The historical Luther (trying to get the facts right)


I said IF this was true … that it could be problematic for reunification dialogue … I think that is still a fair statement to make.

Assuming the clip you posted is also NOT fake news and is a true representation of the position of the Lutheran Church… it also is a bit problematic … per the quote below (highlighting is mine):

“The old handbook is from 1986 and the new edition is much more in line with the Swedish Bible translation made in 2000,” Pedersen Videke told The Local. “God is beyond ‘she’ and ‘he’, God is so much more.”

"We want variation when it comes to how you express yourself, just like in the Bible."

This tracks right back to several posts on this forum …where Catholics are saying it is important to KNOW and RESPECT past history and not white-wash it.

We have here what appears to be taking a page right out of Luther’s playbook that caused such a ruckus in the first place (i.e. changing / mistranslating sacred scripture and in the process losing or altering the meaning of the inspired Word of God)

I read the revised and corrected article you provided (thank you) and from that reading I understand that what they are saying is they changed /updated phraseology in a Swedish language (vernacular) Bible back in 2000 – and now want to bring the 1996 handbook language in line with the updated translation. Helloooo?


So somebody formally excommunicated by the Bishop of Rome for heresy, and who burned the Bull and called the Pope an antichrist, and established a continuous invalid Sacrament can be a witness to His Eucharist?


RC …I agree it sounds like the pieces don’t seem to fit?? … I don’t think I’ve actually seen this statement or proclamation or whatever it is — is there a link already posted here somewhere – or can someone direct me to the text — I’d very much like to see what was actually said. Thanks! J


Never mind I found it … it was from the Pontifical Council Promoting Church Unity.

The link below will take you to a video of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, explaining his opinion of why he believes Martin Luther should not have been considered as a “Witness to the Gospel” — in his words he feels it purports to put Luther on the same footing as St. Ignatius of Loyola, a canonized saint of the Church. The interview is 48 minutes-ish, but there is a printed synopsis below the video if you are short on time.

Below is an excerpted quote:

“Well, this document is issued by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, this Council has no doctrinal authority. We have no need to take seriously this document, which is objectively wrong. It is against the evidence. We cannot put on the same level Luther and Saint Ignatius. This is a contradiction. Luther cannot be a witness to the Gospel, and the Church will not ask us to accept this because it is only a statement from the pontifical Council so it need not be taken seriously…”


Sadly, you are mistaken – the Church doesn’t simply ask that we believe in the dogmas she asserts, and all else is up for grabs. Perhaps that’s what you wish is true, but it’s not what the Church teaches.

I wasn’t addressing any particular assertion you were discussing with others – I was merely commenting on your inaccurate take on how Catholics are expected to react to Church teachings.

Umm… no. This is not accurate.

Again… no. You severely misunderstand what the juridic penalty of ‘excommunication’ is and what it means. It does not say that a person “ceases to be Catholic”; rather, it identifies that a person has placed himself outside of communion with the Church. It does not intend to be punitive – that is, it does not separate a person from the Church, but simply identifies that the person’s actions have, themselves, already separated the person from the Church! Rather, excommunication is meant to be medicinal; the intent is that the person recognizes the gravity of the error of their actions, and invites them to repent and return to full communion with the Church.


You are correct … excommunicants are separated from the church, but are always welcome invited and encouraged to return (which certainly was the case with Luther) … the characterization I used of ceasing to “be” catholic is how I would feel and I can see how that may have been misleading. Thank you for the correction. On the other issue … we’re parsing words between “expectation” and “requirements” which will be a useless back-and-forth exchange… I object to the phrasing “and all else is up for grabs” our (least) requirement is to hold, respect and live the doctrine/dogmas of the church … of course the church naturally hopes we do not only seek to fulfill the least requirement, but live the faith fully, respecting and revering her guidance and teachings.


Fair enough, but I still assert that this is a mischaracterization of what the Church teaches. It’s not the case that the Church says, “ok, at the very least, believe in the dogma we teach, alright?” Rather, the Church proposes for our belief a number of assertions, only some of which are dogma. And, it is sinful to reject Church teachings merely on the basis that they’re not dogmatic teachings!

At best, I think we could say that, aside from dogma and doctrine, it’s necessary not to reject Church teaching, but rather, to work toward an understanding and full acceptance. However, that’s a world of difference than saying “here’s a minimal set of beliefs that you must hold to, and all the rest is less important”, which is what I’m getting from what you are asserting here… :man_shrugging:


Subjecting oneself to authority is different than assent of faith, wouldnt you say?

As for assent of faith, it is probably that which the Church defines as Scripture and Tradition, and their doctrine which we must accept and not teach contrary to.

Other things proposed may not need to be strictly accepted, but we must make ourselves subject to the Church leaders, in so far as we do not contradict Scripture, Tradition and their doctrine.

We cannot assert doctrine over the Church. But someone may know the Truth and members of the Church persecute them.

Martin Luther could have probably found much more common agreement if he would have made himself subject to the Church authorities. I believe his pride prevented him from allowing constructive dialogue and efforts. Im sure there was pride and contempt in some of the leaders too.

Not nearly everything Martin Luther proposed and taught was contrary to Scripture, Tradition and their doctrine. I think he defended valid doctrine quite well sometimes. His teachings about Baptism and Infant Baptism was great, for example.

But i maintain that he was NOT a genuine witness to Jesus’ Eucharist. This requires much more respect for the office of St Peter than he displayed. And the obvious fact that he established a Communion separated from the See of Rome. This is fundamentally opposed to our profession of the Eucharistic celebration.


That’s kind of like saying “joining a baseball team is different than wearing a uniform and sitting in the dugout, wouldn’t you say?”

No – I’d say that the assent of faith is the act that one performs because one has decided to subject oneself to the authority of the Church. If you say “I’m a member of the NY Yankees”, but then you put on a ballet tutu (instead of a uniform) and sit in the parking lot (instead of in the dugout), then you haven’t really joined the Yankees… :wink:


Sorry, im not seeing your analogies helpful here.

What if the Yankee managers tell a player to use a banned substance?

The team managers are not the law. The MLB league commissioner and board members have guidelines to practice. They can make the rules, and they are in positions to uphold and enforce the rules.

You dont just join a team, but you join the league by joining a team


Ah…the lightbulb is going on for me … I believe we are on the same page … in no way did I mean to suggest that it is “OK” to reject Church teachings merely on the basis that they are not dogmatic teachings!

Re: the Luther Stamp, Re: Luther named Witness to the Gospel… etc. I was commenting on how many non-catholics hear an announcement from Rome and seem to believe all catholics are required to therefore believe it whole heartedly and it becomes a matter of faith as soon as it is announced. This sort of characterization reminds me kind of like the Borg from Star Trek that we share a collective consciousness and once the hierarchy makes an announcement we MUST obey. It just doesn’t work that way … and there is a world of difference between the different types of announcements that are made by the Church.

As a church …we talk, we dialogue, we compare and contrast ideas, we seek the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we entertain and expand novel ideas and consider and refute opposing ideas and it is a process (the Council of Trent was nearly 20-ish years long, right?)… it takes time, that is all part of the process…there are lots of dialogues going on, lots of councils pondering and considering many matters.

That’s why I posted the link to Bishop Athanasius Schneider # 223 The historical Luther (trying to get the facts right) who explains that a pronouncement from the Pontifical Council Promoting Church Unity about Luther being named a Witness to the Gospel does not become something all catholics must now believe as an article of faith.

That’s where I was coming from Thank you for your charitable correction and sticking with me to walk through this and help me understand what you were saying.


I see. So, what you’re saying is that the Church teaches error? That’s a bold statement… :roll_eyes:


Aah… got it! That makes sense, now…! :slight_smile:


If by Church, you mean priests, then yes, ive been taught error by priests.

If by formal doctrine, no i dont believe so


Yes, I mean the latter. Who else but the Church herself, in her authority, promulgates doctrine?


Yep, i just think its His authority given to the Church. And woe to any member who abuses that authority.


Theology? O’Connor is talking about history …which is the topic of the thread, yes? O’Connors book is based on a simple premise …. "My only and sole purpose is to inquire into the question, wheither, in any sense of the word, Luther can be looked upon as a Reformer commissioned by Almighty God.

and continues … "whenever, therefore we read in the Bible that either Prophets or Apostles act as the chosen instruments of Heaven, we also find ----

A. that the manner in which they teach is in accordance with supreme Dignity of Him who sends them;

B. that the doctrines which they inculcate are worthy of the God of all Truth; and,

C. That the results of their teaching are such as to entitle them to be revered as the messengers of God of Infinite Holiness.

If, therefore, Luther’s character as a Refomer can stand this three-fold test, we MUST look upon him as a vessel of election chosen by God to do a great work in His Church. If, however, Luther’s teaching is not in accordance with this three-fold standard, we cannot reasonably admit his claims." [Introduction - pg7 - see link below]

That seems to be a fair standard to me … and the reason I thought we were all here … to take a look at the historical Luther and sift through the falsehoods, legends and myths.

So I propose we step back into the 16th century and take a look around …using historical records … my next post will take a look at around 1500-1521.


His only and sole purpose was clearly a biased misrepresentation of the facts. He used partial quotes with his own commentary.
Your quote above reflects the disingenuous nature of the book. At least O’Hare made no bones about his intentions.


His premise is sound … it is wholly appropriate for anyone to ask that question…" Can Luther be looked upon as a Reformer commissioned by Almighty God?" …and O’Connor also says “in any sense of the word” … giving the broadest and most amount of latitude to any results. So we can ask that question ourselves and look to the historical record for evidence Yay or Nay. Walking through a historical timeline will give us the framework to examine the facts.


His premise may be sound. His execution is disingenuous

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