Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Fireproof Martin Luther vs. The Incombustible Luther, Compare and Contrast

[Please note the addendum at the bottom of this entry]

Recently a publisher contacted me asking for permission to use something I've written in a book.  I also get this type of request from other websites or bloggers. This happens from time to time. It's nice that in the age of cyberspace someone would take the time to do this. I typically don't expect someone to contact me when they're citing me in order to challenge or refute something I've written (those doing this want everyone to know who it is that's going to get trounced!). There have been situations though in which someone takes something I've written and presents it as their own. There was a fairly humorous occurrence of this when  a Roman Catholic website used something I wrote and took my name off of it. Now, there was lapse of judgment on their part, for sure.

But what should I do if someone takes something I've written, and re-writes it in their own words? Since my blog often involves history, I've probably done this myself at times- that is, taken something someone has written and put it in my own words. When I do this, I always try to give credit to the source I've taken the material from. According to this website, if I present something here as "new and original" that I've actually taken from an existing source, I've plagiarized.  I've probably been guilty of neglecting to cite a source for something I've written. Sometimes when you've got five books open and you're compiling an entry, something will slip through the cracks. Sometimes it's just basic information that's too tedious to document. Sometimes the material is based on my notes from a class I've taken.

But if I were to take a large chunk of information and compile it into a blog entry of my own, in my own words, is this plagiarism?

R.W. Scribner: The Incombustible Luther
Some years back I came across a study by R.W. Scribner entitled "Incombustible Luther: the Image of the Reformer in Early Modern Germany." Scribner's study documented how some turned Luther into a saint after his death. Stories circulated that paintings of Luther refused to burn (Luther's special saint miracle was his incombustibility). The picture on the top left is one that would not burn. Scribner presented his research in his book, Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (London: The Hambledon Press, 1987). In two key chapters Scribner documents those turning Luther into a saint and Luther's special gift of not being able to burn- his saintly power of incombustiblity. Scribner's work on this has appeared in a number of journals as well.

reformation 21: The Fireproof Martin Luther
This past week I came across an article on reformation 21 entitled, The Fireproof Martin Luther compiled by a professor of church history. There is certainly a similarity between Scribner's title, "The Incombustible Luther" and reformation 21's "The Fireproof Martin Luther." As I read through the reformation 21 article, the blog entry appeared to me to be nothing more than a well-written summary of Scribner's work, undocumented, with not a mention of Scribner anywhere. While there wasn't a word for word similarity between Ref 21's blog entry and Scribner, there was certainly a borrowing of ideas and conclusions without any credit given to the person who originally did the tedious work on this subject: R.W. Scribner.

Compare and Contrast: reformation 21 and R.W. Scribner
Below is a comparison of the information found in The Fireproof Martin Luther and Scribner's book. I think there are a few original paragraphs in The Fireproof Martin Luther (paragraphs 1,3, and the conclusion about fireproof objects), but none of them contain any original factual information not originally found in Scribner's book.

1. The Fireproof Martin LutherArguments for Luther's innate fireproof status were summarized in an early eighteenth-century Latin work titled Lutherus non combustus by Justus Schoeppfer, pastor of St. Anna's Kirche in Eisleben, Germany. Schoeppfer's work was taken seriously enough, even in the midst of the European Enlightenment, to merit a second, German edition of the work - Unverbrannter Luther - some years later.

Scribner: In a footnote on 324  and on page 330 Scribner documents the same information. Scribner though says he actually was supplied with a copy of Lutherus  non combustus.  The only factual difference is that ref 21 spells "Schoeppfer" with on "f" while Scribner uses 2 (Schoeppffer).

2. The Fireproof Martin LutherSo, for instance, a 1521 pamphlet describing Luther's trial at Worms notes that, while Luther was permitted to leave Worms unharmed, the Diet decided to burn his books and a picture of his person to reinforce charges of heresy against him. The books apparently burned just fine, but the picture of Luther refused to succumb to the flames, at least until it was removed, enclosed in a box made of pitch, and reinserted into the fire.

Scribner (p. 324):

3. The Fireproof Martin LutherIn 1522, on the occasion of a burning of Luther's books in Thorn, Prussia, another picture of Luther similarly defied its natural fate.

Scribner (p.326): "By 1522 literary fiction had become historical 'fact': it was said when Luther's books were  burned in Thorn in Prussia during that year, a portrait of Luther placed with them refused to burn."

4. The Fireproof Martin LutherIn 1634, nearly a century after Luther's death, an image of Luther inexplicably survived the destruction by fire of a Lutheran pastor's study in Artern, Germany. And in 1689 when fire broke out in Luther's birth-house in Eisleben, the only surviving picture from the areas affected by flame was one of the reformer.

Scribner (p.323):

5. The Fireproof Martin LutherLuther seems to have imparted his gift of incombustibility to places he previously occupied in addition to portraits of himself. When fires destroyed the Augustinian monastery in Magdeburg in 1631, the cell and bunk an adolescent Luther had occupied during a one-year stint as a student there were remarkably preserved.

Scribner (p. 328-329): "A description published in 1702 of the numerous attractions of Magdeburg mentioned the Augustinian monastery where Luther had spent some time. It claimed that one could still see Luther's cell and bunk, and that both had 'in wondrous fashion' survived the burning down of the town in 1631."

6. The Fireproof Martin Luther:  Even more remarkably, the house in which Luther was born -- although it finally succumbed, as noted, to flames in 1689 -- was preserved from fires which ravaged the surrounding houses and town of Eisleben in 1569, 1601, and 1671.

Scribner has the 1689 date on page 323. The other dates are on page 329, along with descriptions of the other surrounding houses.

7. The Fireproof Martin Luther: Even more extraordinary than such miraculous preservation of pictures and places associated with Luther was that of one particular person associated with him. In 1527 a disciple of Luther named Leonhard Keyser was sentenced to death for heresy in Schärding in Bavaria. According to a published pamphlet which detailed his execution, the ropes binding Keyser to the stake burned when his pyre was lit but the man himself remained unharmed. Displeased with this turn of events, Keyser's executioners pulled him from the flames and dismembered him, and then returned him in pieces to the fire. Even then, his body wouldn't burn. Authorities were ultimately forced to wait for the flames to subside so they could take Keyser's unsinged body parts and throw them into the local river.

Scribner (page 327-328):

threw them in the river Inn. The pamphlet concluded that "the
    holy Leonhard  Keyser's old man or flesh was hacked to pieces,
 burned and drowned, but his spirit lived on.

8. The Fireproof Martin Luther: Needless to say, Rome was keen to discredit stories about the incombustibility of Luther's person, pictures, or disciples as soon as such began circulating in early modern Europe. Thus she pointed out that Luther had been successfully burned in effigy in the ecclesiastical capital city itself in 1519. To put the matter to rest (among other points made), Luther-puppets were tried, condemned to death for heresy, and successfully burned in Altenburg, Vienna, and Munich in 1522, 1567, and 1597 respectively.

Scribner  (page 326) says "Luther had been burned in effigy in Rome in 1519..." (page 327):

9. The Fireproof Martin Luther: There are, by my reckoning, at least three ways of accounting for historical belief in Luther's fireproof status. One could categorize such belief as a continuation of medieval superstition which credited other religious items -- most notably, the consecrated bread of the Mass -- as insusceptible to fire. So strong, in fact, was the conviction that the Eucharistic host could not burn that persons were known to cast the consecrated bread (Christ's body, in medieval understanding) into buildings where fires had broken out in order to quell the flames and preserve said buildings, thus treating the sacred element as the medieval equivalent of a fire extinguisher. 

Scribner (page 328):
Such reports show unmistakable traces of the Catholic cult of the saints. Not only were the saints held to be incombustible, but so were their relics. Incombustiblity was also a quality of the Communion host and, by sympathy, of the corporal, the cloth on which it rested during the Mass. both host and corporal were effective in stilling fires, being thrust into the heart of the flames to do so. Images of the Virgin and the saints, along with crucifixes, were also impervious to fire and flame. some of these cultic associations almost certainly passed on to Luther at the very beginning of the Reformation.

10. The Fireproof Martin Luther: One could, alternatively, ascribe belief in Luther's incombustibility to Jan Hus's legendary prophecy on the occasion of his own burning at the Council of Constance (1415) that, whatever the institutional church's success in cooking his goose, a swan would arise whom they would prove unable to burn. The problem here, however, is that Hus never actually made such a prophecy. Hus did express, shortly before his martyrdom, his expectation that stronger "birds" than he (Hus meaning "goose" in Czech) would arise to carry on his reforming work. Luther himself, in 1531, transformed Hus's comment into a prophecy which found its fulfillment in him. But it wasn't until several years after Luther's death that Hus's "prophecy" assumed the form it possesses in church historical folklore today (complete with the description of a potentially incombustible swan). Indeed, the evolution of the legend concerning Hus's prophecy would seem to be the result, rather than the cause, of convictions about Luther's incombustibility, which (as noted) were taking shape as early as 1521.

Scribner (page 326-327):
By 1531 many of these disparate notions about incombustibility had solidifed into the more powerful form of a prophecy. Two separate staternents by Hus and Jerome of Prague were conflated, either by Luther himself or by someone in his circle with Bohemian connections. From his prison cell Hus had said that he might be a weak goose (in Czech Hus means goose), but more powerful and clear-sighted birds, eagles and falcons, would come after him. Quite independently of this, Jerome of Prague stated that he would wish to see what would be made of his own condemnation in a hundred years. Luther merged both statements into a single prophetic saying from Hus: that they may roast a goose in 1415, but in a hundred years a swan would sing to whom they would be forced to listen. Luther seems to have applied the image of the swan to himself to signify the clear, sweet song of the evangelical message. But in 1546 this "prophecy" was given a further twist by Johann Bugenhagen in his funeral sermon for Luther. The Hus saying was now cast in this form" "You may burn a goose, but in a hundred years will come a swan you will not be able to burn". By 1556 it was taken up by Johann Mathesius, in what became the first Luther biography, as one of three authentic prophecies attesting to the divine inspiration of Luther's mission. 

I've written many blog entries over the years and I don't recall ever having an original thought in regard to anything Reformation-related. The majority of what I've compiled is often the result of someone's else's tedious labor, and all I'm doing is reapplying it. I don't think I've ever uncovered an original historical detail, about... anything. The closest I think I've come is this past week I found something in one of Luther's writings that required a footnote to another source (Luther was quoting a secondary source), and I located that secondary source, while Luther's Works (English edition) had not.

What bothered me about the reformation 21 article is that it presented something seemingly new and original but in actuality may have been derived from an existing source. I can see a detail here or there that's unattributed, but what ref 21 may have done was simply rewrite what someone else had written. Now it could very well be ref 21 did do the same research and arrived at the same conclusions as R.W. Scribner. Or, it could be that ref 21 asked for and received permission from R.W. Scribner to re-present his material.  These are certainly within the realm of possibility.

Addendum 3/1/2015
I did write reformation 21 on 2/27/15 as follows:

Mr. Denlinger,

I just took a look at your article "The Fireproof Luther." While well-written, I think it would be appropriate to cite your source for a lot, (if not most) of the information, which I assume was R.W. Scribner, Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (London: The Hambledon Press, 1987). That books has the chapter, "Incombustible Luther: the Image of the Reformer in Early Modern Germany." If I recall correctly, this was also an article in a few journals.

I know this sounds like nitpicking, but someone could easily say you basically rewrote this chapter as your own for the reformation 21 article. I think summarizing the material is fine, but you should at least give credit where it's due. If by some chance you arrived at all the historical facts you did without utilizing Scribner, please accept my apology, and by all means, track down Scribner's study on this.


James Swan

I did not hear back from them. Interestingly, this change has occurred in The Fireproof Luther since the posting of my blog entry:

The copy of the reformation 21 article I reviewed originally said,

Now it says:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Recent Reformation / Luther Postings

Here's a few things I came across over the last few days from a few different perspectives:

The Fireproof Martin Luther (Reformation 21).
This is a recent offering from Aaron Denlinger on what is usually referred to as "Incombustible Luther." For an intriguing study of this -and probably what was used as the main source for this article, yet unattributed by Mr. Denlinger, see: R.W. Scribner, Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (London: The Hambledon Press, 1987). Chapter 15 is entitled, "Incombustible Luther: the Image of the Reformer in Early Modern Germany" (Much of this chapter is available via a free preview, but reading the chapter in its entirety is well worth it).

What made Luther jump? (Catholic Answers)
Our friends on the Non-Catholic Religions Forum at Catholic Answers attempt to figure out "what Luther saw in his view of Catholicism that made him constantly fear for his salvation."

Looking For a Luther Quote (Luther Quest)
A Lutheran is looking for where Luther said, "Where there is no command or promise in God's Word there is no need."

My Opinion of Martin Luther (Taylor Marshall)
I found this 2013 recording from Tiber swimmer Taylor Marshall on his main page. A lot of fluff before discussing the topic. Fast forward to 6 min. in. Marshall says Luther should have obeyed the papacy, even if the papacy was wrong. True martyrs have been persecuted by the Roman church.

Catholic Martyrs of the Protestant Reformation? (Catholic Answers)
Our friends on the Non-Catholic Religions Forum at Catholic Answers attempt to figure out " Who are some specific Catholic Martyrs of the Protestant reformation?"

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Did Luther Believe in Saving Faith?

Visiting Catholic Apologetics International... or Maybe Not
I visit CAI's website (Robert Sungenis) occasionally. The website reminds me of the sci-fi  movie Dark City in which all the buildings of a city would move around. It might just be false memories, but it seems to me that every time I visit, the site has a new layout. In fact, it doesn't even appear to be called "CAI" (Catholic Apologetics International) anymore.  A few years ago I would visit just to read the "Q and A" section, and then it disappeared (this has happened before). Well, it's returned. But the other day when visiting CAI, I ended up on this Q and A blog site, but now I can't seem to find the link from CAI to get to it. I'm thinking at some point I'll visit CAI and I see a billboard for "Shell Beach" (If you don't know the reference, see the movie, Dark City).

Robert Sungenis on Luther and Saving Faith
Anyway: I came across this Q and A entry: How do we understand James 2:18 "I will show my faith by my works"? The entry isn't dated, but the hyperlink has August 2010 in it's address. Robert Sungenis says:

If faith were really “alone,” no works would be required at any level. We must insist of the Protestant that, if he is going to claim that faith is “alone” in justification, then no works can enter into the discussion, not even to qualify the faith. The minute he insists that works can be used qualify the faith, then faith is not alone, and thus he should cease using the “faith alone” phraseology. He cannot speak out of both sides of his mouth. Either faith is alone or it isn’t.

Luther believed in the pure “faith alone” doctrine, that is, a faith that was not dependent on works in any way, shape or form. The reason he wanted to eliminate works is that if one tries to qualify his faith by the kind of works he does, then he will always wonder whether his works were good enough to qualify his faith, and thus he is back to the very problem Luther was trying to escape, that is, having to judge his works as good enough to meet God’s standards of righteousness. This is precisely why Luther, before he had is “faith alone” revelation, used to whip himself with chains – so that his works would be good enough (so he thought).

Luther certainly would have rejected the idea that works should be used to qualify faith as “saving faith,” for he knew that such a position would be more Catholic than Lutheran. This is precisely why he wanted to jettison the book of James. He didn’t want to have James insisting that faith and works worked together in any way.

It was only the later Lutherans, under Philip Melanchthon, who rejected Luther’s pure “faith alone” doctrine and began to integrate James back into the picture. They thought they did so by claiming that James was merely speaking about qualifying faith by works, but once they did so they came right back to the Catholic position, yet they camouflaged it by using different phraseology than what was used in Catholic doctrine. But they were really only fooling themselves. As a Protestant, one cannot use works to qualify faith, since one can never know whether his works were sufficient to do the job of qualifying.

In effect, pure Lutheranism only survived in Luther’s generation. No Protestant since Luther has ever really believed in the original “faith alone” doctrine, but they keep using the phrase to make it appear as if they are distant from Catholic doctrine, and few have caught on to it.

I don't think Luther said exactly what this picture up top claims, "We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone." Luther though did believe it. On the other hand, Robert Sungenis states, "Luther certainly would have rejected the idea that works should be used to qualify faith as 'saving faith,' for he knew that such a position would be more Catholic than Lutheran." Did Luther believe in saving faith? That is, did he believe that what one did outwardly demonstrated true faith?

Roland Bainton, Luther, and Saving Faith
Luther clearly taught the concept of living vs. dead faith throughout his writings. My paper here goes into this in great depth.  In that paper, I cited Roland Bainton quoting Luther: "Faith," wrote Luther, “is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith." [Roland Bainton, Here I Stand (New York: Mentor Books), 259]. Bainton's quote sums up Luther's view nicely. Besides my use of this quote, it has been used a lot in cyberspace. As I recall, only one defender of Rome ever challenged me for not quoting Luther directly (kudos to him for catching this).

Bainton cited WA 8:361. The comment from Luther is found translated into English in a 1521 sermon on Luke 17:11-19. In that context, Luther states the following:
See, this is what James means when he says, 2, 26: "Faith apart from works is dead." For as the body without the soul is dead, so is faith without works. Not that faith is in man and does not work, which is impossible. For faith is a living, active thing. But in order that men may not deceive themselves and think they have faith when they have not, they are to examine their works, whether they also love their neighbors and do good to them. If they do this, it is a sign that they have the true faith. If they do not do this, they only have the sound of faith, and it is with them as the one who sees himself in the glass and when he leaves it and sees himself no more, but sees other things, forgets the face in the glass, as James says in his first chapter, verses 23-24.
[This passage in James deceivers and blind masters have spun out so far, that they have demolished faith and established only works, as though righteousness and salvation did not rest on faith, but on our works. To this great darkness they afterwards added still more, and taught only good works which are no benefit to your neighbor, as fasting, repeating many prayers, observing festival days; not to eat meat, butter, eggs and milk; to build churches, cloisters, chapels, altars; to institute masses, vigils, hours; to wear gray, white and black clothes; to be spiritual; and innumerable things of the same kind, from which no man has any benefit or enjoyment; all which God condemns, and that justly. But St. James means that a Christian life is nothing but faith and love. Love is only being kind and useful to all men, to friends and enemies. And where faith is right, it also certainly loves, and does to another in love as Christ did to him in faith. Thus everyone should beware lest he has in his heart a dream and fancy instead of faith, and thus deceives himself. This he will not learn anywhere as well as in doing the works of love. As Christ also gives the same sign and says: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13, 35. Therefore St. James means to say: Beware, if your life is not in the service of others, and you live for yourself, and care nothing for your neighbor, then your faith is certainly nothing; for it does not do what Christ has done for him. Yea, he does not believe that Christ has done good to him, or he would not omit to do good to his neighbor. [The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Vol. 3:1 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), pp. 71-72].
Elsewhere in The Sermons of Martin Luther, Luther states:
This is what St. James means when his says in his Epistle, 2:26: ‘"Faith without works is dead." That is, as the works do not follow, it is a sure sign that there is no faith there; but only an empty thought and dream, which they falsely call faith. Now we understand the word of Christ: "Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness." That is, prove your faith publically by your outward gifts, by which you win friends, that the poor may be witnesses of your public work, that your faith is genuine. For mere external giving in itself can never make friends, unless it proceed from faith, as Christ rejects the alms of the Pharisees in Mat. 6:2, that they thereby make no friends because their heart is false. Thus no heart can ever be right without faith, so that even nature forces the confession that no work makes one good, but that the heart must first be good and upright.  [The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Vol. 2:2 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), p. 308].

In my old paper, I provided a number of quotes demonstrating Luther's understanding of faith. When Dr. Sungenis states, "Luther certainly would have rejected the idea that works should be used to qualify faith as 'saving faith,' for he knew that such a position would be more Catholic than Lutheran," he appears to not really have any understanding of a basic part of Luther's theology: the relationship of faith and works.

Luther understood good works to be those that flow out of faith, out of gratitude for the righteousness of Christ, and the forgiveness of Christ. Works aren’t done because we want salvation and fear damnation, rather, they are the result of a living faith.  Luther taught a life under the cross, which is a life of discipleship of following after Christ. Our crosses though, do not save. They serve the neighbor. We are called to be neighbor to those around us. Luther says,
We receive Christ not only as a gift by faith, but also as an example of love toward our neighbor, whom we are to serve as Christ serves us. Faith brings and gives Christ to you with all his possessions. Love gives you to your neighbor with all your possessions. These two things constitute a true and complete Christian life; then follow suffering and persecution for such faith and love, and out of these grows hope and patience.” [The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Vol. 1:1 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), p. 34]. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Pope Accidently Visits Beggars All, Reformation and Apologetics

The pope was doing some research on Alister McGrath and accidentally ended up here. Sensing imminent danger,  and almost out-clicking to, the computer was immediately shut down by attending prelates and checked for Protestant viruses. An inside source at the Vatican wishing to remain anonymous stated, "We've told Pope Francis a number of times to make sure 'safe search' is on, and to use the 'go anonymous' feature. We've told him it isn't all 'Catholic Answers' out in cyberspace, but he always says to lay off, or he'll say something else in public to cause Rome's defenders to exceed their bandwidth to explain it."

Because of the accidental visit, a number of Protestant viruses have been removed from the Vatican network: TriablogueTrojan, Dr.Oakleystheonomicbeard.exe, and the most deadly of all, the SnowCoveredDungDinger.

Beggars All: Reformation and Apologetics
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee

Recently I put Blogger's comment moderation on, and now one of the trolls that I recently banned, "Guy Fawkes" thinks he's the reason:

  • James S Ross Swan has activated his moderation mode in order to keep me from commenting about 10 days ago. I ( Guy Fawkes ) asked him about Lucas Cranach's excrement art being commissioned by Luther. Swan exists to white-wash the record of Luther's weirdness so this was too much, I guess.
    4 hrs · Like · 1
  • James S Ross I also badgered him for weeks to explain a comment he made about the rise of Mariolatry being a twisted Roman spin-off of the title Theotokos. He got tired of deleting my demands for clarification and finally decided just to ban me outright rather than explain his remark. By cherry picking which comments to post, Swan can now proudly boast that he gets only positive feedback from his fan club.
    4 hrs · Like

"Guy Fawkes" or "Jim" or "James S. Ross"... or whoever he is was not banned because he was asking questions. Rather, he was banned because he was rude and obnoxious.  This person did not provoke me to put blogger's comment moderation on (it was a different  person displaying troll-like behavior), but once it was turned on, his comments continued to cross my line, so he was banned. He still continues to leave rude comments. This is classic troll cyber-behavior. This guy also trolls another blog, and here's a sampling of some of his comments.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Luther: 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

A few years back I did an extensive series of blog entries looking at Luther quotes presented in the web page Luther, Exposing the Myth. Going through my Blogger drafts, I recalled that of the 50+ quotes, there was only one I was not able to track down.

Under the heading "Social Justice," Luther Exposing the Myth states:

“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”[Weimar Vol. 30, Pg. 1].

Luther Exposing the Myth says their stated purpose is to show that "from Luther’s own words we shall see him for what he really was, that is a rebellious apostate, who abandoned the faith and led many into apostasy from God under the guise of “reformation” in order to follow his perverse inclinations." With this quote, they attempt to show Christ taught one should thirst after justice, while Luther believed rulers had their authority by God's will, even if that power was taken by unjust means. The implicit argument is that secular authority is to be obeyed at all costs because they have been placed in power by God. This is a caricature of Luther's views on secular authority missing the nuances, as well as not taking into account Luther's career-long appeals to Romans 13.

Luther, Exposing the Myth cites "Weimar Vol. 30, Pg. 1". The first bit of trouble this documentation has is that WA 30 comprises three separate volumes: WA 30 1 (catechism sermons, 1528-1529), WA 30 2 (writings 1529/30), WA 30 3 (writings, 1529/32). Which one is Luther, exposing the Myth referring to?  The second bit of trouble this documentation has is that the quote in question does not appear on page 1 in any of these volumes (WA 30,1:1; WA 30,2:1; WA 30,3:1). The actual source utilized was probably the secondary source, Martin Luther, Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor by Peter Wiener. After doing a number of searches, I've not found any author before Weiner using this quote in this form. Wiener states,
Over and over again he returns to this favoured subject, that there are two moralities; the one in which we are faithful Christians and which regards merely our spiritual life, and the other which we adopt as citizens and where we owe obedience to the secular power.
The secular power has to be blindly obeyed by the citizens. It is God's will that there are rulers and princes in order to see that these secular laws are obeyed. The princes are the gods upon earth. “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” (W30, 1). “If anybody has the might, he obtained it from God. Therefore he has also the right.” It is strange to notice that more than once Luther—not Bismarck!—uses the term “Might is Right”.
Nobody has a right ever to oppose this secular power. “Even if the authorities are wicked and unjust, nobody is entitled to oppose them, or to riot against them.” The people, the mass of the people have no rights whatsoever. “The ass must have blows and the people must be ruled by force. God knew this well, for it was not a fox's brush He gave to rulers, but a sword.” “Even though the authorities act unjustly, God wills that they should be obeyed without deceit . . . for to suffer unjustly harms no man's soul; indeed it is profitable to it.”
As stated above, this was the only quote from Luther, Exposing the Myth in which I could not locate the specific context. Weiner's documentation in his book is notoriously spurious [See Gordon Rupp's response, Martin Luther, Hitler's Cause or Cure, in reply to Peter F. Wiener (London: Lutterworth, 1945), p.10]. Weiner claims to "guarantee that before going to press I have carefully checked all quotations." In fairness, perhaps "W30,1" was a publishers typo.  Weiner admits to only reading some of Luther's writings, "his most important works," and also notes reliance on secondary sources. After going through a number of his citations, I would conclude that the majority of Weiner's references were taken from hostile secondary sources.

With that caveat, I offer the following as a possible source: To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate (1520) [LW 44:115-218; WA 6, (381 404-469]. If Weiner actually was citing Luther directly,  it would be consistent with his claim of utilizing Luther's "most important works."  Luther states,
Since the empire has been given us by the providence of God as well as by the plotting of evil men, without any guilt on our part, I would not advise that we give it up, but rather that we rule it wisely and in the fear of God, as long as it pleases him for us to rule it. For, as has been said already, it does not matter to him where an empire comes from; his will is that it be governed. Though the popes were wrong in taking it from others, we were not wrong in receiving it. It has been given us through evil men by the will of God: it is the will of God we have regard for rather than the wicked intentions of the popes. Their intention when they gave it to us was to be emperors, indeed, more than emperors, and only to fool and mock us with the title. The king of Babylon also seized his kingdom by robbery and violence. Yet it was God’s will that that kingdom be ruled by the holy princes Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Michael. Much more, then, is it God’s will that this empire should be ruled by the Christian princes of Germany, no matter whether the pope stole it, got it by force, or established it fresh. It is all God’s ordering, which came about before we knew about it. [LW 44:210]

Granted, this paragraph  from LW 44 doesn't have the exact structure of the quote under scrutiny, but all the elements are there. Perhaps at some point in the future the exact source for Weiner's quote  will emerge. Till his source is located, it may be the case he took this quote from a secondary source that may have been summarizing Luther's view from WA 6 (LW 44).

Regardless of the documentation tedium, Weiner does not to take into account that the church and her theologians have had to contend with Romans 13:1-7,
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Christians of all generations have wrestled with this text. This passage (along with Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-14) is not simply an apostolic suggestion.  If one searches Luther's writings, he appealed to this text often. Yes, it's true Luther said rulers come to power by the will of God, and if this is so, some of those rulers have come to power by nefarious means. For a Christian, there's nothing mythical to be exposed about this. Luther, Exposing the Myth did nothing more than prove they're unaware of Romans 13.

The caricature also comes in when the nuances of Luther's views are missed. Yes, Luther said to be obedient to bad government. But it wasn't left at that.  In a sermon on John 19:11 he says to tolerate injustice from bad government, but to not be silent about it (LW 69:236-237). One need only read through Luther's writings in regard to the peasant's revolt to see that Luther criticized the secular authorities. Even a less tolerant biographer has commented,
Luther's treatise on secular authority shows that he was anything but passive before princes. He railed against their evils and foibles. He always stood ready to assault not only the Duke Georges of the world but also his own successive princes in Wittenberg when they did things- such as raising taxes— that he regarded as immoral and unjust. Yet these protests remained individual and pastoral, and Luther never saw himself as the leader of a rebellion that might organize itself politically to force a government to accede to its wishes. The Christian minister should speak out and be willing to suffer for his opinions, trusting that God was sovereign. Always Luther remained fixed on the admonition of Jesus in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world" [Richard Marius, The Christian Between God and Death (Massachusetts: The Belknap Press, 1999), p. 370]
There were also situations in which Luther said rulers legislating against the authority of God can be resisted and a Christian is not obliged to obey their contrary commands (WA 52:533). Eric Gritsch has stated that "Although Luther has been depicted as a staunch defender of the political status quo, if not a 'princely hireling,' there is sufficient evidence to show he did exercise and teach what has been called 'the right to resist secular government' (Widerstandscrecht)" [Martin- God's Court Jester, Luther in Retrospect (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), p. 124]. Gritsch then presents a number of historical examples from Luther's life, like when Luther disobeyed orders to stay in hiding at the Wartburg.

In the Church Postil he preached,
But what if they would take the Gospel from us or forbid us to preach it? Then you are to say: The Gospel and Word of God. I will not give up to you. This is not within your power, for your rule is a temporal rule, over worldly matters; but the Gospel is a spiritual, heavenly treasure, and therefore your authority does not extend over the Gospel and God's Word. We recognize the emperor as a master of temporal affairs, not of God's Word; this we shall not suffer to be torn from us, for it is the power of God, Rom. 1, 16, against which not even the gates of hell shall prevail. [The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume 3 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000, 305].
For a  helpful compilation of quotes from Luther demonstrating the complexity of his view, see the entry, "Government" in What Luther Says by Ewald Plass. Plass presents almost thirty pages of citations from Luther. From there, one could venture out to find the primary sources cited by Plass and then evaluate the opinions of various biographers (most basic biographies of Luther present his view of secular authority).

Friday, February 20, 2015

Extracts From the Writings of Luther and Others, displaying Luther's Mind

Of my interests is tracking down Roman Catholic writings about Luther. Here's an old article: Extracts From the Writings of Luther and Others, displaying Luther's Mind from the Catholic Weekly Instructor, 1844. The publication appears to be British. It was also republished in 1845.  I have yet to determine the author of the article, and I do not believe the author compiled these quotes from actually reading Luther. 

Some of the quotes match up to earlier publications: Review of Fox's Book of Martyrs (1826) by William Eusebius Andrews and A Short history of the Reformation Chiefly Selected From Protestant Authors (1831) by Rev. P. Rafferty. This article appears to be based on the later. Even some of the actual commentary appears to be based on Rafferty's book. For instance, the article below states, "We see here a miserable being flying in the face of superiors, trampling upon authority..." Rafferty states, We see here a miserable wretch flying in the face of superiors, trampling upon authority..." The difference is one word. It may be that Rafferty wrote the article. If Rafferty didn't write the article, it's a blatant plagiarism of Rafferty. 

In his book, Rafferty claims he threw off "party interest," but one need only to read a few pages to see the author was a dedicated defender of Rome. He was in fact a Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania. Rafferty admits that his compilation of material was found "scattered up and down, through various authors of different casts of mind, and of different interests." this is a common method some of Rome's defenders use, even to this day. The article is a good illustration of 19th century Reformation invective, a Roman Catholic tradition that still is carried on today.  

No sensible Catholic denies but that at the time of the change of religion in this country no less than at the present time, a great improvement in the morals of the people was needed; but that Luther was the agent of God appointed to effect the change, or that the means he used, of breaking up unity of belief, proceeded from God, we may surely and reasonably deny, when we find in his own works, and in those of his immediate friends or supporters, passages like the following. Some of these passages we should hardly quote, were they not necessary to set the spirit of this man in a light beyond dispute. We hardly wonder at an opinion which we have been told has spread of late years among his followers, that at times Luther was clearly insane. We have before remarked, that the phrenologists of Germany (and we refer to this without wishing to give in the smallest degree weight to their science), who profess to have examined either his head or bust, have promulgated the same opinion respecting his insanity.

Nearly all the passages here selected for the reader, are taken out of that edition of his works printed at Wittenburg, the first volume in the year 1512, the second in 1562, the third in 1583, the fourth in 1574, the fifth in 1554, the sixth In 1580, the seventh in 1558; the other passages may be seen in the Amicable Discussion by the archbishop of Strasburgh.

"I, Martin Luther, by the grace of God, Ecclesiastes in Wittenburg, to the Popish bishops grace and peace. This title I now assume with the utmost contempt of you and Satan; that you may not plead ignorance. And should I style myself an evangelist by the grace of God, I could sooner prove my claim to this title, than any of you to that of bishop. For I am certain that Christ himself calls me so, and looks upon me as an Ecclesiastes. He is the master of my doctrine. Neither doubt I, but in the great day of accounts he will be my witness, that this doctrine is not mine, but the doctrine of God, of the spirit of the Lord, and of the pure and sincere gospel.—So that should you kill me, ye bloodsuckers, yet you will never extinguish either me, or my name, or my doctrine, unless Christ be not living. —Since now I am certain that I teach the word of God, it is not fit I should want a title for the recommending of this word and work of the ministry, to which I am called by God; which I have not received of men, nor by men, but by the gift of God, and the revelation of Jesus Christ.—And now I declare before-hand, that for the time to come, I will not honour you so far, as to condescend to submit myself or my doctrine to your judgment, or to that of an angel from heaven." Tom. 2 fol. 305.2.

[Here we have a piece of insolence and arrogance hardly to be paralleled, carried to a degree of frensy and madness. We see here a miserable being flying in the face of superiors, trampling upon authority, and even assuming to himself that infallibility, which he would not allow to the Church of Christ!]

"I was mighty desirous, to understand Paul in his epistle to the Romans; but was hitherto deterred, not by any faintheartedness, but by one single expression iu the first chapter, viz. therein is the righteousness of God revealed. For I hated that word, the righteousness of God; because I had been taught to understand it of that formal and active righteousness, by which God is righteous, and punishes sinners and the unrighteous. Now knowing myself, though I lived a monk of an irreproachable life, to be in the sight of God a sinner, and of a most unquiet conscience, not having any hopes to appease him with my own satisfaction, I did not love, nay, I hated this righteous God, who punishes sinners; and with heavy muttering, if not with silent blasphemy, I was angry with God, and said: as if it were not enough for miserable sinners, who were lost to all eternity by original sin, to suffer all manner of calamity by the law of the decalogue, unless God by the gospel adds sorrow to sorrow, and even by the gospel threatens us with his righteousness and anger. Thus did I rage with a fretted and disordered conscience."

[Blessed God! What a disposition is here to prepare a man for the ministry of the gospel, the preaching of the pure word of God, and the reformation of Christ's Church! What strange marks are these of an extraordinary call! A man raging with a fretted and disordered conscience; angry with God, murmuring against him, nay, hating, and silently blaspheming his justice for punishing sinners!]

Again, Tom. 7. fol. 274. "I was the first to whom God vouchsafed to reveal the things which have been preached to you; and certain I am, that yon have the pure word of God."

[Now, if Martin Luther was the first, to whom God vouchsafed to reveal the things which he preached, it follows that the apostles never knew nor preached his doctrine.]

"Gently, my dear little Paul,* have a care, my ass, of stumbling. Have a care, my Pope-ass. Go no farther, my dear little ass, lest thou should fall and break a leg. For there has been this year so little wind abroad, that the ice is mighty slippery. And if unhappily thou art falling, all the world would laugh at thee, and say, what the devil is the matter here!"

* He is writing to the chief bishop of the Church.

"Away, I say, you wicked, desperate rascals, and blockish asses [speaking to the Pope and Cardinals] Why! can you imagine yourselves to be any better, than so many great blockish asses and fools! Truly, Pope, ass, a blockish ass thou art, and an ass thou wilt ever be."

Again, fol. 474. "Well! were I a master of the empire, I would order all those profligate rogues, the Pope, and Cardinals, and their families, to be fagotted up together, and carried to Ostia, three miles from Rome, where there is a puddle, called by the Latins, the Tyrrhean sea. It is a bath of wonderful virtue against all diseases and infirmities of the Papal sanctity. In this bath I would gently dip them; and if they stayed there but half an hour, I would engage my word, nay my Lord Christ's too, they should be cured of all their distempers."

[Are not these two master-pieces of offensive raillery! Are these like the words of an Ecclesiastes, or a man inspired! viz. desperate rascals, great, blockish, simple asses, profligate rogues, &c. Can the reader be delighted or edified with such raillery!]

Tom. 7. fol. 451. 2. "The Pope, and his Cardinals, are a company of desperate, profligate rogues and rascals, traitors, liars, and the very sink of the wickedest men living— They are full of the worst of devils that are to be found in hell: full, full I say; and so full, that they do nothing but spit, and blow devils through their nostrils."

"To be sure Luther must be frightened, when the king (Henry VIII.) in this book spends so much of Thomistical spittle in lies and prating I speak to a lying scoundrel..... If the fool of a king can so forget his royal majesty, why should it not become me to thrust back his lies into his own throat!"

Fol. 340. 1. "This Thomistical tub! This blockhead! Thou liest, thou sacrilegious and foolish king."
Fol. 341. 1. "Thus does this raving king sputter."

Fol. 341.1. "This immoveable blockhead."

[All this is plain English, and needs no comment. But we may safely say, this sort of language never descended from the fiery tongues in the Acts; but comes rather from the tongue St. James speaks of: yet to this tongue the reformation principally owes its birth and being!]

"Man's will is in the nature of a horse. If God sits upon it, it tends and goes as God would have it go If the devil rides it, it tends and goes as the Devil would have it. Nor can it choose which of the riders it will run to or seek. But the riders themselves strive who shall gain and possess it." De Ser. Arb. tom. fol. 334.2. l 

[This doctrine paves the way to, and is an apology for any wickedness whatsoever.]

"A person," says he, "that is baptised, cannot, though he would, lose his salvation by any sins, how grievous soever, unless he refuses to believe. For no sins can damn him but unbelief alone." Cap. Bab tom. 2. fol. 74. 1.

"The Papists teach, that faith in Christ justifies indeed, but that God's commandments are likewise to be kept. Now this is directly to deny Christ, and abolish faith," In. Ep. ad Gal. tom. 5. fol. 311.2. 

A man must be very wicked indeed to turn Papist, since they teach that God's commandments are to be kept. What follows is admirable.

"Let this be your rule: Where the scripture commands the doing a good work, understand it in this sense, that it forbids thee to do a good work, because thou canst not do it." Tom. 3. fol. 171.2. 

[This certainly is a most golden rule, to interpret the scriptures backwards.]

Epist. ad Amicos Argent, tom. 7. fol, 502. 1. "If Carlostadius, or any man else, could five years ago have convinced me, that in the sacrament there is nothing but bread and wine, he had wonderfully obliged me. For with great anxiety did I examine this point, and labour with all my force to get clear of the difficulty;" [Mark well the reason why he took so much pains] "because by this means I knew very well I should terribly incommode the Papacy.—But I find I am catched without hopes of escaping. For the text of the gospel is so clear and strong, that it will not easily admit of a misconstruction."

[Sad man! what a hardship was it upon him that he should be forced to own the truth, when he had so good an inclination to deny it! But why did he not spell the gospel backwards, according to his own rule, and declare that these words of Christ, "This is my Body, This is my Blood," signify the same as, "this is not my Body, this is not my Blood;" for this would have done his business with the greatest ease imaginable.]

Adversus Execrab. Anti Bullum, tom. 2. fol. 109. 1. "Whereas I said that some of John Huss's articles were evangelical; this I retract. And now I say, not that some, but alll, John Huss's articles were condemned at Constance by Antichrist and his apostles, in that synagogue of Satan. And I tell thee plainly to thy face, most holy vicar of God, that all the condemned propositions of John Huss are evangelical and Christian, and that all thine are wholly imipious and diabolical.—Therefore, as to tho condemned articles of John Huss, I maintain them all, and am ready by the grace of God to defend them."

[Observe: that one of John Huss's evangelical articles, which he had learned of his master, Wycliff, was this, viz. That the committing a mortal sin, made kings and bishops forfeit their power and character. Which doctrine introduces anarchy both in Church and state.]

1. "To the best of my judgment, there is neither emperor, nor king, nor devil, to whom I would yield; no, I would not yield even to tho whole world."*

2. "I burn with a thousand flames in my unsubdued flesh; * * * * * * I, who ought to be fervent in spirit, am only fervent in impurity."+

3. "While a Catholic, he says, he passed his life in austerities. in watching, in fasts and praying, in poverty, chastity, and obedience."++ When once reformed, that is to say, another man, he says, that—"he can no longer forego the indulgence of the vilest natural propensities."§

4. His timid companion acknowledges that he had received blows from him, ab ipso colaphos accepi.\\

5. "He was so well aware of his immorality, as we are informed by his favorite disciple, that he wished they would remove him from the office of preaching."U

6. "I tremble, (wrote he to the same friend,) when I think of the passions of Luther; they yield not in violence to the passions of Hercules."**

7. "This man, (said one of his contemporary reformers), is absolutely mad. He never ceases to combat truth against all justice, even against the cry of his own conscience."++

8. "He is puffed up with pride and arrogance, and seduced by Satan."++

9. " Yes; the devil has made himself master of Luther, to such a degree, as to make one believe he wishes to gain entire possession of him."§§

"I wonder more,O Luther (wrote Henry VIII. to him), that thou art not, in good earnest, ashamed, and that thou darest to lift up thine eyes either before God or man, seeing that thou hast been so light and so inconstant as to allow thyself to be transported by the instigation of the devil to thy foolish concupiscences. Thou, a brother of the order of St. Augustine, hast been the first to abuse a consecrated nun; which sin would have been, in times past, so rigorously punished. But so far art thou from correcting thy fault, that moreover, shameful to say, thou hast taken her publicly to wife, having contracted with her an incestuous marriage, and abused the poor and miserable to the great scandal of the world, tho reproach and opprobrium of thy country, the contempt of holy matrimony, and the great dishonour and injury of tho vows made to God. Finally, what is still more detestable, instead of being cast down and overwhelmed with grief and confusion, as thou oughtest to be, at thy incestuous marriage, O miserable wretch! thou makest a boast of it; and instead of asking forgiveness for thy unfortunate crime, thou dost incite all debauched religious, by thy letters and thy writings, to do the same." || ||

"God, to punish that pride of Luther, which is discoverable in all his works, (says one of the first sacramentarians,) withdrew his spirit from him, abandoning him to the spirit of error and of lying, which will always possess those who have followed his opinions, until they leave them."*

"Luther treats us as an execrable and condemned sect, but let him take care lest he condemn himself as an arch-heretic, from the sole fact, that he will not and cannot associate himself with those who confess Christ. But how strangely does this fellow let himself be carried away by his devils! How disgusting is his language, and how full are his words of the devils of hell! He says that the devil dwells now and for ever in the bodies of the Zuinglians; that blasphemies exhale from their insatanised, supersatanised, and persatanised breasts; that their tongues are nothing but lying tongues, moved at the will of Satan, infused, perfused, and transfused with his infernal poison! Did ever any one hear such language come out of an enraged demon!"* 

"He wrote all his works by the impulse and the dictation of the devil, with whom he had dealing, and who in the struggle seemed to have thrown him by victorious arguments."t

"It is not an uncommon thing, (said Zuinglius,) to find Luther contradicting himself from one page to another .....; and to see him in the midst of his followers, you would believe him to be possessed by a phalanx of devils."§

Erasmus, the most learned man of his age, he who was been called the pride of Holland, the love and delight of Great Britain, and of almost every other nation,|| wrote to Luther himself: "All good people lament and groan over the fatal schism with which thou shakest the world by thy arrogant, unbridled, and seditious spirit."

"Luther (says Erasmus again), begins to be no longer pleasing to his disciples, so much that they treat him as a heretic, and affirm that, being void of the spirit of the Gospel, he is delivered over to the deliriums of a worldly spirit."**

"In very truth Luther is extremely corrupt, (said Calvin;)++ would to God he had taken pains to put more restraint upon that intemperance which rages in every part of him! would to God he had been attentive to discover his vices." 

Calvin says again, that "Luther had done nothing to any purpose that people ought not to let themselves be duped by following his steps and being half papist; that it is much better to build a church entirely afresh...... "§§ is true, Calvin praised Luther so far as to call him "the restorer of Christianity." He protested however against their honouring him with the name of Elias. His disciples afterwards made the same protestations. "Those (said they) who put Luther in the rank of the prophets, and constitute his writings the rule of the church, have deserved exceedingly ill of the church of Christ, and expose themselves and their churches to the ridicule and cutting reproaches of their adversaries."

"Thy school, (replied Calvin to Wesphal the Lutheran,) is nothing but a stinking pig-stye...... ; dost thou hear me, thou dog! dost thou hear me, thou madman! dost thou hear me, thou huge beast!" 

Carlostadius, while retired at Orlamund, had so far ingratiated himself with the inhabitants, that they must needs stone Luther, who had run over to rate him for his false opinions respecting the Eucharist. Luther tells us this in his letter to the inhabitants of Strasburgh: "These Christians attacked me with a shower of stones. This was their blessing: may a thousand devils take thee! mayest thou break thy neck before thou returnest home again."**