It is impossible that where a prince or potentate is ungodly, his counselors should not be ungodly. As is the master, such are also his servants. This follows necessarily and certainly. Solomon says: “A master that hath pleasure in lying, his servants are ungodly;” it never fails. — Martin Luther
Category Archives: Luther
From our Saxon friends-
1520: On June 15, Leo X. issued the bull Exsurge Domine (“Arise O Lord”), which charged that 41 sentences in Luther’s various writings were “heretical, scandalous, offensive to pious ears,” though it did not specify which sentences had received what verdict. Luther was given 60 days upon receiving the bull to recant and another 60 days to report his recantation to Rome.
Not sure how I missed this last week… but here you go-
LUTHER@LEUVEN, the exhibition that was held 2017 in the Maurits Sabbe Library of the KU Leuven, is now digitally accessible.
If your aim is to make Luther unpopular to Americans, or prosperity preachers, or the greedy, just read them this quote:
“Where there’s prosperity there are all sorts of sins, for:
- Property produces effrontery,
- Effrontery produces poverty,
- Poverty produces humility.
Accordingly the rich must give a vigorous accounting, for ‘to whom much is given, of him will much be required’ [Luke 12:48]. Wealth, talent, beautiful form are fine gifts of God, but we misuse them badly. Talent can be an evil thing, too, when we use it to speak in a bad way, for it has been said, ‘He who wishes to submit to talent will be nobody.’
It’s better not to be so handsome to look at. Sickness can come and take beauty from a person, but talent is not so readily changed. It’s written, ‘you will be like God’ [Gen. 3:5]. Yes, indeed! You’ll also be as rich as God. This sickness we’ve inherited from Adam: ‘You will be like God.’”
“Then Ignatius inquired, “Dear Doctor, is fornication also a sin if I don’t take another man’s wife but an unattached wench, as long as I am myself free too?” The doctor [Martin Luther] replied by citing Paul, “Neither the immoral [… nor adulterers … will inherit the kingdom of God, I Cor. 6:9].” “Paul,” he added, “made no distinction between fornication and adultery. I can’t make a law for you. I simply point to the Scriptures. There it is written. Read it for yourself. I don’t know what more I can do.” — Martin Luther
“Marriage consists of these things: the natural desire of sex, the bringing to life of offspring, and life together with mutual fidelity. Yet the devil can so rupture marriage that hate is never more bitter than here. This comes from our beginning everything without prayer and with presumption. A God-fearing young man who is about to be married should pray, ‘Dear God, add thy blessing!’ But this is not done. Everybody is like Dolzig, and the most important things are begun presumptuously. What is our Lord God to do under the circumstances? It is implied that his name is false: Almighty, Creator, the Giver of all things. Accordingly, dear Master Veit, do as I did. When I wished to take my Katy I prayed to God earnestly. You ought to do this too. You have never yet prayed to God earnestly for a wife.” — Martin Luther
On the evening of June 13, on Tuesday after Trinity Sunday, Luther invited Bugenhagen, Jonas, Lucas Cranach and wife, and a professor of jurisprudence, Apel (an ex-Dean of the Cathedral of Bamberg, who had himself married a nun), to his house, and in their presence was joined in matrimony to Catharina von Bora in the name of the Holy Trinity. Bugenhagen performed the ceremony in the customary manner. On the following morning he entertained his friends at breakfast. Justus Jonas reported the marriage to Spalatin through a special messenger. He was affected by it to tears, and saw in it the wonderful hand of God. On June 27 Luther celebrated his wedding in a more public, yet modest style, by a nuptial feast, and invited his father and mother and his distant friends to “seal and ratify” the union, and to “pronounce the benediction.” He mentioned with special satisfaction that he had now fulfilled an old duty to his father, who wished him to marry.*
*History of the Christian Church, vol. 7 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 458–459.
Then Ignatius [Perknowsky] inquired, “Dear Doctor, is fornication also a sin if I don’t take another man’s wife but an unattached wench, as long as I am myself free too?” The doctor [Martin Luther] replied by citing Paul, “Neither the immoral [… nor adulterers … will inherit the kingdom of God, I Cor. 6:9].” “Paul,” he added, “made no distinction between fornication and adultery. I can’t make a law for you. I simply point to the Scriptures. There it is written. Read it for yourself. I don’t know what more I can do.” — Martin Luther
False Christians that boast of the Gospel, and yet do bring no good fruits, are like the clouds without rain, wherewith the whole element is overshadowed, gloomy and darkened, and yet no rain falleth from them to fructify the ground: even so, many Christians pretend great sanctity and holiness, but they have neither faith towards God, nor love towards their neighbour. – Martin Luther
Luther has indicated with sufficient distinctness that he merely conceded to his theological opponents theological terminology, and made use of it himself merely on account of traditional familiarity with it, and because the employment of incorrect words was not necessarily of evil. He so expressed himself with regard to the most important terms.
First of all he had an objection to all the different descriptions of justification: to justify, to be regenerated, to sanctify, to quicken, righteousness, to impute (justificare, regenerari, sanctificare, vivificare, justitia, imputare), etc., etc.; he felt very much that the mere number of the terms was a serious burden upon his conception, and that no single word completely answered to his view.
Secondly, in a similar way he objected to the word satisfaction (satisfactio) in every sense; as used by his opponents he will only let it pass.
Thirdly, he stumbled at the term “Church” (ecclesia); for it obscured or confused what should simply be called Christian community, gathering, or—still better—a holy Christendom.
Fourthly, he observed very clearly the objectionableness of the word “Sacrament”; what he would have liked most would have been to see that the use of it was entirely avoided, and that for the ambiguous formula “Word and Sacrament,” there was substituted the Word alone, or that if the term Sacrament was retained there should be a speaking of one Sacrament and several signs.
Fifthly, he himself declared such a term as ὁμοούσιος to be unallowable in the strict sense, because it represents a bad state of things when such words are invented in the Christian system of faith: “we must indulge the Fathers in the use of it … but if my soul hates the word homousios and I prefer not to use it, I shall not be a heretic; for who will compel me to use it, provided that I hold the thing which was defined in the Council by means of the Scriptures? although the Arians had wrong views with regard to the faith, they were nevertheless very right in this … that they required that no profane and novel word should be allowed to be introduced into the rules of faith.” In like manner he objected to and rather avoided the terms “Dreifaltigkeit,” “Dreiheit,” “unitas,” “trinitas” (threefoldness, threeness, oneness, trinity).
Yet, as is proved by the words quoted above, there is this difference observable here—that he regarded the terminologies of the mediæval theology as misleading and false, the terminologies on the other hand of the theology of the ancient Church as merely useless and cold.
But from still another side he objected most earnestly to all the results of theological labour that had been handed down from the days of the Apologists; and here in still greater degree than in his censure of particular conceptions his divergence from the old dogma found expression, namely, in that distinguishing between “for himself (itself)” and “for us,” which is so frequently to be found in Luther. Over and over again, and on all occasions, the definitions given by the old dogmatic of God and Christ, of the will and attributes of God, of the natures in Christ, of the history of Christ, etc., are set aside with the remark: “that He is for himself,” in order that his new view, which is for him the chief matter, nay, which constitutes the whole, may then be introduced under the formula “that He is for us,” or simply “for us.”
“Christ is not called Christ because He has two natures. What concern have I in that? But he bears this glorious and comforting title from the office and work which He has taken upon Him … that He is by nature man and God, that He has for Himself.” In this “for himself” and “for us” the new theology of Luther, and at the same time his conservative tendency find clearest expression.
Theology is not the analysis and description of God and of the divine acts from the standpoint of reason as occupying an independent position over against God, but it is the confession on the part of faith of its own experience, that is, of revelation.
This, however, puts an end to the old theology with its metaphysic and its rash ingenuity. But if Luther now nevertheless allows those old doctrines to remain under the terms “God in Himself,” “the hidden God,” “the hidden will of God,” they no longer remain as what are properly speaking doctrines of faith. About this no doubt can arise. But that they were not entirely rejected by him has its cause on the one hand in his believing they were found in Scripture, and on the other hand in his failure to think out the problems in a comprehensive and systematic way.*
Von Harnack- as always- observant and expressive and precise. The bold part is my emphasis. It is here that von Harnack has understood Luther’s theology in a way that NT Wright and other modern interpreters have not. And cannot, because they don’t understand Luther.
*History of Dogma. (N. Buchanan, Trans., T. K. Cheyne, Ed.) (Vol. 7, pp. 224–227).
“Erasmus is worthy of great hatred. I warn you all to regard him as God’s enemy. He inflames the baser passions of young boys and regards Christ as I regard Klaus Narr. He teaches adults nothing. Our solace is faith in Christ. We have often died for it; let us hold fast to it alone. I will remain true to Christ, and am willing to die for him. I have been baptized in him; I can do nothing and I know nothing, except what he has taught me.” – Martin Luther
When Luther’s father, who was on his deathbed, was asked by his pastor whether he believed the consolations which Luther had written to him, he replied, “Of course! If I didn’t believe them I’d be a knave.”
Luther thought enough of his father to name one of his children after him. Indeed, his death affected Luther quite deeply:
When the news of his father’s death reached him at the Coburg, Luther took his psalter, went to his room, and was not seen the rest of the day.
We are fortunate to have a couple of letters from Martin to Hans:
- To Hans Luther, Wartburg, November 21, 1521
- To Hans Luther, Wittenberg, February 15, 1530
Luther heard of his dad’s death on June 6 and that very day wrote the following to Melanchthon:
Today Hans Reinecke wrote me that my very dear father, Hans Luther the Elder, departed from this life on Exaudi Sunday at one o’clock. This death has certainly thrown me into sadness, thinking not only [of the bonds] of nature, but also of the very kind love [my father had for me]; for through him my Creator has given me all that I am and have. Even though it does comfort me that [Reinecke] writes that [my father], strong in faith in Christ, had gently fallen asleep, yet the pity of heart and the memory of the most loving dealing[s] with him have shaken me in the innermost parts of my being, so that seldom if ever have I despised death as much as I do now.
Yet “the righteous man is taken away from calamity, and he enters into peace;” that is, we die many times before we die once for all. I succeed now in the legacy of the name, and I am almost the oldest Luther in my family. Now it is up to me, not only by chance, but also by law, to follow [my father] through death into the kingdom of Christ; may He graciously bestow this on us, for it is for His sake that we are the most miserable among men, and a disgrace for the whole world. Since I am now too sad, I am writing no more; for it is right and Godpleasing for me, as a son, to mourn such a father, from whom the Father of [all] mercies has brought me forth, and through whose sweat [the Creator] has fed and raised me to whatever I am [now]. Indeed I rejoice that he has lived till now so that he could see the light of truth. Praise be to God in all his deeds and councils for ever and ever. Amen.
A fitting tribute to what seems to have been a very good father.
„Das ist mein Glaube, denn also glauben alle rechten Christen“ – Martin Luther
Nowadays … people strive for and seek to get almost nothing but riches. But Holy Scripture describes Isaac’s bride in this manner, that she was a beautiful virgin, chaste and modest, endowed with good manners, intelligent, sensible, and obedient to her parents. A woman like this certainly does not need great treasures, but through her God grants an exceedingly great treasure.
On the other hand, a woman who has crude manners, is stupid, lacking in good sense, not alert, and, in addition, is suspect as to her chastity will bring with her all faults, misfortunes, and afflictions, no matter how rich she is.
In short, let him who desires to have a good wife call upon God. He will hear him when he prays and will grant one who, if not endowed with all virtues as Rebecca was, is nevertheless suitable and respectable. — Martin Luther
Your bride will probably not be a Rebecca, but at least she won’t be stupid and senseless. Amen and amen.
“One shouldn’t whip children too hard. My father once whipped me so severely that I ran away from him, and he was worried that he might not win me back again. I wouldn’t like to strike my little Hans very much, lest he should become shy and hate me. I know nothing that would give me greater sorrow. God acts like this [for he says], ‘I’ll chastise you, my children, but through another—through Satan or the world—but if you cry out and run to me, I’ll rescue you and raise you up again.’ For God doesn’t want us to hate him.” — Martin Luther
You think like this, “As I am a crude ass, and do not read the books, so there is no one in the world who reads them; rather, when I let my braying heehaw, heehaw resound, or even let out a donkey’s fart, then everyone will have to consider it pure truth.” — Luther
That applies to so many people it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one or twenty.
I ask all good Christians to lend their aid and earnestly petition God, that His divine grace would ward off the devil and turn away His wrath from us. For the peasants have become so deeply and firmly hardened in their madness that they neither see nor hear, and neither preaching nor writing does any good; God alone must help, otherwise our action and advice will never bring any end to the misery.
It is no longer the time for preaching, but time for praying; the wrath has begun, and we must ward it off with prayer, as Aaron warded off the [plague] with his censer [cf. Num. 16:46]. I also ask the lords and government for two things.
First, if they win and conquer, I ask that they not be presumptuous about it, but fear God, in whose eyes they, too, are thoroughly culpable. For God does not give them the victory because they are so pious and righteous, but (as Moses says to the children of Israel concerning the godless [Deut. 9:4]) in order that God may punish the peasants’ disobedience and blasphemy, together with all their other sins. Second, I ask that they be lenient to the prisoners and those who surrender, as God is merciful to everyone who surrenders and humbles himself before Him. — Martin Luther