Monday, April 22, 2019

Does Luther Condone Premarital Relations for Engaged Couples?

Here's a Luther-related post from a discussion board:
I found this oddity from Luther in my reading...
Secret intercourse of those betrothed to each other can certainly not be considered fornication; for it takes place in the name and with the intention of marriage, a desire, intention, or name which fornication does not have. Thus there is a great difference indeed between fornication and secret intercourse after the promise of marriage.—Martin Luther (W 30 III, 226f—E 23, 123—SL 10, 781)​
What possible Scriptural justification can there be for such a position?
Yes, this quote is an oddity, in that it surprisingly doesn't get a lot of attention. Why would Martin Luther be advocating sex outside of marriage? Is it because he had lax morals? Was it because he was "a fallen-away monk with unbridled lust"? Neither. Luther was not condoning pre-marital sex in the modern sense, nor was advocating a sort of sowing wild oats previous to marriage.  I've covered this quote previously and extensively (2009), but let's take a fresh look.

While references to primary collections of Luther'w writings are provided (W 30 III, 226fE 23, 123SL 10, 781), the actual English rendering is that done by Ewald Plass in his anthology, What Luther Says. The comment comes in the section on "Marriage" (Plass systematizes Luther thoughts on this topic). After providing a comment from Luther on "Possible Reasons for Voiding an Engagement," Plass then states, "TO AVOID OFFENSE, the betrothed should not live as married people. But any premature sexual intimacy between them, although reprehensible, should not be called fornication." Then Plass provides the quote in question.

An English rendering of the quote can also be found from the treatise in which it originated, Luther's Concerning Matrimonial Matters, 1530 (LW 46:293). As the Reformation progressed is some areas, some of the specifics of canon law were no longer regulating marriage. Luther was looked to for insight into developing Biblical and practical rules on marriage. The editors of LW 46 explain he develops five points which he supported with arguments drawn from "Scripture, law, and common sense" (LW 46:262).

Much of the treatise deals with the problem of secret engagements and public engagements, secret marriages and public marriages. Situations were arising in which a couple made a secret engagement, but then one person would break this secret engagement by entering into a public engagement with someone else. Similarly, there were secret marriages in which one of the parties would leave and begin a public marriage with a different person. Did the secret engagement or marriage overrule a public engagement or marriage? These were complicated societal issues.

The pertinent section of text begins on page 289 of LW 46 in a discussion of  "what if someone becomes publicly engaged to a person and meanwhile keeps silent about the fact that he has previously been secretly engaged to another, and has even lain with her and made her pregnant?" (LW 46:289). Luther responds:
In such a case I would render this decision: If the secret engagement and lying together are known or proven, then in such a case the scoundrel shall first be punished for so deceiving and humiliating the maid and her parents or the widow and her relatives with a public betrothal; and after he has been punished, the second betrothal, which has not yet been consummated, shall yield to the secret one, which has been consummated, as we have said above (LW 46:290).
He continues:
But if anyone were to pretend that injustice and damage are done to the publicly betrothed bride if she is separated because the man has previously lain with the first woman, the answer should be this: She nonetheless retains her highest treasure, her honor; and her innocence too is to be highly regarded and praised, because she is deceived and must suffer this separation without deserving it. She should take into consideration what she would do if her betrothed sweetheart had previously become engaged to another woman or had become publicly engaged to someone elsewhere—then she would still have to be separated and suffer all this. If in addition her deceiver is punished, her innocence becomes all the more worthy of respect, and this deception turns out to her best advantage.
But that other poor girl now is left with nothing, and the punishment does not restore her honor, and a woman who has lost her honor is quite worthless because we do not regard the fruit of the womb as highly as the Jews. Yet this lying together in secret in anticipation of betrothal cannot be reckoned as whoredom, for it takes place in the name and with the intention of marriage, which spirit, intention, or name whoredom does not have. Therefore there is a great difference between whoredom and lying together in secret with the intention of betrothed marriage. Indeed, no Christian or honest man would do otherwise if he had gone so far that he would make the mistake of lying secretly with a girl on the promise of betrothal, if he thought that he would have to keep her and disavow all public betrothals subsequently entered upon.
However, I have written this article as a warning which anyone may regard as he pleases, for I have learned from experience what a coarse rabble there is in the world. Loose fellows are wandering around and running through the land from one place to the other, and wherever one of them sees a wench that takes his fancy he starts getting hot and right away he tries to see how he can get her, goes ahead and gets engaged again, and thus wants to forget and abandon the first engagement that he entered into elsewhere with another woman. And what is worse, they go ahead and have their wedding—some even get married in several places and so carry on a great and shameful scandal in the name and under the appearance of marriage.
This is where the pastors should be careful to warn their people and point out this danger, namely, that no citizen or peasant should give his child in marriage to a strange fellow or man, and that the authorities, too, should not permit such a marriage. The pastor should not publish the bans, marry, or bestow his blessing upon any of these people, but if they are strangers, men or women, they should be required to furnish adequate testimonials of their character, both written and oral, so that one may be certain what kind of people they are, whether they are single or married, honest or dishonest, as do some craftsmen who demand letters of recommendation from their fellow craftsmen, and as the monks used to do who would not accept anyone unless they knew that he was free and not obligated to anyone by betrothal, debt, or servitude. How much more should one demand such recommendations from strange men or women who wish to enter into matrimony! It is certainly a matter of importance for every person to see what kind of spouse he is getting and to whom he is giving his child or relative. It is also up to the council and the community to see what kind of male or female citizen and member they are getting in their community.
For we learn from experience, as has been said, that rascals and wenches run here and there, taking wives and husbands merely to perpetrate their skulduggery, and afterward steal all they can and run off. They treat marriage as the Tartars and gypsies do, who continually celebrate weddings and baptisms wherever they go, so that a girl may well be a bride ten times and a child be baptized ten times. I know a village not far from here—I will not mention the name of the region (I do not want to mention it for the sake of its reputation)—where, when our gospel came, we found thirty-two couples living together out of wedlock, where either the husband or the wife was a fugitive. I did not think that there were many more than thirty-two houses or inhabitants in the place. The good bishops, officials, and authorities had so managed and looked after things that in this hiding place there were gathered together all those who had been driven out of or had run away from other places. But now, praise God, the gospel has swept away this scandal so cleanly that no open adultery, whoredom, or illicit cohabitation is any longer tolerated anywhere. And yet the poor gospel must be called a heresy from which no good comes! (LW 46:293-294).
While Plass was not wrong in his prefatory comment, the context shows the extracted quote comes from a complicated text. The context is about secret marriages. Basically: if a man has a secret engagement to a woman, promises her the moon and the stars, has his way with her, but then has a public engagement to another woman, that previous woman should not be considered a harlot. Luther says of the secret couple, their "lying together in secret in anticipation of betrothal cannot be reckoned as whoredom" because "it takes place in the name and with the intention of marriage." That is, to punish her as a societal whore is totally unjustified. She was not selling sex, she was enticed by a man with a promise of marriage. Luther then hypothetically argues a man would never sleep with a woman and promise her marriage if he knew that his private engagement would nullify his public engagement. That is, only a scoundrel would do such a thing, and he should be forced to marry the woman to retain her honor.

To complicate this further, the introductory comments to Concerning Matrimonial Matters provide another interesting explanation that relates to this quote:
Over the centuries the old Roman law and practice expanded to accommodate other national customs, particularly those of the Germans. According to German custom, an agreement to marry in the future (i.e., engagement) followed by intercourse constituted a marriage. This accommodation gave rise to a fine distinction between the sponsalia de futuro and sponsalia de praesenti (a consent to marry in the future and a consent to marry in the present). Gradually, however, this distinction became theoretical rather than functional (LW 46:261-262). 
On this point, LW 46 provides a reference: Paul Hansen, Engagement and Marriage, a Sociological Historical and Theological Investigation of Engagement and Marriage (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), p. 65. This text states,
It must be remembered that in the early Middle Ages the church was strongly influenced by the German idea that betrothal was an inchoate marriage, and according to The New International Encyclopedia, the church in the twelfth century went back to the Roman view that an agreement de futuro was a thing wholly distinct from marriage. Nevertheless, some concessions were still made to German ideas, namely, that an agreement to marry in the future, plus subsequent concubitus, constituted marriage. On the whole the canonical marriage was the consensual marriage of the Roman law made indissoluble.
This book cites "Marriage," The New International Encyclopedia, eds. Gilman, Colt, Kirby (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1903), XI, 903.  To put it nicely, it appears that there was some liberal borrowing done from this encyclopedia. While I did not locate a 1903 edition, I did locate a 1905 edition.  This text states,
It should be noted, however, that the Church's view of betrothal changed in the twelfth century. In the early Middle Ages the Church was strongly influenced by the German idea that betrothal was an inchoate marriage. In the twelfth century it went back to the Roman view that an agreement de futuro was a thing wholly distinct from marriage. Nevertheless some concessions were still made to German ideas. It was admitted that an agreement to marry in future and subsequent concubitus constituted marriage. Moreover, marriages not consummated were treated somewhat differently from those which had been consummated: they were annulled with more freedom. On the whole, the canonical marriage was the consensual marriage of the Roman law, made indissoluble.
It appears that Luther functioned under this societal paradigm that an engagement to marry was as binding as a marriage itself. In the same treatise,  Luther goes on to discuss what happens to a secretly betrothed man that has sex with another woman after a public engagement has been announced. Is it adultery? Yes, and it cannot be used to break the previous engagement.  Luther says:
Since we have heard above that a girl who has been publicly betrothed is considered a wedded wife, and this public betrothal, if it is pure and free from any lying together with other girls beforehand, forms a true, honest marriage, then the man also is certainly a true husband. And because it is not proper among us to have more than a single wife, who is one’s only wedded wife, the man is no longer master of his body and cannot touch another woman without committing adultery. Likewise there is also a great difference between lying together before public betrothal and lying together after public betrothal. For prior to the public betrothal the man is still single and free, and does not commit adultery by lying with the woman to whom he is secretly betrothed, but after the public betrothal he is no longer single; he is a bridegroom and a husband. (LW 46:298).

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Responses to Catholic Nick's article on Imputation as part of Justification by Faith Alone

From several years ago, Joey Henry wrote an excellent 8 Part response to "Catholic Nick" (linked to on Devin Rose's blog) on Imputation as part of Justification by Faith Alone, which I hope to write more about later if and when I find the time.

Monday, April 15, 2019

"Faith Alone" and the 1483 Nuremberg Bible?

Did a pre-Reformation German bible include "faith alone" (allein durch den glauben) in its translation of Romans 3:28? Commenting on Romans 3:28, Charles Hodge stated:
That a man is justified by faith. If by faith, it is not of works; and if not of works, there can be no room for boasting, for boasting is the assertion of personal merit. From the nature of the case, if justification is by faith, it must be by faith alone. Luther's version, therefore, allein durch den glauben, is fully justified by the context. The Romanists, indeed, made a great outcry against that version as a gross perversion of Scripture, although Catholic translators before the time of Luther had given the same translation. So in the Nuremberg Bible, 1483, "Nur durch den glauben." And the Italian Bibles of Geneva, 1476, and of Venice, 1538, per sola fede. The Fathers also often use the expression, "man is justified by faith alone;" so that Erasmus, De Ratione Concionandi, Lib. III., says, "Vox sola, tot clamoribus lapidata hoc saeculo in Luthero, reverenter in Patribus auditur." See Koppe and Tholuck on this verse.
It appears particularly the 1483 Nuremberg Bible fact is misinformation. Give credit where it's due, one of Rome's defenders, William Albrecht, tracked down an online version of the Nuremberg Bible and makes a strong case that the Nuremberg Bible of 1483 does not translate Romans 3:28 in such a way.  Here is a look at Romans 3 from an online scan of a copy of this Bible:

What appears to have happened is that "nur durch glauben" is in the Nuremburg Bible, but found in its translations of Galatians 2:16 (not Romans 3:28):

Hodge says to "See Koppe and Tholuck on this verse." I was able to track down Tholuck, and he mentions Galatians 2:16 as well.

Truncated versions of Hodge's information has traveled far across cyberspace, even finding its way into print by well-respected authors (for instance, R.C. Sproul utilized a version of it in his book, Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification). In one of my earliest posts here on this blog, I also utilized some of what Hodge stated:
Even some Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “nur durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say  "per sola fede."
At this point, I do not recall what source I used. It was not original to my 2006 entry, but was added in some time between 2009- 2010 (along with a copyist error). I don't recall if I picked up this tidbit directly from Hodge, Sproul, or some other source (I suspect I used Sproul).  At the time of posting the information, I had not checked the accuracy of the facts, nor do I recall attempting to locate a 1483 Nuremburg Bible (and I suspect I would not have easily been able to locate this Bible at the time!). It's an instance in which I relied on a secondary source without checking the accuracy of the facts. I mention this admission of error and correction in order to be consistent with my overall approach taken on this blog.

This of course calls into question "the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538)." Time does not allow me at the moment to dig into the accuracy of these facts, but they're on my radar. For transparency's sake, I have not checked all the uses of "faith alone" that Roman Catholic scholar Joseph Fitzmyer mentions, which I include in that same old blog entry.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Luther: "Jesus in His Human Nature Got It Wrong" ?

Here's an odd Luther-related statement attributed to Tim Staples from the Catholic Answers Forums:
In a recent episode of Catholic Answers focus, Tim Staples said that there was an instance where Martin Luther said Christ in his human nature was in error on the subject of free will and that St. Paul was more reliable. I had never heard this and would be very interested to read where Luther said that. Could anyone here point me to a citation?
There were a number of comments before I joined in, including: that Mr. Staples misinterpreted a section from the Book of Concord,  to
"I very much doubt that Luther made such a remark..."
"This sounds like a case where Luther was probably saying something to the effect that we look at passages that speak directly to an issue to clarify the meaning of a passage which does not address an issue directly..."
"...anything that Tim Staples says about Lutheranism or Luther with a huge grain of salt..." "...Or smaller If he provided no context or source,"
"If Luther had ever said, or written, that Christ was in error, I think we would have heard about it before now. In error about anything at all, however trivial..." 
I had never heard anything like this before either. Luther was prone to strong hyperbole. Mr. Staples could easily be referring to an obscure Table Talk comment. Often those comments lack clear contexts that secure a definite theological position.

The person who originally brought this up was gracious enough to grant my request to provide a link to the broadcast in which Mr. Staples made the remarks in question.  Advance the show to around 15:50. Mr. Staples is having a discussion with Cy Kellett]. Here is a transcription:
Tim Staples: How man times in Matthew 23:37.... Jesus weeps over... at least in Luke's version he weeps... but in Matthew's version, "Oh Jerusalem Jerusalem you that killeth the prophet how often I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks... but you refused..." Luther was so... Cy, I don't know if I've ever shared this with you, but... this is gonna shock you. Luther was adamant with this understanding of the passivity of the will, that he actually wrote that Jesus in his human nature got it wrong there.
Cy Kellett: oh Man! 
Tim Staples: He got it wrong there. 
Cy Kellett: Jesus is not a reliable teacher. 
Tim Staples: He didn't have the fullness of the revelation that Saint Paul later got. 
Cy Kellett: oh, so you put Saint Paul over Jesus.
Mr. Staples launches into his discussion of Luther by first commenting on Matthew 23:37. The obvious place to look for such a quote as described is Luther’s Bondage of the Will. The passage is discussed, but not quite as explained by Mr. Staples.

See LW 33:144-147 (or Packer’s translation 175-177). There Luther explains that God incarnate weeps and laments over “the perdition of the ungodly.” Then he states, “Nor is it to for us to ask why he does so, but to stand in awe of God, Who can do, and wills to do, such things.” God as the incarnate word in his humanity weeps for those who rejected him. Then Luther presents a typical counter to this… that some would run to the secret will of God when things don’t quite add up. Luther then goes on shortly thereafter to state it’s not his argument to refer to the secret will of God, but Paul’s in Romans, that God is the potter and he can do what he wants to in his hidden and secret will.

Here is link to an inferior English translation of Luther’s Bondage of the Will. This link goes directly to the page in which Luther begins comments on Matthew 23 (the same passage Mr. Staples was commenting on before his Luther comment). This translation refers to Christ shedding “useless tears” over Jerusalem. Luther then goes on to contrast this with Paul’s revelation of the secret will of God (p.168). If possible though, use LW 33 or the Packer translation for reference.

If this is the passage from Luther Mr. Staples has in mind, I can sort of see how, given Tim's presupposition of the freedom of the will, he could make the interpretation he’s making. I think its misconstruing Luther’s words, but only Mr. Staples can clarify if this is the passage from Luther he has in mind, and then explain how he reads it. I believe Mr. Staples was probably speaking “off the cuff” or extemporaneously and misspoke that Luther exactly wrote what he attributes to him. Rather, I think given an opportunity to clarify, Mr. Staples may say his comments about Luther are his conclusion of what Luther's words imply. I’ve interacted with Mr. Staples before. I suspect if I ask him about what he was referring to, this is the context from Luther that he had in mind. I suspect also, if given another opportunity, he would flesh out his remarks and make them more cogent.

To echo one of the folks on the forums, "If Luther had ever said, or written, that Christ was in error, I think we would have heard about it before now." Without actually contacting Mr. Staples to clarify, I suspect this is the context from Luther he's referring to.

Monday, April 01, 2019

The Failure of Luther's Reformation?

Was Luther's Reformation a failure? Here's a snippet of text used by a defender of Rome saying just that:
"From the time of the formation of the Protestant League, Luther retired gradually from the forefront of the reformation movement. His last years were by no means happy. The Protestant princes confiscated the wealthiest bishoprics and monasteries for their own use, whilst the preachers often suffered the direst want. Irreligion and immorality and vices of all sorts flourished wherever the new gospel gained the ascendancy. "We experience it daily," he says in a sermon, "that the people are seven times worse today than ever before under the Papacy; they are more avaricious, more unchaste, more envious, more intemperate, more dishonest..." He was especially dissatisfied with the state of things in his own Wittenberg. "Let us get out of this Sodom," he wrote to his wife in 1545. "I prefer to wander about homeless, and to beg my bread from door to door than to poison my poor last days by the spectacle of all these disorders."
"Against the Pope, Luther vented his rage to the last. In 1545 he wrote the coarsest of his pamphlets, Against the Papacy Founded by the Devil, in order to hinder his followers from attending the Council of Trent."(Fr John Laux, Church History, pp. 431-432)
It doesn't look like reformation was the goal after all, but revolution.

The basic gist is that Luther's Reformation career was ultimately a failure. The proof? His later years were wasted away in utter despondency. His alleged "reformation" of the church didn't produce any real fruit, and his own words and the sinful state of Protestantism at that time proves it. For Rome's defenders, Protestantism isn't a movement of the church. Protestantism is the result of heresy, and heresy never leads anyone to true holiness, nor the church collectively to "reformation." Statements like those above are typically brought forth from late in Luther's career, indicting him of regret for the mess he made. Rome's defender seals the quoted argumentation by declaring, "It doesn't look like reformation was the goal after all, but revolution."

I've gone through a number of these quotes already (see my series, Did Luther Regret the Reformation?). The argumentation for Reformation "failure" is typically the product of pre-1930 Roman Catholic scholarship. Let's take a fresh look at this paragraph, examine its nuts and bolts,  and see what's going on.

The source provided is "Fr John Laux, Church History, pp. 431-432." According to the Roman Catholic publisher Tan Books, "Father John Laux, M.A., was a high school religion teacher who wrote his own Catholic curricular books after spending a large number of years teaching and researching. His works were first published in 1928...Though Father Laux originally wrote his books for high school students, they remain very informative for those in college and even adulthood as well."

Fr. Laux's book went through a few different editions. The earliest edition is from 1930, entitled,  Church History, A Complete History of the Catholic Church to the Present Day The title was revised to Church History, a History of the Catholic Church to 1940, For Upper High School and College Courses and Adult Reading.  The quote cited above was taken from the 1980's TAN reprint.  The paragraph being cited falls particularly under the heading, "Luther's Last Years."

The author does not cite precise sources for his historical information or his Luther quotes, but in his "Hints for Study" at the end of the same chapter he states,
O'Hare, Facts About Luther (N.Y., 1916) gives a very readable account of Luther, the man and his teachings. See also article on Luther in the Cath. Encyclopedia. Janssen, History of the German People, Vol. II, should be consulted for the historical background of the Protestant Reformation. H Belloc, How the Reformation Happened, should be in every library. It contains an admirable exposition of the remote and proximate causes of the reformation. MacCaffrey, The Church from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, 2 vols., is the best general history of the Church in modern times available in English.
Patrick O,Hare (1916), The Catholic Encyclopedia (1910), Johannes Jannssen (1896), Hilarie Belloc (1928), James MacCaffrey (1915)... all these sources are Roman Catholic, and all had editions of the books recommenced prior to 1930, thus all date from the period of destructive Roman Catholic criticism of Luther.

Luther's last years were by no means happy?
There are a number of historical assertions made by Fr. Laux (none of them documented). He states Luther's "last years were by no means happy."  It's true that Luther had aging and health issues, as well as apocalyptic driven concerns about the state of the world. His later years saw many "petty disputes" and all the pressures of church and state did lead to pessimism fueled by "apocalyptic hopes and fears" (source).

Despite this, these elements should not be used to paint a picture of total despair. Roland Bainton refers to the last years of Luther as the period between 1530 and 1546 (sixteen years). Bainton gives an overview of some of the controversies Luther was involved with in this period and also gives an overview of his impact after his death, beginning by saying, "Luther's later years are, however, by no means to be written off as the sputterings of a dying flame." Mark U. Edwards did an entire book dedicated to this period. Looking at the wealth of data from this period, Edwards states, "From these [Table Talk] remarks and from his voluminous correspondence and the observations of friends and guests, there emerges a picture of Luther as a devoted, often tender-hearted father, a loving, teasing, and sometimes irritable husband, a man of strong friendships, and a compassionate pastor and counselor."

Confiscated Bishoprics and Impoverished Protestant Clergy?
The Protestant princes confiscated the wealthiest bishoprics and monasteries for their own use, whilst the preachers often suffered the direst want.
This is a one-sided Roman Catholic criticism that appears to assume the situation before the Reformation was ideal. Edwards explains,
On the eve of the Reformation the medieval church was failing especially on the lower level. Rome's extensive ecclesiastical bureaucracy, which had been the unity of Europe during the Middle Ages, was disintegrating in many areas... This well-entrenched benefice system of the church, the muscle of patronage, which had permitted important ecclesiastical offices to be sold the highest bidders and residency requirements either to go unenforced or to be fulfilled by poorly qualified substitutes, revealed its deleterious effect especially on the local level. Bishops were traditionally appointed from the nobility and not always known to have either a shepherd's heart or a theologians mind.
Edwards goes on to describe quite a number of moral and fiscal complaints against the church prior to the Reformation. Wasn't the Reformation fueled by the indulgence controversy? In order to pay to keep the papal machine operating, Rome had devised quite a number of methods to extract money from the masses to help them through purgatory unto eternal salvation.

It's true that the early Protestant preachers lacked funds. Luther complained that when people thought giving money to the church would help secure a right standing with God, funds flowed more freely. He came to realize that often the masses were not interested in supporting a local church for the right reasons. On the other hand, the early Reformation churches were connected to the state, so they did go on to survive and thrive,of course, not to the fiscal excesses Rome did, but they did grow.

The Immorality of the Reformation?
Irreligion and immorality and vices of all sorts flourished wherever the new gospel gained the ascendancy.
Once again this is a one-sided Roman Catholic criticism that appears to assume the situation before the Reformation was ideal. It was not! This criticism is also reminiscent of the conclusions of an old small anthology of Luther quotes peppered with vilifying commentary from Roman Catholic polemicist Henry O’Connor (see my review here). O'Connor argued, "Every reasonable person will agree with me, that Luther can only have been a Reformer chosen by Almighty God, if his teaching caused an increase of virtue and a decrease of vice." Is O'Connor's argument biblically true? Were those chosen by God in the role of prophets, teachers, or preachers guaranteed the results of "an increase of virtue and a decrease of vice"? Think of the Old Testament prophets. They typically came with messages that the people did not heed, nor want to hear- and this provoked God's judgment. If one were to evaluate their calling and ministry based on O'Connor's paradigm, we could throw out more than a few prophets. Consider some of the early churches in the New Testament as well. Corinth was given a rather pure dose of apostolic teaching, was it not? When one reads 1 and 2 Corinthians, the moral state of the church described by Paul is less than stellar. Latter on in an an early post-biblical document, 1 Clement, we find the Corinthian church still in disarray. Or, take the argument and apply it to Rome's infallible magisterium and pick a century or a recent decade.

The Luther Quotes Used by Fr. Laux
"We experience it daily," he says in a sermon, "that the people are seven times worse today than ever before under the Papacy; they are more avaricious, more unchaste, more envious, more intemperate, more dishonest..."
The interesting thing about this first Luther quote given by Fr. Laux is the English wording. It appears his English translation may be unique to him. Maybe he did his own translation from the original languages? Did he simply reword someone else's English translation? I don't know

There are a few of these "seven times worse" Luther quotes, as well as a few of these Luther-bemoaning-vices quotes. In Laux's version, Luther complains of excessive greed, sexual misconduct, envy, lack of control, and dishonesty. Laux also says it was taken from a sermon.  No reference is given. I suspect the sermon Laux is referring to is from 1533, First Sunday in Advent, Matthew 21:1-9. I've gone into detail on this context here. In context, Luther doesn't blame his teaching for the current state of affairs, but rather the people and ultimately Satan. One version of the context shows Luther also states those who accept the Gospel will have fruit follow and "will daily become more humble, obedient, gentle, chaste and pious. For this doctrine is of a character to make godly, chaste, obedient, pious people." Those who do not receive it are those who become seven times worse.   
“Away from such a Sodom! I would sooner wander about and beg my bread than vex my last days with the irregular proceedings at Wittenberg.”
This quote is easier to determine. The English version used by Laux was not his own. It can be found as early as 1888.  I've gone in to great detail of this quote here. Luther's comment is from a letter he wrote to his wife late in his life. It appears that which finally provoked the comparison of Wittenberg to "Sodom" was women's fashion! Luther states, "...they have started to bare women and maidens in front and back, and there is no one who punishes or objects." According to LW 50, Luther did return to Wittenberg and "(upon the Elector’s orders) ordinances directed against the poor public behavior" were put in place.

Luther Wrote a Pamphlet to Hinder Protestants from Attending the Council of Trent? 
"Against the Pope, Luther vented his rage to the last. In 1545 he wrote the coarsest of his pamphlets, Against the Papacy Founded by the Devil, in order to hinder his followers from attending the Council of Trent.
Actually, Luther wrote at the prodding of secular authorities against two papal letters sent to the Emperor. The Emperor sought to have a church council held and had suspended the attacks against Protestantism. The Papacy was upset by both of these things and wrote to the Emperor expressing their disapproval. The Papacy argued it was only they who were able to call a council of the church. In one version of the papal letter, the "heretics" were not to be invited! A good overview of the historical background can be found here

Fr. Laux sought to paint a picture of Luther dying in depression and misery with a failed attempt at church reform. This is the typical methodology of earlier Roman Catholic Reformation criticism. There is though another way to look at the facts of Luther being pessimistic at the end of his life and that the world by the Reformation did not turn into a Shangri-La of purity and virtue. Luther saw the world  becoming worse because of the preaching of the Gospel. In his writings there is a reoccurring theme that he viewed his time period on the cusp of the return of Christ. In my explorations into Luther's writings, I've never come across him stating the opposite- that because of the preaching of the Gospel, the world would become more holy and pious. For Luther, mankind has and will always oppose God's truth en masse and rebel against it, for that's what Satan and sin have always done in battle against God's word. Luther consistently held that the Gospel would find great opposition, and would be attacked from all sides. The Gospel would be used by the world as a licence to sin and all sorts of evil because of Satan. The Gospel would indeed make those of the world worse. But on the flip-side, the Gospel would also transform those whom God intended to redeem, and they are those who comprise the church, however few in number they may be.