Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Few Things I've Learned From Martin Luther

Taking Cardinal Kaspar's advice, I've decided to try and learn a few things from Martin Luther. Let's take a look at some of his greatest hits.

On Prayer:

Now however because they are obdurate and have determined to do nothing good but only evil so that there is no longer any hope I will hereafter heap curses and maledictions upon the villains until I go to my grave and no good word shall they hear from me again I will toll them to their tombs with my thunder and lightning. For I cannot pray without at the same time cursing. If I say "Hallowed be Thy name" I have to add "Cursed damned reviled be the name of the papists and of all who blaspheme Thy name." If I say "Thy kingdom come" I have to add "Cursed damned destroyed be the papacy together with all the kingdoms of the earth which oppose Thy kingdom." If I say "Thy will be done" I have to add "Cursed damned reviled and destroyed be all the thoughts and plans of the papists and of every one who strives against Thy will and counsel." Thus I pray aloud every day and inwardly without ceasing and with me all that believe in Christ And I feel sure that my prayer will be heard. Nevertheless I have a kind friendly peaceable and Christian heart toward every one as even my worst enemies know. (Clearly)

On accurately translating Romans 3:28 (in which Luther included the word "alone" following "faith"):

If your Papist grumbles about the word "alone" answer him at once 'Dr Martin Luther will have it so and says that a Papist and an ass are one and the same thing.' For we shall not be the disciples and pupils of the Papists but their masters and judges; we too for once will glory and protest against those asses heads. As St. Paul glories against his mad saints so will I glory against these my asses. Are they doctors? So am I! Are they learned? So am I! Are they preachers? So am I! Are they theologians? So am I! And I will glory further. I can explain Psalms and Prophets, they cannot. I can interpret, they cannot. I can read the Bible, they cannot. I am only sorry that I have not put in also the word "any" so as to make it read "without any works of any law;" this would have expressed it better still. Therefore, it shall remain in my New Testament, and if all Papistical asses should go mad and frantic, they will not get it out again.

On Ecumenism:

Unless they will abolish their laws and traditions, and restore to Christ's churches their liberty and have it taught among them, they are guilty of all the souls that perish under this miserable captivity, and the papacy is truly the kingdom of Babylon, yes, the kingdom of the real Antichrist! For who is " the man of sin" and "the son of perdition" but he that with his doctrines and his laws increases sins and the perdition of souls in the Church, while he sits in the Church as if he were God? All this the papal tyranny has fulfilled, and more than fulfilled, these many centuries. It has extinguished faith, obscured the sacraments and oppressed the Gospel. But its own laws, which are not only impious and sacrilegious, but even barbarous and foolish, it has enjoined and multiplied world without end.

On the Truth:

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.

This last quote is especially awesome given that the lie in question was to cover up a bigamous marriage Luther sanctioned for a notorious profligate known as Phillip the Magnanimous. The guy wanted another wife, so Luther granted him a "dispensation" (for lack of a better word) from his first marriage. Luther cautioned him, though, to keep the whole thing a secret for the good of the church. So we can learn a lot about the sanctity of marriage here as well.

"Full of the power of faith" indeed. I'm very sorry, Your Eminence, but given that Luther's work is almost entirely polemical and bankrupt of any real attempts to respond to his critics, this is what we have to work with. Not that his theology (when he actually tries to give some) is anything to write home about. I just can't fathom why anyone would recommend reading stuff like this unless it was to demolish it in the realm of debate.

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