The real Luther


#1

moved from another thread

My Q is, do many Lutherans (and other Protestants) read Luther in his own words, or genuine histories of Luther, or do they read about Luther, which – in my experience – presents the goodly, courageous man valiantly fighting against an oppressive, monolithic Church. You know, the Great Reformer image --the image that is portrayed in recent films about him.

This is not exactly the truth about Luther. He was a tortured soul and a scoundrel. For example, he “could find no Scriptural justification” for forbidding plural wives, and approved the bigamous marriage of Philip, Landgreave of Hess, both in writing and by sending his sidekick, Melanchthon, and another to act as witnesses to the “marriage.” His bitter, ugly anti-semitism made him the hero of the Nazi party, which culminated in the holocaust. And so on.

Yes, I know, there’s plenty of dirt to be distributed on both sides of the Catholic-Protestant divide. But Luther’s warts are obscured by heavy applications of whitewash.

No offense intended, but I’m wondering why one never hears about these (and other) facts. Luther must have a good press agent.:slight_smile:


Jay (ex-Southern Baptist, ex-agnostic, ex-atheist, “ex-static” to be Catholic!)


#2

moved from another thread

In all the years I’ve studied the Catholic Church, I’ve never read a single word that the Church has ever said about Luther. I have read a couple of histories of Luther as well as many of his own works. Luther merits the mild criticism “scoundrel,” on his support of plural marriage alone, in my opinion. He’s a hero to his followers, the “Great Reformer,” yet he taught against the sanctity of true marriage, as God intended. “And the two shall be one flesh.” Few of us know that about Luther – and other salient facts – because it has been suppressed. ‘Scoundrel’ is my assessment and no one else’s.

A recent film on Luther’s life was shown on PBS. It was an unbalanced portrayal, as is usual in portrayals of Luther, that whitewashed the man and trashed the Church. Not a word was said about Luther’s cuts to the Bible, his writings against the Jews, his approval of polygyny, his innovations to Christian doctrine, his condemnation of the Anabaptists to death, etc. It was Luther the Hero vs. the Big Bad Church.

I don’t want to offend anyone, but that’s my honest observation. I was once a Southern Baptist and Luther was my hero. But I knew none of these facts about his life. It’s in his own writings, but those who know, don’t tell.

I was just commenting on how selective filmmakers and biographers have been. They’re careful not to tarnish Luther’s image with the truth.

From the official WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) Q&A website:

Q:I was told that Martin Luther approved of bigamous marriages. Could you please inlighten me of these facts.
A:It would be advisable to draw a distinction between what Luther taught as a general principle and to what he in an unusual circumstance grudgingly gave approval.

Luther believed in monogamous relationships, since Scripture clearly points out that a man should be the husband of one wife.

[Insert: There’s no evidence of Luther’s belief in monogamy, since he’s on record as saying that he “could find no Scriptural basis” for forbidding a man to take two or more wives simultaneously. The (66-book) Bible was his only basis for faith and morals.]

Luther also was opposed to divorce. There were two instances where Luther suggested that bigamy was preferable to divorce. In the first case Henry VIII, the king of England, was looking for a reason to divorce his wife so that he could remarry and have a wife who could provide him with a male heir to the throne. Luther suggested that a lesser evil than divorce would be bigamy.

A more famous incident involved the Landgrave of Hesse, Philip, one of the secular leaders of the Reformation. In 1523 at the age of 19 Philip of Hesse, after a promiscuous period as a teenager, entered into a politically advantageous marriage with Katherine of Saxony, the daughter of Duke George. It was not a marriage made in heaven. Of her Philip said, “She drinks, she stinks, she shows me no affection.”

With problems at home, Philip began to turn to his attention elsewhere. Philip was unfaithful to his wife, but this so troubled his conscience that he communed only rarely. In addition to pangs of conscience about his lifestyle, he also had an acute attack of syphillis in 1539, which was endemic in Europe. In 1539 Philip discussed his situation with Martin Bucer, who in turn discussed it with Luther.

In the late summer of 1539 the situation became more serious when Philip met the 17-year-old Margaret von der Saale, a Saxon noblewoman. Her mother, Anna, would consent to her daughter’s relationship with Philip only if it were legitimized as a second marriage. Genuine second marriages, however, were prohibited by church law and by imperial law.

With a long list of specific instructions from Philip of Hesse, Bucer discussed the issue with Luther on December 9-10, 1539. Luther thought the solution to the situation might be bigamy. Luther believed that “divorce is much worse Scripturally than bigamy.” The theologians clearly indicated that they could give him nothing but extraordinary, pastoral advice in his predicament of conscience, and in no way was it to be made public.

On March 4, 1540, the second marriage took place at Rotenburg on the Fulda River. Witnesses included Bucer and Melanchthon, who had been summoned from the assembly in Smalcald without explanation. The matter was to be kept secret, but unfortunately it did not remain one for long. Margaret’s mother let the world know. [unquote]

[Red for emphasis mine]

wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl…tem_itemID=3711

page 8 WELS Q&A
[right][/right]


#3

If you think “scoundrel” is a moderate term, then you define it differently than I do. Admittedly it’s a lot less than Luther would probably call you . . . .

I continue to maintain that Luther was dealing with difficult circumstances and that his serious error (which it certainly is) does not make him some kind of destroyer of marriage. Which of his works dealing with ethical subjects have you read? Are you familiar with his sermons on the Sermon on the Mount, for instance?

Since you haven’t read Catholic works attacking Luther, you must have gotten your jaundiced view of him from secular or Protestant works, which hardly points toward a cover-up of his flaws by scholars. I’m not sure if the movie you’re talking about is the same as the theatrical movie of last year (which I have not yet seen), but it is true that popular presentations of Luther tend to glorify him, and probably this does have some anti-Catholic basis. More precisely, I think that the liberal/secular interpretation of Luther as the Great Modern Hero is still extremely powerful even though Luther scholars have long pointed out how absurd it is (have you read Oberman’s Man Between God and the Devil?). Bainton’s Here I Stand leans much too far in that direction. Fr. Neuhaus praised Martin Marty’s recent biography, which I have not read. However, Richard Marius’s book on Luther is if anything somewhat of a hatchet job–there are plenty of people writing about Luther who are very critical of him. It seems to me that you’re being extremely selective in claiming that “those who know, aren’t telling.” Then again, I’ve spent years in the company of people who are experts on Luther (I’m a grad student specializing in the Reformation, particularly in a figure called Martin Bucer, whom the WELS website mentioned with regard to Philip’s bigamy), and possibly the more balanced picture we take for granted is not getting out to the public.

Growing up in a conservative evangelical environment, I found that the majority of people I knew tended to idealize Luther without knowing much about him, but a significant minority did exactly the opposite–they took certain things he said or did out of context and griped bitterly about how they had been fooled into thinking he was a holy man when he was anything but. Typically these people had Anabaptist sympathies of one kind or another. (BTW, Luther gave only very guarded approval to the execution of Anabaptists if they could be shown to be engaged in political sedition; and in fact the Lutherans were probably the gentlest to the Anabaptists of any confessional group, and in general were relatively less likely to use lethal force against “heretics” than the other state churches.) So I tend to groan when I hear someone talking as if they have made this horrifying discovery that Luther isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. It’s sort of like the way Catholics must feel when some ex-Catholic says “I was so shocked to discover that there have been bad popes.” I tend to say, “Well, of course, where were you hiding? Deal with it and move on to more relevant stuff.” But that is probably an unfair reaction, and I apologize if I’ve underestimated your knowledge of Luther’s actual works. Possibly you have read stuff I haven’t–Luther’s works are very large, and although I’ve been in grad school a while I haven’t spent all of that time reading Luther . . . . So when I ask what works of Luther’s you’ve read, it isn’t purely a hostile rhetorical question.

In Christ,

Edwin


#4

The answer to this is absolutely, or at least I try to always teach about the bizarre writings, statements, and personality traits of Luther. It surprises me how much I hear Catholic individuals ask this or very similar questions. I think the cause of this arises from a non-intentional comparison of Luther to the Catholic view of the Pope.

Lutherans do not view Luther as a Catholic individual would the Pope. Not only can Luther make mistakes while interpreting scripture and making proclamations, its guaranteed – and while “sinning boldly” none the less. I try to teach this to future Lutherans like myself because it actually encourages them to join the church.

We do not have to say things like, “Well, Luther really meant this when talking about the Jewish or Anabaptists” or “Well, it wasn’t really as bad as what others are saying it is” or “Well, others were doing far worse than he was.” Although as displayed above these types of excuses do happen from time to time.

In my eyes a good Lutheran will say, “Yes Luther did and said many things that we wish that he didn’t, but we consider them to be wrong and they are not part of the Lutheran faith. Other people were doing other horrific acts at the time but this does not make Luther’s actions and statements right or even acceptable. History and opinions about Luther have been skewed by bias but this does not mean that they were not wrong. Luther was the founder of the Church but he is not the Church no more than George Washington is America.”


#5

Contarini,

Scoundrel: (Webster) an unprincipled and dishonorable person; a villian.

It is certainly an unprincipled and dishonorable person who would deliberately alter the Word of God to “prove” his own novel interpretation.

I’m reading my way through iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/wittenberg-home.html

I verify everything critical I read of Luther, preferably in his own writings.

I said that I’ve read nothing the CHURCH has said about Luther. His name isn’t even mentioned. Individual Catholics, however, do not hesitate to tell the truth about him. Dave Armstrong (a Catholic convert) has extensive information about Luther on his vast, award-winning website, Biblical Catholicism.

Christ’s teaching on marriage: Monogamy
Luther’s teaching on marriage: Polygyny

ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ269.HTM
(Document dated December 10, 1539 / Luther’s Letters, De Wette – Seidemann, Berlin, 1828)

Luther believed that polygamy was sanctioned in Scripture:

[list]I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture.

(De Wette, vol. 2, 459)

Whatever else Luther may have said or written (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount that you mentioned) does not change this fact. If we can’t trust Luther’s interpretation of marriage in the Scriptures, on what basis would his other teachings be believed?
[/list]Martin Luther deliberately changed the Scripture. In his German translation, he made Romans 3:28 agree with his doctrine of Sola Fide by adding the word “alone.” For we hold that a man is justified by faith ALONE apart from works of the law. There were, of course, protests. Luther wrote to his friend Winceslaus Link:

“You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word ‘alone’ is not in the text of Paul. If your Papist makes such an unnecessary row about the word ‘alone,’ say right out to him: ‘Dr. Martin Luther’ will have it so,’ and say: ‘Papists and asses are one and the same thing.’ I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word ‘alone’ is not in the Latin or the Greek text, and it was not necessary for the Papists to teach me that. It is true those letters are not in it, which letters the jackasses look at, as a cow stares at a new gate . . . It shall remain in my New Testament, and if all the Popish donkeys were to get mad and beside themselves, they will not get it out” (Martin Luther, Sendbrieff von Dolmetzschen, September 1530).

Some hero, that Luther. Scoundrel? Let history be the judge.

I printed the full text of this letter off the Internet. It can be read at

wls.wels.net/students/coursematerial/Reformationhistory/LutherReadingProject/Chapter%2011%20-%20New%20Testament%20Translation/On%20Translating%20-%20An%20Open%20Letter%20-%20LW%2035,%20177-202.doc


Jay


#6

When asked or when discussing Martin Luther my response is simple. Read his own writings. Katholicos tells it like it is except for the fact that there are a lot of other quotes that are equally damaging. Naturally, these could not be included in a short post.

Read Luther’s writings and then make up your own mind. You will find it difficult not to come up with negative labels of your own. To attempt to somehow separate him from his teachings is incomprehensible. His teachings came from within himself, and that is why it became necessary for him to change words in scripture and to remove books from the bible. He even wanted to remove the Book of Hebrews, James, Jude and the Book of Revelation.

I find it terribly ironic that the man that invented “sola scriptura” would so abuse the holy word of God that he would attempt to change scripture and disavow whole books of the bible because they did not agree with “his” teaching.


#7

Pax: :tiphat:


Jay


#8

[quote=Katholikos]moved from another thread

My Q is, do many Lutherans (and other Protestants) read Luther in his own words, or genuine histories of Luther, or do they read about Luther, which – in my experience – presents the goodly, courageous man valiantly fighting against an oppressive, monolithic Church. You know, the Great Reformer image --the image that is portrayed in recent films about him.
[/quote]

James Swan has done a survey of some modern Roman Catholic scholarship on Luther. They don’t agree with some of the things you’ve said in this thread and speak of Luther in more generous terms. See parts one and two of “The Roman Catholic Understanding of Martin Luther”:

ntrmin.org/rccorner-reformation.htm

-M


#9

Katholikos,

Thanks for posting a link to the whole “letter on translation” so people can see how unfair your selective quotation of it is. Luther comes down on the side of what we would now call “dynamic equivalence” in translation. He explains at some length the basis for his insertion of the word “alone,” which he argues is justified by the context and by the way language is used in German. You can disagree, but it is disingenuous simply to cite his bluster about “my will is reason enough” without also reporting his linguistic and methodological justification. Indeed, you omit that justification, which follows the phrase “cows at a gate,” replacing it with ellipses. This is dangerously close to bearing false witness. You falsely give the impression that Luther does not give a reason for his translation, when in fact he does. You can disagree with his philosophy of translation, but the fact that he uses “dynamic equivalence” does not make him a scoundrel.

You switch the polygyny issue (not that Luther taught polygamy as a normal practice, which you seem to be insinuating) from your earlier claim that Luther is a scoundrel to a sweeping dismissal of everything else Luther said: " If we can’t trust Luther’s interpretation of marriage in the Scriptures, on what basis would his other teachings be believed?"

The only reason anyone I know thinks that Luther’s teachings should be believed is that they (allegedly) conform to Scripture and the teaching of the historic Church. I would agree with you that frequently they don’t. Which is why I think this kind of vicious, selective ad hominem attempt to discredit Luther is as unnecessary as it is unjust. Catholics can afford to take the high ground. Why they persistently choose not to is beyond me. Perhaps there is something in us that likes to cast dirt–a propensity to which Luther is himself an unfortunate and monumental witness!

In Christ,

Edwin


#10

My Q is, do many Lutherans (and other Protestants) read Luther in his own words, or genuine histories of Luther, or do they read about Luther, which – in my experience – presents the goodly, courageous man valiantly fighting against an oppressive, monolithic Church. You know, the Great Reformer image --the image that is portrayed in recent films about him.

Greetings!

I’m a bit curious as to the books you’ve read about Luther.

This is not exactly the truth about Luther. He was a tortured soul and a scoundrel. For example, he “could find no Scriptural justification” for forbidding plural wives, and approved the bigamous marriage of Philip, Landgreave of Hess, both in writing and by sending his sidekick, Melanchthon, and another to act as witnesses to the “marriage.” His bitter, ugly anti-semitism made him the hero of the Nazi party, which culminated in the holocaust. And so on.

Well, Luther did have his problems, that I would never deny, but again, can you lead me to the source or sources of your research. Which books, historical or other, did you read which documents Luther’s antics above.

Yes, I know, there’s plenty of dirt to be distributed on both sides of the Catholic-Protestant divide. But Luther’s warts are obscured by heavy applications of whitewash.

True, some paint Luther in a perfect light, others make him into a demon. Yet, I would really appreciate some insight into your research. Books, chapter, page, etc.

No offense intended, but I’m wondering why one never hears about these (and other) facts. Luther must have a good press agent.:slight_smile:

None taken. I’m use to seeing both sides of the coin, but to be fair to Luther, where can I find this information? Can you supply me with the citations you speak of and where to find them in his writings. Are these citations contextual? Thanks and…

Peace,
CM


#11

This post will be in two parts.

Luther cut Judith, Tobit, Wisdom, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), and 1 and 2 Maccabees from the Old Testament. He also rejected Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation from the writings of the New Testament. He did this by separating them from their traditional placement among the Scriptures, leaving the pages unnumbered, and putting them in a separate section at the back of his German translation of the Bible. He wrote a separate preface for each of them. He said they could be read, but **they weren’t Scripture. **

Here’s a couple of questions about this and the Lutheran answer from the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) Q&A website.
Q:**How did Luther decide which early Christian writings were the inspired Word of God (to be included in the Bible) and which writings were not inspired?

**A:**Luther’s basic criterion for the canonicity of New Testament books was that of the ancient church (first four centuries). IS THIS BOOK APOSTOLIC? That is, 1. Did an apostle write this? 2. Did a close associate (e.g., Mark, Luke) of an apostle write this? This is why he “weighed” Hebrews for a long time. He was unsure of its authorship. He did not discard the book or think little of its content. He did, however, think it must be regarded as not in the first line of authoritative books. [Translation: Luther rejected Hebrews from the canon.] 3. The third measure of apostolicity–weightier in Luther’s thinking than in that of many early fathers: Does this agree with the other apostolic writings? This is why he “downgraded” James [Translation: Luther rejected James from the canon[/color]] because it did not seem to agree with Paul and because it preached more law than Christ. Again, he did not discard it from the canon. (He knew that one man alone should not make such decisions).

[Insert: One man alone – Luther – made the decision to declare seven books of the OT and four of the NT [color=red]“not Scripture.” The fact that he left them between the covers of the same book, but separated them from the canon of scriptures he approved, in no way rescinded his rejection of them.]

One Old Testament book with which Luther struggled was Esther. So did the rabbis at various times. To this writing (as he really did with all writings) he applied the test: “Does it urge Christ”? His answer was, “Yes, because it tells the story of the survival of the people from whom Christ came.”**

[The WELS answer presumes that the so-called Apocrypha was not part of the OT. They don’t mention Luther’s cuts to the original canon.]


(continued)


#12

Part 2

**Q:****In my daughter’s sixth grade Confirmation class (LCMS), she was taught that Martin Luther thought that the New Testament books of James and Revelation were not correct and should not be included in the Bible. I had never heard this. I did see reference to the book of James in your Q&A section on Martin Luther but no mention of Revelation. Can you clarify all of this for us?

****A:****Luther’s controversial writing concerning the Epistle of James and the Revelation can be found in Volume 35 of Luther’s Works, American Edition, pages 395-397 and 399-400.

An excerpt from his “Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude” – "…I praise [the Epistle of James] and consider it a good book, because it sets up no doctrines of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God… However, …I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle, and my reasons follow. [Luther rejected Jude from the canon, but WELS does not specifically address it.]

"In the first place it [James] is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works [2:24]…

"In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ…

“In a word, he wanted to guard against those who relied on faith without works, but was unequal to the task. He tries to accomplish by harping on the law what the apostles accomplish by stimulating people to love. Therefore I cannot include him among the chief books [Translation: Luther rejected James from the canon], though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him,”

Lutherans generally do not agree with Luther’s devaluation of this epistle.

An excerpt from Luther’s earlier preface to Revelation: "About this book of the Revelation of St. John, I leave everyone free to hold his own opinions. I would not have anyone bound to my opinion or judgment. I say what I feel. I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic.

“First and foremost, the apostles do not deal with visions, but prophesy in clear and plain words, as do Peter and Paul, and Christ in the gospel… I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it…” [Translation: Luther rejected Revelation from the canon.]

In 1530, Luther revised the Preface, but had not really changed his view regarding Revelation:

“…Some of the ancient fathers held that it was not the work of St. John, the Apostle… For our part, we still share this doubt. By that, however, no one should be prevented from reading this as the work of St. John the apostle, or of whomever else he chooses…”

Lutherans generally do not agree with Luther’s devaluation of the book of Revelation.

When Luther wrestled with the question of whether these books belong in the canon of scripture, he was not questioning the inspiration or the authority of god’s word. The question for him was what is properly part of God’s Word.**


**Luther appointed himself as the authority to make the decision as to what is “properly part of God’s Word.” **
**For Luther to think that he – rather than Jesus and the Apostles from whom the Church inherited the Scriptures of the Old Covenant knows better than they what belongs in the Scriptures – is the ultimate in egomania. And for him to think that he – rather than the Church who wrote the New Testament (the record of the New Covenant) – knew better than the Catholic bishops who canonized the NT and formed the Bible which books belong in the canon is the ultimate case of megalomania.]

As with other questions of faith and doctrine, Luther is never the final authority.**


[If Luther is not the authority in the Lutheran church(es), who is? It’s every single individual, deciding the canon of Scripture for himself, and interpreting it for himself, as he is taught by Luther’s doctrine of Sola Scriptura.]


#13

Part 3 is just me thanking all who read the two previous posts. Sorry they were so long. There’s a lot to say about the Real Luther.

Here’s the conclusion:

Therefore, there is no Capitol T Truth in Christianity. It’s all subjective. Relative. Your Truth is as good as mine. Revelation is meaningless. Christianity is a revealed religion. Therefore, Christianity is meaningless.

That’s why I became an agnostic, then an atheist. I eventually learned that it’s not true, and joyfully became a Catholic. God’s Truth was revealed in Jesus Christ to the Apostles, through Catholic Church where it has been preserved to this very day. Deo Gratias!


Peace be to all who post at Catholic Answers.

**Color code: **
Bold = WELS Q&A
Red: My inserts in the WELS text.
Blue] My commentary
Unbolded black - My commentary
Bolded grey - My commentary


#14

Hello again!

In your original post you stated:

My Q is, do many Lutherans (and other Protestants) read Luther in his own words, or genuine histories of Luther, or do they read about Luther, which – in my experience – presents the goodly, courageous man valiantly fighting against an oppressive, monolithic Church. You know, the Great Reformer image --the image that is portrayed in recent films about him.

This is not exactly the truth about Luther. He was a tortured soul and a scoundrel. For example, he “could find no Scriptural justification” for forbidding plural wives, and approved the bigamous marriage of Philip, Landgreave of Hess, both in writing and by sending his sidekick, Melanchthon, and another to act as witnesses to the “marriage.” His bitter, ugly anti-semitism made him the hero of the Nazi party, which culminated in the holocaust. And so on.

Your original question asked if Protestants read Luther writings for themselves and implied that Protestants deceive themselves in holding Luther upright when, in reality, Luther is to be blamed for denying that Scripture speaks about polygamy, causing bigamy, and sowing the seeds in anti-semitism which eventually led to Naziism. You also stated that he was a “scoundrel.” So, with your points well taken from your subsequent posts (although I don’t know what canon issues have to do with this), I ask my queston again: Have you read any of Luther’s writings or do you have the citations where I can view the context for myself?

You also stated:

Yes, I know, there’s plenty of dirt to be distributed on both sides of the Catholic-Protestant divide. But Luther’s warts are obscured by heavy applications of whitewash.

What do you base this on? If you’ve studied Luther for yourself, please show me how you apply these “heavy applications of whitewash” to Luther legitimately.

I’m not trolling, but I’ve seen much said about Luther on this forum, yet the sources being quoted aren’t actually his writings within his context, but rather hearsay.

Peace,
CM


#15

Churchmouse:

Among many possible websites:

Re: The Nazi’s and Martin Luther

cdn-friends-icej.ca/antiholo/naziluth.html

Re: (In Luther’s own words) *On the Jews and Their Lies - read it for yourself here or at several other Internet sites. *

humanitas-international.org/showcase/chronography/documents/luther-jews.htm

Re: bigamy/polygyny:

[/font]http://www.cuis.edu/ftp/WITTENBERG/FW-_POLITICAL_REBELLION_AND_MARTIN_LUTH.ER-0110

As for “the highest law of the land”, Luther dealt with that during the bigamy scandal of Philip of Hesse. When news leaked out of the secret dispensation (for Philip’s bigamous marriage) from Luther and other Lutheran theologians, Luther’s response was that the dispensation was confessional in nature (despite non-cleric Melanchthon’s involvement) and thus the advice
given (for bigamy) could supercede the Emperor’s law of the land (forbiding bigamy).

“What is it, if for the good and sake of the Christian church, one
should tell a good strong lie?” (The Life and Letters of Martin
Luther
, Preserved Smith, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1911, p.381; also documented in Briefwechsel Landgraf Philipps des
Grossmhuthigen von Hessen mit Bucer
, Max Lenz, Leipzig, 1880, p. 373)

Luther believed that while the Scriptures did not prefer bigamy (or polygamy) it was allowed because of OT references (what kind of exegesis is this?). Despite Luther’s desire for secrecy and denial, Philip was forced to obtain a imperial pardon in return for not allowing William of Cleves (Germany) into the League. This allowed Charles V to attack and defeat Duke William in 1543 without interference from the Smalcald League.

“With this loss, the Reformation came to a halt in Cleves and the
duke would remain Catholic while Guelders was partitioned to the Netherlands.” (Lutheran Theology and the Bigamy of Landgrave Philip of Hesse, Amelia Mina Von Voss, Master’s Thesis, University of Texas, Austin, TX, Dec. 1992, p. 29).

A consequence of Luther not calling Philip’s bluff to leave the Smalcald League if his demand for the dispensation were not met.
[end quote] --------------------------

The infamous letter to Hesse signed by Luther is among his own writings at Project Wittenburg, but I’ve lost the URL directly to it. I’ll attempt to find it. But this is a very well documented historical event.

My only purpose in initiating this subject was to call attention to the fact that Protestants usually have a warped image of Luther. I and everyone I know certainly did. And recent cinematographers and documentary filmmakers have continued omitting any facts from their film biographies that would detract from Luther’s hero image. I believe truth is preferable to fiction. Character counts.

I’m sure some Protestants are familiar with Luther’s history, but I’m also sure the average guy-and-gal-in-the-pew is not, based on my own experience.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions.

To be continued.

Peace to all who post at Catholic Answers.

Jay


#16

Churchmouse:

Triumph - The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church - a 2,000-Year History, Forum, Prima Publishing, H. W. Crocker III, 2001

Martin Luther - pp 235 to 250

Crocker, who is known for his Civil War histories, is a convert to the Catholic Church from Anglicanism.

Peace, Jay


#17

[quote=Contarini]Katholikos,

Thanks for posting a link to the whole “letter on translation” so people can see how unfair your selective quotation of it is. Luther comes down on the side of what we would now call “dynamic equivalence” in translation. He explains at some length the basis for his insertion of the word “alone,” which he argues is justified by the context and by the way language is used in German. You can disagree, but it is disingenuous simply to cite his bluster about “my will is reason enough” without also reporting his linguistic and methodological justification.
In Christ,…

Edwin
[/quote]

This section of your post contains what appears to be nothing more than a series of euphemisms. There is no excuse for adding words to scripture to suit your own interpretation. Luther’s justification is meaningless when it comes to changing the inspired text. Before Luther’s bible appeared in 1522 there were already 14 German translations in existence. And guess what, not one of them had any missing books nor was the word “alone” added to the book of Romans. Moreover, later protestants deleted the word “alone” from subsequent translations because they realized the folly of inserting it in the sacred text. No amount of rationalization about Luther’s “linguistic and methodological justifications” can overcome what he did or what he said about it. The facts are what they are.


#18

Dynamic equivalence is not a euphemism. Ask any linguist or professional translator. Luther gives a thoughtful, careful defence of his decision to translate the text that way–a defence that you ignore, and come close to pretending doesn’t exist (by omitting it and replacing it with ellipses, giving the impression that Luther refused to give a rationale for his translation when the exact opposite is true). How do you defend this omission on your part? You are free to disagree with Luther’s translation–I do as well. But the fact is that he explains in some detail why he thinks the insertion of “alone” is warranted. Translation is not a matter of word-for-word equivalence. Surely you know this?

In Christ,

Edwin


#19

Translations add many words to the Bible that are not found in the original Greek and Hebrew texts, otherwise the translations would be more or less useless. Every English translated Bible accepted by the Catholic Church has words added that do not exist in the original languages. There are Bibles that do translate the Greek and Hebrew tests word for word but they are only to be used as reference.


#20

[quote=Katholikos]Churchmouse:

Triumph - The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church - a 2,000-Year History, Forum, Prima Publishing, H. W. Crocker III, 2001

Martin Luther - pp 235 to 250

Crocker, who is known for his Civil War histories, is a convert to the Catholic Church from Anglicanism.

Peace, Jay
[/quote]

Hello Jay,

I read both your posts and without taking away from the websites and the book by Crocker, I originally was under the impression that you were actually reading Luther’s writings.

Peace,
CM


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