Friday, April 20, 2018

Revisiting Martin Luther the Murderer

Here's one that came up on the Catholic Answers Discussion forums. A Roman Catholic participant was utilizing Father Mitch Pacwa for some Martin Luther information on the canon. A Lutheran participant responded by saying Father Pacwa  "is not a Luther scholar by any means and has falsely accused Luther of murdering with his own hands!" To which the Roman Catholic participant responded, "As for your claim that he falsely accused Luther of murdering with his own hands, I don’t believe that for one minute. Nor have I found evidence of anyone else saying such a thing," and that, "Father’s words are being taken out of their proper context."  No, Father's words are not being taken out of context. Yes, he did accuse Luther of murder.

This interaction is the result of something I posted back in 2010 (and also here). Father Mitch Pacwa was gearing up for the October 2017 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses. At the time, he was trying to put together a video series (as I now check his "Ignatius Productions" eight years later, it does not appear the project ever got off the ground). Back on March 08, 2010 he appeared on Catholic Answers live to discuss the Reformation.  During the interview,  a caller asked “In a nutshell, what did cause the Reformation?.”  Father Pacwa answers, “Luther was racked with guilt.” What was this guilt from? Pacwa explains “he apparently had killed somebody in a duel.” To deal with the guilt of murder and “a legalism within his own personality” caused him to begin “looking at doctrine differently than it had been under the various Catholics prior.” This lead to justification by faith alone by grace alone.

Another Roman Catholic participant stated, "I’ll just say, stuff on the internet needs to be vetted carefully. People get labeled as saying things they don’t say or what they do say is so recontextualized it doesn’t come close to what was actually said," and also, "Swain [sic] was apparently pointing to the book that made the claim Luther was in a duel and killed his friend. The real question is, did Fr Pacwa really say what he is accused of saying?"

Well, Here is the mp3 clip to verify this is what Father Pacwa stated. When I originally wrote about this back in 2010, I was pleasantly surprised that the editors of Luther's Works actually stopped by here and left me a comment about this:

Rev. Dr. Benjamin T. G. Mayes said...
Was Luther a murderer?
In the early 1980's, Dietrich Emme popularized the theory that Martin Luther entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt not due to his experience in a storm, but in order to escape prosecution after killing a companion (Hieronymus Buntz) in a duel in 1505 (Martin Luther: Sein Jugend- und Studentenzeit 1483-1505 [Cologne, 1982]). Emme's work on this point has been widely dismissed in recent scholarship as piling one speculative conclusion upon another (e.g., Andreas Lindner, "Was geschah in Stotternheim," in C. Bultmann, V. Leppin, eds., Luther und das monastische Erbe [Tübingen, 2007], pp. 109-10; cf. Franz Posset, The Front-Runner of the Catholic Reformation: The Life and Works of Johann von Staupitz[Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003], 94, and the response by Helmar Junghans, Lutherjahrbuch 72 [2005]:190).
The standard biographer of Luther claims that Hieronymus Buntz died of plague (Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, 1483-1521 [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985], 47), and this is documented in sources from 1505 (http://books.google.com/books?id=r2hHAAAAYAAJ&dq=Hieronymus%20Buntz&as_brr=3&pg=PA34#v=onepage&q=Hieronymus%20Buntz&f=false).
The "duel theory" relies on one of Luther's Table Talks: "By the singular plan of God I became a monk, so that they would not capture me. Otherwise I would have been captured easily. But they were not able to do it, because the entire Order took care of me" (D. Martin Luthers Werke: kritische Gesamtausgabe[Weimar Edition]: Tischreden, vol. 1 [Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1912], p. 134, no. 326). Yet this refers to the Augustinian order's protection of Luther from Rome in 1518, not a putative flight from prosecution for dueling in 1505.
If Luther's "duel" were true, it would have been a matter of rather public knowledge, both casually, among students and the monks, and officially, both with whatever civil or episcopal authorities were supposedly trying to arrest Luther, as well as because a dispensation would have been required for Luther's ordination (homicide being a canonical impediment for the sacrament of order). In other words, it would be practically unthinkable that when the Roman Catholic polemical biographer of Luther, Johannes Cochlaeus, was searching for data about Luther's monastic career (and coming up with stories like Luther wailing in the choir) that such a "fact," if true or even rumored, would not have emerged.
Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown, general editor, Luther’s Works: American Edition
Dr. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, managing editor, Luther’s Works: American Edition
2:30 PM, MARCH 30, 2010 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Luther: It is better to Think of Church in the Ale-House Than to Think of the Ale-House in Church

Here's one from the CARM boards:
As a beer loving German Lutheran, my favorite quotation by Martin Luther is the following: "It is better to think about church in the ale-house than to think about the ale-house in church."
The quote also appears in these forms:
"It is better to think of church in the ale-house than to think of the ale-house in church."

"Tis' better to think of church in the alehouse than to think of the alehouse in church."

"Better to think of church in the ale-house than to think of the ale-house in church."

A quick Internet search reveals heavy usage of this quote, even having its own jpg's and wallpaper:





I particularly enjoyed this invented commentary on the quote:
Luther said, “It is better to think of church in the ale-house than to think of the ale-house in church.” What I take from this quote is that God longs to be included in every part of our existence – not just the hour we spend on Sunday mornings in Church. Beer and hymns is a great opportunity to invite God into the routine activities of something as simple as eating and drinking.

Documentation
I found no documentation. All the online usages I came across appear to be recent, post-2000.

Conclusion
The quote appears to be spurious. Here are two versions of a quote from a sermon from Luther on 1 Tim. 1:5-7 that were the closest thing I could find to the quote in question:
If you can sit day and night in a tavern or somewhere else with good companions, gossiping, talking, singing, and bawling, and not grow tired or feel that it is work, then you can also sit in church for an hour and listen in the services of God and his will. What would you do if he commanded you to carry stones or to go on a pilgrimage or imposed some other heavy work upon you, as was imposed upon us formerly, when we willingly performed everything we were told to do and into the bargain were fleeced of money, goods, and body with silly lies and frauds? (LW 51:264)
This service which God hath enjoined upon us, is not laborious, but easy. It requireth nothing but our time and attention: and if it can afford a person pleasure to sit during whole days and evenings at an ale-house or tavern, engaged in revelry and mirth with lewd and wicked companions, it should give him little pain to sit, during a few hours, in the house of God ; for he would not only spend his time more profitably to himself, but would also render an acceptable service to his Maker.  If this duty seem burthensome, how should we endure to go from temple to temple, and from altar to altar, to attend to rites and ceremonies, as we did among the papists? Or how should we sustain those laborious services, such as carrying stones from quarries, and going armed on pilgrimages, which those blind bigots imposed upon us! These services were performed willingly, when we were deluded by false doctrine (source).
There are a number of spurious quotes attributed to Luther and alcohol. On  the other hand, there are a great many legitimate comments from Luther about, alcohol, drinking, and drunkenness. Consider particularly, Luther's 1539 Sermon on Soberness and Moderation (LW 51:289-299). Consider one excerpt:
Eating and drinking are not forbidden, but rather all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one’s pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19–21] (LW 51:293).
The historical record nowhere documents Luther ever being drunk. It does provide evidence that he did drink alcohol and that he enjoyed drinking. One needs only survey the massive output of work that Luther physically did (preaching, teaching, etc.) and produced to settle the matter that Luther did not have a drinking problem. Luther preached and wrote against drunkenness throughout his entire life with vigor and force. As biographer Heinrich Boehmer notes, “Luther attacked the craving for drink with word and pen more vigorously than any German of his time. He told even princes his opinion of it, in private and public, blamed the elector himself publicly for this vice, and read the elector’s courtiers an astonishingly drastic lecture” [Heinrich Boehmer,Luther and the Reformation in the Light of Modern Research (London: G. Bell and Sons LTD, 1930), 198]. 


Addendum #1: A Few Comments from Luther on Alcohol, The Ale-House, and Church

Here a few Luther comments that I came across while putting this entry together:
There is a proverb invented by the priests, and it seems to me that the devil himself was making fun of them with it. When our Lord God was making a priest, the devil was watching and wanted to imitate Him. But he made the tonsure too wide, and it turned out to be a monk. Therefore the monks are the devil’s creatures. Of course, that is said in fun, as a joke, but it is really true. When the devil sees God commanding obedience and mutual love and creating a fine, spiritual people of His own, he cannot let it go at that. He just has to build his chapel or tavern next to the church and then to start teaching his monkery, poverty, gray coats, and the like. Thus the monks are always the devil’s priests. They preach nothing but the doctrine of demons, as Paul calls it (1 Tim. 4:1), which they have taken up on the basis of their own supposition and which, in their superior wisdom, they claim to be an improvement on the work of God. (LW 21:263)
In the extreme wickedness of the world, the godly person is as one alone, unexampled as it were, a rose among thorns; therefore he must endure every form of misfortune, of censure, shame and wrong. The apostle's thought is: He who would live soberly, righteously and godly must expect to meet all manner of enmity and must take up the cross. He must not allow himself to be misled, even though he has to live alone, like Lot in Sodom and Abraham in Canaan, among none but the gluttonous, the drunken, the incontinent, unrighteous, false and ungodly. His environment is world and must remain world. He has to resist and overcome the enticements of earth, censuring worldly desires. To live right in this present world, mark you, is like living soberly in a saloon, chastely in a brothel, godly in a gaiety hall, uprightly in a den of murderers. The character of the world is such as to render our earthly life difficult and distressing, until we longingly cry out for death and the day of judgment, and await them with ardent desire; as the next clause in the text indicates. Life being subject to so many evils, its only hope is in being led by grace. Human nature and reason are at a loss to direct it. “Looking for the blessed hope.” [source]
Many Do Not Appreciate the Bread of Life
"Is there any bran?" Our Epicureans are also like that. We place the finest fare of our salvation before them in church, the forgiveness of sins and the grace of God. Then they turn up the nose and grub (scharren) for dollars, saying: Is there any bran? Well, garbage is to be put into a sow. Thus it happened to Ambrosius. He was once told by his parishioners, after they had been admonished to hear the Word and the sermon: The truth is, dear pastor, that if you were to tap a keg of beer in church and call us to enjoy it, we would be glad to come. (W-T 3, No. 3663) [English translation: Ewald Plass, What Luther Says, Vol. 1, p. 303].

Friday, April 06, 2018

Luther: Augustine has Often Erred, He is Not to be Trusted

Here's a comment left under one of my old blog entries:
Luther did in fact exalt himself above the Fathers,if Protestant theologian/historian Philip Schaff is to be believed (though he doesn't express it in those terms). http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02091a.htm You will find the relevant citation in the 4th paragraph under "The dominating qualities of his doctrine" in the article "Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo."
Who would care if  "Luther did in fact exalt himself above the Fathers"? Typically, this line of argumentation is put forth by Rome's defenders. The argument goes: Luther showed a lack of respect for those in church history who preceded him. One of Luther's failures, or flaws, therefore, was his pride and arrogance: the Catholic church, in all her history, awaited him as its savior. Everyone before him was theologically incompetent, expressing a false gospel. When Luther is charged with exalting himself above the Fathers, it's his alleged heretical arrogance Rome's defenders have in mind. How dare a heretic criticize a respected doctor of the church.

The person who left this comment did so anonymously (see their blogger description). I'm going to assume based on this argumentation (and the link provided) that the person is some sort of Roman Catholic. Here though is an example of someone using the same newadvent.org source (and quote) who appears to not be a defender of Rome, so who knows?  It's up to this mystery person to set the record straight.

The "relevant citation in the 4th paragraph" from the newadvent.org link appears to be the comment attributed to Luther, "Augustine has often erred, he is not to be trusted. Although good and holy, he was yet lacking in true faith as well as the other Fathers," so says Luther via Protestant historian, Philip Schaff. Of the same Luther quote, the great Reformed theologian B.B. Warfield refers to it as a "well-known assertion." While there are quite a number of comments Luther made about Augustine, we'll see below that finding the context for this "well known assertion" is not all that easy. We'll also take a closer look at the newadvent,org link provided, Philip Schaff's actual comment, and this particular Luther quote to see if it demonstrates "exalting himself above the fathers." As it stands now, Luther's overall opinion appears to be that Augustine was so incompetent, he shouldn't be trusted on anything.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Philip Schaff: Luther's Exhalation Above the Fathers
While church historian Philip Schaff is referred to as the deciding voice demonstrating Luther's arrogance, he isn't cited directly, he's alluded to via a link that leads back to the old Catholic Encyclopedia. It's admitted that Schaff "doesn't express it in those terms" that being, "Luther did in fact exalt himself above the Fathers." So, Schaff wasn't exactly saying what this mystery person is trying to prove. Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia says:
Attempts to monopolize Augustine and to make him an ante-Reformation reformer, were certainly not wanting. Of course Luther had to admit that he did not find in Augustine justification by faith alone, that generating principle of all Protestantism; and Schaff tells us that he consoled himself with exclaiming (op. sit., p. 100): "Augustine has often erred, he is not to be trusted. Although good and holy, he was yet lacking in true faith as well as the other Fathers."
The Catholic Encyclopedia cites Schaff's Luther quote as "op. sit., p. 100." "op. cit." means "in the work cited." What they are referring to is found in their documentation: "Schaff, Saint Augustine, Melanchthon, Neander (New York: 1886)." Here is page 100 from that source. Schaff presents a number of comments about the fathers from Luther, and then states,
The Reformer was at times dissatisfied with Augustin himself, because, amid all his congeniality of mind, he could not just find in him his "sola fide." "Augustin has often erred, he is not to be trusted. Although good and holy, he was yet lacking in true faith as well as the other Fathers." But over against this casual expression stand a number of eulogies on Augustin. 
Luther's words must not be weighed too nicely, else any and everything can be proven by him, and the most irreconcilable contradictions shown. We must always judge him according to the moment and mood in which he spoke, and duly remember his bluntness and his stormy, warlike nature. Thus, the above disparaging sentences upon some of the greatest theologians are partly annulled by his churchly and historical feeling, and by many expressions, like that in a letter to Albert of Prussia (a.d. 1532), where he declares the importance of tradition in matters of faith, as strongly as any Catholic. In reference to the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, he says: "Moreover this article has been unanimously believed and held from the beginning of the Christian Church to the present hour, as may be shown from the books and writings of the dear Fathers, both in the Greek and Latin languages, which testimony of the entire holy Christian Church ought to be sufficient for us, even if we had nothing more. For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine cf the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the world up to this year 1500. Whoever now doubts of this, he does just as much as though he believed in no Christian Church, and condemns not only the entire holy Christian Church as a damnable heresy, but Christ Himself, and all the apostles and prophets, who founded this article, when we say, 'I believe in a holy Christian Church,' to which Christ bears powerful testimony in Matt, xxviii. 20 : 'Lo I am with you always to the end of the world,' and Paul in 1 Tim. iii. 15 : 'The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth.'"
Schaff's actual view is certainly not the sentiment put forth by the anonymous comment which began this entry. The context of the remark concerns sola fide, not a blatant covering of everything either Augustine or the Church Fathers said or did. For Schaff, while Luther may have made disparaging comments directed towards the church fathers, these must be considered in the context in which they were made and be balanced with  his "churchly and historical feeling," i.e., those comments he made positively in regard to church tradition and the fathers. This is also hardly the view claimed by the old Catholic Encyclopedia: "Schaff tells us that he consoled himself with exclaiming..." Schaff does not say Luther "consoled himself." Here we see Rome's defenders treating the context of Luther's words as needed, to support... Rome.

Documentation:  "Augustine has Often Erred..."
In Fairness to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Schaff does not document the Luther quote in Saint Augustine, Melanchthon, Neander. Schaff uses the same undocumented quote in a few of his books, so perhaps it was he who popularized it (cf. this book, this book, this book). Schaff uses the quote in a an extended footnote in NPNF 1 with slightly different wording ("wanting in the true faith"), but similarly does not document it. In his History of the Christian Church series, he does though provide documentation:
Augustin did more than all the bishops and popes who cannot hold a candle to him (XXXI. 358 sq.), and more than all the councils (XXV. 341). If he lived now, he would side with us, but Jerome would condemn us (Bindseil, III. 149). Yet with all his sympathy, Luther could not find his “sola fide.” Augustin, he says, has sometimes erred, and is not to be trusted. “Although good and holy, he was yet lacking in the true faith, as well as the other fathers.” “When the door was opened to me for the understanding of Paul, I was done with Augustin” (da war es aus mit ihm. Erl, ed., LXII. 119).
Schaff cites Erl LXII, 119. This source states:


Schaff is citing the Table Talk. The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death.  Schaff is relying on the later German version of the Table Talk. This particular statement was originally collected by Veit Dietrich, not in pure German, but rather German with Latin text mixed in. This text reads,


 Here is an English translation of  this older Latin / German version of this Table Talk statement:
No. 347: Augustine at First Devoured, Then Put Aside, Summer or Fall, 1532
“Ever since I came to an understanding of Paul, I have not been able to think well of any doctor [of the church]. They have become of little value to me. At first I devoured, not merely read, Augustine. But when the door was opened for me in Paul, so that I understood what justification by faith is, it was all over with Augustine. There are only two notable assertions in all of Augustine. The first is that when sin is forgiven it does not cease to exist but ceases to damn and control us. The second is that the law is kept when that is forgiven which does not happen. The books of his Confessions teach nothing; they only incite the reader; they are made up merely of examples, but do not instruct. St. Augustine was a pious sinner, for he had only one concubine and one son by her. He was not given much to anger. St. Jerome, like the rest of us—Dr. Jonas, Pomeranus, and me—we are all much more inclined to angry outbursts. Nor do I know which of our doctors today has Augustine’s temperament except Brenz and Justus Menius” [LW 54:49-50, WATR 1:140 (347); cf. alternate English translation of a version of this Table Talk statement].
There are some notable differences between these versions. In the pure German text relied on by Schaff, the entire first paragraph is missing. In this brief paragraph, Luther describes Augustine as an excellent teacher, presenting a defense against the heretical Pelagians, and faithfully teaching God's grace (cf. LW 54: 8, "In his controversy with the Pelagians, Augustine became a strong and faithful defender of grace"). Then comes the section about Paul, Augustine, the Confessions, etc., contained in both versions. The German version is then missing the final section beginning with, "St. Augustine was a pious sinner..."  This is the confusing nature of the Table Talk!

Schaff's documentation appears to only apply to the sentence, "When the door was opened to me for the understanding of Paul, I was done with Augustin" (da war es aus mit ihm). There is similar sentiment in this utterance, but it does not quite match up to what Schaff is citing Luther saying, particularly the quote under scrutiny. The original context nowhere says  "Augustin has often erred, he is not to be trusted." There is the possibility that Schaff did more of a dynamic equivalence sort of translation on the next sentence. If this was the case, Augustine being "good and holy" would correspond to the sentiment expressed in the first paragraph. This though is a stretch. The part about "lacking in true faith as well as the other Fathers" is a little easier to jive with what the text actually says, but this is still a stretch. Wherever Schaff got these two sentences from, they do not appear to be from the Table Talk utterance he's referring to (Erl LXII, 119).

It's interesting what some of Rome's defenders have done with this undocumented Luther quote from Schaff. Some have morphed it together with this other Table Talk utterance. Notice in the following example how Schaff's undocumented Luther quote is pasted together with the above Table Talk statement:


In this version, Schaff's original words "Augustin, he says, has sometimes erred, " have been turned  turn into Luther's direct words! Schaff has also been plagiarized: LW 54: 49 does not include "Augustine has sometimes erred and is not to be trusted. Although good and holy, he was lacking in the true faith, as well as the other fathers..." The English words appear to be Schaff's. The English translation appears to be unique to his writings.  Numerous examples of Rome's defenders cut-and-pasting this wrongly documented plagiarized mis-quote can be found all over the Internet (example #1example #2, example #3, example #4, etc.).

Conclusion
As of the writing of this entry, I have not been able to locate exactly where Schaff's Luther quote comes from. It appears to be unique to Schaff.  While one may not always agree with Schaff's historical interpretation, he was indeed a well-respected historian. When my detractor above states, "Luther did in fact exalt himself above the Fathers,if Protestant theologian/historian Philip Schaff is to be believed," yes, Schaff is to be believed, but his opinion does not equal historical infallibility. Here we find a great historian using an undocumented quote in multiple books, and then when Schaff did provide documentation for the quote, it's incorrect.

One thing Schaff does say that makes a lot of sense pertinent to all this is,  "Luther's words must not be weighed too nicely, else any and everything can be proven by him, and the most irreconcilable contradictions shown." If one were to rely simply on the Table Talk, this is indeed the case. For instance, consider Luther's 1539 Table Talk statement:
None of the sophists was able to expound the passage, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’ [Rom. 1:17], for they interpreted ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’ differently. Except only for Augustine, there was great blindness among the fathers. After the Holy Scriptures, Augustine should especially be read, for he had keen judgment. However, if we turn from the Bible to the commentaries of the fathers, our study will be bottomless (LW 54:352).
Here we find almost the exact opposite sentiment from the quote under scrutiny. There are quite a number of mentions of Augustine in Luther's writings, both negative and favorable. Yes, there were times Luther spoke negatively about Augustine and the Church Fathers, then there were times he did not. If one were step outside a Roman Catholic worldview, if only for a moment, Luther only considered the Scriptures to be infallible. The writings of everyone else, including his own, were not above criticism. This is not exalting oneself, this is placing the correct value on what is to be exalted; the Sacred Scriptures. Did not Augustine himself pen his own Retractationes (corrections)?

Addendum
Beyond Schaff, I located another historian who uses a similar Luther quote: J.M Audin, History of the Life, Writings, and doctrines of Luther, vol. 2 (1854). This hostile Roman Catholic source says,
"St. Augustine often erred: he cannot be trusted.(2) Many of his writings are worthless.(3) It was a mistake to place him among the saints, for he had not the true faith."(4)
(2) Op. Luth. tom. ii. Jen. Germ. fol. 103; tom. vii. Witt. fol. 353; tom. ii. Alt. fol. 142. Von Menschen-Lehre zu meiden.
(3) Coll. Mens. Lat. torn. ii. p. 34.
(4) 'Enarr. in xlv. cap. Genes, tom. ii. Witt. Germ. p. 227; Alt. p. 1382. 
Notice how Audin placed three sentences together from three different sources! The sentence pertinent to this discussion is the first. It is documented with three references, all pointing to the same section of the same primary source: Von Menschen-Lehre zu meiden. Audin appears to be referring to this section:


This text is from WA 10, II, 89 (cf., Audin's references, Opera 2, 103, Opera 7, 353Alt 2, 142). This is a snippet from Luther's 1522 treatise, Avoiding the Doctrines of Men and a Reply to the texts Cited in Defense of the Doctrines of Men.  What Luther actually says is more involved than what Audin presented. In context, Luther was replying To King Henry's use of the popular quote "I should not  believe the gospel if I did not believe the church" (LW 35:149).  Luther states:
The third text is St. Augustine’s word in his book Against the Fundamental Letter of the Manicheans, which goes like this, “I should not believe the gospel if I did not believe the church [Kirche].”
“Look,” they say, “the church is to be believed more than the gospel.” I answer: Even if Augustine had said so, who gave him the authority that we must believe what he says? What Scriptures does he quote to prove this statement? What if he erred here, as we know that he frequently did, just as did all the fathers? Should one single sentence of Augustine be so mighty as to refute all the texts quoted above? God would not have that; St. Augustine must yield to them (LW 35:150).
A larger context of Luther's remarks can be found here. It does not appear to me that Schaff took his quote from this treatise because I could not find the next sentence, "Although good and holy, he was yet lacking in true faith as well as the other Fathers."

Friday, March 30, 2018

Luther: Destroy Convents, Abbeys, Priories

Here's one from the Catholic Answers Discussion Forums:
“[T]he day has come not only to abolish forever those unnatural laws, but to punish, with all rigor of the law, such as make them; to destroy convents, abbey, priories and monasteries and in this way prevent their ever being uttered.” - Martin Luther (Wittenb. 2, 204 B)
This quote appeared in the discussion, Did Martin Luther allow divorce? The person who posted it didn't explain how exactly it was relevant to the topic of discussion, divorce. It was posted along with a number of other shock quotes, all I suspect have the goal of preaching the evils of Martin Luther to the choir. It appears the point here is that Luther's evil was his desire to "destroy convents, abbey, priories and monasteries." This same person who posted this quote commented elsewhere, "How is quoting Luther’s filthy works verbatim, ‘bashing him’?! Can we not expose his works to stir the hearts of those who ignorantly follow his theology, to reconcile them back to the Church Christ founded?And also, "We aren’t attacking the person of Martin Luther. We are merely exposing his works for what they are. Wouldn’t you want to know if your denominational founder’s works were vile and lewd? Or, would you want to remain in the naive comfort of not knowing?" This is the mindset of this particular defender of Rome: it's not an attack to present out-of-context quotes devoid of either a historical or actual context!

We'll see with this quote, tracking down it's source and context is an exercise in tedious difficulty. We'll see also that in those alleged sources, as the quote stands, it's probably not exactly what Luther said. It appears to be an embellishment concocted by one of Rome's defenders, many, many, years ago.

Documentation
While a reference is provided (which will be discussed below), it's far more likely the Catholic Answers participant lifted this quote from Father Patrick O'Hare, The Facts About Luther.  Father O'Hare states,
Christ, speaking of virginity, not by way of command, but by way of counsel, said, "he that can take it let him take it" and that His grace will be all-sufficient to overcome the infirmity of nature. Luther in unbounded blasphemy contradicts this Divine utterance. He will no longer acknowledge such preaching. He, the doctor of doctors, considers it all folly and declares most emphatically that "it is impossible for any one to live single and be continent." (To his distorted mind/the vow of chastity was an "impossible vow," "an abomination" and "worse than adultery." In his desire to abolish and get rid of it, he is not ashamed to appeal "to priests, monks and nuns, who find themselves capable of generation," to violate their sworn promises and abandon their freely chosen state of celibacy. Unless they follow his advice, he considers nothing remains for them but "to pass their days in inevitable self-gratification." "Parents," he said, "should be dissuaded from counselling their children to adopt the religious state as they were surely making an offering of them to the devil." (Wittenb. V, 124.) Thus with shameless effrontery, he declaimed like a maniac against religious vows and, so bitterly antagonistic was he, that he went so far as to declare "that the day has come not only to abolish forever those unnatural vows, but to punish, with all the rigor of the law, such as make them; to destroy convents, abbeys, priories and monasteries and in this way prevent their ever being uttered." (See Wittenb. 2, 204 B.) To all this, every libertine from Luther's day down to the present, would respond with a hearty "Amen." Not so, however, the clean of heart, who appreciate the invaluable services that the Religious, male and female, have rendered the world in all ages and climes in every department of life, The great exemplar of virginity was the Lord Jesus Christ. The dissolute nailed Him to the cross. Ever since persecution has been the lot of the clean of heart. Luther and his followers had not the courage to continue to make sacrifices, conquer their passions and bring their unruly bodies into subjection to Divine law and heavenly grace and, imagining others to be as weak, depraved and cowardly as themselves—no longer men enough to bear their self-imposed yoke of chastity — they even charged with a horrible hypocrisy the imitators of the virginity of Christ, whose glorious history is in veneration among the pure of heart the world over. In refusing to believe in the possibility of virtue and self-control and in persecuting the aspirants after perfection, they only prove to the disgust of the decent of all times that they have reached the lowest limits of brutality.
The documentation O'Hare provided was, "See Wittenb. 2, 204 B." Father O'Hare doesn't explain his reference, but I assume he's referring to the Wittenberg edition of Luther's Works. This edition was the first attempt at collecting Luther's writings into a multi-volume set. When O'Hare refers to "Wittenb." he appears to be referring to the Latin volumes, not the German volumes. I base this on his previous reference to "Wittenb. V, 124 (which is a reference to the Latin volumes of the set). I did not find anything in the extant Latin volume 2's I have compiled on page 204 B. Here also is Page 204 B from the 1557 German volume two. There is nothing similar to the quote on that page either. I've gone through O'Hare's book for a number of years now. I've grown convinced he did very little of his own research into Luther's writings. He appears to have simply done a cut-and-paste with his favorite hostile Roman Catholic secondary sources.

There are a number of sources previous to his that use a similar English rendering of this quote, but I suspect this rendering originally came from Roman Catholic historian John Alzog's Manual of  Universal Church History (Handbuch der Universal-Kirchengeschichte, 1841).  Alzog predates O'Hare, and he is referred to a few times in The Facts About Luther.  Alzog's use of the quote can be found here. O'Hare's English rendering (provided by the person who translated Alzog's book) is so similar to Alzog's, it's more likely Father O'Hare was not utilizing a primary German source, but lifted the quote from the translation of Alzog (or someone who utilized Alzog). Here's Alzog's rendering:
Luther was now in a position to see the practical workings of his own teaching and the faithful reproduction of his own conduct, and for the moment he seemed startled by the vision. But rapidly recovering himself, he again dashed headlong into just such violent and revolutionary conduct as he had attempted to suppress, again declaiming like a maniac against religious vows. "It is all one," said he, with shameless effrontery, "whether one says to God: I promise never to leave off offending Thee; or whether one says: I promise to live always chaste and poor that I may lead a just and holy life. The day has come,' he continued, " not only to abolish forever those unnatural vows, but to punish, with all the rigor of the law, such as make them; to destroy convents, abbeys, priories, and monasteries, and in this way prevent them ever again being uttered." (Short Epilogue against Vows and Religious Life in Monasteries, in Walch, Vol. XlX., p. 797)
Notice Alzog provides a completely different reference. Here is Walch XIX, 797. There is nothing similar on this page to what's being cited by Alzog (his German edition has the same reference). Alzog says these words are from Luther's "Short Epilogue against Vows and Religious Life in Monasteries" (Kurze Schlußrede von den Gelübden und dem geistlichen Leben der Klöster). This treatise actually begins on page 1797 in Walch XIX, so it strongly appears Alzog made a one digit error with his reference. This treatise is also known as Luther's Theses on Vows (Themata de votis), or Themes Concerning Vows September 1521 (WA 8:323-329). This text is scheduled to be translated into English in a forthcoming volume of Luther's Works. This writing is a series of points outlining Luther's views on monastic vows (not long after, he solidified these points into The Judgment of Martin Luther On Monastic Vows, LW 44:243). Unfortunately, there is no such quote as that purported by Alzog on page 1797.

What this bibliographic tedium proves is that there is no such quote as that purported on pages 797 or 1797 of Walch XIX, nor is O'Hare's "See Wittenb. 2, 204 B" of any use. It's obvious that Father O'Hare lifted this quote from a secondary source, either Alzog, or someone utilizing Alzog. Citing "Wittenb. 2, 204 B," doesn't make any sense. Why did O'Hare lift the Alzog English version, but left off Alzog's reference?

Context
Even though the references above didn't lead to an exact context, I do have some speculations as to where this quote may have been taken from. First, there is something in the treatise Alzog refers to,  Luther's Theses on Vows. In Walch XIX 1800, two of the theses points state:


And also in Walch XIX 1806, a later theses point states:


In these theses points, Luther speaks of getting rid of monasteries. He does not though mention "convents, abbeys, priories." Theses 128 states that the monasteries should be given "teachers of faith" or destroyed. The Latin text reads, "Aut ergo da monasteriis doctores fidei, aut dele ea funditus." One other context deserves mention, and it come courtesy of Roman Catholic historian, Heinrich Denifle:
Such was Luther's fundamental view from the time of his apostasy until his death. “All monasteries,” he says in 1523, “and all cathedrals and similar abominations in the holy place are to be wholly annihilated or abandoned, since they persuade men into open dishonor of the blood of Christ and of the faith, into putting trust in their own works in seeking their salvation, which is nothing else but denying the Lord, Who purchased us, as Peter says.[Enders, IV, 224: "** * * penitus abolendas aut deserendas esse.” Luther appeals to 2 Peter, 2, 1. But of course there is mo mention there of good works, but only of those sects which deny Christ].
What Denifle is referencing in Luther's letter to the Duke of Savoy, September 7, 1523. It can be found here, and it has been in publication since the sixteenth century.  The text reads,


Conclusion
Denifle provides a number of statements from Luther calling for the downfall of the papacy and the destruction of monasticism. Denifle provided an accurate quote from Luther as to his motivations: "...they persuade men into open dishonor of the blood of Christ and of the faith, into putting trust in their own works in seeking their salvation, which is nothing else but denying the Lord." 

In the quote under scrutiny, I do not doubt Luther at times called for the destruction of papal institutions. Rather the problem is that the quote itself is not found in the specific references provided. O'Hare's reference appears to be entirely inaccurate and a blatant plagiarizing of the English rendering of Alzog. Alzog's reference, "797" is inaccurate as well,  and even when corrected to page 1797, there is no such quote on that page.  Perhaps Alzog meant to only document where the treatise begins? If that's the case, Alzog embellished the context. There is nothing in the treatise that specifically says what Alzog is purporting in the phrasing and order Alzog used. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Luther: "Though one may have the gift to live chastely without a wife, yet one ought to marry to spite the Pope, who insists on celibacy and forbids the clergy to marry"

Here's a Luther tidbit from the Catholic Answers Discussion Forums:
“Though one may have the gift to live chastely without a wife, yet one ought to marry to spite the Pope, who insists on celibacy and forbids the clergy to marry.” - Martin Luther (Tischr, II, c. 20 S, 3)
This quote appeared in the discussion, Did Martin Luther allow divorce? The person who posted it didn't explain how exactly it was relevant to the topic of discussion: divorce. It was posted along with a number of other shock quotes, all I suspect have the goal of preaching the evils of Martin Luther to the choir.  This same person who posted this quote commented elsewhere, "How is quoting Luther’s filthy works verbatim, ‘bashing him’?! Can we not expose his works to stir the hearts of those who ignorantly follow his theology, to reconcile them back to the Church Christ founded?And also, "We aren’t attacking the person of Martin Luther. We are merely exposing his works for what they are. Wouldn’t you want to know if your denominational founder’s works were vile and lewd? Or, would you want to remain in the naive comfort of not knowing?" This is the mindset of this particular defender of Rome: it's not an attack to present out-of-context quotes devoid of either an historical or actual context!

It appears the point of posting this quote was to show Luther's evil of telling people lacking the desire for sex to get married, this to spite the pope. We'll see this quote comes from a less than reliable source, and in fact, is not something Luther actually wrote. The comment, if Luther made it at all, was a polemical off-the-cuff remark written down and edited by someone else, then published after Luther died. In Luther's actual writings, he says something quite different about the same subject.   

Documentation
While the person who posted this quote did provide a reference, it's far more probable the quote was taken from a secondary source: Patrick O'Hare's, The Facts About Luther. Notice the obvious similarities to what was posted on the Catholic Answers forum:
The motives which Luther urged to induce all to enter wedlock were evidently far from being in accord with those which the Almighty intended in the consecration of the union of both sexes. But as he held matrimony to be a worldly thing, denied its sacramental character and refused to acknowledge it to be a type of that great sacrament, which is between Christ and His Church, we need not be astonished that he urges an additional motive to those already advanced for maintaining the obligation of marriage. Here it is, genuinely stamped with the usual Lutheran brand and bearing the marks of the Reformer's abiding hatred against the Pope. To the single, he now cries out: "Though one may have the gift to live chastely without a wife, yet one ought to marry to spite the Pope who insists on celibacy and forbids the clergy to marry." (Tischr. II, c. 20 S. 3.) Marry and spite the Pope. Do not mind whether you are called or not called to the married state. Rush into it. Do not weigh the consequences. The Pope insists on safe-guarding one of the evangelical counsels and he must not be suffered to do so longer. The way to weaken his influence and destroy his holy work is for all to marry. The motive was truly ingenious and in every way worthy of the inventive powers of the reformer. Needless to say, the strange advice was not generally heeded, for then and now most men have other and higher reasons than spiting the Pope for their entrance into married life.
I've gone through O'Hare's book for a number of years now. I've grown convinced he did very little of his own research into Luther's writings. He appears to have simply done the equivalent of a cut-and-paste with his favorite hostile Roman Catholic secondary sources, and in some instances, blatantly plagiarized those sources.  I suspect he lifted this quote from Luther: An Historical Portrait (1884) by a Roman Catholic author, J. Verres. Notice the similarities:
Nobody will be astonished, that spite against the Pope should be to Luther an additional motive for declaring and maintaining the necessity of marriage. "Though one may have the gift, to live chastely without a wife, yet one ought to marry to spite the Pope, who insists on celibacy and forbids the Clergy to marry." (54) A worthy motive in a Reformer"!
(54) Tischr. II. c. 20 § 3.  In the same place he says that he had fully made up his mind, in case of serious illness, to marry even on his deathbed, on principle, to honour the state of matrimony. 
The quote and reference used by O'Hare is an exact match to Verres (the English translation used by O'Hare was probably that done by Verres). As to the reference "Tischr. II. c. 20 S 3": Verres includes a key to the abbreviations he used.  "Tischr" refers to the Tischreden, or Table Talk. He says the exact edition he used was: "Dr. M. Luther's sinnreiche Tischreden. 2 voll. Stuttgart und Leipzig 1836." Volume one of this set is available here. I have not been able to locate volume two, however, I was still able to locate what Verres was referring to. The text appears to be the following:



This Table Talk statement was taken from this source. It can also be found in WATR 2:332 (see entry  2129b).  LW did not include this statement in their English edition of the Table Talk. There is though a translation available in earlier English editions of the Table Talk.  In the context below, a statement from an unknown person is made about a preacher embracing celibacy, even though it be severely difficult. Luther then responds to the statement.

Context
FORASMUCH, as a Christian Preacher, for the word's sake, must suffer imprisonment and persecution, much more ought he to endure and bear the coelibatum, and unmarried life, and remain single, although it be irksome and grievous unto him. Luther hereupon said, A man may rather suffer bonds and imprisonment than burning, he that hath not the gift of chastity, the same prevaileth nothing with fasting, with watching, or other things that plague and torment the body, thereby thinking to live chastely. I have found it by experience (though I was not very sorely tempted therewith), that the more I chastised and tormented myself, and bridled my body, the more I was tempted; and besides, although one had the gift to live chastely and unmarried, yet he ought to take a wife in contradiction to the Pope, who forbiddeth the spiritual persons to marry; they are tricks and snares of the devil, whereby he goeth about to take from us the freedom of the Word. We must not only speak, and teach against the same, but we must also act against it, that is, we must marry, therewith to contradict and oppose the false and superstitious ordinances and decrees of the Pope; for I fully resolved thus with myself before I took a wife, that if, unexpectedly, I were taken ill, and likely to die, yet, nevertheless, in honour to the state of Matrimony, I would have caused myself to be betrothed to some honest maid, and for a marriage gift I would give unto her a couple of silver cups (source, and also here).
Conclusion
The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death. It often falls on deaf ears when I point out to Rome's defenders that Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written. Contrarily though, Verres states:
It will be noticed that also on doctrinal points I have quoted from the Tabletalk, though not on any point exclusively from this source, and perhaps it will be thought that in so doing I have laid myself open to objection. It has been urged that, the Tabletalk not having been written by Luther himself, but having been compiled from the notes of persons who were in the habit of listening to him, nobody would go to a book of this sort for evidence on a man’s teaching. But, salvo meliori judicio, I think that the Tabletalk is a most important book. If we cannot trust to it, to get a proper idea of Luther's views, let no Englishman depend on Boswell for a faithful expression of the views of Johnson. Luther's disciples hung on their master's lips with greater devotion than the scottish laird on Johnson's. Like Boswell they have even recorded sayings, in which it is impossible to discover anything striking, mere platitudes. The reliability of the book appears also from the fact, that Lauterbach, whose notes are the chief source of it, put down his reminiscences day after day, as they were fresh in his memory. If the Tabletalk were in opposition to Luther's own books, we could not trust to it, but this is far from being the case. On the contrary, the official teaching of Luther finds further familiar illustrations in the Tabletalk, and the Tabletalk shows how seriously Luther meant even the most startling things which he said as, Evangelist".
Verres is right that the Table Talk has value and does contain truthful comments made by Luther as recorded by those devoted to him. On the other hand, because of its nature, its second hand nature, it is not entirely reliable as presenting Luther's "official teaching." Verres says it's reliability rests on  "the fact, that Lauterbach, whose notes are the chief source of it..." In actuality, Anthony Lauterbach is only responsible for a portion of the text, those utterances recorded between 1538-1539 (WA TR 3 and 4; entries 3683-4719). With the particular utterance in question, it "was collected though not necessarily recorded" by Conrad Cordatus between the years 1532-1533 (LW 54:169). LW also states that Cordatus "revised all the notes in his possession for the purpose of making stylistic improvements. Unfortunately this removed them a step further from what was actually said at the table..." (LW 54:169). Because of this, LW only used a small selection of statements from the Cordatus collection, leaving out entry 2129b.

Verres states, "If the Tabletalk were in opposition to Luther's own books, we could not trust to it..."  With this statement, that people having no issues with celibacy should still be married to spite the pope, Luther does say something different in his actual writings, as I've documented here and here.  For Luther chastity was a rare gift given only to few people. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 7:7, Luther states:
Why, furthermore, does he say: “I wish that all were as I myself am”? Is this not spoken against matrimony, as though he wanted no one to marry? True, Paul wishes that everyone might have the great gift of chastity so that he would be relieved of the labor and cares of marriage and might be concerned only with God and His Word, as he himself was. And who wouldn’t wish this for everyone, especially since Christian love desires all good things, both temporal and eternal, for everyone? Love knows no limits of the good it can do and desire, even though it be something impossible, as when Paul in Rom. 9:3 wishes himself cut off from Christ for the salvation of the Jews (LW 28:16)
This thought is in direct contradiction to O'Hare. He indicted Luther: "Marry and spite the Pope. Do not mind whether you are called or not called to the married state. Rush into it. Do not weigh the consequences." Rather, Luther's position was that chastity was a rare gift, and those with it are given it so they "might be concerned only with God and His Word" as the apostle Paul was.

Addendum
There are a number of reviews of  Luther: An Historical Portrait (1884) by J. Verres.  Of the extant ones, most are favorable from Roman Catholic sources. Here though is a negative review, in that it is critical of the use of source material. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Luther: For the Sake of the Christian Church... Tell a Good Thumping Lie

Here's a Martin Luther-related excerpt that appeared on the Catholic Answers Forums:

On conscience he said, “What harm would there be, if a man to accomplish better things and for the sake of the Christian Church, does tell a good thumping lie” (Lenz, “Briefwechsel”, I, 382; Kolde, “Analecta”, 356)

This is one of those quotes that I categorically classify as the "Antinomian Luther." They are typically posted by those dedicated to defending the Roman church (but not limited to them!). Historically, such "shock" quotes served as propaganda used by pre-1930 Roman Catholic controversialists. The champion of this view was Heinrich Denifle (1844-1905), an Austrian Roman Catholic historian. For Denifle, one of Luther's major problems was lust and immorality. It was Luther's craving for sex that led him to not only break his monastic vows, but to revolt against the established Roman church. Denifle would use statements like this to prove Luther invented the doctrine of justification to excuse his gross immorality.  This quote proves Luther was so devious, he considered lying acceptable, particularly if it benefited the "Christian church." While this quote may not appear to have sex in view, we'll see below that it's a crucial part of the quote and did make its way into Denifle's analysis of Luther.

 Plagiarism
The person who posted the quote provides obscure documentation ("Lenz, “Briefwechsel”, I, 382; Kolde, “Analecta”, 356"). Such obscurity often indicates that the material was not taken from an actual straight reading of text written by Luther. This person also stated,
I am a convert from Protestantism who used to idolize Luther until I read his writings (eventually). Before, and while undertaking my doctorate (early music history + performance), I had learned to read primary sources, this is what also lead me to the Catholic Church - the Apostolic Fathers + St Augustine + Aquinas. Today many people will watch a movie about Luther and think they are well informed about him.
I do question the validity of this testimony of learning, especially the claim of reading Luther's writings and the ability to read primary sources to form opinions. Of the two posts of Luther material this person presented in this discussion (#1#2), neither demonstrates a straight reading of Luther. The material was probably taken from a few web-pages, then cut-and pasted over on to the Catholic Answers discussion forum. I suspect this pagethis page, and perhaps this page was utilized. Unless the person posting this material on Catholic Answers wrote these links, much of the content presented is blatant plagiarism.

Even if he (she?) did compose any of these web pages, I still doubt any of the material came from a straight reading (or "studying") of the "primary sources" for Luther. Some of what was posted was directly plagiarized from Father Patrick O'Hare's, The Facts about Luther. For this quote particularly, this EWTN web-page appears to be that which was directly plagiarized (note the phrase, "On conscience he said..."). EWTN did say they took the quote directly from the old Catholic Encyclopedia:


The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia version is exactly as it appears on 2001 EWTN web-article. The person responsible for the English version of the quote was probably the author of the "Luther" article in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia, George Ganss (1855 – 1912). One can find Ganss using the quote as early as 1900 and 1902 with the same documentation ("Lenz, Briefwechsel," Vol. I, p. 382. "Kolde, Analecta Luthenma," P- 356). Ganns was heavily influenced by Denifle (Denifle uses the quote here).  The article by Ganss in the Catholic Encyclopedia was influential to American Catholics in the early twentieth century. With the old Encyclopedia now online, Ganns' view has been popularized again, even though the New Catholic Encyclopedia takes a much different approach to Luther, rejecting Ganns' view.

Documentation
The documentation provided is "Lenz,“Briefwechsel”, I, 382; Kolde, “Analecta”, 356. Lenz refers to German historian  Max Lenz. Lenz edited the correspondence and documents related to Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. "Briefwechsel" refers to correspondence, so this particular reference appears to be to his work,  Briefwechsel des Landgrafen Philipp mit Bucer. Vol. I. Leipzig. 1880. This volume covers materials from February 1540 to February 1546 from Phillip of Hesse. Here is page 382 which is a section of a letter from Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse written to Martin Luther on July 18, 1540. While this letter does involve the historical situation surrounding this quote, the quote as presented does not occur on page 382 (and even if it did, it would be from the pen of Philip, not Luther). This incorrect reference is surprising as it appears to have originally come from George Ganns.

"Kolde" refers to Hermann Friedrich Theodor von Kolde, a German Protestant theologian (1850-1913). “Analecta” refers to Analecta Lutherana, Briefe und Aktenstücke zur Geschichte Luthers, Zugleich ein Supplement zu den bisherigen Sammlungen seines Briefwechsels, published in 1883.  Here is page 356. This page documents material from the First protocol to the Eisenach Conference, July 15-17, 1540. The quote therefore is not specifically to one of Luther's writings. It is actually from documentation of what was said at this meeting, this page documents some of Luther's statements. What caught the eye of Ganns appears to be the following:


Here Luther is recorded as approving a lie for the sake of Christendom and the world ("...thun umb der Christenheit und aller welt nutz willen). Denifle's English translator renders the passage from Kolde as, "[Phillip] should bear no burden in telling a lie on account of the girl for the sake of the advantage to Christendom and all the world."

Context
In his book The Life and Letters of Martin Luther,  Preserved Smith provides a brief overview of the details of the historical context surrounding this quote  (The Bigamy of Philip of Hesse 1540, pp. 373-386), as does Martin Brecht, Martin Luther the Preservation of the Church Vol 3 1532-1546 (pp. 205-215). Both of these sources present a good compare and contrast. Smith isn't always sympathetic to Luther, Brecht typically will be. 

The quote itself was the outcome the situation provoked by Landgrave Philip of Hesse. Philip, an important political figure for the early Protestants, went through a series of maneuverings attempting to justify taking a second wife. Smith recounts Philip began this effort as early as 1526, writing Luther for advice. Luther denied him any approval (p. 373).  Fast forward to 1539, Philip "determined Luther or no Luther" to take a second wife. Philip, convincing Bucer, sent him to get approval from Wittenberg.  The Wittenberg theologians noted that God intended monogamy, but conceded to Philip's bigamy, noting it as an exception. They denied it any sort of precedent becoming law, and intended it to be secret pastoral counseling. Brecht calls the advise "extremely risky and in all probability wrong from the very beginning" (p. 207).

Brecht was right, the  bigamy approval became public. This after some denial from Luther and the Wittenberg theologians. Brecht notes that at one point during this fiasco that had the Emperor called Philip to account for his bigamy, Luther would assume responsibility for the Wittenberg counsel (p. 211) as giving Philip private pastoral counseling. This position was maintained by Luther at the First protocol to the Eisenach Conference, July 15, 1540. On the other hand,  Luther maintained the advise was not meant for public policy, but as only the solution to a messy personal problem (See Brecht, p. 212). At these meetings Luther argued the best thing to do was deny the second marriage, for as Brecht points out "Luther foresaw grave consequences for him and the church, and in this he was proved to be correct" (Brecht 3, p. 212).


In the end, Luther was to find out that Philip was not entirely honest about his extra-marital activities and said that had he knew beforehand, he would never have given Philip permission to take a second wife. Even after the entire situation was exposed, more controversy followed as supporters of Philip published treatises defending his polygamy. Luther immediately began writing against this, writing things like,  "Anyone following this fellow and his book and takes more than one wife, and thinks that this is right, the devil will prepare for him a bath in the depths of hell. Amen" (p. 214). This writing was stopped for publication for political reasons (Brecht, pp. 213-214). Brecht concludes that in the end Luther realized giving confessional advise to Philip was one of the worst mistakes he made (p. 214).  Smith concludes a bit differently:
Luther's letters tell the truth but not the whole truth. Regrettable as is his connection with the bigamy, an impartial student can hardly doubt that he acted conscientiously, not out of desire to flatter a great prince, but in order to avoid what he believed to be a greater moral evil. His statement in the Babylonian Captivity that he preferred bigamy to divorce, and his advice to Henry VIII in 1531, both exculpate him in this case. Moreover the careful study of Rockwell has shown that his opinion was shared by the great majority of his contemporaries, Catholic and Protestant alike. It is perhaps harder to justify his advice to get out of the difficulty by a lie. This, however, was certainly an inheritance from the scholastic doctrine of the sacredness of confession. A priest was bound by Church law to deny all that passed in the confessional. Moreover, many of the Church Fathers had allowed a lie to be on occasions the lesser of two evils. Nevertheless, though these considerations palliate Luther's guilt, the incident will always remain, in popular imagination as well as in historic judgment, the greatest blot on his career.
Conclusion
I've gone over this situation before. See my previous entries here and here. It's curious that even though the more scandalous aspect of this quote is bigamy, Luther's detractors assail him rather in regard to "lying," as if the thrust of Luther's life and theology was simply lies and deception.  One thing Luther's detractors do not flesh out are Luther's actual views about lying (see my entry here). Luther did not believe that lying in all its various forms was allowable. As a trained medieval theologian, he made crucial distinctions.

The question as I see it in regard to the historical context of the quote is if the situation was such that a lie of necessity was prudent, acceptable and of "obligation." That's a different question. In the end, Luther was to find out that Philip was not entirely honest about his extra-marital activities and said that had he knew beforehand, he would never have given Philip permission to take a second wife. Even after the entire situation was exposed, more controversy followed as supporters of Philip published treatises defending his polygamy. Luther immediately began writing against this, writing things like, "Anyone following this fellow and his book and takes more than one wife, and thinks that this is right, the devil will prepare for him a bath in the depths of hell. Amen" (Martin Brecht, Martin Luther the Preservation of the Church Vol. 3 1532-1546 , p. 214). This writing was stopped for publication for political reasons. Brecht concludes that in the end Luther realized giving confessional advise to Philip was one of the worst mistakes he made (p. 214).

Friday, March 09, 2018

Luther: Parents should be dissuaded from counselling their children to adopt the religious state, as they were surely making an offering of them to the devil.

Here's  a Luther tidbit from the Catholic Answers Discussion Forums:
“Parents should be dissuaded from counselling their children to adopt the religious state, as they were surely making an offering of them to the devil.” - Martin Luther (Wittemb. V, 124)
This quote appeared in the discussion, Did Martin Luther allow divorce? The person who posted it didn't explain how exactly it was relevant to the topic of discussion: divorce. It was posted along with a number of other shock quotes, all I suspect have the goal of preaching the evils of Martin Luther to the choir.  This same person who posted this quote commented elsewhere, "How is quoting Luther’s filthy works verbatim, ‘bashing him’?! Can we not expose his works to stir the hearts of those who ignorantly follow his theology, to reconcile them back to the Church Christ founded?And also, "We aren’t attacking the person of Martin Luther. We are merely exposing his works for what they are. Wouldn’t you want to know if your denominational founder’s works were vile and lewd? Or, would you want to remain in the naive comfort of not knowing?" This is the mindset of this particular defender of Rome: it's not an attack to present out-of-context quotes devoid of either an historical or actual context!

It appears the point of posting this quote was to show Luther's evil of telling parents not to allow their children to become monks or nuns. Perhaps in a Roman Catholic worldview, such is the case, but not in Luther's. We'll see this quote has the typical spurious pedigree that so plagues Roman Catholic produced Luther propaganda.


Documentation
While the person who posted this quote did provide a reference, it's far more probable the quote was taken from a secondary source: Patrick O'Hare's, The Facts About Luther. Notice the obvious similarities to what was posted on the Catholic Answers forum:
Christ, speaking of virginity, not by way of command, but by way of counsel, said, "he that can take it let him take it" and that His grace will be all-sufficient to overcome the infirmity of nature. Luther in unbounded blasphemy contradicts this Divine utterance. He will no longer acknowledge such preaching. He, the doctor of doctors, considers it all folly and declares most emphatically that "it is impossible for any one to live single and be continent." To his distorted mind the vow of chastity was an "impossible vow," "an abomination" and "worse than adultery." In his desire to abolish and get rid of it, he is not ashamed to appeal "to priests, monks and nuns, who find themselves capable of generation," to violate their sworn promises and abandon their freely chosen state of celibacy. Unless they follow his advice, he considers nothing remains for them but "to pass their days in inevitable self-gratification." "Parents," he said, "should be dissuaded from counselling their children to adopt the religious state as they were surely making an offering of them to the devil." (Wittenb. V, 124.)
I've gone through O'Hare's book for a number of years now. I've grown more and more convinced he did very little of his own research into Luther's writings. He appears to have simply done the equivalent of a cut-and-paste with his favorite hostile Roman Catholic secondary sources, and in some instances, blatantly plagiarized those sources.  I suspect he lifted this quote from Luther: An Historical Portrait By J. Verres. Notice the similarities with the words in bold text:
The conclusions, which Luther draws from his axiom, are (1) the assertion that the vow of chastity is an abomination, and (2) an appeal to the religious, to enter matrimony. "If priests, monks and nuns find themselves fit for generation, they must abandon their vows; if they do not, nothing remains for them, but inevitable impurity and fornication." Hence those parents, who advise their children to enter the religious state, offer them to the devil" (Satanae hoc modo tilios suos dicantes. Wittenb. V. 124). The vow of chastity is an impossible vow:...
If the words in bold text are not enough convincing proof, look at the way Father O'Hare simply rewrote two Luther quotes used by Verras in this paragraph:

Verres stated,
If priests, monks and nuns find themselves fit for generation, they must abandon their vows; if they do not, nothing remains for them, but inevitable impurity and fornication.
O'Hare rewrote this as:
In his desire to abolish and get rid of it, he is not ashamed to appeal "to priests, monks and nuns, who find themselves capable of generation," to violate their sworn promises and abandon their freely chosen state of celibacy. Unless they follow his advice, he considers nothing remains for them but "to pass their days in inevitable self-gratification." 
Verres stated,
Hence those parents, who advise their children to enter the religious state, offer them to the devil" (Satanae hoc modo tilios suos dicantes. Wittenb. V. 124).
O'Hare rewrote this as:
"Parents," he said, "should be dissuaded from counselling their children to adopt the religious state as they were surely making an offering of them to the devil." (Wittenb. V, 124.)
In the later quote, notice the reference is the same. I've yet to come across any other English sources using "Wittenb. V. 124." Verres preceded O'Hare, and O'Hare quotes him elsewhere in his book. As to this reference, "Wittenb.," it refers to the Wittenberg edition of Luther's Works. This edition was the first attempt at collecting Luther's writings into a multi-volume set. When O'Hare and Verres refer to "Wittenb." they are referring to the Latin volumes, not the German volumes. Here is the Latin text from "Wittenb. V, 124:


This snippet is from Matrimonio, Sermo habitus Wittembergae (1522), otherwise known as Uom Eelichen Leben, in English rendered as The Estate of Marriage. This treatise has been translated into English. The quote can be found in LW 45:36.


Context
What we would speak most of is the fact that the estate of marriage has universally fallen into such awful disrepute. There are many pagan books which treat of nothing but the depravity of womankind and the unhappiness of the estate of marriage, such that some have thought that even if Wisdom itself were a woman one should not marry. A Roman official was once supposed to encourage young men to take wives (because the country was in need of a large population on account of its incessant wars). Among other things he said to them, “My dear young men, if we could only live without women we would be spared a great deal of annoyance; but since we cannot do without them, take to yourselves wives,” etc. He was criticized by some on the ground that his words were ill-considered and would only serve to discourage the young men. Others, on the contrary, said that because Metellus was a brave man he had spoken rightly, for an honorable man should speak the truth without fear or hypocrisy.
So they concluded that woman is a necessary evil, and that no household can be without such an evil. These are the words of blind heathen, who are ignorant of the fact that man and woman are God’s creation. They blaspheme his work, as if man and woman just came into being spontaneously! I imagine that if women were to write books they would say exactly the same thing about men. What they have failed to set down in writing, however, they express with their grumbling and complaining whenever they get together.
Every day one encounters parents who forget their former misery because, like the mouse, they have now had their fill. They deter their children from marriage but entice them into priesthood and nunnery, citing the trials and troubles of married life. Thus do they bring their own children home to the devil, as we daily observe; they provide them with ease for the body and hell for the soul (LW 45:36).

Conclusion
In this section of Luther's treatise he discusses those who see marriage as negative. The quote in question is in regard to certain parents who deter their children from getting married because of "the trials and troubles of married life." Notice this nuance was left out of Father O'Hare's version of the quote.

In the same treatise Luther does mention some people that may chose not to marry: those "eunuchs who have been so from birth,"those who "have been made eunuchs by men," and finally, the rare person given the gift of chastity. Luther describes the attitude of this later group:
“I could marry if I wish, I am capable of it. But it does not attract me. I would rather work on the kingdom of heaven, i.e., the gospel, and beget spiritual children.” Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God. No one should venture on such a life unless he be especially called by God, like Jeremiah [16:2], or unless he finds God’s grace to be so powerful within him that the divine injunction, “Be fruitful and multiply,” has no place in him (LW 45:21).
This is one of the reasons Luther exhorted parents not to force their children into monastic vows. The majority of people are born with the desire to fulfill God's creation mandate: be fruitful and multiply.  Of course, Luther further says sending children into a religious institution may provide for their bodies, but it was also preparing the soul for hell. Luther says,
No vow of any youth or maiden is valid before God, except that of a person in one of the three categories which God alone has himself excepted. Therefore, priests, monks, and nuns are duty-bound to forsake their vows whenever they find that God’s ordinance to produce seed and to multiply is powerful and strong within them. They have no power by any authority, law, command, or vow to hinder this which God has created within them. If they do hinder it, however, you may be sure that they will not remain pure but inevitably besmirch themselves with secret sins or fornication. For they are simply incapable of resisting the word and ordinance of God within them. Matters will take their course as God has ordained (LW 45:19).
Perhaps the reason such sentiment was offensive to Patrick O'Hare is because he was a popular Roman Catholic priest