Friday, June 10, 2011
"Luther, Exposing the Myth": a Response
Introduction: The Myths From Luther, Exposing the Myth
Luther, Exposing the Myth is one of the worst Luther web-pages I’ve ever come across: context, history, and truth don’t seem to be any sort of factor in its analysis of Luther. The issues raised are the usual Roman Catholic invective. The hosting website is Catholic Apologetics Information, an Australian Romanist website. Luther Exposing the Myth has also gone through revisions. Simply compare the original 2004 version to the one currently posted. Luther, Exposing the Myth appears to have been partially plagiarized from: Verbum the newsletter of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Ridgefield, CT, Spring 1985.
A few years back I reviewed a portion of the material presented. I wrote to the hosting website letting them know of my reviews. I received the following reply, "We will forward [the author] your comments and ask him to send us a respond. Once he has sent us a response to your article, we will try to forward to you what he sends back to us." That was in 2006. I have yet to receive any response. I probably never will.
Why Respond to Luther Exposing the Myth?
Why go through the material from this web page? Shouldn't most people reading Luther, Exposing the Myth realize one or two sentences from a historical figure without a context is probably propaganda? Unfortunately, over the years I've watched the material from Luther, Exposing the Myth used and quoted. I've come across various web discussion boards in which the material is accepted without scrutiny. I've watched many of the quotes utilized multiply over onto other web pages.
I realize most people don't have the time nor the resources to look into the Luther quotes presented. Research takes time. It's my hope that the 1 out 100 people that loves truth will come across the following research, utilize it, and set the record straight.
I am not a Lutheran. There are many issues I'd disagree with Luther and Lutheranism on. However, I do love truth. It's one thing to disagree with Luther's theology. It's quite another to deliberately misrepresent his theology and character.
My Original Introductory Response to Luther, Exposing the Myth
Back in 2006 I began reviewing Luther, Exposing the Myth. I had intended to work through the material in 2006, but the project eventually got put on the back burner. Here are my original reviews:
Part one of my original review of Luther, Exposing the Myth
Part two of my original review of Luther, Exposing the Myth
In Depth Review of Luther, Exposing the Myth
In the summer of 2010 I began once again to work through Luther, Exposing the Myth. I came across this discussion thread, as well as this one, and this blog entry. These provoked me to take a fresh look at this propaganda piece. Below are all the quotes used by Luther, Exposing the Myth and my responses hyperlinked as I work through them. I've just about gotten through all of the quotes used, I plan on finishing the last few up, summer 2011.
If you're looking for more information on a specific Luther quote or topic used in Luther, Exposing the Myth, use the search engines on the right hand column of this blog. Chances are, I've covered the material elsewhere.
1. "Their only purpose is to show man his impotence to do good and to teach him to despair of himself"
2. “Thou shalt not covet,’ is a commandment which proves us all to be sinners; since it is not in man’s power not to covet, and the same is the drift of all the commandments, for they are all equally impossible to us.”
3. "Moses is an executioner, a cruel lictor, a torturer a torturer who tears our flesh out with pincers and makes us suffer martyrdom . . . Whoever, in the name of Christ, terrifies and troubles consciences, is not the messenger of Christ, but of the devil . . . Let us therefore send Moses packing and for ever."
4. "We must remove the Decalogue out of sight and heart” (deWette 4, 188).
5. “It does not matter what people do; it only matters what they believe.”
6. “If we allow them - the Commandments - any influence in our conscience, they become the cloak of all evil, heresies and blasphemies” (Comm. ad Galat, p.310).
from the original 2004 Luther Exposing the Myth:
“If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid Ten Commandments, tell him right out – chase yourself to the Jews”
7. "...with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, (man) has no 'free-will', but is a captive, prisoner and bond slave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan."
8. "...we do everything of necessity and nothing by 'free-will'; for the power of 'free-will' is nil..."
9. "Man is like a horse. Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient and accommodates itself to every movement of the rider and goes whither he wills it. Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider... Therefore, necessity, not free will, is the controlling principle of our conduct. God is the author of what is evil as well as of what is good, and, as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also does He damn others who deserve not their fate."
10. “His (Judas) will was the work of God; God by His almighty power moved his will as He does all that is in this world.”
11. “No good work happens as the result of one’s own wisdom; but everything must happen in a stupor . . . Reason must be left behind for it is the enemy of faith.”
12. “Reason is the devils handmaid and does nothing but blaspheme and dishonor all that God says or does.”
13. “Reason is directly opposed to faith, and one ought to let it be; in believers it should be killed and buried.”
14. “One should learn Philosophy only as one learns witchcraft, that is to destroy it; as one finds out about errors, in order to refute them”
15. “A person that is baptized cannot, thou he would, lose his salvation by any sins however grievous, unless he refuses to believe. For no sins can damn him but unbelief alone.”
16. "Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides... No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day."
17. "Do not ask anything of your conscience; and if it speaks, do not listen to it; if it insists, stifle it, amuse yourself; if necessary, commit some good big sin, in order to drive it away. Conscience is the voice of Satan, and it is necessary always to do just the contrary of what Satan wishes."
Faith and Good works
18. “For we account a man to be justified by faith alone, without the works of the law.” – On Translation and on the Intercession of the Saints
19. “It is more important to guard against good works than against sin.”
20. "Good works are bad and are sin like the rest."
21. “There is no scandal greater, more dangerous, more venomous, than a good outward life, manifested by good works and a pious mode of life. That is the grand portal, the highway that leads to damnation."
22. “He that says the Gospel requires works for salvation, I say, flat and plain, is a liar.”
23. “Peasants are no better than straw. They will not hear the word and they are without sense; therefore they must be compelled to hear the crack of the whip and the whiz of bullets and it is only what they deserve.”
24. “To kill a peasant is not murder; it is helping to extinguish the conflagration. Let there be no half measures! Crush them! Cut their throats! Transfix them. Leave no stone unturned! To kill a peasant is to destroy a mad dog!” – “If they say that I am very hard and merciless, mercy be damned. Let whoever can stab, strangle, and kill them like mad dogs”
25. “I, Martin Luther, have during the rebellion slain al the peasants, for it was I who ordered them to be struck dead. All their blood is upon my head. But I put it all on our Lord God: for he commanded me to speak thus.”26. “God has given the law, and nobody observes it. He has in addition instituted rod masters, drivers and urgers; so then are rulers to drive, beat, choke, hang, burn, behead, and break upon the well of the vulgar masses.”
27. “Like the drivers of donkeys, who have to belabor the donkeys incessantly with rods and whips, or they will not obey, so must the ruler do with the people; they must drive, beat throttle, hang, burn, behead and torture, so as to make themselves feared and to keep the people in check”
28. “Wherever the princes take their power from, it does not regard us. It is the will of God, irrespective whether they have stolen their power or assumed it by robbery”
29. "My advice, as I said earlier, is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire... Second, that all their books-- their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible-- be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted...Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country...Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it... He who hears this name [God] from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away"
30. "Burn their synagogues. Forbid them all that I have mentioned above. Force them to work and treat them with every kind of severity, as Moses did in the desert and slew three thousand... If that is no use, we must drive them away like mad dogs, in order that we may not be partakers of their abominable blasphemy and of all their vices, and in order that we may not deserve the anger of God and be damned with them. I have done my duty. Let everyone see how he does his. I am excused."
31. “ If I had to baptize a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe, hang a stone round his neck and push him over with the words I baptize thee in the name of Abraham”
32. “The Jews deserve to be hanged on gallows seven times higher than ordinary thieves.”
Marriage and Women
33. “If the husband is unwilling, there is another who is; if the wife is unwilling, then let the maid come.”
34. “Suppose I should counsel the wife of an impotent man, with his consent, to giver herself to another, say her husband’s brother, but to keep this marriage secret and to ascribe the children to the so-called putative father. The question is: Is such a women in a saved state? I answer, certainly.”
35. “It is not in opposition to the Holy Scriptures for a man to have several wives.”
36. “Know that Marriage is an outward material thing like any other secular business. The body has nothing to do with God. In this respect one can never sin against God, but only against one’s neighbour.”
37. “As to divorce, it is still a debatable question whether it is allowable. For my part I prefer bigamy to it.”
38. “The word and work of God is quite clear, viz., that women are made to be either wives or prostitutes.”
39. “In spite of all the good I say of married life, I will not grant so much to nature as to admit that there is no sin in it. .. no conjugal due is ever rendered without sin. The matrimonial duty is never performed without sin.”
Virtue and Vice
40. "What harm could it do if a man told a good lusty lie in a worthy cause and for the sake of the Christian Churches?”
41. “To lie in a case of necessity or for convenience or in excuse – such lying would not be against God; He was ready to take such lies on Himself”
42. “I look upon God no better than a scoundrel”
43. “We eat and drink to kill ourselves, we eat and rink up to our last farthing.”
44. “St. Augustine or St. Ambrosius cannot be compared with me.”
45. “What I teach and write remains true even though the whole world should fall to pieces over it”
On the Person of Christ
46. “Christ committed adultery first of all with the women at the well about whom St. John tell’s us. Was not everybody about Him saying: ‘Whatever has He been doing with her?’ Secondly, with Mary Magdalen, and thirdly with the women taken in adultery whom He dismissed so lightly. Thus even, Christ who was so righteous, must have been guilty of fornication before He died.”
47. “I have greater confidence in my wife and my pupils than I have in Christ”
48. “It does not matter how Christ behaved – what He taught is all that matters”
49. "to my mind it (the book of the Apocalypse) bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character... Everyone may form his own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it."
50. "If your Papist annoys you with the word ('alone' - Rom. 3:28), tell him straightway, Dr. Martin Luther will have it so: Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom."
51. "The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible."
52. "The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish foolishness." [this link also]
53. "Of very little worth is the Book of Baruch, whoever the worthy Baruch might be."
54. "...the epistle of St. James is an epistle full of straw, because it contains nothing evangelical."
55. "We cannot claim to fathom completely the meaning of a single verse of Scripture; we succeed in apprehending only the A B C of it, and even that imperfectly." - Luther, Table-talk, trans. Gustave Brunet, Paris, Garnier, 1844, pg. 288.
56. "Let no one believe himself competent to understand Holy Scripture, unless he has, for a hundred years, governed the Church with the Prophets, with Elijiah and Elisha, St. John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and the Apostles." -Luther, Table-talk, trans. Gustave Brunet, Paris, Garnier, 1844, pg. 290.