eat them, I should eat them, knowing they would be wholesome for me, and I dare not ask ; why?

Zwingli now proved, by various passages of Scripture, that the sign is often put for the thing signified, and that the words of the Sacrament especially are to be so explained. He censured Luther for employing so silly an example as that of the wooden apples. Such illustrations were not in place. We know that God neither commands us to eat wooden apples nor dung as His body. The Word of God reveals to us His holy will; it is light, not darkness. God sets before us nothing incomprehensible, if if we will but only rightly understand His Word. Hence, if one passage is not clear to us, we must compare it with others, and, in this manner, investigate into the sense. Thus the Virgin Mary asked, Luke i. 34, "How shall this be?" and the angel answered her question. In the same manner the disciples asked, John vi . 52, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" Why should not we also endeavour to discover, from Scripture, how the words of the Holy Supper are to be understood? They have, however, been interpreted by Christ himself, who shewed in what manner His flesh was to be eaten, and His blood drunk.

Luther: We are not to examine whether is may be taken for signifies, for so we fall into interpretising; but we are to take the words in their simple sense, " This is my body." From thence, pointing at the words written before him, the devil himself cannot pull me. When I enter into subtle inquiries about their meaning, I lose my faith and become a fool. Wherefore, give glory to God, and take and believe the simple plain letters as they stand.

Zwingli: I exhort you likewise to give God the glory, by departing from the false interpretation you have put upon the words of Scripture, by an assumption of the very thing to be proven, petitio principii. Where is your major proposition, (that the words bear this sense,) proved ? We shall not so readily let the passage in the sixth chapter of John slip out of our hands, as it throws a steady light upon the point in dispute, and shows us distinctly how in truth and verity we are to eat Christ's flesh and drink His blood. Come, doctor, you must sing us another song than this, for this won't do.

Luther: You are becoming personal.

Zwingli: I ask you, Doctor, if Christ did not mean here to correct the misunderstanding of the Jews, who fancied they were to eat His real flesh and drink His real blood ?

Luther: Mr Zwingli, you mean to take me by surprise; the passage has nothing to do here.

Zwingli: Certainly the passage has to do here, and breaks your neck, Doctor.

Luther: Not so boastful, remember you are not in Switzerland now, but in Hesse, where necks are not so easily broken.

Zwingli: In Switzerland there is law and justice, as well as elsewhere, and no man's neck is broken there for naught, I have only made use of a common phrase, when I employed this expression to the effect that your case was gone, that you could do nothing but submit, seeing that the words of Christ in the sixth chapter of John totally overthrow your doctrine.

The Landgrave here interfered, saying to Luther, " I hope my learned friend the Doctor will not take ill what has been said." If Luther had but reflected on his usual threat, " we shall bring the villain to the gallows," he would have perceived that he had no great reason to complain of Zwingli's expression.

It being now exactly noon, the Conference adjourned till after dinner. In the afternoon, Zwingli read the following extract from Luther's Sermon on the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, " Christ himself says the flesh profiteth nothing, and again, my flesh gives life, how do we reconcile this? The Spirit reconciles it. Christ means that the corporeal eating of His flesh profits nothing, nothing profits but the faith that He has given His flesh for me, and shed his blood for me. If I believe that Christ is the true Son of God, that He hath descended from heaven, shed His blood for me, saved me, made me righteous and alive from the dead, I have enough." Melanchthon had explained this passage in a similar way.

Luther: I make no inquiry how Melanchthon and myself formerly explained this passage. Prove to me that when Christ says " This is my body," it is not his body. I take my stand and abide, and not without grounds, by the words " this is my body," but yet I do not the less acknowledge that Christ's body is in heaven, and also in the Sacrament. I am not concerned as to its being against reason and against nature, if it be not against faith.

Zwingli: This statement, however, undoubtedly contravenes the articles of faith, " He hath ascended to heaven," &c. &c. If Christ's body be in heaven, how can it at the same time be in the bread? God's word teaches us that Christ was in all points made like unto His brethren, Heb. ii. 17. His body then cannot at the same time be in different places, because this is contrary to the nature of a real body.

Luther: If He hath been in all respects like to us, then He has had a wife and black eyes. I have said it before, and say it again : I will have nothing to do with the Mathematica!

Zwingli: I am not speaking of the Mathematica, but of the Word of God. He then, in order to show that Christ, although of Divine nature, had taken upon Him the form of a servant, and been made like to us, cited in the Greek text the passage from Philip, ii. 7.

Luther: Let Greek alone, quote it in Latin or in German.

Zwingli: Excuse me; during the last twelve years, I have only made use of the Greek New Testament, If Christ then has been made like to us, this is to be understood of His human nature. Accordingly, His body, like every other human body, is finite.

Luther: I admit that Christ's body is finite.

Zwingli: If it is finite, it is also limited, and can only be at one and the same time in one place, that is in heaven, and not in the bread. But now you teach that the body of Christ is everywhere present,

Luther: You always seek to entrap me. If I speak of the body of Christ, I will not have it that one speak or think of a place I will not have it at all.

Zwingli: What sort of language is this? Are we only to have what you will, Doctor ?

Luther: The schoolmen have also maintained that a finite body can be in several places at once. The universe is a body, aud yet it cannot be said that it is in any definite place.

Zwingli: It ill becomes you, Doctor, to have recourse to the onions and flesh-pots of Egypt, to the Sophists ; I, for my part, pay no regard to the Sophists. If you say that the universe is nowhere, I beg all intelligent men to test the truth of this assertion ; you were, however, to make good that the body of Christ was at one and the same time in more than one place.

Luther: Christ says, "this is my body." Now the Sacrament is dispensed in many places at once, in which one partakes not only of bread, but of the true body of Christ, hence Christ's body is in many places at once.

Zwingli: This does not follow from the words of Christ, the sense of which we are here investigating. You ever assume that your understanding of these words, which we declare to be an erroneous and false one, is the right and infallible one, and proceeding from this false assumption, you avail yourself of the sophism of reasoning in a circle. Instead of which, your proper business is to prove and establish your understanding of these words to be the true and right one. That the body of Christ, however, is limited or circumscribed like our own, and consequently, can only be at one time in one place, is a doctrine taught us by the Fathers. Thus Fulgentius says: " The Son of (Joel has taken upon himself the quality of real humanity, and yet not less that of real divinity. Born of His mother in time He is yet from all eternity, in virtue of the Godhead which He bus from the Father. Born of man, He is man, and bound to a definite place ; as He emanates from the Father, He is God, and consequently omnipresent . In His human nature, He was when on earth absent from heaven, and He left the earth when He ascended to heaven : in His divine nature, He abode in heaven when He descended, nor did Heleavethe earth when He ascended." You, however, dear Doctor, have written ere now, " Every thing is full of the body of Christ," and "if Christ had not suffered in His divine nature, He were not my Redeemer."

Luther: Fulguntius is not here speaking of the Supper. Moreover he calls the Supper a sacrifice too, and yet it is none.

Zwingli: Fulgentius is here speaking of the qualities of Christ's humanity, and maintains that it necessarily follows that as man He can only be corporeally present in one place. If that is true in respect of Christ's humanity in general, it is likewise true of His presence in the Supper. When Fulgentius, however, terms the Supper a sacrifice, he does it in the same sense as Augustine, who calls it a sacrifice as he himself explains his meaning, because it is a commemoration of the once offered sacrifice of Christ.

Luther, after a few struggles, was obliged to admit this, but fell immediately into his old habit of reasoning in the circle, and drew the conclusion that Christ's body may be in many places at once, because He says, " this is my body," consequently He is now there in the bread.

Zwingli quickly rejoining: Is He there in the bread ? then there is surely in one place. Methinks, Doctor, I have you.

Luther: As God will, let Him be in one place or not, I leave that with God; to me it is enough, and I abide by it, that He says, " This is my body."

Zwingli: It is evident to every one that you argue from a false assumption, that you describe a reasoning in a circle, and that you thus, intrenched in your own opinion, obstinately close your eyes against all instruction from the Word of God. This is but a miserable spite on your part, Doctor. In like manner might some wilful disputant misinterpret the words of our Lord to his mother, " Woman, behold thy son," persist in repeating them, and, despite all remonstrances, never cease crying, No, no, you must take the words of Christ as they stand, and hold simply by them, " Woman, behold thy son." Would he achieve aught else here, but a miserable perversion of the words of Christ ? It is just what you are doing, Doctor. The holy Augustine writes : " We dare not believe that Christ in human form is everywhere present, we dare not, to establish His divinity, abstract the reality from His body. Christ as God is omnipresent, yet by reason of His true body He is in one place, in heaven."

Luther: Augustine is not here speaking of the Sacrament. The hotly of Christ in the Supper is not as in one place.

Zwingli declining to reason any farther with an opponent who withdrew himself from every species of close and consecutive argument, and who overleapt with such wonderful audacity the manifold contradictions into which he plunged, OEcolampad now took it upon him to answer Luther. In reply to Luther's last assertion, which had been already thoroughly disproved by Zwingli, and which was in direct contradiction to his own former admissions, OEcolampad observed : "If the body of Christ is not locally in the Supper, then it is not there as a real body, for, as is well known, it belongs to the essence of a body to be in one definite place. Let us examine, in all friendship, what kind of presence this is of the body of Christ."

Luther: You will not bring me a single step farther. If you have Fulgentius and Augustine on your side, we have the rest of the Fathers.

OEcolampad: Please name these Fathers, and quote the passages you refer to. We trust we shall be able to prove to you that they are of our opinion.

Luther: We decline naming them. Augustine wrote the passage you have quoted in his youth, it is moreover very unintelligible. Besides, I do not concern myself as to what the Fathers teach on this head, but I abide by the words of Christ, (Here he pointed again to the words written in chalk upon the table, " This is my body.") See, so they run. You have not driven us . out of this stronghold, as you proudly imagined you would do, and we concern ourselves no farther about proofs.

OEcolampad: If it be thus, the Conference had better be closed. We have appealed to the Fathers of the Church for the purpose of shewing that we have advanced no new doctrine. We do not build upon them, but upon the Word of God. Every one knows who Augustine was, and that when he expressed his sentiments, he not only delivered his own opinions, but those of the whole Church of his day.

Thus the Conference concluded. The Chancellor, Feige, who for his part adhered to the Zwinglian doctrine, was dismayed at the upshot. But, even yet, he exhorted both parties earnestly to cultivate peace, as he had done at the beginning, and entreated them to think of measures which might promote unity. Luther observed, " I know of no other measures but that they give glory to the Word of God, and believe what we believe."

The Swiss replied: " We cannot do so, for our conscience forbids it . We believe that Christ's body and blood are present in the Supper to the believing soul, but not in the bread and wine." Luther: "We have then done with you, and commend you to the just judgment of God: He will discover who is right."
Then OEcolampad said: "We do the same, and have done with you."

Zwingli, however, was so deeply moved by Luther's obduracy of temper, that he was unable to articulate a single word; his eyes, as every one saw, were swimming in tears.

On DA's Research

"If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith."

My little research project into this quote, which began with looking at citations of it from Catholic apologist Steve Ray, has shifted (not by my choice or any charges to "debate") to interaction with DA. I would have found it more interesting to dialog with Steve Ray, but DA has thrust himself into it, first by posting blog entries attacking me personally, and now by his attempts at research. DA, though vowing not to interact with me anymore, has continued reading this blog, and also now is claiming actual research. The "actual research" part does interest me, and I intend on evaluating it as he post it.

One of his fans asks the following question: "Could mr swan be using your comments section for his research?" DA answers, "Possibly, but if so, he'll spin it with him being the one to always find everything, and me lagging behind and learning from his pearls of great wisdom. He's done this for years. It is one of the things that makes him extremely obnoxious." I just wanted to state publicly, I have not used any of DA's blog entries or comments in researching this quote.

DA goes on to say,

"What we do see for sure is a slowly changing perspective in his posts. First he made a big deal out of Steve's use and source of the quotation. Then he stated that he was more interested in the context and various translations of the quote. Now I think he is (very subtly in public) preparing himself for the possibility of being decisively refuted and embarrassed by our findings, which will be published within a few days, if all goes well in obtaining what we are looking for. We've already found some information that is quite damning to what Swan has been chirping about for five weeks now, and that is only part of it. Stay tuned."

Indeed, there has been a change in the way I have been writing on this. One may notice, I have not written very much on Steve Ray lately. This for two reasons: first, I wrote a response to Steve's recent PDF article, so there isn't any point to write the same thing over and over. Second, Steve has mentioned he will be researching this further, so when he does, then we can have something to discuss. So, I've continued researching the quote. It is a normal progression! Why DA reads more into this is...well, I leave it to someone else to figure out.

DA caricatures my interest in this as something like first goes get Steve Ray, and then go get a context. This is simply untrue. My initial posting on this quote contained what I believed to be the context and source for this quote. I was interested in context from the beginning, and I've actually been interested in the context of this quote for a long time. I've mentioned it on my blog before, months ago. The quote actually entered back into my world when Carrie wrote me and asked me about this quote (simply visit her blog, you'll note I posted on it in a com-box, I think, last month or the month before). I reviewed my notes on it, and then started researching it again, and was reminded of Steve Ray's usage of it.

DA then states I am "(very subtly in public) preparing... for the possibility of being decisively refuted and embarrassed by our findings." Well, this is news to me. Sure, I guess if DA produces a letter from Luther to Zwingli with a context that says something like:

"Hey Zwingli, I just can't figure out which one of us is right on this Lord's Supper thing. You know what we need? We need a council of the Roman Catholic Church to decide on this for us. The Scriptures just aren't clear enough for either of us to figure out with any certainty. I hate the fact that we need this, but we'll never be able to sing 'kum Bay Ya' together without it. Sincerely, Martin Luther."

Let me state publicly, that if DA produces a letter from Luther to Zwingli stating that Sola Scriptura doesn't work and the Reformers would again have to take refuge in the Church councils in order to preserve the unity of faith on account of the many interpretations that were given to the Scriptures, I will apologize to Mr. Ray.

If DA produces evidence that the quote in question is not from That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics (1527) [LW 37], I will be willing to state he's actually done some helpful research. If he produces an actual context from this mystery text, whatever it is, I will be willing to state he's actually done some helpful research. If this mystery text says the opposite of what Luther said in That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics (as I've outlined above) I will again apologize to Steve Ray.

If DA "information that is quite damning" is simply noting that a Latin translation of a German text, then rendered into English produces the end result of the quote in question, well, this isn't the type of conclusion that should make make everyone jump up and down with glee. Of course this happens. I've been through enough of the different translations to grip this, as anyone with even a tiny interest in researching these type of quotes understands. In other words, DA would be simply proving something that is fairly obvious. This of course, does not alleviate the responsibility of those quoting Luther to actually read Luther first. If a Latin translation of That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics is produced, it still comes with a context! Note particularly, Hartmann Grisar, a man who was not a research slouch, consulted the German source and still missed Luther's point (see my earlier blog entries on this).

Let me speculate on one other possible outcome to all this. It occurred to me, the English version translated from the German in LW 37 could be faulty. That is, the translator deliberately mis-translated Luther in order to make him say something he did not intend to say. If DA produces this evidence, well then, the editors of Luther's Works and Concordia have a big problem on their hands.

Anyway, I'm interested in DA;s findings, as he has promised it will be "quite damning." Sure, I'll be embarrassed if I'm completely wrong on this (as outlined above). But I hope DA actually does produce what he says he has. If he provides 10 to 20 pages (or more) of material proving a Latin translation of a German text produced a quote easily misconstrued, well... it won't be me who is embarrassed.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It seems there isn't any point in checking Steve Ray's blog for any updates on the Luther quote I've been looking into. Others have joined forces in research, while, according to  one of them, Steve is taking "more of an agnostic position" on the whole thing. Perhaps I should simply stop looking for anything else, and let these men do some work on this. This link has arrived at most of the same conclusions I have.

Whatever the outcome, this entire exercise in research has shown a tendency that I have pointed out in popular Catholic apologetics- quoting Luther without actually reading Luther. I was actually surprised a few days ago when I went through Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar's use of this particular quote. One thing is certain about Grisar: he did indeed read Luther. Grisar though says, "In his controversy with Zwingli, Luther even came to plead the cause of the Catholic principle of authority. In his tract of 1527, " Das diese Wort Christi, Das ist mein Leib noch fest stehen..." No Luther did not, as the context shows.

One of the links mentions that Steve Ray perhaps made an "innocent mistake" with this particular Luther citation. I agree that none of us are infallible, and any of us can put forth error. I just ordered a book in which I was told another Catholic apologist uses the same particular Luther citation, with the same sparse documentation.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lance Berkman on Deep Conversations

"Astros power hitter Lance Berkman was asked about the best conversation he ever had with a catcher at the plate, he replied, 'Benito Santiago is pretty good with the banter. It is not like we are discussing Calvinism versus Arminianism or anything."

Source: Jerry Walls & Joseph Dongell, Why I Am Not A Calvinist(Illinois: Intervaristy Press, 2004) p. 14 footnote #4)

Become a better Mormon, Joel?


Our friends Steve Camp and James White has recently pointed out Joel Osteen's answer to whether or not a Mormon is a true Christian. They've documented and said what needs to be said on the topic. The transcript reads as follows:
WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I've got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?

OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.

And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don't think he would - anything would stop me from voting for him if that's what I felt like.

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don't get hung up in them because I haven't really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don't know.

I certainly can't say that I agree with everything that I've heard about it, but from what I've heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that's a common bond.

Another warning though as to the dangers Osteen represents in this new ecumenism is that the Mormon bookseller Deseret Book is selling Osteen's book Become a Better You. Someone might make the inference that Osteen has an ulterior motive in answering the Mormon as Christians question so that his book will sell more copies. I don't think this is the case. As he states in the interview he hasn't really studied the theological issues. This makes Osteen's influence even more dangerous, in my mind, as it gives even more credence to Mormonism to the thousands that listen to him. I imagine that for the Mormons this could open a whole new dialogue starter for their evangelism.

Along the same lines many may not know the history behind Mormon author, Stephen Covey's best selling book either. As Bill Gordon points out in his article 7 Habits of a Highly Successful Mormon, Stephen Covey.
It may come as a surprise to many Christians, but the popular personal growth programs written and promoted by Stephen R. Covey are meant to subtly promote his Mormon beliefs. Ironically, one of the reasons his materials, such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, are so popular among Christian leaders is because they give a prominent place to spirituality in personal growth.

Maybe Osteen feels like he's in good company since Desert Book also sells Hugh Hewitt's book.



(HT: Todd Wood)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Luther: If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures..

I've come across a lot of comments about the recent Luther's letter to Zwingli research I've been doing. In all my time on the Internet, I have never been so attacked by Roman Catholics than in this particular instance. I've deleted comments off this blog, I've read blog articles that obfuscate the issues I raised (along with insults and rhetoric), I've read discussion threads, etc... all testifying to how awful I am for questioning this, how I'm allegedly this person who doesn't live up to my own standards, how much of an idiot I am, etc. When I read all of it, it leads to one conclusion, no one in Catholic apologetics seems to have any idea where Luther said what he is quoted as saying, and no one has any idea where to find the context. To admit I'm right as to the context is too humiliating: to think Catholic apologetics has misquoted Luther for a long time can't be correct.

I'm simply going "deep into history" as they suggest. One would think, they would be cheering me on, looking for an opportunity to substantiate historical claims made by their apologists and defenders. So far, the only help came from a guy saying he was going to locate a French book with a reference in French to a letter from Luther to Zwingli. This turned out to be bogus. It wasn't a letter, but most likely a treatise, as I've suggested. The excuse, "We don't have to provide documentation because we trust so and so..." just.... well, not easy to harmonize with "To be deep in history is to cease being Protestant." Do we just accept historical "facts" because some earlier Catholic apologist says so? Does the Donation of Constantine ring any bells?

Well, if you've kept up with my blog entries, The claim is that Luther wrote a letter to Zwingli. Yet, I've been through probably a few hundred books at this point, and haven't found one letter from Luther to Zwingli. In other variations of the "quote" as used by Catholic apologists, it's fairly obvious the quote is from a treatise directed toward Zwingli, not a letter. I 've pointed out there are only three such writings directed specifically toward Zwingli from Luther. Guess which one has the "quote"? The treatise I referred to in my aomin entry, "When Footnotes Attack." I will be writing more on this quote shortly.

If Roman Catholics would like to "resolve" this situation, they can produce a letter from Luther to Zwingli, rather than saying things like this:

"Even Martin Luther saw the inescapable principle of fragmentation and disunity that lies at the heart of . In a letter to Urlich Zwingli, he complained bitterly about the doctrinal anarchy that was even then rampant among Protestants: "If the world lasts, it will be necessary, on account of the differing interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of faith, we should receive the [Catholic] councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge."

Source: Patrick Madrid, “Sola scriptura: A Blueprint for Anarchy” [Comment: Madrid says Luther "complained bitterly"....perhaps Mr. Madrid has a context to prove this? Note also Madrid's addition of the word, "[Catholic]."

“Martin Luther even conceded in a letter to Heinrich Zwingli, that reformers would again have to take refuge in the Holy Catholic Church's councils, in order to preserve the unity of faith. Why? On account of the many interpretations that were given to the Scriptures by those who had seperated from Mother Church. Satan was dividing and dividing and on and on till about 27,0000 denominations are active today. Each saying, "My way is right, not his!"”

Source: From Protestant Pentecostal to Catholic

"Yet even Luther began to realize how divisive his own sola scriptura theology was. In his Letter against Zwingli, Luther wrote "If the world lasts long it will be again necessary on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist that to preserve the unity of faith we should receive the councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge."

Source: Sola Scriptura

55. Was Luther responsible for the private judgment theory?. Yes. It was inaugurated by him and shortly after, when he saw the numerous sects growing and multiplying, he said in his Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423), "If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith."

Source: Bible Quizzes to a street preacher

After Luther unleashed his private judgment theory, he saw the dangers of it as numerous sects began growing and multiplying. He said in his Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423), "If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith."

Source: 21 TOP REASONS TO REJECT SOLA SCRIPTURA (Bible Alone method)

Luther said he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian?

From The Beggars Mailbox: The Wise Turk:

"I was listening to the KFUO broadcast IssuesEtc and the host says he wished some Luther scholar would point him to where Luther is believed to say that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian. Or something to that effect. I thought of you since you are such a scholar."

With all the presidential hype surrounding Mitt Romney as a Mormon candidate, I was almost certain this quote would pop up. I'm keen on not "reinventing the wheel" so to speak, so if someone else has already done some work on a subject, I'd rather simply refer to their efforts. Gene Edward Veith has posted an article entitled, Luther's "Wise Turk" Quote He Didn't Say (and this earlier post as well The Wise Turk Quote). Please read the article and the discussion. Veith  states,"Right now, the quotation, while perhaps true in what it says, seems to be phony, making me wonder what else Luther didn't say." I would agree that I've never come across anything that verifies this statement came from Luther.  The quote is certainly not from the following from Luther's treatise, An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility:
"It is said that there is no better temporal rule anywhere than among the Turks, who have neither spiritual nor temporal law, but only their Koran; and we must confess that there is no more shameful rule than among us, with our spiritual and temporal law, so that there is no estate which lives according to the light of nature, still less according to Holy Scripture."
This quote really isn't all that close, but has popped up on the Internet as the reference. Veith's entry shows that if one goes through Luther's writings about Islam, one will not find any concession that it would be better to be ruled by them rather than an incompetent Christian. Luther at one point in 1528 wrote, "But as the pope is Antichrist, so the Turk is the very devil."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Martin Luther: The Story of Jesus' Birth

I. The Birth of Jesus

Christmas Text: Luke 2:1-14

The Story of Jesus' Birth

1. It is written in Hag 2:6-7, that God says, "I will shake the heavens; and the precious things of all nations shall come." This is fulfilled today, for the heavens were shaken, that is, the angels in the heavens sang praises to God. And the earth was shaken, that is, the people on the earth were agitated; one journeying to this city, another to that throughout the whole land, as the Gospel tells us. It was not a violent, bloody uprising, but rather a peaceable one awakened by God who is the God of peace.

It is not to be understood that all countries upon earth were so agitated; but only those under Roman rule, which did not comprise half of the whole earth. However, no land was agitated as was the land of Judea, which had been divided among the tribes of Israel, although at this time the land was inhabited mostly by the race of Judah, as the ten tribes led captive into Assyria never returned.

2. This taxing, enrollment, or census, says Luke, was the first; but in the Gospel according to Matthew, 17:24, and at other places we read that it was continued from time to time, that they even demanded tribute of Christ, and tempted him with the tribute money, Matt 22:17. On the day of his suffering they also testified against him, that he forbade to give tribute to Caesar. The Jews did not like to pay tribute, and unwillingly submitted to the taxing, maintaining that they were God's people and free from Caesar. They had great disputes as to whether they were obliged to pay the tribute, but they, could not help themselves and were compelled to submit. For this reason they would have been pleased to draw Jesus into the discussion and bring him under the Roman jurisdiction. This taxing was therefore nothing else but a common decree throughout the whole empire that every individual should annually pay a penny, and the officers who collected the tribute were called publicans, who in German are improperly interpreted notorious sinners.

3. Observe how exact the Evangelist is in his statement that the birth of Christ occurred in the time of Caesar Augustus, and when Quirinius was governor of Syria, of which the land of Judea was a part, just as Austria is a part of the German land. This being the very first taxing, it appears that this tribute was never before paid until just at the time when Christ was to be born. By this Jesus shows that his kingdom was not to be of an earthly character nor to exercise worldly power and lordship, but that he, together with his parents, is subject to the powers that be. Since he comes at the time of the very first enrollment, he leaves no doubt with respect to this, for had he desired to leave it in doubt, he might have willed to be born under another enrollment, so that it might have been said it just happened so, without any divine intent.

4. And had he not willed to be submissive, he might have been born before there was any enrollment decreed. Since now all the works of Jesus are precious teachings, this circumstance can not be interpreted otherwise than that he by divine counsel and purpose will not exercise any worldly authority; but will be subject to it. This then is the first rebuke to the pope's government and every thing of that character, that harmonizes with the kingdom of Christ as night does with day.

5. This Gospel is so clear that it requires very little explanation, but it should be well considered and taken deeply to heart; and no one will receive more benefit from it than those who, with a calm, quiet heart, banish everything else from their mind, and diligently look into it. It is just as the sun which is reflected in calm water and gives out vigorous warmth, but which cannot be so readily seen nor can it give out such warmth in water that is in roaring and rapid motion.

Therefore, if you would be enlightened and warmed, if you would see the wonders of divine grace and have your heart aglow and enlightened, devout and joyful, go where you can silently meditate and lay hold of this picture deep in your heart, and you will see miracle upon miracle. But to give the common person a start and a motive to contemplate it, we will illustrate it in part, and afterwards enter into it more deeply.

6. First, behold how very ordinary and common things are to us that transpire on earth, and yet how high they are regarded in heaven. On earth it occurs in this wise: Here is a poor young woman, Mary of Nazareth, not highly esteemed, but of the humblest citizens of the village. No one is conscious of the great wonder she bears, she is silent, keeps her own counsel, and regards herself as the lowliest in the town. She starts out with her husband Joseph; very likely they had no servant, and he had to do the work of master and servant, and she that of mistress and maid, They were therefore obliged to leave their home unoccupied, or commend it to the care of others.

21. This has been considered sufficiently for plain people. Every one should ponder it further for himself. If every word is properly grasped, it is as fire that sets the heart aglow, as God says in Jer 23:29, "Is not my Word like fire?" And as we see, it is the purpose of the divine Word, to teach us to know God and his work, and to see that this life is nothing. For as he does not live according to this life and does not have possessions nor temporal honor and power, he does not regard these and says nothing concerning them, but teaches only the contrary. He works in opposition to these temporal things, looks with favor upon that from which the world turns, teaches that from which it flees and takes up that which it discards.

22. And although we are not willing to tolerate such acts of God and do not want to receive blessing, honor and life In this way, yet it must remain so. God does not change his purpose, nor does he teach or act differently than he purposed. We must adapt ourselves to him, he will not adapt himself to us. Moreover, he who will not regard his word, nor the manner in which he works to bring comfort to men, has assuredly no good evidence of being saved. In what more lovely manner could he have shown his grace to the humble and despised of earth, than through this birth in poverty, over which the angels rejoice, and make it known to no one but to the poor shepherds?
(Sections taken from A Sermon by Martin Luther, from his Wartburg Church Postil, 1521-1522)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Anniversary ....To Beggars All

I missed the two year anniversary of this blog, which happened about 2 weeks ago. Thanks to everyone who stops by.
Special thanks of course to John Mark, Alan, and Carrie for providing such great entries!

Personal Encounters and Lourdes

Looking at some of the statements of Rome, it is easy to see how some Protestants could be confused and feel obligated to consider Roman Catholics fellow christians. Consider this quote of the Pope from Catholic News:
"The pope's speech Dec. 21 focused in large part on his trip last May to Brazil, where he inaugurated a major meeting of Latin American bishops.

The theme of that encounter was "Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ."

...In response, he emphasized a point that has become a touchstone of his pontificate: the Gospel cannot be implemented without a personal encounter with Christ.

Becoming a "disciple," he said, means getting to know Christ -- through Scripture, participation in prayer and the sacraments, and learning about the witness of saints.

"One can never know Christ only theoretically," he said.

That, in fact, was a key point in Pope Benedict's best-selling book, "Jesus of Nazareth," published last spring."

Of course,"a personal Encounter with Christ" is a very evangelical-sounding phrase. That must be good, right?

But when considering Rome one must consider all of Rome, and I offer this recent article on indulgences highlighted by Irish Calvinist:
"Pope Benedict is seemingly trying to get ahead of the vacation planning for the upcoming year. According to this article, the Pope is offering “relief from purgatory to Roman Catholics who travel to Lourdes over the next year”."

When you have "a personal encounter with Christ" you do not travel to a place where Mary has supposedly appeared to pray at the feet of her statue in order to earn a reduced sentence in purgatory for yourself and/or others.

(For more details on the Lourde's Indulgence, see here)

"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:8-9

HT: Gene for the Lourdes post

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Quote Hunting...Continued.

I'm still looking through my library for any information on the oft-quoted saying from Luther:

"If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith." Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423)"

Here are just a few quick tidbits of what I've uncovered so far.

1. As far as I've been able to determine, there are not any letters from Luther to Zwingli. If anyone comes across even a secondary reference to such a letter, I'd like to see it. I'm actually quite amazed at this, considering both men met in person, and did compose writings directed toward each other. I'm still looking, but the more sources I check, the more I'm dissuaded as to such existing. Note also, in this earlier blog entry, none of the citations provided seem to refer to a letter, but rather to a treatise.

2. Luther wrote many pages against Zwingli, but didn't seem to write many treatises specifically against Zwingli. I was looking through The Life Of Luther by Julius Kostlin (1911). Kostlin notes Luther's first writing against Zwingli was in 1526 in Luther's preface to the Syngramma or treatise of the fourteen Swabian ministers. This was followed up by the treatise I mentioned a few days ago, That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics(1527). Lastly, Luther published Confession concerning the Lord's Supper in 1528. Kostlin notes, "Luther, after reading the last-mentioned treatise of Zwingli and Oecolampadius, resolved to publish one answer more, the last; for Satan, he said, must not be suffered to hinder him further in the prosecution of other and more important matters" (p.382). Of course, Luther mentioned Zwingli throughout his writings, even after these main writings. I will continue to look for more on this- as I've always assumed much more was written by Luther against Zwingli.

3. If no such letter from Luther to Zwingli exists, The quote in question then, probably comes from one of these writings mentioned above. I'm of the opinion that I'm correct in asserting the Luther quote used by those dedicated to Rome is from That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics(1527). What appears to have happened is the Latin translation of the earlier German has rendered the quote somewhat different, yet making the same point.

4. I checked my saved computer files of Catholic apologist Hartmann Grisar's books on Luther. Even Grisar states Luther was trying to "...plead the cause of the Catholic principle of authority" in That These Words Of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against The Fanatics. Well, Grisar is wrong, for reasons I've already noted earlier this week. Here is what Grisar states:

"In his controversy with Zwingli, Luther even came to plead the cause of the Catholic principle of authority. In his tract of 1527, " Das diese Wort Christi, Das ist mein Leib noch fest stehen," he declared that Zwingli s interpretation of the Bible had already given rise to " many opinions, many factions and much dissension." Such arbitrary exegesis neither can nor may go any further. " And if the world is to last much longer, we shall on account of such dissensions again be obliged, like the ancients, to seek for human contrivances and to set up new laws and ordinances in order to preserve the people in the unity of the faith. This will succeed as it succeeded before. In fine, the devil is too clever and powerful for us. He hinders us and stops the way everywhere. If we wish to study Scripture he raises up so much strife and dissension that we tire of it. ... He is, and is called, Satan, i.e. an adversary." He here attributes to the devil the defects of his own Scriptural system, and puts away as something wrong even the very thought that it contained faults, another trait to his psychological picture : " The devil is a conjurer." " Unless God assists us, our work and counsel is of no avail. We may think of it as we like, he still remains the Prince of this world. Whoever does not believe this, let him simply try and see. Of this I have experienced something. But let no one believe me until he has himself experienced it." There is no doubt, that, in 1527, Luther did have to go through some severe struggles of conscience."

Source: Grisar, Luther Volume IV, p.410.

It has been suggested that the burden of proof to provide a context for this "shock" quote lies on me. I would like to point out, if my reasoning above is cogent, I have met that demand. What we have here is a few hundred years of Catholic apologists mis-citing Luther, even smart ones like Grisar. Stay tuned.

Never Mind.

Last night I read the following over on Steve Ray's blog:

"Also, after the dust settles, I intend to revise my response to James Swan about the Luther quote he is researching–when I have time. I will post my edited response in the near future. I am actually grateful for his research. My original response can be read here. In my revised response I intend to thank him for his research since we all want to be accurate and thorough. "

This is from the same blog entry which earlier alerted Steve's readers to his response. I didn't save a copy of it, but I think it's been edited a bit, which is fine. I was going to post this over on AOMIN, but I'll wait for whatever revision Steve puts forth of his rebuttal (this will be revision #3, and my apologies to Mr. Ray, I haven't thoroughly read #2 yet).

At this point I'm more interested in an actual context rather than how and for what purpose Mr. Ray utilized Luther. I really am very curious as to the history of this particular Luther citation, and I'm hopeful Mr. Ray can provide a context, or at least provide some helpful documentation so I can dig into it. I have some of my own avenues of research I'm going to check (probably mid-January when I get some time). Tracing quotes, while some may think it is a burden, is actually enjoyable. It's very interesting to trace how different Luther citations are used through the years.

But wait, never mind.

This morning, Turretinfan sent me a link to a recent Steve Ray blog article. Mr. Ray says,

"DA has posted a blog entry explaining how one anti-Catholic operates as he criticizes Catholics. Interesting read! Guys like this really ought to fix the real holes in his own bucket before trying to find perceived holes in someone else's (Matt 7:3-5). An earlier post by DA on the same topic can be read here."

So, to aid Mr. Ray, the Catholic-apologetic-Knight-in-Shining-Armor has arrived! Three Cheers!And here for a brief moment, I thought Steve Ray could actually rise above the silliness that goes along with the pop-Catholic apologetic approach.

By the way, despite what the latest round of kindness states, I still recommend Paul Althaus, The Theology Of Martin Luther, and Ewald Plass, What Luther Says. Both are excellent systematic treatments of Luther's writings giving one an excellent overview of Luther's theology. The Althaus book was required reading in a class I took specifically on Luther's theology. If you want to research Luther in a systematic way, these are two excellent resources.

As to my use of secondary sources for Luther quotes, I use them as a last resort, and likewise will seek to produce the context rather than run away or create smoke without fire. Note specifically, the mode I'm critiquing of secondary source usage perpetuated by those like Mr. Ray, is the use of the OUTRAGEOUS quote: those quotes that sound shocking, or completely non-congruent with what one knows about the Reformers. These are the quotes that create caricature rather than historical fact. When I cite a secondary source, you can probably count on it not being some outrageous fact about Luther that can't be cross-referenced with contexts that can be checked to prove the point. For example, you can read through my paper, A Look at Justification By Faith Alone and Good Works in Luther’s Theology . See section VI. Quotations From Luther on Faith and Works. I utilized secondary sources and primary English sources. All saying (guess what) the SAME THING.

For instance, with this latest use of a Luther quote used by Steve Ray, I challenge anyone to read through Luther's writings against Zwingli (and the Swiss) in LW 37, and then ask one simple question: Would Luther really "concede" or say that a Church Council will be, or needs to be, the deciding voice on the controversy between them? Absolutely not! This is why I'm so vehement in pointing out these "type" of quotes perpetuated by pop-Catholic apologetics- people like Mr. Ray neglect hundreds of pages of easily checked contexts, and systematic treatments of Luther, and put forth, in their place, obscure quotes that say the opposite to what Luther actually held.

I'm going to specifically e-mail this blog entry to Mr. Ray, in the hopes that he understands my concern. He can be part of the mud-slinging, or he can revise his methods. Simply go back and check DA's earlier Luther "work" of poor documentation and reliance on "shock" sources, and his recent efforts to document information more helpfully. If these men wish to be taken seriously, I suggest they do serious work.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Interview with an SBC Pastor


Again so as to not clog James' meta with too much SBC type stuff I have an interview with a young SBC pastor over at my blog here.

On the outside this is not your typical SBC church. These guys could use some help if you feel so led.


The Wild Goose Chase Continued...

[Updated 11:30 P.M. 12/21/07]

While digging around in my own library, I came across yet another version of the Luther quote I've been looking for:

"If the world is to last much longer, I do declare, considering all these different interpretations of the scripture, there is no other means remaining for us to preserve the unity of faith, than that of receiving the decrees of the councils and taking refuge under their authority." [Luther against Zwinglius and Oecolampadius]

This version of the quote comes from J.F.M. Trevern, An Amicable Discussion of the Church of England and on the Reformation in General (Baltimore: Lucas Brothers, 1856], p. 96.

Trevern's book was (you guessed it), a book of Catholic apologetics. Last time I checked a few months back, it was not yet on Google Books.

I now have a growing collection of this quote:

"If the world last long, said Luther once by good hap (Contr. Zwin. et. Oecol)”, “it will be again necessary, on account of the different interpretations of Scripture which now exist, that to preserve the unity of the faith we should receive the Councils and decrees and fly to them for refuge." [St. Francis de Sales'(1567-1622) Catholic Controversy]

"If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith." Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423)"

"If the world lasts much longer, men will, as the ancients did, once more turn to human schemes on account of this dissension, and again issue laws and regulations to keep the people in the unity of the faith." [LW 37- "THAT THESE WORDS OF CHRIST, “THIS IS MY BODY,” ETC., STILL STAND FIRM AGAINST THE FANATICS]

"Luther contra Zuinglium et Oecolampadium, 1. i. "If the world is to last much longer, I do declare, considering all these different interpretations of the Scriptures, that there is no other means remaining for us to preserve the unity of the faith, than that of receiving the decrees of the Council, and taking refuge under her authority." [source]

Here one can find the quote in Latin, documented as "De Veritate Corporis Christi Contra Zwinglium." Here is the quote via de Sales.

As I continue to do the work that my Catholic apologist friends should be doing, I think what I'm eventually going to find is that the quote as I've cited it from LW 37 is a translation from the German original, whereas the quote, as it is being used by the Catholic apologists is from a Latin source. That is, somewhere along the way, the treatise in LW 37, originally written in German, was subsequently translated into Latin. This is only a hypothesis [update: quite possibly, a Latin translation was made, entitled, "Contra Fanaticos Sacramentariorum Spiritus."

I think it's safe to say, a letter from Luther to Zwingli, as Steve Ray claims, is not the source for this quote. I think it's also safe to say, the book by Jaime Luciano Balmes cited by Mr. Ray, has an ambiguous use of the quote in which a reader, not careful, would assume Balmes quoted a letter from Luther to Zwingli. Balmes' documentation is also more vague than helpful, though many books from previous centuries were similar.

By the way, here is a sample of Luther's actual handwriting of "THAT THESE WORDS OF CHRIST, “THIS IS MY BODY,” ETC., STILL STAND FIRM AGAINST THE FANATICS"

Thursday, December 20, 2007


In my recent evaluation of Steve Ray's use of a Luther quote, I worked from a particular text. I thought it would be helpful to provide the section of that text from Luther that I worked from.

If you choose to read through this text, pay attention to Luther's description of the way councils arose within Christianity, and their value. I think any fair-minded reader will come to the same conclusion I did on what value Luther places on a council. One will not come to the conclusion that Luther "conceded" the need for a council, as Mr. Ray claims. It is my contention Luther does no such thing, but is rather describing exactly what men do when faced with dissension within the church.

Keep in mind also, this particular tract was Luther's major work against Zwingli and the Swiss.


How very true is the proverb that the devil is master of a thousand arts! This he proves beyond question in all the stratagems by which he rules his world, as in outward, palpable deeds of guile, intrigues, wickedness, sins, murder, destruction, etc. But especially and supremely does he demonstrate his craftiness in spiritual, inward matters which concern the glory of God and conscience. How he can slither and squirm, twist and turn in all directions, and hinder and thwart us on all sides, that no one may be saved and persevere in the Christian truth. As an example of the devil’s work let us take the history of Christianity (I shall not mention the ancient fathers and the Jews). In the beginning of the gospel, when God’s Word was preached by the apostles purely and clearly, and no human commandments but simply the holy Scriptures were set forth, it seemed as if there would never be any trouble, since holy Scripture was the empress among the Christians.

But what could the devil not do? He finally permitted the Scriptures to be the sole authority, and allowed no pharisaical, Jewish commandments or laws concerning works to prevail any longer. But he also had some of his followers in the Christians’ schools, and through them he stealthily sneaked and crept into the holy Scriptures. Once he had wormed his way in and had things under control, he burst out on all sides, creating a real brawl over Scripture and producing many sects, heresies, and factions among Christians. Since every faction claimed Scripture for itself and interpreted it according to its own understanding, the result was that Scripture began to lose its worth, and eventually even acquired the reputation of being a heretics’ book and the source of all heresy, since all heretics seek the aid of Scripture. Thus the devil was able to wrest from the Christians their weapons, armor, and fortress (i.e. Scripture), so that it not only became feeble and ineffective against him, but even had to fight against the Christians themselves. He got Christians to become suspicious of it, as if it were plain poison against which they had to defend themselves. Tell me, wasn’t that a clever scheme of the devil?

Once Scripture had become like a broken net and no one would be restrained by it, but everyone made a hole in it wherever it pleased him to poke his snout, and followed his own opinions, interpreting and twisting Scripture any way he pleased, the Christians knew no other way to cope with these problems than to call many councils. In these they issued many outward laws and ordinances alongside Scripture, in order to keep the people together in the face of these divisions. As a result of this undertaking (though they meant well), arose the sayings that the Scriptures were not sufficient, that we also needed the laws and the interpretations of the councils and the fathers, and that the Holy Spirit did not reveal everything to the apostles but reserved certain things for the fathers. Out of this finally developed the papacy, in which there is no authority but man-made laws and interpretations according to the “chamber of the holy father’s heart.”

When the devil saw this he jeered and thought: now I have won! Scripture lies prostrate, the fortress is destroyed, the weapons are beaten down. In their place they now weave walls of straw and make weapons of hay, i.e. they intend now to array themselves against me with man-made laws. Ah, this is serious! What shall I do? I shall not fight against this, but pitch in and help them build so that they remain nicely united, and help them gather enough straw and hay. It serves my purpose well that they should neglect the Word and not dispute over the Scriptures, but that at this very point they should be at peace and believe what the councils and the fathers say. But within this peace and unity I shall stir up many another controversy and quarrel, so that the pope will contend against emperor and kings, bishops against princes and lords, scholars against scholars, clerics against clerics, and everyone against the other, for the sake of temporal honor, possessions, and pleasure, yet leaving untouched their unity of belief in the holy fathers. The fools! What can they expect to accomplish with quarrels over the Scriptures and the things of God they do not understand? It is better for them to quarrel over honor, kingdoms, principalities, property, pleasure, and bodily needs, which they do understand, and meanwhile remain faithful Christians united in the glossed faith of the fathers, i.e. a flimsy faith.

This is the way the plot worked out for the fathers: Since they contrived to have the Scriptures without quarreling and dissension, they thereby became the cause of men’s turning wholly and completely away from the Scriptures to mere human drivel. Then, of course, dissension and contention over the Scriptures necessarily ceased, which is a divine quarrel wherein God contends with the devil, as St. Paul says in Ephesians 6[:12], “We have to contend not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in the air.” But in place of this, there has broken out human dissension over temporal honor and goods on earth, yet there remain a united blindness and ignorance of the Scriptures and a loss of the true Christian faith, i.e. a united obedience to the glosses of the fathers and to the holy see at Rome. Isn’t this also a piece of devilish craftiness? No matter what play we make, he is a master and an expert at the game.
Now in our day, having seen that Scripture was utterly neglected and the devil was making captives and fools of us by the mere straw and hay of man-made laws, we have tried by God’s grace to offer some help in the matter. With immense and bitter effort indeed we have brought the Scriptures to the fore again and released the people from man-made laws, freed ourselves and escaped the devil, although he stubbornly resisted and still continues to do so. However, even though he has had to let us go, he does not forget his tricks. He has secretly sown his seed among us so that they may take hold of our teachings and words, not to aid and assist us in fostering the Scriptures, but, while we were leading in the fight against human drivel, to fall upon our host from the rear, incite rebellion and raise an uproar against us, in order that caught between two enemies, we may be more easily destroyed. This is what I call throwing quicksilver into the pond!

However, he does not leave the matter there, but quick as a flash goes to work on the sacraments, although in this respect he has already tom at least ten rips and loopholes in the Scriptures. I have never read of a more shameful heresy, which from the outset has gathered to itself so many heads, so many factions and dissensions, although on the main point, the persecution of Christ, they are united. But he will keep on and attack still other articles of faith, as he already declares with flashing eyes that baptism, original sin, and Christ are nothing. Once more there will arise a brawl over the Scriptures, and such dissension and so many factions that we may well say with St. Paul, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work” [II Thess. 2:7], just as he also saw that many more factions would arise after him.

If the world lasts much longer, men will, as the ancients did, once more turn to human schemes on account of this dissension, and again issue laws and regulations to keep the people in the unity of the faith. Their success will be the same as it was in the past.

In short, the devil is too clever and too mighty for us. He resists and hinders us at every point. When we wish to deal with Scripture, he stirs up so much dissension and quarreling over it that we lose our interest in it and become reluctant to trust it. We must forever be scuffling and wrestling with him. If we wish to stand upon the councils and counsels of men, we lose the Scriptures altogether and remain in the devil’s possession body and soul. He is Satan, and Satan is his name, i.e. an adversary. He must obstruct and cause misfortune; he cannot do otherwise. Moreover, he is the prince and god of this world, so that he has sufficient power to do so. Since he is able and determined to do all this, we must not imagine that we shall have peace from him. He takes no vacation and he does not sleep. Choose, then, whether you prefer to wrestle with the devil or whether you prefer to belong to him. If you consent to be his, you will receive his guarantee to leave you in peace with the Scriptures. If you refuse to be his, defend yourself, go at him! He will not pass you by; he will create such dissension and sectarianism over the Scriptures that you will not know where Scriptures, faith, Christ, and you yourself stand.
Woe betide all our teachers and authors, who go their merry way and spew forth whatever is uppermost in their minds, and do not first turn a thought over ten times to be sure it is right in the sight of God! These think the devil is away for a while in Babylon, or asleep at their side like a dog on a cushion. They do not consider that he is round about them with all his venomous flaming darts which he puts into them, such superlatively beautiful thoughts adorned with Scripture that they are unaware of what is happening. Here no admonition, no warnings, no threats are of any avail. The devil is master of a thousand arts. If God does not defend and help us, all our actions and counsels are nothing. No matter which way you look at it, the devil is the prince of this world. He who does not know this, let him try and see. I have had some experience in this matter. But no one will believe me until he experiences it also.

It is precisely the same devil who now assails us through the fanatics by blaspheming the holy and venerable sacrament of our Lord Jesus Christ, out of which they would like to make mere bread and wine as a symbol or memorial sign of Christians, in whatever way their dream or fancy dictates. They will not grant that the Lord’s body and blood are present, even though the plain, clear words stand right there: “Eat, this is my body.” Yet those words still stand firm and invulnerable against them. Now, I dealt with this subject carefully in my attack against Karlstadt, in such a way that anyone who did not take pleasure in erring could find guidance against this specter of the devil. But my dear fanatics despise me so haughtily that they do not consider me worthy of a careful answer. It is enough for them to look at my book and turn up their noses at it and say, “It lacks Spirit.” What good is it now for me to write a great deal? They scorn my book, and if they just babble a few words about it, without touching a single argument correctly, they consider it refuted. They rest their case simply upon the production of many books and the soiling of much paper.

One of the reasons I have hesitated until now to write further against them is that I have sensed such arrogance and contempt beneath their celebrated humility. Secondly, their fanaticism is such sheer, empty prattle that it amazes me how these fine, erudite people ever got entangled with it. They proceed, moreover, with such a timorous, tremulous conscience, that it appears to me they wish the beer were back again in the keg. Had they not started the affair, I believe, they would have let well enough alone.

I see in this affair nothing else than the wrath of God, who gives the devil free rein to produce crude, clumsy errors and thick darkness to punish our shameful ingratitude for having treated the holy gospel as so wretchedly despicable and worthless—to make us, as St. Paul says, “believe what is false, since we have not received the love of truth” [II Thess. 2:10 f.]. This fanaticism, moreover, lacks nothing but being new. For we Germans are the kind of fellows who pounce upon anything new and cling to it like fools, and if anyone restrains us, he only makes us more crazy for it; but if no one restrains us, we will soon on our own become fed up and bored with it, and soon chase after something else that is new. Thus the devil has the advantage that no teaching or fancy so clumsy can arise but he can find disciples for it, and the clumsier the more quickly.

But “God’s word alone endures forever” [Isa. 40:8]; errors always spring up by its side and pass away again. For this reason I am not worried that this fanaticism will last long. It is much too crude and impudent, and it does not attack obscure and uncertain Scripture but clear, plain Scripture, as we shall hear. So I shall once more set myself against the devil and his fanatics, not for their sake, but for the sake of the weak and simple. For I have no hope that the teachers of a heresy or fanaticism will be converted. Indeed, if that were possible, so much has already been written that they would have been converted. It has never been reported that an author of false doctrine was converted. For this sin is too great, because it blasphemes God’s Word and sins against the Holy Spirit. Therefore God lets it become hardened, with the result, according to the word of Isaiah 6[9 f.], “With seeing eyes you shall not see and with hearing ears you shall not hear, for this people’s heart is hardened.”

Christ converted no high priest, but their disciples were converted, such as Nicodemus, Joseph, Paul, and the like. The ancient prophets converted no false prophets. Paul, too, was not able to convert false apostles, but laid down the teaching: “When one has been admonished twice or three times, avoid him and dismiss him as a perverted man” [Titus 3:10]. So too the holy doctors have never converted an arch-heretic; not because they had not sufficiently opposed and confuted all the heretics’ errors with the truth, but their hearts were obsessed with their own fancies, and they fared the same way as the person who looks through a colored glass: place before him whatever color you will, he sees no other color than that of his glass. The fault is not that you have placed the wrong color before him but that his glass has a different color, as the same passage in Isaiah [6:9] also puts it, “You shall see,” he says, “and yet not see.” What is this but to say: It will appear before your eyes quite clearly enough for you to see, and others will see it, but you will not. This is the reason, says John 12[:40], that one cannot convert such people. The proffered truth does not do it. God must take away the colored glass; this we cannot do.