Monday, February 13, 2006

Luther and the Bible

Rev. Dr. Cameron A. MacKenzie: ‘Before Luther was a Lutheran, he was a professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg and lectured on the Holy Scriptures. During his entire career, Luther taught the Bible, translated the Bible, and preached from the Bible. For him, it was the Christian book par excellence, and he valued it above all others because it brought him the good news of Jesus Christ the Savior.

In point of fact, [for many years] Luther did not yet understand the [true] Gospel … When Luther finally realized… the good news, he also came to a new appreciation of the Scriptures as first and foremost God's instrument for bringing us all the comfort, consolation, and power of this Gospel. Almost immediately, he tells us, he began using it as a key to understanding the entire Bible; and in all of his work thereafter, the Gospel became the center of his preaching and teaching the Scriptures, and the Scriptures became his norm for understanding the Gospel.

Luther was surprised to find out that this approach to the Bible provoked all kinds of controversy. … Although Luther had great respect for Christian theologians of the past like Augustine or Bernard of Clairvaux, and confessed the ancient creeds of the church, he accepted the fathers only as witnesses to the truth of Scripture and the creeds merely as statements of what the Bible taught. He understood the Scriptures alone as the ultimate touchstone of what constituted Christian doctrine. …

Once having discovered the Gospel in the Scriptures, Luther was of no mind to abandon it for the opinions of others no matter how powerful or prestigious they might be. God had given the Bible to men for the sake of their salvation. Therefore, the Bible and the Bible alone must establish the Church's teaching and preaching. Otherwise, once again the Gospel would be in danger of obscurity and corruption from the teachings of men. (Rev. Dr. Cameron A. MacKenzie, Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana)’.

Martin Luther, The Great Reformer, had a great love and deep respect for the Word of God. It was his love for the Bible that forced him, almost against his own will, to leave the Catholic Church in order to restore Christianity to its original pristine state. It came to pass that in reading the Bible - which had been kept under lock and key for well over a thousand years - Luther found out just how far the Catholic Church had strayed from the teachings of the apostles. Therefore, impelled by Divine Charity, for His love of truth, and his deep respect for the word of God, Luther, against all odds, and not fearing for his own life, set in motion the great reform of Christianity, which had been in a state of apostasy and deterioration since the days of Constantine.

So goes the myth that mny Protestants have spoon-fed from their childhood. But is it true? Did Luther really have a great respect for the Word of God, or did he treat it like the modernists today who accept what they like and reject what they don't (e.g. the Jesus Seminar)? Did Luther base his teachings - Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura - on the Bible; that is, did he discover these truths through studying the Bible? Or did he "invent" these teachings, then attempt to justify them using the Bible?

The time is long over due for the myth of Luther to be exposed. Far too many sincere and well-intentioned people have been misled by the errors of Luther. Let us look past the facade of flowery commentary to the evidence of his writings, wherein Luther is exposed and condemned by his own words. "for by thy own words thou shalt be justified, and by thy own words thou shalt be condemned" (Mt. 12:37).

Luther and the Church Fathers:

We will begin with Luther's thoughts on the Church Fathers. Let us see if the above quote from the Protestant Professor of Historical Theology is true. Let us hear from Luther himself to see if he really had "great respect for Christian theologians of the past like Augustine or Bernard of Clairvaux…".

"Behold what great darkness is in the books of the Fathers concerning faith" declared Luther. "St Jerome, indeed, wrote upon Matthew, upon the Epistles to Galatians and Titus; but, alas! very coldly. Ambrose wrote six books upon the first book of Moses, but they are very poor. Augustine wrote nothing to the purpose concerning faith;… I can find no exposition upon the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, wherein anything is taught pure and right. … [The Pope] took hold on St Augustine's sentence, where he says, Evangelio non crederem, etc. [For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church - St. Augustine, Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam Vacant Fundamenti.] The asses could not see what occasioned Augustine to utter that sentence…". 1

"We must read the Fathers cautiously, and lay them in the gold balance, for they often stumbled and went astray, and mingled in their books many monkish things". 2 The more I read the books of the Fathers, the more I find myself offended; for they were but men, and, to speak the truth, with all their repute and authority, undervalued the books and writings of the sacred apostles of Christ". 3 Jerome should not be numbered among the teachers of the church, for he was a heretic". 4

We can see from these quotes what "great respect" Luther had for the Fathers of the Church. For according to Luther, the writing of the fathers contained "great darkness"; Augustine wrote nothing about Luther's version of "faith". He could find no commentary on the Epistles to the Romans and Galations "wherein anything was taught pure and right"; that is, he could find no Church Father that agreed with his interpretation of these Epistles. Luther, along with the "asses", could not fathom why Augustine would say: "For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church". According to "The Great Reformer, "we must read the Father's with caution". He even went so far as to say: "the more I read the books of the Fathers, the more I find myself offended". And according to the theology taught by Luther, "Jerome… was a heretic"! In this we can see what "great respect" Luther had "for Christian theologians of the past". Now let us proceed to the Canon of Scripture.

The Old Testament:

We are all well aware that most Protestant translations of the Bible today omit seven books found in Catholic Bibles. The original King James Version of 1611 did contain these books, but they were later dropped in the printing of 1629. The Bibles used by the Anglican Church - the Anglican Church being somewhere between Catholic and Protestant - has retained these books, but it holds them on a lesser level of authority than the rest of the Bible.

There are various reasons given by the Protestants for rejecting these seven books. One of the most common explanations is that these seven books did not form part of the original Hebrew Scriptures.

During the days before Our Lord, there were various Canons of Scripture, which were accepted by the followers of Judaism. The Saducees, for example, only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament. The Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was in use from the second century BC - and during the days of Our Lord - did contain the seven disputed books, and it was the Septuagint that formed the Old Testament of the Christian Canon. Most of the quotes from the New Testament were taken directly from the Septuagint. All Christian Bibles, up to the Protestant Reformation, did contain these seven books. As was stated above, even the original King James Version included them until the printing of 1629.

The following is taken from the Colliers Encyclopedia, which is a secular encyclopedia:

"The books termed Apocryphal by Protestants and deuterocanonical by Catholics... were included in the King James Version of 1611, but they are usually omitted in the English Revised Version and the American Revised Version. The Puritans disapproved of them because they did not form part of the original Hebrew text. The Septuagint, however, which was the Greek version of the Jewish Bible, did contain these books, and from the Septuagint, they found their way into the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome". 5

These seven books "found their way into the Vulgate of St. Jerome" because they formed part of the Christian Canon of Scripture. St. Jerome, who was considered one of the most learned Scripture scholars of his day, was commissioned by Pope Damascus to translate the Scriptures into the universal language of Latin from the original Greek and Hebrew. St. Jerome translated the Scriptures that had been approved for use by the Church, both Old Testament and New. It was, after all, the Church who decided which scriptures belong in the Bible. The Bible did not fall from heaven ready made as many seem to imagine. It was the Catholic Church that selected the Scriptures to be contained in the Bible. The Councils of Hippo (393 AD), Carthage (397AD), and Rome (382 AD), each give us a list of the Canon of Scripture. Without the Church we would have no way of knowing which books were inspired and which were not. And the same Church that confirmed the Divine inspiration of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, also confirmed the Divine inspiration of the forty-seven books of the Old Testament, which included the seven books the Protestants later rejected. Even Luther speaks of accepting the Vulgate of Jerome after his ex-communication. "St Jerome, after he had revised and corrected the Septuagint, translated the Bible from Hebrew into Latin; His version is still used in our church". 6 Luther later called into question many books of the Bible; but this he was forced to do since they contradicted his new teachings. This will be shown a little later.

The Councils mentioned above give us a list of the Scriptures contained in the Christian Canon, both Old Testament and New. If one rejects the authority of these Councils in selecting the books that form the Old Testament, how can they be sure the correct books were selected for the New? It is impossible to accept the infallibility of the Bible without simultaneously accepting the infallibility of the Catholic Church who approved the Canon.

Not only must we believe the writers of the Bible to be inspired, but we must believe the same of the Catholic Bishops who decided which books belonged in the Bible. For there were at least 50 Gospels, 22 Acts of the Apostles, and numerous epistles 7 that were not included in the final Canon of Scripture. It was the Catholic Church who determined which books belonged in the Bible, and which did not. If anyone now rejects any portion of the Old Testament, as approved by these Councils, they thereby reject the authority of the Councils themselves, and have no foundation upon which to base their acceptance of the books contained in the New Testament. The principal of "private interpretation" would have to be applied, not only to the Bible, but to the books making up the Bible as well; and if the principal of private interpretation of Scripture has resulted in thousands of denominations, how many canons of Scripture would the same principal produce?

Luther and the Bible:

From the time the Church settled the Canon of Scripture in the 4th century, up to the time of Luther, no one questioned which books belonged in the Bible. All Christians accepted the authority of these Councils that approved the Canon of Scripture. Then came Luther in the 16th century - over 1100 years after the Canon had been closed - and called into question the Divine inspiration of many books contained in the Bible; and it was not just the seven books from the Old Testament that Luther eventually rejected: He also questioned the infallibility of other books from the Old Testament, as well as several from the New. Let us hear from Luther himself how much respect he had for the Bible. But first let us recall the words the Protestant Professor of Historical Theology, that were quoted earlier:

"For [Luther, the Bible] was the Christian book par excellence, and he valued it above all others…he… came to a new appreciation of the Scriptures as first and foremost God's instrument for bringing us all the comfort, consolation, and power of this Gospel. Almost immediately, he tells us, he began using it as a key to understanding the entire Bible… the Scriptures became his norm for understanding the Gospel. … He understood the Scriptures alone as the ultimate touchstone of what constituted Christian doctrine. …Once having discovered the Gospel in the Scriptures, Luther was of no mind to abandon it for the opinions of others no matter how powerful or prestigious they might be. God had given the Bible to men for the sake of their salvation. Therefore, the Bible and the Bible alone must establish the Church's teaching and preaching."

Let us see if these flowery words correspond with reality. We will begin in the New Testament with the Epistle of James, which directly contradicts Luther's doctrine of Sola Fide (faith alone). The teaching of Sola Fide is that "man is justified by faith alone, and not by works". The book of James, on the other hand, says exactly the opposite: "do you see that man is justified by works, and not by faith alone". 8 Obviously, this did not square with Luther's new teaching. So what did he do? Did he attempt to give this passage a meaning contrary to what it said? Not even Luther would attempt such a feat. "Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James, but in vain" said Luther. "'Faith justifies' and 'faith does not justify' contradict each other flatly. If any one can harmonize them I will give him my doctor's hood and let him call me a fool".

So what did Luther do? Refusing to change his false teaching (which has become the foundation of virtually ALL Protestant denominations today), Luther's only choice was to attack the authority of the epistle by denying that it was truly the writings of St. James. Luther, the man who, we are told, considered the Bible "the Christian book par excellence" and who "valued it above all others", referred to this epistle of James - which is part of all Protestant Bibles today - as "an epistle of straw." "I do not hold it" he declared, "to be his writing, and I cannot place it among the capital books". 9 "I maintain that some Jew wrote it, who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any. We should throw the Epistle of James out of this school [the University of Wittenberg]...."

So we can see that it was not only the Fathers of the Church and the Old Testament Canon that Luther had a problem with, but the New Testament as well. And Luther did not stop with the book of James. Referring to the Apocalypse (Revelation), Luther wrote: "There are many things objectionable in this book. To my mind it bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character... Everyone may form his or her own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it". He also called into question the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the epistle of Jude. "The fact that Hebrews is not an epistle of St. Paul, or of any other apostle, is proved by what it says in chapter two" wrote Luther. "It need not surprise one to find here, bits of wood, hay, and stubble". 10

We can see from this that Luther not only applied the principal of "private judgment" to his interpretation of the Bible, but to which books belonged in the Bible as well. Regarding the Gospels, Luther did not believe them to be completely factual, but, like the modernists of today, he picked and chose what he liked about them, and rejected what he did not.

The "Jesus Seminar"

Many Fundamentalist Protestants are outraged at the infamous "Jesus Seminar" which has declared certain portions of the Bible to be accurate and other portions to be fabrications. The following is a review of the Jesus Seminar written by The Christian Research Institute, a Protestant organization:

"A major new work of scholarship is raising eyebrows in many quarters: "The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say?" (Macmillan, 1993) This is the product of six years of extensive consultation by a group of scholars known as the Jesus Seminar, who have set out to determine the authentic words of Jesus. …It colors every saying attributed to Jesus in these Gospels as either red, pink, gray, or black. "Red" means Jesus said it; "pink" means it's close to what He said; "gray" means He didn't say it in this form but there are echoes of His teaching in it; and "black" means the saying didn't come from Him at all. … As the book jacket and popular press releases emphasize, only "20 percent" of all the sayings of Jesus are colored red or pink and a good number of these come from Thomas!

"The Five Gospels" uses more black ink for the sayings of Jesus than red, pink, and gray put together. Only 15 sayings of Jesus are colored red… The red sayings are all short, pithy "aphorisms" (unconventional proverb-like sayings) such as, "turn the other cheek" (Matt. 5:39; Luke 6:29), "blessed are the poor" (Luke 6:20; Thomas 54), and "love your enemies" (Luke 6:27; Matt. 5:44)[4] -- or parables (particularly the more subversive ones) such as the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35), the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-8a), and the Vineyard Laborers (Matt. 20:1-15). The only saying that appears in more than two Gospels that was colored red each time was, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; Thomas 100:2). This was also the only saying in the entire Gospel of Mark to be colored red".

The Christian Courier wrote: "The “Seminar” is a panel of liberal theologians who have commissioned themselves to doing cut-and-paste job on the text of the New Testament". 12

Another Evangelical described it this way: "The 'Jesus Seminar' is a group of self-described scholars who have determined Jesus probably only said 20% of the quotes attributed to him by Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John".

Many Protestants were outraged at the audacity of these liberal "scholars" - and rightly so - for their treatment of the Bible. Yet this is exactly what Martin Luther, the founder of their religion did. Let us read what Luther wrote concerning the Gospels and compare it to the findings of the Jesus Seminar:

"The first three [Gospels] speak of the works of Our Lord, rather than of His oral teaching; that of St. John is the only sympathetic, the only true Gospel and should undoubtedly be preferred to the others. In like manner the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Paul are superior to the first three Gospels" (The Facts about Luther, page 203, taken from "Collected Works").

The Jesus Seminar was simply following in the footsteps of Luther when it concluded that only about 20% of the words of Our Lord as recorded in the New Testament were factual. Luther claimed that three out of the four Gospels spoke of the works of Jesus, and not of his oral teachings. This means that Luther is almost in agreement with the liberal scholars from the Jesus Seminar. Yet the same people who are outraged over the audacity of the Jesus Seminar consider Luther to be a saint.

The motive of the Jesus Seminar is obviously to discredit the Bible in general, while Luther's motive was only to discredit the portions of the Bible that contradicted his heresies. The motives may have been slightly different, but the tactics were the same: pick and chose what they like about the Bible, and reject the rest. From this we can see that Luther did not base his new teachings on the Bible; rather he tried to make the Bible fit his teachings.

If Luther's teachings were based on an honest (but incorrect) interpretation of the Bible, he would not have rejected portions of it. But he did reject portions of the Bible, which prove that Luther was not basing his new doctrines on an honest interpretation of the Bible, but trying to make the Bible fit in with his new teachings.

The books of the Old Testament were treated similarl to those of the New. "The book of Ecclesiastes", Luther wrote, "ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it. It has neither boots nor spurs; but rides only in socks, as I myself did when an inmate of the cloister. Solomon did not, therefore write this book, which was made in the days of the Machabees of Sirach. It is like a Talmud, complied of many books, perhaps [written] in Egypt…. Of very little worth is the book of Baruch, whoever the worthy Baruch may be. The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness. The first book of Maccabees might have been taken into the Scriptures, but the second is rightly case out, though there is some good in it". Luther treated the book of Job, similar to how he and the Jesus Seminar treated the Gospels: "Job spoke not as it stands written in his book, but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probably that Solomon wrote and made this book". 13

In the quote from the Christian Courier (which we read earlier), they said that the panel of liberal theologians from the Jesus Seminar did a "cut-and-paste job on the text of the New Testament". But this is not exactly correct. Indeed, they did "cut" from the New Testament, but they did not go so far as to "paste". Luther, on the other hand, did paste, for Luther not only denied certain portions of the Bible, but added to it as well.

Since Luther taught a new doctrine of "faith alone", and since his only rule of authority was the Bible, it was necessary for him to support this teaching from the Bible. And since the only time the words "faith" and "alone" appear together in the Bible was in the epistle of James, which says we are not saved by faith alone, Luther rejected the book of James and added the word alone to Romans 3:28. Romans 3:28 reads: "we account a man to be justified by faith, and not by the works of the law". Luther's version read: "we hold that a man is justified without works of the law by faith alone". When confronted with this obvious addition of the word "alone", Luther wrote:

"If your Papist annoys you with the word (alone), tell him straightway: Dr. Martin Luther will have it so. Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom". 14

So we can see that Luther did not stop with removing portions of the Bible and denying the words of Our Lord, he went further by adding to it. Even his own church corrected the obvious addition of the word alone. Zwingli, one of the other leading "reformers", referred to Luther's pick and chose version of the Bible as "a corruption of the Word of God". 15

Private interpretation:

Luther, having rejected the Church, Tradition, and the authority of the Councils, was left with merely his "private interpretation" of the Bible - that is, of that which was left of his Bible. Luther "liberated" his followers from the authority of the Church and placed the Bible in their hands to be privately interpreted. What was the result of this "liberation"? Did it bring great light and truth to the people? Did it result in great unity among his followers? Or did it result in immediate division? As you might have guessed, leaving each person to interpret the Bible for themselves resulted in immediate chaos and division among the people - division, I might add, which has only increased over the centuries.

Let us hear from Luther himself as he describes the early years of Protestantism:

"This one will not hear of Baptism, that one denies the Sacraments, another puts a world between this and the last day: some teach that Christ is not God, some say this, some say that: there are about as many sects and creeds as there are heads. No Yokel is so rude but when he has dreams and fancies, he thinks himself inspired by the Holy Ghost and must be a prophet". 16

Sound familiar? "that one denies the sacraments... some say this, some say that: there are about as many sects and creeds as their are heads". This is just what we find today in Protestantism. Each person believes what they chose based on their "private interpretation" of the Bible. Notice also that Luther places those who deny the Sacraments (which most Protestants today do) in the same category with those who deny that Jesus is God.

According to Luther, each person is free to interpret the Bible according to his own judgment. Yet the Bible tells us that an individuals "own judgment" is precisely what leads to the condemnation of heretics: "a heretic is condemned... by his own judgment" (Titus 3: 10-11). St. Peter taught that "many interpret the scriptures to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). We now have almost 500 years of experience to show that "private interpretation" of Scripture produces division, which is the result of multiple contradictory interpretations. Let us continue reading the words of Luther as he describes the early years of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura:

"Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Evangelium better than I or St. Paul" said Luther " they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers". 17

"There is no smearer but whenever he has heard a sermon or can read a chapter in German, makes a doctor of himself, and crowns his ass, convincing himself that he knows everything better than all who teach him". 18

"How many doctors have I made by preaching and writing" asked Luther in frustration "Now they say, Be off with you. Go off with you. Go to the devil. Thus it must be. When we preach they laugh. ...when we get angry and threaten them, they mock us, snap their fingers at us and laugh in their sleeves". 19

"When we have heard or learned a few things about Holy Scripture" admitted Luther "we think we are already doctors and have swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all". 20

As you can see, there was immediate chaos between Luther and his unfortunate followers when they split from the Church to follow their own interpretation of the Bible. From the very beginning of "The Great Reformation" the multitude were bickering and disputing over their contradictory interpretations of the Scriptures. These Protestants, having lost the Holy Ghost by separating from the Church Christ established, were left to themselves. With only their private interpretation to guide them, division was the result. It may indeed have seemed like a good idea for each person to interpret the Bible for themselves, but let us not forget the words from Scripture: "There is a way that seemeth right to man, but the end thereof is death".

The Bible is infallible, but our private interpretation of it is not. The infallible Scriptures cannot therefore, be infallibly interpreted by fallible people; and this why the "Bible alone" is not sufficient and causes only division. That is why Our Lord established a Church to "teach all nations", and did not just leave a book "to be distributed to all nations". Our Lord did not command each person to "read the Bible", but to "hear to Church" "If he will not hear the Church" declared our Lord, "let him be to thee as the heathen" (Mt. 18:17). And it takes very little effort to find out that the Church Our Lord was referring to was the Catholic Church, for it is the only one which has existed since His day.

As we have seen, the Bible alone theory of Luther resulted in immediate chaos. What one witnesses today on TBN, for example, is the same phenomenon taken to its logical conclusion. Seeing the horrid condition, of which he was the cause, Luther fell into despair. Just as Balaams's ass prophecied, so Luther spoke words that seem as though spoken by Isaias the Prophet himself: "There will be the greatest confusion. Nobody will allow himself to be led by another man's doctrine or authority. Everybody will be his own rabbi: hence the greatest scandals". 21


Here we are, less than 500 years later, no longer with dozens of sects as in Luther's day, but with tens of thousands of them; all of whom are still "interpreting the scriptures to their own destruction". "If God had not closed my eyes" proclaimed Luther "and if I had foreseen these scandals, I would never have begun to preach the Gospel". 22

One Lutheran minister said he read the writings of Luther and concluded that Luther was insane. It is true that if one reads his writings, he seems to have, what we today call, Bipolar. In some writings he is boasting of his own glory - "Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom", was his reply to those who objected to his adding words to the Bible, while in other places he seems to be lamenting his very existence - "I find myself here" proclaimed Luther on the day of his ex-communication, "insensate and hardened, established in idleness. Oh, woe! Praying little, and ceasing to moan for the Church of God, because my untamed flesh burns in great flames. In short, I, who should have the fervor of the spirit, have the fervor of the flesh, of licentiousness, sloth, idleness, and somnolence". 23 "I confess, and many others could undoubtedly make an equal confession" declared Luther " that I am now more negligent than I was under the Pope: and there is now nowhere such an amount of earnestness under the Gospel, as was formerly seen among monks and priests". 24

What is so surprising about Luther, is not his heretical teachings - for there have been many heretics in Church history - but rather that he has managed to deceive such a large portion of the world. There can be little doubt that future generations will marvel at how many people succumbed to the errors of Luther - errors, I might add, which produced rotten fruits from the beginning:

"Since the downfall of Popery and the cessation's of ex-communications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word of God. They are no longer for the churches; they have ceased to fear and honor God... I would wish, if it were possible, to leave these men without a preacher or pastor" complained Luther" and let them live like swine. There is no longer any fear or love of God among them. After throwing off the yoke of the Pope, everyone wishes to live as he pleases". 25

"The Gospel today" said Luther, referring to his "gospel", " finds adherents who are convinced that it is nothing but a doctrine that serves to fill their bellies and give free reign to all their impulses". 26

"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be among you, lying teachers, who shall bring in sects of perdition... Bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their riotousness, through whom the way of truth [the Catholic Church] shall be evil spoken of... Having eyes full of adultery and full of sin that ceaseth not; beguiling unstable souls...". 27

"I burn " said Luther " with a thousand flames in my unsubdued flesh: I feel myself carried on with a rage towards women that approached madness. I, who ought to be fervent in spirit, am only fervent in impurity". 28. "But there were also false prophets among the people... Having eyes full of adultery and full of sin that ceaseth not" (2 Peter 2:14).

1 Table Talk DXXXVI
2 ibid. DXXIX.
3 ibid. DXXX
4 ibid. DXXXV.
5 Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, Pg 348
6 Table Talk III
7 Where we got the Bible, page 35
8 James 2:24
9 The facts about Luther, page 203
10 The Facts about Luther pg. 203
11 Christian Research Institute, P.O. Box 500-TC, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693, Copyright 1994
12 Christian Courier, 2000
13 The Facts about Luther, page 202; taken from "Collected Works"
14 Amic. Discussion, 1, 129
15 Amicable Discussion, Trevern, 1, 129
16 M. Luther, De Wette III,61
17 M. Luther, Walch XIV, 1360
18 Walch V.1652
19 M. Luther, Walch VII.2310
20 Walch V.472
21 Lauterb. 91
22 Walch, VI,920
23 Briefe, Sendschreiben und Bedenken, II, p.22
24 Walch,XI.1311
25 Walch ed.
26 M. Luther, Werke, XXXII, p. 2
27 2 Pet 2:1,14
28 Table Talk


James Swan said...


This is in regard to your section on Luther and the church fathers.

You’re quoting an old version of the Tabletalk, and anyone studying Luther will tell you not to base your opinion on Luther from this source.

The Table talk is a collection of comments from Luther written down by Luther’s students and friends. Thus, it is not in actuality an official writing of Luther and should not serve as the basis for interpreting his theology.

Preserved Smith has pointed out:

“Luther's enemies have always found in the Table Talk a trenchant weapon for attacking his character and doctrines. Even in his writings Luther is neither consistent nor temperate, much more in his private conversation is he careless and unguarded. By taking every thoughtless remark to a friend literally and with no attention to the context, the occasion on which it was uttered, and the cause which evoked it, it is easy enough to entangle Luther in a hopeless mass of contradictions and to asperse his character. This was done by Catholics and humanists as soon as the Tischreden were published, and subsequently has been undertaken more thoroughly by more scientific though equally hostile historians.”

Had you actually read Luther’s writings, you would find countless examples of his references to the church fathers, either agreeing with them, expounding on what they said, or disagreeing with them. This is the common work of biblical theologians. Recall, Luther had a doctorate in theology.

In regard to Luther and the Canon, see my link:

In regard to Luther's use of the word "alone" see my link-

In regard to your use of Father O'Hare, see my links:

And lastly, feel free to stop by my blog:

I have plenty of Luther information for you.

James Swan

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