Help from Lutherans

I would be interested in knowing which website you happened upon.

What you appear to have read is some sort of variation of the argument put forth by Erwin Iserloh’s book The Theses Were Not Posted: Luther Between Reform and Reformation. Iserloh held the 95 Theses weren’t nailed to the Wittenberg church door, but rather mailed to particular ecclesiastical superiors.“Luther did not post the Theses but only sent them to Archbishop Albert of Mainz and Bishop Jerome Schulz of Brandenburg, the appropriate representatives of the church, for their approval” [LW 31:23]. Iserloh was responded to by Kurt Aland, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (St. Louis: Concordia, 1967). I go into much greater depth on this controversy here.

Earlier I mentioned Luther’s own explanation of the 95 Theses. the exact tile is Explanation of the Ninety-Five Theses (1518). It can be found in Luther’s Works vol. 31. My own brief overview of the 95 Theses can be found here.


Wow! Thanks for doing the heavy lifting, James! Solid de-bunking of the would-be de-bunkers.

This is great info and it explains why Luther was portrayed favorably in my Catholic school religion classes. His grievances were certainly legitimate but the result was unfortunately extreme.

And here I thought it was going to be like Presbylutheranism, founded by Martin Presbyluther when he left his Three Suggestions under the Pope’s windshield wiper.

I sometimes imagine the whole thing might not have happened with a different pope.

Or with different princes in Germany. They were quick to see the political advantages in lessening the power of the Pope. I doubt that all of them were simply convinced of the doctrinal correctness of what Luther taught.

Agreed. A lot of it was about political power – Rome had it, the German nobles wanted it. I don’t doubt that there were honest and sincere converts among the nobility, just as I imagine many of those who remained with Rome did so out of a true belief in the rightness of (unreformed) Catholicism. But the wee bit of cynic in me thinks that most looked at where they thought they would gain the most advantage.

But then, that’s been so throughout the history of Christendom – and practically every other religion, too.

Hi M1,

The nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the Church of Wittenberg is part of the Legend of Martin Luther. Much of that Legend, which I learned in Protestant Sunday School and of course believed, is false and in fact, this part of the Legend might also be false.

In the following two quotes, Lutheran experts (on Luther) address the subject of whether Luther ever nailed anything to any door.

“Whether Luther actually posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the castle church of Wittenberg remains uncertain – Melanchthon at least talks about that only decades later.” Dr. Albrecht Beutel, “Luther’s Life”, found in “The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, edited by Donald K. McKim, (2003), pg 8-9

Beutel is University Professor of Church History in the Evangelisch Theologische Fakultat, Westfalische Wilhelms Universitat, Munster, Germany, (A German Protestant expert on Luther)

Beutel at least seems to be under the impression that Luther never referred to any “nailing” and that Melanchthon, who was not even there at the time, only mentions it “decades later”.

“The document that went along with the letter to Albrecht became the 95 Theses, which Luther either nailed to the door at the Castle Church in Wittenberg or sent to Maintz, or both.” Dr. Martin Marty, “Martin Luther”, pg. 32

First of all, with a name like Martin Marty, how could you be anything other than a Lutheran, and how could your parents be anything other than devoted to the “Great One”?

Richard Marius, whom I consider to be Luther’s best biographer, addresses the supposed ‘posting’ of the Theses:

“A heated scholarly debate has raged in recent years over how Luther’s Ninety Five Theses came before the public. The traditional view holds that on the eve of All Saints, October 31, 1517, Luther nailed a copy of the theses to the church door at Wittenberg………Certainly the theses were quickly translated and circulated and Luther suddenly was propelled into fame……Were the theses posted?..My own attempt to fit together the fragments of evidence has led to the following view of events. Luther was enraged at what he heard about Tetzel’s indulgence hawking at Juterbog. In that angry mood, he did what one might expect from so vehement a temperament: he fired off a letter on indulgences to his archbishop, the man supposed to oversee the religious life of the entire region. Nothing indicates that he wanted a public quarrel with Albrecht of Brandenburg or that he wanted to embarrass the Elector Fredrick. In early November he wrote his friend Spalatin that he did not want his theses to come into the hands of the elector before they had been received by those against whom they were directed, an indication that they were not meant for an academic audience in Wittenberg itself. He did not want anyone to suppose that the Elector had anything to do with writing them. Apparently such rumors were already abroad as if to make it seem that the theses were an attack by the elector on Albrecht of Brandenburg. It is difficult to imagine how the theses could have been posted on the door of the castle church without someone’s having shown them to the elector. Luther seems to have written to Spalatin in the certainty that no one could have communicated his work to Fredrick. Such assurance would seem absurd had the theses been already public. The theses seem to have been meant for Albrecht alone, a warning shot fired across the bow to make the young archbishop take stock of his course.” Richard Marius, “Martin Luther, The Christian Between God and Death”, pg. 137-8

Luther’s letter to Spalatin fits perfectly with the account of Marius:

“I do not wish my theses to come into the hands of the illustrious elector or any of the courtiers before they are received by them, lest perchance be thought that I had published them at the instigation of the elector against the Bishop of Madgeburg.” Preserved Smith, “Luther’s Correspondence and other Contemporary Letters,” Volume 1, 1507-1521, #42

“The Nailing” is something that Protestantism has used for 500 years to build up Luther’s “Legend”. It’s a very dramatic image, one that has been depicted countless times to excellent effect, and also one which depicts Luther as bravely and publically challenging the might and power of the Catholic Church. We all know that Luther was a very “dramatic” person and given the drama associated with the “nailing”, it seems to me that if he actually had done any ‘nailing’, we would now be able to read a lot about it from his own pen. Let’s face it, he was not exactly shy about blowing his own horn. Yet, again, he never said a word about it.

Marius makes a good point though. A public challenge to the Church would not have been a small thing. A letter of complaint to the Bishop would have been much less bold and much safer. A public ‘posting’ would have definitely drawn the attention of the Elector, something he did not want to happen.

It appears that there is a real question about whether or not anything was ever nailed anywhere. The supposed nailing on the door could be just like many of the other aspects of the Legend of Martin Luther – false.

God Bless, Topper

Apparently Philipp Melancthon made mention of it in 1546, and Luther’s secretary, George Rorer, recorded (possibly as early as 1540) that "On the evening before All Saints’ Day in the year of our Lord 1517, theses about letters of indulgence were nailed to the doors of the Wittenberg churches by Doctor Martin Luther.” This discovery of the handwriteen notes recorded by George Rorer was only made in 2006, so there may yet be a final answer eventually.

The mention of “doors” and “churches” as plural is interesting.

Most people don’t realize the book, Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death by Richard Marius is very similar in title to Heiko Oberman’s book, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil. Marius is, in a sense, responding to Oberman. Heiko Oberman evaluated Luther as a religious man with a deep belief in God, and in a daily battle with the Devil. Richard Marius though argues Luther was not the heroic God believer in a cosmic spiritual battle. Luther was a man who questioned whether or not God even exists, and was terrified of death. Marius says his underlying presuppositions to his study on Luther is “essentially non-religious.” From this perspective, he begins with the notion that “Luther represents a catastrophe in the history of Western civilization.” And, “…[W]hatever good Luther did is not matched by the calamities that came because of him” (p. xii) (Marius also lays part of the blame on the Catholic Church as well). I mention this simply to point out that for those of us who believe in God, the fundamental presuppositions he uses are anti-religious.

What I find interesting about the way Marius treats the posted or mailed controversy is that his sole source is Iserloh. Unless I missed it, He doesn’t mention Aland’s response, so I find that rather curious, if not one-sided. As another poster has already mentioned, some further confirmation for Luther “nailing” surfaced in 2006:

In 2006, Martin Treu from the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony- Anhalt rediscovered a handwritten comment by Luther’s secretary Georg Rörer (1492-1557) in the Jena University and State Library, which although printed, had so far played no role in research. Right at the end of the desk copy for the revision of the New Testament in 1540, Rörer made the following note: "On the evening before All Saints’ Day in the year of our Lord 1517, theses about letters of indulgence were nailed to the doors of the Wittenberg churches by Doctor Martin Luther.”

Now Rörer was also not an eye-witness, but he was one of Luther’s closest staff. The copy of the New Testament, in which he made his note, contains many entries in Luther’s own hand. The note right at the end of the volume leads us to assume that it was made at the conclusion of the revision work in November 1544. Directly beside it is another note, according to which Philipp Melanchthon arrived in Wittenberg on August 20, 1518, at ten o’ clock in the morning. This information is not to be found anywhere else and presumably came directly from Melanchthon himself. Rörer’s reference to the Wittenberg churches in the plural must be emphasized, as it corresponds to the statutes of the university. According to these, all public announcements had to be nailed to the doors of the churches.

Richard Marius rightly points out that “Luther always claimed to have gone through channels, and Iserloh takes him seriously, concluding that the Theses were not posted” (Martin Luther, The Christian Between God and Death, p. 138). Marius then asserts that "Protestant scholars have reacted with dismay at the shattering of an icon" which is indeed overstating the case. In an earlier work Marius calls this controversy a “furious scholarly debate” and Iserloh “succeeded in raising a bellow of outrage from those current disciples of Luther who cannot bear to lose a single glitter of their idol’s glamour” [Luther, a Biography (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1974) p. 70]. Marius has given this controversy more importance than it actually has. In fact, besides Aland and a few others, historians really don’t seem to care all that much about this controversy.

As far as I can navigate this controversy, the entire thing rests on whether or not one trusts the account of Philip Melanchthon. Catholic scholar Franz Posset has recently written quite convincingly that Melanchthon’s memoirs of Luther are to be trusted more or less, but yet states, “Did Rorer and Melanchthon concoct the Posting in good faith? It looks like itThe Real Luther, p. 23]. I’m not so sure though that “it looks like it” settles anything. I find it curious how Posset painstakingly argues for the credibilty of Melanchthon, but then decides he can’t be trusted on this issue.

For me, it’s a silly debate. If it were determined that Iserloh’s argument was the actual historical situation, so be it. It doesn’t change the fact the the Ninety-five Theses was, as some consider, the first mass-media event. The Theses caused quite a controversy whether they were nailed or mailed.


It has been stated here on this thread that the matter of whether Luther ever did any “nailing” rests on the honesty (or dishonesty) of Luther’s right hand man, Philip Melanchthon. I disagree. This ignores the point made by Marius which I included in my last post. Marius made it clear that the only way for Luther’s writings to be consistent with history would be if that history didn’t include any kind of ‘nailing’. Why would Luther suggest (in early November) that he didn’t want the Elector to become aware of the 95 Theses when he himself had (supposedly) affixed them to the doors of the Wittenberg Church, at least several days earlier, where they would certainly be brought to the attention of the Elector? Furthermore, if the issue is to be determined by Melanchthon’s honesty, then would actual evidence of his dishonesty on a very important matter mean that there was never really any nailing?

In addition, we have to remember that Luther felt it necessary to write down almost his every thought, compiling more than 50 volumes worth of all of those thoughts. He always made sure to write whatever enhanced his image and whatever made people have more faith in his version of Christianity. If there really had been any kind of a dramatic ‘nailing’, a man like Luther, would have managed to write it down for posterity, at least a few dozen times over the next three decades and 49.5 Volumes of ‘thoughts’. Did he? Not once. The ‘no nailing’ scenario fits the known history far better than the ‘nailing’ scenario. The fact that there is no record of any kind of nailing for several decades would be enough for most people.

The story of Melanchthon at the Diet of Augsburg speaks to Melanchthon’s honesty. Being under the ban, Luther could not attend the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, and was represented by Melanchthon among others. Heiko Holborn describes Melanchthon’s actions at the Diet as follows:

“Melanchthon, who had brought with him a brief written defense of the Wittenberg Church, in which he declared the religious differences (with the Catholic Church) as variations of practices rather than of faith, was now driven to expound both faith and practices at greater length. Thus the “Augustana”, the Augsburg Confession, with its twenty-one articles of faith and seven on rites, came into being……Some of the fundamental tenets of Lutheran faith were stated in the Confession with the lucidity that Melanchthon commanded, but for diplomatic reasons other essential elements were left out or toned down. Universal priesthood was not mentioned, nor were papal supremacy, indulgences, purgatory, and the existence of seven sacraments challenged.” Holborn, “The History of Modern Germany”, pg. 212. Furthermore: “It did not mention justification by faith.” Marius, pg. 472

Melanchthon’s declaration that the differences between Catholicism and Lutheranism was to be understood as ‘variations of practices rather than of faith’ was blatantly dishonest. He was trying to achieve a peace that would have been completely impossible if Luther had been at Augsburg, but to deliberately misrepresent your own position on a matter of such importance is hardly an indication of any kind of integrity or honesty.
Apparently after Melanchthon had written his dishonest summary of the Lutheran position, Emperor Charles obtained a “poor Latin translation of the Schwabach Articles” which had been drawn up by the Wittenburg theologians as the basis “on which the Lutherans were to discuss doctrinal differences with the Zwinglians”, E. G. Schwiebert, “Luther and His Times”, pgs. 719, 700. Charles assigned John Eck to the task of preparing for Augsburg by synthesizing the Articles and Luther’s writings. “Eck’s document not only reflected great industry in his compilation, but also considerable ability in asserting that there was little difference between the heresies of the Anabaptists, Lutherans and Sacramentarians and that all were but revivals of earlier heresies already condemned by the church councils…… Melanchthon obtained a copy of Eck’s “Four Hundred and Four Articles for the Diet of Augsburg”, and “fully realized the deadly effect this document would have on the Lutheran cause and turned even more furiously to the revision of his earlier efforts to meet this new threat. That he was also so thoroughly frightened and dismayed by enormity of his task is indicated by the fact that he was often discovered at his desk in tears. The Saxon (Lutheran) delegation had originally intended to present merely the Torau materials……” Schwiebert, pg. 721-2

The Torgau materials were the dishonest representation of Lutheran beliefs. John Eck had headed the Lutherans off at the pass and when Melanchthon realized that he could not deliberately misrepresent Lutheran theology and get away with it, he was reduced to tears.

Warren H. Carroll depicts Melanchthon’s dishonesty in “The Cleaving of Christendom, Vol. 4 of A History of Christianity”:

“By July it was clear that on matters of doctrine the Lutherans at Augsburg were dissimulating, concealing their real beliefs in the hope of avoiding a final breach without making a genuine concessions. On July 6 Melanchthon makes an incredible statement. “We have no dogmas which differ from the Roman Church……We reverence the authority of the Pope of Rome, and are prepared to remain in allegiance to the Church if only the Pope does not repudiate us. As it happened, on that very same day Luther, in an exposition on the Second Psalm addressed to the Archbishop of Mainz, declared: ‘Remember that you are not dealing with human beings when you have affairs with the Pope and his crew, but with veritable devils.” Pg. 103

Obviously Melanchthon’s statement that “We have no dogmas which differ from the Roman Church” was extremely dishonest. What is amazing is that he and the rest of the Lutehran contingent even considered it and believed that they would somehow get away with it.

Luther never complied anything, or even wrote 50 volumes. Instead, he didn’t care to have anything of his recorded for posterity save the Catechism and the Bondage of the Will.

“Regarding [the plan] to collect my writings in volumes, I am quite cool and not at all eager about it because, roused by a Saturnalian hunger, I would rather see them all devoured. For I acknowledge none of them to be really a book of mine, except perhaps the one on the Bondage of the Will and the Catechism (WA Br 8:99-100; LW 50:172-73).”

Frankly, with such a glaring error, I had trouble reading the rest of your writing without being suspicious.

Hi Ben,

Thanks for your response. You are right. I should have been more “exact”. As you point out, Luther never complied his writings. However, he did write enough material to fill (more than) 50 volumes. Maybe I should have said:

“In addition, we have to remember that Luther felt it necessary to write down almost his every thought. The sum of his writings now fill more than 50 volumes.”

Your comments about this ‘glaring error’, and of being suspicious about the rest of my writing are telling. I certainly hope that this is not evidence of a double standard on your part. After all, rather than dealing with the main points of my posts, you chose to inflict a very strict standard on a Catholic, while giving a Lutheran Reformer an absolute pass regarding documented evidence of extreme dishonesty. In addition, you have not commented on the evidence which indicates that the “nailing” is very uncertain.

You did not comment on the evidence that I posted which indicates that Melanchthon was extremely dishonest in that he completely misrepresented Lutheran beliefs. I could also have mentioned Luther’s documented dishonesty, and probably still should. Ben – of all of these subjects, which has the biggest bearing on the credibility of the Reformers and the validity of Reformation Theology? Which of them, including of course, my “glaring error” is the most important?

You said that: Luther “didn’t care to have anything of his recorded for posterity save the Catechism and the Bondage of the Will.” That is not the whole story though Ben. You infer that Luther did not want his ‘works’ complied. That is not true at all. Now, I’m not calling this a “glaring error” on your part, but what you wrote is definitely not the whole story. The very next sentence, which you chose not to post is as follows:

“Nevertheless I have entrusted the matter to Doctor Caspar Cruciger12 to see if anything ought to be done.”

The footnote in the middle of this sentence is: “According to Wolgast, op. cit., pp. 13 f., the project developed; there were even suggestions from Wittenberg pertaining to an organization of the edition which would please Luther. It is not known why the project did not finally materialize.”

Clearly Luther was amenable to having his whole corpus published, but it had to be done in an acceptable manner. Interestingly, the reasons for Luther not wanting his works to be published are also listed in a footnote in the section that you posted.

“E. Wolgast, Die Wittenberger Luther-Ausgabe (Nieuwkoop, 1971), pp. 14 ff., gives five reasons for Luther’s negative attitude toward the attempts to have his collected works published: (a) his worry that reading his works might reduce the study of Scripture; (b) his realization that some of his writings originated in temporary, restricted circumstances; © his changed attitude toward the papacy; (d) his conviction that writings by other theologians were more significant than his own writings; (e) his realization that such an edition would be so expensive that the edition would collect dust in libraries, and that only the rich could afford to buy it, while the common man could by no means afford it.”

What is surprising is that Luther does not seem to be ashamed of any of his writings, or worried that posterity might not interpret certain of them in a favorable manner. Of course, that is exactly what has happened. It was left to the Lutherans, to those who bear his name, to “compile” his writings and as we know, they were plenty squeamish about some of them. This is completely understandable in that some of his writings are very revealing in regards to the truth about the man.

My main contention is that much of the “Legend of Luther” is false. The ‘nailing’ is just one of many examples, and quite frankly, probably by far the least important. Many of the other issues go directly to much more important things like the Reformer’s honesty, character, and theological ability.

By the way Ben, are you familiar with the context in which Luther commented on ‘enraging the snake’?

God Bless, Topper

By the way Ben, are you familiar with the context in which Luther commented on ‘enraging the snake’?

God Bless, Topper

No, but I’m curious.

Frankly, Luther was just a man. Feel free to prove him just a sinful man like the rest of us.

Luther would tell us "“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!” "

Hi Topper,

Welcome to CAF, and thank you for taking the time to interact with some of my comments. The interpretation of history certainly is a fascinating subject, and I’m grateful that CAF allows us to share ideas, even if we don’t agree down the line. Also thank you for all the citations. Some of the books I have, some I do not. More often than not, looking up what a particular author states and then comparing it to what another author states can be an extremely time consuming process.

As I said previously, whether the Theses were nailed, mailed, or perhaps both, really doesn’t concern me all that much. If it turns out the *Wittenberg door story *is factually inaccurate, well, so be it. There are number of Luther myths, some perpetuated by Protestants, some perpetuated by Catholics. For Reformation Day, I actually gave a lecture on the Reformers to a group of Protestants favorable to the Reformation, and I spent the first 15 minutes or so pointing out that the major Reformers were men with failures, faults, and sins, and also that some Protestants had gone (or do go) too far in honoring their memory, while on the other hand, some go to far in vilifying their memory.

The only thing that actually provoked my interest here was when M1Garand initially stated that the nailing of the Theses “was not referred to until almost 150 years after it happened.” You appear to be well-informed on this topic, so if you have any links saying this I would be interested in reviewing them. That being said, since you did take the time to provide such detailed comments (seemingly directed toward me) basic courtesy suggests I take a few moments and interact with a few things you mentioned.

  1. As I mentioned previously, the majority of the position of Richard Marius on the nailed / mailed debate appears to me to be a summary of Iserloh’s arguments, so technically, it appears to me that the points Marius makes are actually the points of Iserloh? Would you agree? In regard to Luther’s suggestion of ealry November 1517, Aland actually includes a translation of this letter and presented a counter argument in his response to Iserloh. Perhaps you’re already aware of it? It’s tedium sort of stuff, but if you’re really interested, you can pick up the book if you don’t have it already (used copies are fairly cheap).

  2. As to Melanchthon’s honesty: My point in mentioning Melanchthon’s account of the nailed / mailed controversy was not to analyze the integrity of Melanchthon throughout his career, but rather to point out that Catholic author Franz Posset holds that Melanchthon’s Preface to Volume 2 of Luther’s Works (1546) is fundamentally accurate, but Posset still has reservations about the nailed / mailed controversy. Posset, a far more knowledgeable person than I, presents Melanchthon as fundamentally honest in the document in question. The first part of his book is a detailed interaction with the document in question. I recommend Posset’s book if you don’t have it already. The debate over Melanchthon’s overall honesty appears to me to be tangential, and perhaps one of those topics in which some Catholics will paint him as untruthful and some Protestants will describe him as truthful. Probably the real Melanchthon is somewhere in the middle.Since my interests are more directed toward Luther, perhaps you can find a Lutheran here wishing to engage you on this topic.

  3. As to Luther wanting to write down his every thought, I can understand why it looks that way, for sure. I would only point out that Luther had particular writings he intended to be published, while many of his followers clamored to publish everything he ever wrote. Certainly Luther did publish many things, but it appears to me that it was the result of other people that have made Luther’s written corpus so extensive (some of it without Luther’s approval… there was actually the problem of bootlegging Luther’s sermons and writings, even while he was alive) .

Thanks again for your interest in this subject. Enjoy your time here at Catholic Answers.

Hi Ben,

Thank you for your response.

After the Leipzig Debate, Luther wrote to his friend Georg Spalatin, complaining about the outcome of the debate, which he termed a ‘tragedy’. He wrote of his debate opponent, John Eck and described how he had made a comment which had ‘enraged the snake’. The whole letter can be found in LW Vol. 31, beginning on page 318 and is dated July 20th, 1519, roughly two weeks after the debate had ended.

Lutheran Professor James Kittelson describes this situation as follows:

“Thus truly enraged the snake, and it exaggerated my crime.” Luther the Reformer, The Story of the Man and His Career”, pg. 140. Kittelson references both WABr 1, 421 and AE (which is LW), Vol. 31, pg. 320 -1.

I would bet that not 5 % of Protestants have ever even heard of the Leipzig Debate. But if Protestantism believed that Luther won that debate, and felt that it could reasonably portray Leipzig as a win, all of them would know about it because it would be referenced in sermons on a regular basis. It would be in Luther and Reformation movies along with the ‘nailing’. But Luther lost that debate and so it is mostly ignored. This is not to say that all biographers ignore it completely. Marius especially did a good job on the subject and his account is well worth reading. Generally though, Leipzig is very ‘underreported’ by Protestant biographers, especially given that it was absolutely pivotal in terms of the development of Luther’s theology.

Ben, after that explanation, do you understand why I mentioned the ‘enraged the snake’ quote?

As for your comment about my wanting to prove Luther to be a sinful man:

I have no interest in ‘proving’ Luther to be a sinful man like the rest of us. That is a given and falls into the “so what category”. My position is that the “Luther of Legend” is quite different than the Luther of factual history and there is a reason for the difference. The Luther of actual fact does not come across as being someone who should be trusted to develop radical new ways of interpreting Scripture.

God Bless You Ben, Topper

Anymore than Leo X or some other notorious popes come across as someone who should bear the title “Vicar of Christ”, or worse, trusted with the power of universal jurisdiction. :rolleyes:


I’ve always understood Luther’s lament about his interactions with Eck as a sadness that no reconciliation took place.

Curiously enough, when Eck was used as a scape-goat for the troubles and was a broken and forlorn man, Luther was one of the few people to be kind to him on his death-bed and penned a very kind private letter to him.

My position is that the “Luther of Legend” is quite different than the Luther of factual history and there is a reason for the difference. The Luther of actual fact does not come across as being someone who should be trusted to develop radical new ways of interpreting Scripture.

Agreed! Luther would tell you that he drank beer - it’s to God that we turn to in Scripture.

Electing a Medici to the Bishop of Rome?

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your response.

Of course there have been a few ‘notorious popes’, but only a few and in fact, in terms of percentages, there have been fewer ‘notorious popes’ than there were Apostles. After all, 1/12th of the Apostles were ‘notorious’. A far smaller proportion of the popes have been.

That being said, you introduce Leo into this discussion about Luther, and claim that he was ‘notorious’, by comparison to Luther, who was apparently - not ‘notorious’. Luther wrote that the princes should slaughter the peasants “without mercy”. 100,000 of them were slaughtered. Luther wrote that Anabaptists should be put to death, and in fact, in areas dominated by Luther’s theology, some were. Luther of course recommended (among other things) to the secular leaders, that rabbis be put to death: “on pain of loss of life and limb” (LW, Vol. 47, pg. 269) for the crime of teaching the Jewish faith to Jewish people. He also recommended to the ecclesiastical leaders (among other things), that Jews be put to death if caught praising God: “that they be forbidden on pain of death to utter the name of God within our hearing.” (LW, Vol. 47, pg. 285)

In order to claim that Leo was ‘notorious’, by comparison and seemingly giving Luther ‘a pass’, you must think that Leo did some astonishingly horrific things. Could you please list them, specifically and exactly, so that all we can see how they compare with this truncated list of Luther’s actions?

God Bless You Jon, Topper

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