Searching for a Writing of Martin Luther's

So I'm reading this book which, I must admit, would be pretty inflammatory to Protestant senses. I have to say that I don't really like the book too much myself. I thought I'd be reading a discussion of large selections of Luther's works, but instead I'm reading scant quotes in the context of a decidedly biased commentary. I'd like to read a non-partisan/un-biased selection of what Luther wrote but I think that's hard to find. Either you're going to be reading a Protestant's view or a Catholic's... or, worse still, you read the works unfiltered which, unless you're a scholar, will usually act as a good sleep aid.

The author I'm reading quotes a writing of Luther's stating it was a work "against 'The Mass and the Ordination of Priests'" but the only reference to the title of the work and where it can be found is "Erl. 31, 311 ff". Since the author uses such scant quotes out of the entire writing to substantiate some pretty outrageous claims I wanted to read the entire work for myself but I've googled this thing every which way I can figure out and cannot come up with any reference to where the work comes from. In his book, the author states,

"... he tells of his famous disputation with the “father of lies” who accosted him “at midnight” and spoke to him with “a deep, powerful voice,” causing “the sweat to break forth” from his brow and his “heart to tremble and beat.” In that celebrated conference, of which he was an unexceptional witness and about which he never entertained the slightest doubt, he says plainly and unmistakingly that “the devil spoke against the Mass, and Mary and the Saints” and that, moreover, “Satan gave him the most unqualified approval of his doctrine of justification by faith alone.”

The quotes don't work, the reference abbreviation doesn't work, nothing does. I hate when any author writes like this using scant quotes and interpreting them for the reader instead of providing large quotes and leaving the reading to interpret them for himself. Does anyone have any idea where I might be able to find this particular writing so that I can read the whole thing in context?

[quote="PetoVeritas, post:1, topic:230173"]
So I'm reading this book which, I must admit, would be pretty inflammatory to Protestant senses. I have to say that I don't really like the book too much myself. I thought I'd be reading a discussion of large selections of Luther's works, but instead I'm reading scant quotes in the context of a decidedly biased commentary. I'd like to read a non-partisan/un-biased selection of what Luther wrote but I think that's hard to find. Either you're going to be reading a Protestant's view or a Catholic's... or, worse still, you read the works unfiltered which, unless you're a scholar, will usually act as a good sleep aid.

The author I'm reading quotes a writing of Luther's stating it was a work "against 'The Mass and the Ordination of Priests'" but the only reference to the title of the work and where it can be found is "Erl. 31, 311 ff". Since the author uses such scant quotes out of the entire writing to substantiate some pretty outrageous claims I wanted to read the entire work for myself but I've googled this thing every which way I can figure out and cannot come up with any reference to where the work comes from. In his book, the author states,

"... he tells of his famous disputation with the “father of lies” who accosted him “at midnight” and spoke to him with “a deep, powerful voice,” causing “the sweat to break forth” from his brow and his “heart to tremble and beat.” In that celebrated conference, of which he was an unexceptional witness and about which he never entertained the slightest doubt, he says plainly and unmistakingly that “the devil spoke against the Mass, and Mary and the Saints” and that, moreover, “Satan gave him the most unqualified approval of his doctrine of justification by faith alone.”

The quotes don't work, the reference abbreviation doesn't work, nothing does. I hate when any author writes like this using scant quotes and interpreting them for the reader instead of providing large quotes and leaving the reading to interpret them for himself. Does anyone have any idea where I might be able to find this particular writing so that I can read the whole thing in context?

[/quote]

I can try to get it for you when I next go to the university library--it's in Luther's Works (Fortress) I believe. I've run into this before and looked it up. A seventeenth-century French Catholic polemicist got ahold of this passage and twisted it.

Luther spoke a lot about "anfechtungen"--"temptations" by the devil. One confusing aspect of these temptations was that they generally weren't temptations to commit some sin or believe some heresy, but rather temptations to lose faith. Luther took seriously the idea of Satan as the "accuser" found in the Bible, and so he imagined/experienced Satan accusing him of acting presumptuously or believing the wrong things, etc. Luther's point is that when he believed in doctrines not found in Scripture (I'm describing this from his perspective), he had no answer to Satan's accusations. He couldn't give Satan a reason from the Word of God why he believed in the Mass. Hence Satan could attack his faith.

Edwin

I suggest you read a book written by Luther himself. I can't give a title, but they're out there.

Luther's works are voluminous... several dozen translated into English so far, with more in the hopper.

As a suggestion, though, I might recommend appraising Lutheran thought, by reading through the Lutheran Confessions (1580 Book of Concord.) This is readily available in several solid translations of high academic quality, and even online for free in PDF. These were the measure and concensus of the Lutheran Reformation, to which Luther subscribed (at least those pieces written before his death.)

As with any larger than life personage, especially one as prolific and contested as Martin Luther, there can always be found unflattering material to lampoon. Luther never desired to be the measure of the Reformation, nor of the Church. Our Confessions, on the other hand, do intend to form something like the pronouncements of a local council, dealing with the controversies of the day in the region they were considered. As such, they are much more refined and useful.

Peace be with you.

[quote="PetoVeritas, post:1, topic:230173"]
So I'm reading this book which, I must admit, would be pretty inflammatory to Protestant senses. I have to say that I don't really like the book too much myself. I thought I'd be reading a discussion of large selections of Luther's works, but instead I'm reading scant quotes in the context of a decidedly biased commentary. I'd like to read a non-partisan/un-biased selection of what Luther wrote but I think that's hard to find. Either you're going to be reading a Protestant's view or a Catholic's... or, worse still, you read the works unfiltered which, unless you're a scholar, will usually act as a good sleep aid.

The author I'm reading quotes a writing of Luther's stating it was a work "against 'The Mass and the Ordination of Priests'" but the only reference to the title of the work and where it can be found is "Erl. 31, 311 ff". Since the author uses such scant quotes out of the entire writing to substantiate some pretty outrageous claims I wanted to read the entire work for myself but I've googled this thing every which way I can figure out and cannot come up with any reference to where the work comes from. In his book, the author states,

"... he tells of his famous disputation with the “father of lies” who accosted him “at midnight” and spoke to him with “a deep, powerful voice,” causing “the sweat to break forth” from his brow and his “heart to tremble and beat.” In that celebrated conference, of which he was an unexceptional witness and about which he never entertained the slightest doubt, he says plainly and unmistakingly that “the devil spoke against the Mass, and Mary and the Saints” and that, moreover, “Satan gave him the most unqualified approval of his doctrine of justification by faith alone.”

The quotes don't work, the reference abbreviation doesn't work, nothing does. I hate when any author writes like this using scant quotes and interpreting them for the reader instead of providing large quotes and leaving the reading to interpret them for himself. Does anyone have any idea where I might be able to find this particular writing so that I can read the whole thing in context?

[/quote]

[quote="Contarini, post:2, topic:230173"]
Luther ... had no answer to Satan's accusations. He couldn't give Satan a reason from the Word of God why he believed in the Mass. Hence Satan could attack his faith.

Edwin

[/quote]

Unfortunately for Luther he apparently failed to think of quoting the Mass itself, most of which is copied verbatim from some portion of the Scriptures.

If Luther had realized this, and Satan would so deign to appear and demand of him why he believed in the Holy Mass, he could of told him that he believes because the Church, "the pillar and foundation of Truth," believes it. And if furthermore the devil fancied to understand the intricacies of the Mass, Luther could well tell him to go and read St. John's Apocalypse.

If he asked Luther for some justification from the Old Testament, he could of told him the Holy Roman Pontiff could quite possibly produce a better one than he, assuming that was even necessary ; not withstanding that, the devil ought consider these words of the holy prophet, Malachi, saying :

*"I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands;

for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same,

my name has been glorified among the gentiles,

and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the gentiles."*

No small thanks to this Apologetic Video by canman86 on youtube :)

Pax Christi,
Tim

[quote="Contarini, post:2, topic:230173"]
I can try to get it for you when I next go to the university library--it's in Luther's Works (Fortress) I believe. I've run into this before and looked it up. A seventeenth-century French Catholic polemicist got ahold of this passage and twisted it....
Edwin

[/quote]

If you do run across it again, Edwin, I'd really appreciate hearing what the full writing had to say, so thanks for keeping an eye out for it.

As with any larger than life personage, especially one as prolific and contested as Martin Luther, there can always be found unflattering material to lampoon. Luther never desired to be the measure of the Reformation, nor of the Church.

WorkerPriest, I certainly agree with the idea that Martin Luther is a huge personality to take any number of opinions about. Growing up as I did (Baptist w/ high school ed. from evangelical home school program) I think we tended to really whitewash the whole subject making the scenario between Luther and the Catholic Church look like something out of a biblical Cecil B. DeMille epic.

That's why I want to research Luther for myself. I personally think either extreme is obviously skewed to an unfair level whether Luther is presented as an immaculate saint or an absolutely vile demon. I think being able to enlighten either extreme with the actual words of Luther would offer a better idea of who he was and the stance he took.

There are plenty of good works of scholarship which are not simply reduced to confessional polemic or apologetics, though they do of course all have their biases.

Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand is not a bad place to start, though I don’t agree with its biases in a number of places.

Heiko Oberman’s Man between God and the Devil is my favorite Luther biography–very Protestant but wacky.

Martin Brecht’s three-volume Martin Luther is extremely informative, but very Lutheran and needs to be taken with several pinches of salt (for instance, he takes Luther’s appraisal of his monastic training at face value, which is a very bad idea).

There are Catholic studies of Luther, but the best ones are pretty specialized–there are a couple of excellent studies of Luther and Aquinas.

Louis Bouyer’s *The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism *is a pretty good appraisal of Protestantism as a whole from a Catholic perspective.

If you want to read Luther's writings, rather than biographies or commentaries, I'd suggest starting with either:

(1) "Three Treatises," a collection that includes "An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility," The Freedom of a Christian" and "The Babylonian Captivity of the Church."

(2) "Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings" (2nd ed.), ed. Timothy Lull.

Both are readily available. I've read both and think they're basic reading for any person interested in European history or theology. They're remarkably good reads, although it could be the strong rhetoric (Luther pulls no punches) that spices up these texts.

Of course, you can always plow through the 40+ volumes of "Luther's Works" in English.

I have the complete works of Luther (55 volumes) on CD-ROM. I have searched the whole thing and haven't been able to find the phrase "Mass and the Ordination of Priests" anywhere.

I don't know if that helps at all.

[quote="PetoVeritas, post:1, topic:230173"]
. Does anyone have any idea where I might be able to find this particular writing so that I can read the whole thing in context?

[/quote]

Sure.

Helping Catholic Answers With a Luther Quote

The short answer to Luther's disputation with Devil cited by Father O'Hare is that the story was being told by Luther as a literary device, not a personal experience. Of course, Father O'Hare missed this. You can read the details in my link.

Regards,
James

[quote="TertiumQuid, post:10, topic:230173"]
Sure. Helping Catholic Answers With a Luther Quote The short answer to Luther's disputation with Devil cited by Father O'Hare is that the story was being told by Luther as a literary device, not a personal experience. Of course, Father O'Hare missed this. You can read the details in my link. Regards, James

[/quote]

James, this is great!! Thank you so much for clarifying this information!

I've pretty much given up on this book and it's actually sad that, considering how much Catholics decry Protestants for misquoting them and their documents, that they would still be printing (it was written in the 1800's) and selling this type of book (I bought it in a Catholic bookstore - I guess they don't know what the content is.)
I just wanted to find a thorough book on what Martin Luther wrote :shrug: At least now that I've started this thread I've got some suggestions on what else I can read besides this book to find out what it was that Luther was truly trying to say.

[quote="PetoVeritas, post:11, topic:230173"]
I just wanted to find a thorough book on what Martin Luther wrote :shrug: At least now that I've started this thread I've got some suggestions on what else I can read besides this book to find out what it was that Luther was truly trying to say.

[/quote]

No problem. I've done a lot of investigating of Luther quotes like this, as well as a close scrutiny of Father O'Hare's book.

Keep in mind, there are good books about Luther written by Roman Catholic authors:

Jared Wicks: Luther and His Spiritual Legacy This is a link to my review, but it also includes links to free pdf's of the entire book.

Joseph Lortz: *The Reformation: A Problem for Today *(Maryland: The Newman Press, 1964) . While Lortz can be critical of Luther, he doesn't go over the top like Father O'Hare. He's credited for changing the entire thrust of Roman Catholic Luther scholarship. His 2 volumes on the Reformation in Germany are a bit expensive, used copies are around if you look for them.

John Todd put together two basic biographies: Martin Luther: A Biographical Study, and Luther: A Life. These are good basic intro texts.

As to Roman Catholic approaches to Luther in general, I've compiled two web pages:

The Roman Catholic Perspective of Martin Luther (Part One)

The Roman Catholic Perspective of Martin Luther (Part Two)

For people new to Luther's writings, I always suggest reading his sermons. These I think best portray the heart and soul of Luther.

Regards,
James

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