Monday, March 03, 2014

6 Quotes that Luther Didn’t Actually Say

Here's a blog post that warmed my heart:

6 Quotes that Luther Didn’t Actually Say

The six quotes range from never said by Luther to something like this said by Luther to we're not sure if it was ever said by Luther. I appreciate the effort of the blog post, particularly the link given in the entry, What Luther Didn't Say About vocation.  Here are the six quotes:

"If I believed the world were to end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today."

"The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship."

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

"I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian."

"Justification is the article by which the church stands and falls."

"Here I stand; I can do no other."


RPV said...

I was told this:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except
precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not
confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty
of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle field besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Was found here:

Luther Works. Weimar Edition. Briefwechsel [Correspondence], vol. 3, pp. 81f


Carl Vehse said...

There's also Luther's alleged sermon statement that Christians "strive for perfection in life. But when we roll a gutterball, all is not lost."

This was exposed as a Luther nonquote in a January 2014 Beggars All thread, "Martin Luther, Reformer of Bowling."

Ken said...

But he did say this, right?

"Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God's word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.{that part you point out inserted in here} God help me."

Ken said...

Some "low information" on church history folks, (as Rush Limbaugh says,about politics, "low information voters"), might have gotten the idea that Luther didn't say the other parts of that great speech, so I thought it was important to include the positive and good speech that he actually did say.

Carl Vehse said...

In the English translation of his book, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil (English edition, Yale, 1989, p. 39), Heiko Oberman gives this version of Luther's speech:

"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one's conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.” [26]

Reference 26 is to page 581, line 23 to p. 582, line 2 in Reichstagsakten. Reichstagsakten stands for Deutsche Reichstagsakten, Jüngere Reihe. Deutsche Reichstagsakten unter Kaiser Karl V., vols. 1 -, ed. Historische Kommission bei der Bayeruschen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Gotha, 1893-; 2d ed. [reprint] Göttingen, 1962-).}

However, on p. 40, Heiko Oberman notes:

"In the Bishop's Court in Worms sat the whole of Germany [thanks to the media of the time, the pamphlets and private letters written for publication], not just the emperor and the imperial estates. In fact, the nation heard the final impressive statement that can be found only in the published version of Luther's confession: 'Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.'" [28]

Ref. 28 is Reichstagsakten 2, p. 555, line 37, note 1. Note 1 starts on the bottom of p. 555, takes up most of page 556, and ends on p. 557. The note is an extensive discussion of the historical background about statement, "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.", and whether it was originally said or not.

The Luther website, Legends about Luther: Luther in Worms, "Here I stand!" - Luther at the Diet of Worms states:

It is legend that Luther said the words "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me, Amen!" These words were probably only added to make the story more interesting; to make it a 'press sensation'."

Diarmaid MacCulloch claims Luther’s “Here I stand” quote was added by Georg Rörer, the editor of Luther's collected works.

James Swan said...

RPV said...
I was told this:Was found here:

Luther Works. Weimar Edition. Briefwechsel [Correspondence], vol. 3, pp. 81f

Here is page 81:

I assume the "f" refers to the pages which follow.

I did a blog entry on this quote a while back:

But this entry seems to have nailed it:

James Swan said...

And see also:

James Swan said...

Thanks Carl for the material on "Here I Stand." I don't think I ever went too deep into this tidbit.

RPV said...

Thanks, James.
So now I'm wondering where Wayne Sparkman got the reference.
Or maybe there is a Lutheran in the house who reads German to put the finishing touch on this.

Carl Vehse said...

James, add this comment to the thread if you want, but I thought you would be interested in it in any case. It comes from a comment I made on Gene Veith's Cranach blog, "Pope did NOT say animals are going to heaven":

There appears to be yet another popular urban legend quote attributed to Martin Luther speaking to his (or some) dog: "Be thou comforted, little dog, thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.”

This quote is all over the internet, especially in blogs promoting the notion of resurrected animals in heaven. The only thing not included with the quote is a primary reference, or any reference at all, except occasionally to other blogs providing the same unreferenced quote.

It is likely a nonquote based on an excerpt provided, among other places, in The Life and Letters of Martin Luther (Preserved Smith, London: John Murray, 1911, p. 362):

"Then, as is clearly said elsewhere, he will create a new heaven and a new earth. He will also create new Clownies [Tölpels] with skin of gold and hair of pearls."

This is a translation of a statement recorded in Table Talk - D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Tischreden, Vol. 1 (Weimar: Hermann Bölhaus Nachfolger, 1912, no. 1150, p. 567):

"Novam terram et coelos creabit etc., creabit etiam novos Telpelios, quorum cutis erit aurea et crines ex margaritis."

BTW, the translation of No. 1150 is not included in Luther's Works, Vol. 54, Fortress Press/Philadelphia, 1967.

For other referenced or unreferenced statements of Martin Luther that can also be taken less seriously, check the June 13, 2011, article, "Strange Words from Luther," on Pastoral Meanderings.

James Swan said...

Thanks for the info!

Carl Vehse said...

On August 19, 2015, at 12:27pm, Tullian Tchividjian wrote on Facebook:

"Whoever does not know God hidden in suffering does not know God at all.
—Martin Luther"

A search with Google and Bing comes up empty for a specific reference from where that quote of Martin Luther comes. In some places it's only given as a paraphrase.

James, have you run across this quote before, and where Luther said or wrote this (in German or Latin of course)?

James Swan said...

Hi Carl:

The quote appears to be a paraphrase of Luther from Forde's On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg.The quote is Forde's summary, not Luther's, as far as I can tell.

When I read this book many years ago,I was blown away by the cross / glory paradox. Then some years later, I came across Rev. McCain's notion that it itself is a Lutheran myth:

McCain's link from my entry is dead, so here is the archive:

The archive link is acting wacky, but her'e what McCain says:

I was listening in the other day to a fascinating discussion among colleagues here and one made an observation that I found quite helpful. It brought to mind the memory of the time I first heard something like this, from no less than Dr. Norman Nagel. Here is what one of my colleagues, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes said:

Luther’s theology of the cross was discovered by researchers in the 20th century. Why? Because except for a few spots in his early writings, Luther didn’t speak of a “theology of the cross” . . . most notably we see it appearing in Luther’s early work, his discussions of the Heidelberg Disputation and in the still-not-translated Operationes in Psalmos, WA 5:176.32-33 . . Luther didn’t use crux sola est rostra theology [the cross alone is our theology] much, even though of course the cross (or rather, Christ’s work on the cross) is central to his theology. Luther’s use of “theology of the cross” at the time of these early writings was not quite Gospel. Dr. Norman Nagel is reported to have commented more than once that Luther’s theology of the cross in 1518 was still sublutheran because he hadn’t yet gotten salvation extra now [outside of us]. It was more along these lines: God saves us through putting us through suffering just as He put His Son through suffering; if you flee the suffering, you flee the saving work of God’s bulldozer plowing you down. So the cross is our only theology: God saves us by sending us suffering. At least that is how the discussion has been related to me.

I can definitely verify what Dr. Mayes reports. Dr. Nagel helpfully pointed out that “the theology of the cross” drops away from Luther’s writings as he matured.

So, be a bit careful when you hear people waxing rhapsodic about Luther’s alleged “theology of the cross.” As articulated by Luther himself in his earlier writings, the Gospel had not come entirely clear in his thinking.

Carl Vehse said...

Thanks, James, for your quick response and the references. On p. 82 in his book, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, Forde provides a paragraph (from LW 31, 53) from the Proof for Thesis 21 from Luther's Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 (see the German text in Dr. Martin Luthers Sämmtliche Schriften, Walch Edition, Volume 18, Lutherischer Concordia-Verlag, 1888):

"This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and , in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the Apostle calls "enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phil. 3:18], for they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good. God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said. Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are dethroned and the Old Adam, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed by his good works unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God's." [Emphasis added]

In the bolded sentence Luther is clearly talking about Christ's suffering on the cross for the redemption of mankind. This statement is what Forde (p. 85) appears to reverse to produce his statement about suffering in general—"Whoever does not know God hidden in suffering does not know God at all"—which is now a misquote attributed to Martin Luther.

PeaceByJesus said...

Wish you were here: Martin Luther: Defender of Erroneous Conscience, Crisis Magazine ^ | March 13, 2017 | R. Jared Staudt

Trial 1: I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

Trial 2: If the number of bishops and universities should be so material as your lordship seems to think, then I see little cause, my lord, why that should make any change in my conscience. For I have no doubt that, though not in this realm, but of all those well learned bishops and virtuous men that are yet alive throughout Christendom, they are not fewer who are of my mind therein. But if I should speak of those who are already dead, of whom many are now holy saints in heaven, I am very sure it is the far greater part of them who, all the while they lived, thought in this case the way that I think now. And therefore am I not bound, my lord, to conform my conscience to the council of one realm against the General Council of Christendom.

What is the difference of these two quotes?

The first, from the friar Martin Luther, asserts the primacy of conscience over the universal consent of the Church and the tradition.

The second, from a laymen Thomas More, notes the agreement of conscience to the faith of Christendom, the history of the Church, and the saints of Heaven...

Which is posted by a traditional Francis-loathing RC, to whom I said:

Based upon his judgment of what historical teaching states, Luther dissented from Rome, and likewise based upon their judgment of what historical teaching states, traditional RCs dissent from Rome, the difference being a matter of degrees, and the ultimate authority on historical teaching, with Scripture revealing the Catholic church to be distinctively absent in Scripture and contrary it, and requires dissent from it, with the NT church itself having begun in dissent from the historical magisterium

Yet which dissent, and that of trad. RCs, is contrary to so much historical teaching which is contrary to the laity judging who is a true pope and whether what they publicly teach is valid or not: