Overall, all considered, do you admire Martin Luther (the Reformer in 16th-century Europe) for what he said, wrote and did concerning the Christian faith?
As a Catholic I would have to obviously say no. Outside of the Arian heresy, not one single person has done more to destroy Christ’s prayer that we may all be as one. If it weren’t for Luther(and others following him) CAF would not be necessary. We would all still be as one in our faith.
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I agree. Good Post.
These kinds of topics are difficult because we don’t want to be uncharitable and at the same time we don’t want to shrink back from truth. Some times turth is blunt and can seem harsh or hard.
I do not admire Martin Luther at all. He broke his solemn promises he made before God. He forsake his priesthood. He left Christ’s Church. He took for a wife a woman that was a consecrated religious, thus becoming party to her breaking her solemn promises before God and making her an adulterer before Jesus Christ her bride. In his insolence he then became the attacker of the Church he left. As more and more splintering groups formed he then called those various groups heretics and worked to silence them (most notably Zwingli and his arguments about Holy Communion). I agree with flyersfan1088 that next to Arius, Martin Luther stands as rather notorious.
I do want to finish up by saying that my ideas and feelings towards Martin Luther do not and cannot adversely affect my feelings towards people that identify themselves as Lutherans who seek the face of God in Christ. I think that is an important distinction to make.
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I do admire him for standing up against the horrible abuses that went on in the Church. I’m glad that he did bring it up and caused the Church to finally do something about it.
I’m also glad that it happened, for now the Catholic Church had to Christianize the Christians. When they went from town to town and realized that many followers didn’t understand what the trinity was and other key doctrines, they had to re teach.
So yes Luther did some harm, but he also caused the Church to get up and do something.
No not really. There were abuses that needed to be addressed, but the more I read about Luther, the more I come to the conclusion that he was the wrong man to address them. He broke his vows, he broke the Church and what a lot of people don’t realize about him - he was a vile anti-Semite. I’ve sometimes wondered if the seeds for the hatred of Jews that led to the Holocaust in Germany were at least partially sown by Luther.
This is a very common idea among Protestants. But I find it to be lacking in historical accuracy. There were reforms ongoing within the structure of the Church already, and none of them were for splintering the faithful or separating from the Church. For just one example please see this article about John Tauler. The concluding paragraph is quoted below:
The centre of Tauler’s mysticism is the doctrine of the visio essentiœ Dei, the blessed contemplation or knowledge of the Divine nature. He takes this doctrine from Thomas Aquinas, but goes further than the latter in believing that the Divine knowledge is attainable in this world also by a perfect man, and should be sought by every means. God dwells within each human being. In order, however, that the transcendent God may appear in man as a second subject, the human, sinful activities must cease. Aid is given in this effort by the light of grace which raises nature far above itself. The way to God is through love; God replies to its highest development by His presence. Tauler gives advice of the most varied character for attaining that height of religion in which the Divine enters into the human subject. Something needs to be said as regards Tauler’s position towards the Church. Luther praised him greatly and Protestants have always had a very high opinion of him, and have included him among the “reformers before the Reformation”. However it is now conceded by Protestants that he was “in reality entirely mediæval and not Protestant”. He was in fact a dutiful son of the Church and never thought of withdrawing his allegiance. He expresses his opinion very plainly in his sermon on St. Matthew. He set his face against all heresy, especially that of the Brethren of the Free Spirit. What attracted Luther was probably not Tauler’s doctrine itself, but only here and there some subordinate thought. Perhaps it pleased him that the word indulgence appears only once in Tauler’s sermons, or it aroused his sympathy that Tauler laid less stress upon works, or again he was attracted by the tremendous earnestness of this seeker after God.
My image of Luther is drawn from his writings as compiled in “Luther’s Works” that I read during my 5-year sojourn as a Missouri Synod Lutheran.
I recognize his intelligence. But…
I absolutely dislike Luther the man. Based on his writings, and especially his “Table Talk”, he seems to have been a vain, crude, obnoxious person. He reminds me of some of the loud, opiniated boors I have had the misfortune to encounter.
I thought I should be charitable to him here. Now if you want to know how I really feel . . .
Although I do think he had good intentions, he probably did more harm than benefit to the Church.
I can’t answer that question. My feelings about Luther are too ambivalent. I admire some things and not others. Overall I like Luther very much. But liking and admiration are not the same thing. I certainly admire many qualities about him, but he had monumental flaws as well.
I suppose if I had to choose one, I would say “yes,” simply because I think good counts for more than evil, and there’s plenty in Luther to admire. But if you said, “do you, overall, disapprove of Luther’s impact on Christianity,” I’d be tempted to say “yes” to that one as well. It’s hard for any combination of virtues and positive contributions to trounce the immense evil of schism. And Luther’s arrogant belief that his ideas came straight from God was one of the most destructive and divisive forces in Christian history.
Since there was no poll with “No, but” I didnt vote. However, Luther did get the bishops of the church thinking about reforms that may have not have happened otherwise. From my understandings about the church at that time there was dire need for reform and if not Luther then who?
Luther was key in ripping Christ’s Bride in two and leading millions of people away from the fullness of Truth - I can not admine a man for such a thing. I can only pray for his soul.
A true bomb thrower. I agree his Table Talk describes a very earthy man, certainly not a Sainted Christian. He set faith adrift of both Pope and Council (Early Fathers). His view of a totally fallen human nature which grreatly influenced Calvin’s, set us off to the “virtue free” existance we “enjoy” today. Note: Protestants hold strictly to this view, Liberal or Conservative. The Church needed reform not destruction.
Oh, there were a lot of reform efforts going on. How successful they would have been without the shock provided by Luther (not his specific criticisms, which were mostly rejected, but the fact that so many people were following him), I don’t know. However, I also don’t think all the Tridentine reforms were good–on the whole I prefer medieval Christianity (warts and all) to either Protestantism or post-Reformation Catholicism. That’s one reason I’m an Anglican. . . .
As an American, I think I can respect Luther for standing up to “THE MAN”… but upon closer examination I think he stood up to the wrong one and was totally off-base on a lot stuff.
Reading some of his work, I don’t know of any Christian who could honestly read it and say that they admire him. He openly advocates murder, prejudice, sin and disloyalty. As someone educated in these things he displayed some very evil actions and opinions.
Now on the other hand I can honestly admire some of his actions, yet many horrible people have done some good in their lives.
I am sure Hitler was pretty good company at times, look what his wife wrote before they got married,
“Dear Mr. Hitler, I would like to thank you for the pleasant evening at the theater. It was unforgettable. I shall always be grateful for your friendship. I count the hours until the moment when we shall meet again …”
Anybody no matter how sinful has probably done some good and we should admire the good they do. Yet we should look at the whole person and not just the few good things they might happen to do.
If they advocate evil (as Martin Luther did) and happen to do some good then should we admire them? We should admire the good actions of the person, yet we should look at people objectively.
I honestly haven’t read a lot of what Luther had written. I don’t think that he knew fully the impact his choices would have on Christianity. I think he meant well, however he went about it the wrong way. Were there things going on in the Church that needed to be corrected? Of course. And they later were.
Well, I overall admire Martin Luther. Did he really split Christendom? I would say no. He asked the Pope for an ecumenical council, and one was only eventually called for Mantua: and when it was, it was with what we would now conisder most un-ecumenical, one-sided gestures. The Western Church had been trying to reform for centuries, both in the monasteries (Cluniacs, Cistercians) and with the advent of the friars (Franciscans, Dominicans).
On the eve of Luther, Lateran V was meeting, but to what effect? The abuses went straight up to the Papacy and the Curia, which was monopolized by Medici’s and other men of worldly power. Rome was influxed by pagan influences–and by abuses that, thank God, no longer exist today but were then rampant, even under the nose of the Pope in Rome, who was both spiritual leader of the Western Christians and warlord of the Papal States.
The Church (if understood as the visible, sacramental, episcopal Body we call Church) had already been sundered by the “schisms” following 451 and, more significantly, 1054. Of course, Latin Catholics still like to think of the Eastern Orthodox as in schism, but they must acknowledge (as has the Vatican II Council and the Popes) that the Eastern Orthodox have true sacraments, including a true Eucharist. And, as St. Ignatius argues, where Christ is found [in his Mysteries] there is the Church. Louis Bouyer, O.P., has argued that the Eastern Orthodox, although believed to be in schism, never broke away from the Church.
Luther never intended to break the Church. He intended to return the Church to the Gospel as found in Scripture. The sacraments were for all events and purposes purchased, as were many episcopal sees.
That’s the way I see it at least.
I think you’re taking Luther’s early protestations too much at face value. He never showed any disposition of being willing to recant or even stop and reconsider if he were condemned by a general Council, and when Eck pointed out that some of his ideas had already been condemned, he said that Councils didn’t necessarily have authority either.
Of course he wanted to return the Church to what he thought the Gospel mandated. But his confidence that his theology was equivalent to the Gospel was sadly misplaced. So yes, he did help divide the Church and he bears responsibility for doing so.