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  #1  
Old May 2, '05, 3:43 am
slinky1882 slinky1882 is offline
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Default Did Luther receive last rites???

I have heard from several people within the last couple of years that Luther died a Catholic and was administered last rites. I had never heard of this before. Is there a historical basis for either of the assertions??? Thanks and God Bless.
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  #2  
Old May 2, '05, 4:06 am
TertiumQuid TertiumQuid is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

Quote:
Originally Posted by slinky1882
I have heard from several people within the last couple of years that Luther died a Catholic and was administered last rites. I had never heard of this before. Is there a historical basis for either of the assertions??? Thanks and God Bless.
Not that i'm aware of.

Regards,
James Swan
  #3  
Old May 2, '05, 8:09 am
Rand Al'Thor Rand Al'Thor is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

i read somewhere (though i dont know if the source was accurate) that he asked for last rites. but there is the fact that he was excommunicated at the time, so he would have been unable to recieve the sacraments.
if this is true though, it's pretty funny because lutherans and other protestants only have two sacraments, and last rites is not one of them.
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  #4  
Old May 2, '05, 8:53 am
TertiumQuid TertiumQuid is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites-No

[
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rand Al'Thor
i read somewhere (though i dont know if the source was accurate) that he asked for last rites.
It isn't true. Heiko Oberman begins his famous biography Luther: Man Between God and the Devil by giving an account of Luther's death:


Reverend father, will you die steadfast in Christ and the doctrines you have preached?" Yes," replied the clear voice for the last time. On February 18, 1546, even as he lay dying in Eisleben, far from home, Martin Luther was not to be spared a final public test, not to be granted privacy even in this last, most personal hour. His longtime confidant Justus Jonas, now pastor in Halle, having hurriedly summoned witnesses to the bedside, shook the dying man by the arm to rouse his spirit for the final exertion. Luther had always prayed for a "peaceful hour": resisting Satan—the ultimate, bitterest enemy—through that trust in the Lord over life and death which is God's gift of liberation from the tyranny of sin. It transforms agony into no more than a brief blow.

But now there was far more at stake than his own fate, than being able to leave the world in peace, and trust in God. For in the late Middle Ages, ever since the first struggle for survival during the persecutions of ancient Rome, going to one's death with fearless fortitude was the outward sign of a true child of God, of the confessors and martyrs. The deathbed in the Eisleben inn had become a stage; and straining their ears to catch Luther's last words were enemies as well as friends.


As early as 1529, Johannes Cochlaeus, Luther's first "biographer," had denounced Luther in Latin and German as the seven-headed dragon, the Devil's spawn. Slanderous reports that he had died a God-forsaken death, miserable and despairing, had circulated time and again. But now the end his friends had dreaded and his enemies had longed for was becoming reality. Who now would lay claim to Luther and fetch him, God or the Devil? While simple believers imagined the Devil literally seizing his prey, the enlightened academic world was convinced that a descent into Hell could be diagnosed medically—as apoplexy and sudden cardiac arrest. Abruptly and without warning, the Devil would snip the thread of a life that had fallen to him, leaving the Church unable to render its last assistance. Thus, in their first reports, Luther's friends, especially Melanchthon, stressed that the cause of death had not been sudden, surprising apoplexy but a gradual flagging of strength: Luther had taken leave of the world and commended his spirit into God's hands. For friend and foe alike his death meant far more than the end of a life.

Shortly after Doctor Martinus died at about 3:00 A.M. on February 18, Justus Jonas carefully recorded Luther's last twenty-four hours, addressing his report not to Luther's widow, as one might expect, but to his sovereign, Elector John Frederick, with a copy for his university colleagues in Wittenberg. Had Luther—born on November 10, 1483, as a simple miner's son—died young, history would have passed over his parents' grief unmoved. But now his death was an affair of state. The day after his birth—the feast of St. Martin—he had been baptized and received into the life of the Church as a simple matter of course, but now there was open dispute over whether, having been excommunicated by the pope, he had departed from this world a son of the Church.

IN THE last days before his death Luther had been the cheerful man his friends knew and loved. He had successfully completed a difficult mission: a trip from Wittenberg to Eisleben to mediate in a protracted quarrel between the two counts of Mansfeld, the brothers Gebhard and Albert. Hours had been spent sitting between the parties, listening to the clever reasoning of administrative lawyers—a breed he had despised ever since his early days as a law student in Erfurt. After two tough weeks of negotiation, the parties had narrowed their differences and a reconciliation had finally—though only temporarily—been achieved. So there was reason to be cheerful. Luther had suspected that he would die in Eisleben, the place of his birth. But this did not worry him, although he was quite sure he had little time left: "When I get home to Wittenberg again, I will lie down in my coffin and give the worms a fat doctor to feast on." By highlighting the skeleton within the human body, late medieval art had urgently reminded everyone that health, beauty, and wealth were only a few breaths away from the Dance of Death. The "fat doctor" was well aware of this, not as a moralistic horror story, but as a reality of life poised on the brink of eternity.


Regards,
James Swan
  #5  
Old May 2, '05, 9:39 am
RonWI RonWI is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

Quote:
Originally Posted by slinky1882
I have heard from several people within the last couple of years that Luther died a Catholic ...
Then again, on another thread, people heard that the pope died a Muslim. At least that's what the Egyptian press said. Allegedly.

I wonder who said Luther "came home" in his dying hours.
  #6  
Old May 2, '05, 10:12 am
Eden Eden is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

Quote:
Originally Posted by RonWI
Then again, on another thread, people heard that the pope died a Muslim. At least that's what the Egyptian press said. Allegedly.

I wonder who said Luther "came home" in his dying hours.
I don't see the parallel between Egyptian claims that the pope died a Muslim and the possibility that Luther requested last rites. The pope was never a Muslim. He was a life-long Catholic. In contrast, Luther was, at one time, in full communion with the Catholic Church. In fact, he was a member of the Catholic clergy. It is not inconceivable that someone who strays from the faith has a moment of clarity as the reality of death sets in. It is entirely plausible that an ex-Catholic may at the last moment request last rites. In any event, I'm sure we can all agree that being "ex-communicated" would have been a large impediment to such a request.
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  #7  
Old May 2, '05, 10:38 am
TertiumQuid TertiumQuid is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eden
I don't see the parallel between Egyptian claims that the pope died a Muslim and the possibility that Luther requested last rites. The pope was never a Muslim. He was a life-long Catholic. In contrast, Luther was, at one time, in full communion with the Catholic Church. In fact, he was a member of the Catholic clergy. It is not inconceivable that someone who strays from the faith has a moment of clarity as the reality of death sets in. It is entirely plausible that an ex-Catholic may at the last moment request last rites. In any event, I'm sure we can all agree that being "ex-communicated" would have been a large impediment to such a request.
I have a lot of Luther biographies, both Protestant and Catholic. None of them mention Luther "at the last moment request(ed) last rites." Oberman's description of Luther's death is a good example of what actually happened. I can always scan in a few more books, but they all say the same thing. I would think such an important aspect of Luther's death would not have been missed by the 15-20 Luther biographies I have in my library.

Regards,
James Swan
  #8  
Old May 2, '05, 12:50 pm
Eden Eden is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

I agree that it would be highly unusual for an ex-communicated Catholic to request last rites. While Luther is not recorded as having done so, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility as would be... let's say... the pope converting to Islam on his deathbed. My response was solely to refute RonWI's parallel. Martin Luther was certainly aware of the fact that he "might" be wrong in breaking from the Church:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHISTORY/MLUTH.TXT

--- "If this article stands, the church stands; if it collapses, the church collapses." Martin Luther "Exposition of Psalm 130.4."
__________________
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods40.html

Catholics Come Home:

http://www.catholicscomehome.org/

  #9  
Old May 2, '05, 12:51 pm
steve b steve b is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

Quote:
Originally Posted by slinky1882
I have heard from several people within the last couple of years that Luther died a Catholic and was administered last rites. I had never heard of this before. Is there a historical basis for either of the assertions??? Thanks and God Bless.
If it was true, you'd be able to find that information very easily in Church documents and certainly among apologists. Instead there is deafening silence.
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  #10  
Old May 2, '05, 11:53 pm
slinky1882 slinky1882 is offline
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Join Date: June 22, 2004
Posts: 668
Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites-No

Quote:
Originally Posted by TertiumQuid
[

It isn't true. Heiko Oberman begins his famous biography Luther: Man Between God and the Devil by giving an account of Luther's death:


Reverend father, will you die steadfast in Christ and the doctrines you have preached?" Yes," replied the clear voice for the last time. On February 18, 1546, even as he lay dying in Eisleben, far from home, Martin Luther was not to be spared a final public test, not to be granted privacy even in this last, most personal hour. His longtime confidant Justus Jonas, now pastor in Halle, having hurriedly summoned witnesses to the bedside, shook the dying man by the arm to rouse his spirit for the final exertion. Luther had always prayed for a "peaceful hour": resisting Satan—the ultimate, bitterest enemy—through that trust in the Lord over life and death which is God's gift of liberation from the tyranny of sin. It transforms agony into no more than a brief blow.

But now there was far more at stake than his own fate, than being able to leave the world in peace, and trust in God. For in the late Middle Ages, ever since the first struggle for survival during the persecutions of ancient Rome, going to one's death with fearless fortitude was the outward sign of a true child of God, of the confessors and martyrs. The deathbed in the Eisleben inn had become a stage; and straining their ears to catch Luther's last words were enemies as well as friends.


As early as 1529, Johannes Cochlaeus, Luther's first "biographer," had denounced Luther in Latin and German as the seven-headed dragon, the Devil's spawn. Slanderous reports that he had died a God-forsaken death, miserable and despairing, had circulated time and again. But now the end his friends had dreaded and his enemies had longed for was becoming reality. Who now would lay claim to Luther and fetch him, God or the Devil? While simple believers imagined the Devil literally seizing his prey, the enlightened academic world was convinced that a descent into Hell could be diagnosed medically—as apoplexy and sudden cardiac arrest. Abruptly and without warning, the Devil would snip the thread of a life that had fallen to him, leaving the Church unable to render its last assistance. Thus, in their first reports, Luther's friends, especially Melanchthon, stressed that the cause of death had not been sudden, surprising apoplexy but a gradual flagging of strength: Luther had taken leave of the world and commended his spirit into God's hands. For friend and foe alike his death meant far more than the end of a life.

Shortly after Doctor Martinus died at about 3:00 A.M. on February 18, Justus Jonas carefully recorded Luther's last twenty-four hours, addressing his report not to Luther's widow, as one might expect, but to his sovereign, Elector John Frederick, with a copy for his university colleagues in Wittenberg. Had Luther—born on November 10, 1483, as a simple miner's son—died young, history would have passed over his parents' grief unmoved. But now his death was an affair of state. The day after his birth—the feast of St. Martin—he had been baptized and received into the life of the Church as a simple matter of course, but now there was open dispute over whether, having been excommunicated by the pope, he had departed from this world a son of the Church.

IN THE last days before his death Luther had been the cheerful man his friends knew and loved. He had successfully completed a difficult mission: a trip from Wittenberg to Eisleben to mediate in a protracted quarrel between the two counts of Mansfeld, the brothers Gebhard and Albert. Hours had been spent sitting between the parties, listening to the clever reasoning of administrative lawyers—a breed he had despised ever since his early days as a law student in Erfurt. After two tough weeks of negotiation, the parties had narrowed their differences and a reconciliation had finally—though only temporarily—been achieved. So there was reason to be cheerful. Luther had suspected that he would die in Eisleben, the place of his birth. But this did not worry him, although he was quite sure he had little time left: "When I get home to Wittenberg again, I will lie down in my coffin and give the worms a fat doctor to feast on." By highlighting the skeleton within the human body, late medieval art had urgently reminded everyone that health, beauty, and wealth were only a few breaths away from the Dance of Death. The "fat doctor" was well aware of this, not as a moralistic horror story, but as a reality of life poised on the brink of eternity.


Regards,
James Swan
Thanks James for the sources. Could you name a few good biographies on Luther??? Thanks again and God Bless.
__________________
~slinky1882
One who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; one who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.
May God have Mercy and Justice
  #11  
Old May 3, '05, 3:28 am
TertiumQuid TertiumQuid is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites-No

Quote:
Originally Posted by slinky1882
Thanks James for the sources. Could you name a few good biographies on Luther??? Thanks again and God Bless.
Sure-

Well, the book I mentioned in this thread is excellent:

Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil

Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life Of Martin Luther (New York: Mentor Books, 1950), 300.

Heinrich Boehmer- Luther & the Reformation in the Light of Modern Research

Mark U. Edwards, Luther's Last Battles- highlights some of the controversial aspects of Luther's later years

Probably the book that most influenced me in my approach to Luther was Gerhard O. Forde's On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...958045-7074512

The book isn't really a biography, but it presents the core of Luther's theology. I never really understood Luther till I read this book.


Catholic biographies of Luther:

John M. Todd, Martin Luther: A Biographical Study (New York: Paulist Press, 1964).

John M. Todd, Luther: A Life (Great Britain: Hamish Hamilton Ltd., 1982).

Joseph Lortz, The Reformation in Germany Vol. 1 and 2 (London: Darton Longman & Todd Ltd, 1968)

Regards,
James Swan
  #12  
Old May 3, '05, 6:38 am
RonWI RonWI is offline
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Default Re: Did Luther receive last rites???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eden
I agree that it would be highly unusual for an ex-communicated Catholic to request last rites. While Luther is not recorded as having done so, it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility as would be... let's say... the pope converting to Islam on his deathbed. My response was solely to refute RonWI's parallel. Martin Luther was certainly aware of the fact that he "might" be wrong in breaking from the Church:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHISTORY/MLUTH.TXT

--- "If this article stands, the church stands; if it collapses, the church collapses." Martin Luther "Exposition of Psalm 130.4."
Linking to a Catholic web site so support the claim that Martin Luther requested last rites is the same as going to a Muslim web site to support the claim that the pope converted to Islam. In both cases, the web sites make self-serving claims that, in effect, say "Look, in his dying hour, the leader of our opposition saw the error of his way. Therefore, all of his followers should do the same."

You, as a Catholic, say it is out of the question for John Paul II to have converted to Islam on his death bed. Fine. Everyone who has actually read any non-Roman Catholic account of Luther's death concludes there is not only zero factual support for the claim he asked for last rights, but that such a request would have been 180 degrees contrary to everything he did profess up to his death.

You make the Catholic Church look very deceitful and dishonest when you link to these sites with inaccurate histories.
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