What's the source for the "snow-covered dunghill" analogy?


#1

i can’t seem to find an actual reference to any of luther’s works for the “snow-covered dunghill” analogy that is popularly attributed to him. did he actually say it? does anyone know where i can find the source?

thanks,
phatcatholic


#2

Maybe it was just a favorite saying of his that he never wrote down. It certainly sounds like something he would say.


#3

That’s a rather lame explanation. If it was never written down, then how did it come to us? Oral tradition? Or are you thinking of the Table Talk? I agree that if Luther said it, then he probably said it in the Table Talk. Certainly it has the sound of something he might have said (he was very fond of scatological analogies). But it’s also possible that some Catholic opponent used it to discredit him, and that other Catholics mistakenly took it as an actual quote. That’s also the kind of thing that might have happened. When dealing with traditional Catholic lore about Luther, extreme skepticism is in order (as when dealing with the Protestant “Black Legend” about the cruelty of Catholicism).

In Christ,

Edwin


#4

Luther did advance the idea that God kind of throws a blanket over our sins right? This just seem like an overdramatic way of saying that.


#5

Luther said that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, yes. As in a marriage where the property of one spouse becomes legally the property of the other, Christ takes our sins and we take His righteousness. He also believed that while Christ really makes us righteous, our status as righteous doesn’t depend on our actual righteousness, but on Christ’s righteousness which is imputed to us–hence the “covering” metaphor. But Catholics (and some Protestants) frequently misinterpret this to mean that we can remain in a state of mortal sin and still be saved–something explicitly denied by Luther, as I’ve shown in another thread. A person who has saving faith in Christ will not deliberately commit serious sin. In many of his writings, Luther shied away from emphasizing this because he didn’t want to get people worrying about whether they had committed mortal sin or not. He thought that if you look to Christ in faith, the other stuff will take care of itself (though he seems to have become more aware of the limitations of this approach in later years). But it’s spelled out explicitly in the Galatians commentary and other works.

In Christ,

Edwin


#6

This has got to be one of the biggest misunderstandings

about Luther. It was based on a practice of his time,
where people had such heaps on their property
[the bigger the heap, the more wealth indicated!}
I’m not making this up!
The material was, obviously, used as fertilizer.
The more animals you had, the more additional
material was generated.
So, what may be off-putting to urban dwellers in
the twenty-first century, would have been a
commonplace in his day.
[I can’t stop laughing! It’s so funny when you think about it…the amount of X = indicator of wealth.]
Thanks for asking the question. It’s the biggest,
heartiest laugh I’ve had all day.
If you want to know why Luther used that particular
analogy, I’d be happy to try to respond to that too.
reen12


#7

oh, i understand what the analogy means, i was just wondering if there was a source for it. since its attributed to luther, it would be nice to be able to quote the work that he uses it in. but, it looks as tho he didn’t actually coin the phrase (or the metaphor) but that critics of luther have created it as a short-hand way to describe his theology.


#8

[quote=phatcatholic]oh, i understand what the analogy means, i was just wondering if there was a source for it. since its attributed to luther, it would be nice to be able to quote the work that he uses it in. but, it looks as tho he didn’t actually coin the phrase (or the metaphor) but that critics of luther have created it as a short-hand way to describe his theology.
[/quote]

You are right. I have asked numerous people (Catholics, Lutherans, etc) to produce this quote and no one has. Gary Hoge wisely says in an answer that ML is alleged to have said this.

I’ve seen a rather vicious flame war between Catholics over this subject. I personally think as Catholics we need to stick to a high standard–if you can’t cite it, don’t repeat it.

Scott


#9

Dear phatcatholic,

Now you’ve got me wondering what the source of this
analogy was.

Spent some time on google, but have yet to unearth it.
If I do find it, I’ll post.

reen12


#10

thank you all for your responses so far.

this discussion reminded me of another claim often used in catholic apologetics that i have been unable to substantiate. i have read in several places online that one reason the name-change from Simon to Cephas is important is b/c Simon in Aramaic means “sand” and so Jesus wished to give his name more significance. well, after asking several people knowledgable of aramaic–and even after writing Robert Sungenis, who used this argument in an article he wrote–i have found that there is no merit or basis for the claim. Sungenis too was unable to substantiate it.


#11

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