Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Selection from “That These Words of Christ, ‘This is My Body,’ etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics,”

Once Scripture had become like a broken net and no one would be restrained by it, but everyone made a hole in it wherever it pleased him to poke his snout, and followed his own opinions, interpreting and twisting Scripture any way he pleased, the Christians knew no other way to cope with these problems than to call many councils. In these they issued many outward laws and ordinances alongside Scripture, in order to keep the people together in the face of these divisions.

As a result of this undertaking (though they meant well), arose the sayings that the Scriptures were not sufficient, that we also needed the laws and the interpretations of the councils and the fathers, and that the Holy Spirit did not reveal everything to the apostles but reserved certain things for the fathers. Out of this finally developed the papacy, in which there is no authority but man-made laws and interpretations according to the “chamber of the holy father’s heart.”

When the devil saw this he jeered and thought: "Now I have won! Scripture lies prostrate, the fortress is destroyed, the weapons are beaten down. In their place they now weave walls of straw and make weapons of hay, i.e., they intend now to array themselves against me with man-made laws. Ah, this is serious! What shall I do? I shall not fight against this, but pitch in and help them build so that they remain nicely united, and help them gather enough straw and hay. It serves my purpose well that they should neglect the Word and not dispute over the Scriptures, but that at this very point they should be at peace and believe what the councils and the fathers say. But within this peace and unity I shall stir up many another controversy and quarrel, so that the pope will contend against emperor and kings, bishops against princes and lords, scholars against scholars, clerics against clerics, and everyone against the other, for the sake of temporal honor, possessions, and pleasure, yet leaving untouched their unity of belief in the holy fathers. The fools! What can they expect to accomplish with quarrels over the Scriptures and the things of God they do not understand? It is better for them to quarrel over honor, kingdoms, principalities, property, pleasure, and bodily needs, which they do understand, and meanwhile remain faithful Christians united in the glossed faith of the fathers, i.e., a flimsy faith."

This is the way the plot worked out for the fathers: Since they contrived to have the Scriptures without quarreling and dissension, they thereby became the cause of men’s turning wholly and completely away from the Scriptures to mere human drivel. Then, of course, dissension and contention over the Scriptures necessarily ceased, which is a divine quarrel wherein God contends with the devil as St. Paul says in Ephesians 6 [:12], “We have to contend not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in the air.” But in place of this, there has broken out human dissension over temporal honor and goods on earth, yet there remain a united blindness and ignorance of the Scriptures and a loss of the true Christian faith, i.e., a united obedience to the glosses of the fathers and to the holy see at Rome. Isn’t this also a piece of devilish craftiness? No matter what play we make, he is a master and an expert at the game.

Now in our day, having seen that Scripture was utterly neglected and the devil was making captives and fools of us by the mere straw and hay of man-made laws, we have tried by God’s grace to offer some help in this matter. With immense and bitter effort indeed we have brought the Scriptures to the fore again and released the people from man-made laws, freed ourselves and escaped the devil, although he stubbornly resisted and still continues to do so.

However, even though he has had to let us go, he does not forget his tricks. He has secretly sown his seed among us so that they may take hold of our teachings and words, not to aid and assist us in fostering the Scriptures, but while we were leading in the fight against human drivel to fall upon our host from the rear, incite rebellion and raise an uproar against us, in order that caught between two enemies, we may be more easily destroyed. This is what I call throwing quicksilver into the pond!

However, he does not leave the matter there, but quick as a flash goes to work on the sacraments, although in this respect he has already torn at least ten rips and loopholes in the Scriptures. I have never read of a more shameful heresy, which from the outset has gathered to itself so many heads, so many factions and dissensions, although on the main point, the persecution of Christ, they are united. But he will keep on and attack still other articles of faith, as he already declares with flashing eyes that baptism, original sin, and Christ are nothing. Once more there will arise a brawl over the Scriptures, and such dissension and so many factions that we may well say with St. Paul, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Th 2:7), just as he also saw that many more factions would arise after him.

If the world lasts much longer, men will, as the ancients did, once more turn to human schemes on account of this dissension, and again issue laws and regulations to keep the people in the unity of the faith. Their success will be the same as it was in the past. In short, the devil is too clever and too mighty for us. He resists and hinders us at every point. When we wish to deal with Scripture, he stirs up so much dissension and quarreling over it that we lose our interest in it and become reluctant to trust it. We must forever be scuffling and wrestling with him. If we wish to stand upon the councils and counsels of men, we lose the Scriptures altogether and remain in the devil’s possession body and soul. He is Satan, and Satan is his name, i.e., an adversary. He must obstruct and cause misfortune; he cannot do otherwise. Moreover, he is the prince and god of this world, so that he has sufficient power to do so. Since he is able and determined to do all this, we must not imagine that we shall have peace from him. He takes no vacation and he does not sleep.

Choose, then, whether you prefer to wrestle with the devil or whether you prefer to belong to him. If you consent to be his, you will receive his guarantee to leave you in peace with the Scriptures. If you refuse to be his, defend yourself, go at him! He will not pass you by; he will create such dissension and sectarianism over the Scriptures that you will not know where Scriptures, faith, Christ, and you yourself stand.

*************

Emphasis added to the words in question. This short quotation was originally extracted from the American Edition of Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961) volume 37, pp. 14-17, Robert H. Fischer, translator/editor (quoted as a "fair use" - should the copyright holder disagree, it is requested that he contact the blog owner through the email found on his profile).

This context provides a rather different sense as to what Luther was trying to say, than the sense conveyed by Cochlaeus and many who have followed him.

But let us not render final judgment. Perhaps Mr. Fischer has rendered the text too kindly to Luther. Perhaps the German or Latin source documents will reveal a pro-Lutheran bias in Mr. Fischer's translation.

Those interested can read more of the document here (link), notes on the work beginning at page 3, work itself beginning at page 13 (bold portion above at page 17), with the last available part of the treatise ending at page 73 (obviously, there is a lot more context that could be provided).

-Turretinfan

7 comments:

natamllc said...

Here's a saying I am "speaking" up a lot to my two sons:

God took the world out of you, He did not take you out of the world.

Joh 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

The Apostle Peter said we can "hasten" or "speed" up the coming of the day of the Lord when He through His Church causes wars to cease to the end of the earth. It is not looking good for those who refuse to accept this Gospel of the Kingdom. It's trouble for them as it is for the Beast, the False Prophet, Satan, Death and Hades. But for us, it is a time for our prayers to be answered. God can answer our prayers too. He has all the resources available to bring about Joy in the Created Heavens, "to let the heavens be glad" and bring about an end to all the wickedness that is secretly and openly being done on the earth. The earth is the Lord's. It's Abraham's and his sons to inherit, this world. It's time we focus our people not on living OUR BEST LIFE NOW, but on fighting our BEST WARFARE NOW AND BRING ABOUT THE END OF ALL THINGS.

What are we bringing to light? It is Jesus Christ, Him crucified. He is not building some kingdom here on earth, It's already built. He is establishing the Gospel of the Kingdom through His Body here on earth displacing the god of this world and his wicked rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This is the "eternal" purpose not some "temporal" have your best life now comfortable message purpose for the Church to fulfill. No, it's not going to be like that. Just consider what Jesus said here:
Luk 12:49 "I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!

Luk 12:50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

Luk 12:51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

Now consider, there is no promise of any one of us "getting rich". No, on the contrary, we are bringing an end to all "getting rich" schemes or purposes in favor of a better heavens and earth, ah, a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

We need to lift the eyes of our people up to the True Vision of God's Word and get them to stop looking to the "ends of the earth" and start living in such a way that we bring about the "end of the earth", casting down Satan and his demons, the Beast, the False Prophet, Death and Hades. The Vision is to end the earth we live on right now and hold God to His promise that He would make our enemies a footstool for our feet in the process of bringing all things to their end! God is not interested in our little woundings and prayer meetings where we all go away feeling better. Are we not suppose to be "dead" and our "life" hid with Christ now in God?
Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

At some appointed time the Church is going to wake up and realize that we are not to build our future on the same foundation the world is building theirs.

We are to rise up and reign in Life through Jesus Christ.

So, finally, here's my question:

Why shouldn't the Church pray the prayers of all the Saints and see the 8th Angel, as described in Revelation Chapter 8 take the fire from the Altar and mix it with the prayers of the Saints and cast fire to the earth?

Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne,
Rev 8:4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
Rev 8:5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Turretinfan said...

Those who follow Christ are saints. The prayers of His followers are the prayers of the saints.

We do pray them.

But I'm not sure what your question has to do with the post.

-Turretinfan

natamllc said...

TF,

I was keying off phrases in the post like this one:

[[...in order to keep the people together in the face of these divisions.]]


and this one:

[[...and that the Holy Spirit did not reveal everything to the apostles but reserved certain things for the fathers.]]


and here too:::>

[[When the devil saw this he jeered and thought: "Now I have won! Scripture lies prostrate, the fortress is destroyed, the weapons are beaten down. In their place they now weave walls of straw and make weapons of hay,...]]


The purpose of my post is to proclaim that the Church is the "eternal purpose" of Christ, Who is the Scepter of "His"/Our Heavenly Father's Righteousness in creation today and everyday.

Also, my post is to contrast Christ's stated "division" within and without, in this creation with this division stated in your post:::>

[[But within this peace and unity I shall stir up many another controversy and quarrel, so that the pope will contend against emperor and kings, bishops against princes and lords, scholars against scholars, clerics against clerics, and everyone against the other, for the sake of temporal honor, possessions, and pleasure, yet leaving untouched their unity of belief in the holy fathers.]]

When the Church rises up and reigns through Christ and His promises, divisions will come, divisions like what Jesus said and I quoted in my first comments above.

Also I was putting forth what I would like to imagine as "Spiritual drivel", that is that the Hammer of the Word that breaks the concrete would break concrete hardened in the head?

Lastly, I was making comment that the Church, according to my understanding, yours may be different, can accelerate the return of Christ by coming together into that Unity Christ prayed about in John 17.

It was based on phrases such as this one::::>

[[If the world lasts much longer, men will, as the ancients did,.... ....If you refuse to be his, defend yourself, go at him! He will not pass you by; he will create such dissension and sectarianism over the Scriptures that you will not know where Scriptures, faith, Christ, and you yourself stand.]]

I believe it is the Church that can bring the world to its end and why I have recently been having this sort of discussion with my sons, hence the little saying, God took the world out of you not taking you out of the world. My sons need to learn about all this. They were raised up in a Christian home and it is my intent as their father to give them every advantage Christ gives me to "fight the good Fight".

Thanks for including me in your blogsphere life!

Michael

James Swan said...

Well, I do enjoy contexts. Mr. Armstrong can do what he wants with it, but I simply will ask people to read it. It's not that difficult to follow, nor does it state what Steve Ray said it did. Case closed. This case was closed when I wrote my initial aomin entry back in...was it November?

Steve said he had Luther's Works (CD ROM), I'm not sure when he got it, but if it were me going to print, I would probably check my statements very carefully.

When all is said and done, one thing still should not be forgotten: the context of this quote was not checked by probably any of the current Catholic apologists or zealous internet warriors- this is what actually provoked this- someone posted the quote over on Carrie's blog, not even considering someone may actually check one of these Catholic-used Luther quotes.

Back when I was on discussion boards, it was really easy to bulldoze any Luther discussion started by a Catholic e-pologist, because they typically had no idea what they were quoting. The had O'Hare's book, or some link of propaganda. Now with the advent of Google books and more internet sites of actual books, the typical propaganda approach will not be as easy. it used to cost me a lot of money at times to track certain things down...but no more. Now, anyone can check contexts.

19th Century Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar probably actually read the context. Grisar and Denifle actually read Luther. Ironic as it is, 20th century Catholic scholarship more-a-less considered their work not accurate in portraying Luther.

I realize Mr. Armstrong, attorney Hoffer, and Steve Ray have other issues about this quote they feel deserve deep scrutiny. I'm not sure they will like what they find. Luther is easily mis-quoted, or poorly cited, misunderstood, and demonized. This is why Catholic historians in 20th century need to be commended for actually reading Luther, and trying to do so without the hostilities found in previous generations of Catholic polemics.

I realize for these 3 men, finding out why the Latin source is what it is, is important. In some way, this is supposed to alleviate the error in using an outrageous Luther quote without checking the context. It does not.

I've had the LW CD ROM for quite a few years now, and even though some of these frequently used Luther quotes aren't worded exactly the same, using short phrases or similar wording can often find a context for a quote. In other words, it isn't all that hard to do- usually.

Turretinfan said...

Ah, James had already posted essentially the same thing. Link

James Swan said...

Ah, James had already posted essentially the same thing.

Yes, I posted in back on December 20, 2007, and also mentioned it in November in my aomin entry.

When the context is read, you could insert the Latin quote:

"If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith."

This quote works just as well, and makes just as much sense if it were popped into the context. "On account of this dissension" (as stated in LW 37) in the preceding paragraph is explained to be differing interpretations given to the Scriptures. "Human schemes " issuing "laws and regulations" keeping people "in the unity of the faith" (as stated in LW 37) does sound a lot like receiving "the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith."

Again, this argument is over. It ended when Mr. Armstrong agreed that I was right on the source for this quote. Reading the actual context does not support Mr. Ray's interpretation.

Did Luther actually concede a council would be that which could unify the Reformers? He states in this treatise, "If the world lasts much longer, men will, as the ancients did, once more turn to human schemes on account of this dissension, and again issue laws and regulations to keep the people in the unity of the faith. Their success will be the same as it was in the past." Both earlier and in the text after this particular quote, Luther states that councils will result in failure, because "human schemes " "laws and regulations " are not the work of the Holy Spirit, but of men. The text goes on to say, "In short, the devil is too clever and too mighty for us" because "If we wish to stand upon the councils and counsels of men, we lose the Scriptures altogether and remain in the devil’s possession body and soul." Luther isn't conceding anything. He's describing precisely what men do when faced with dissension- come up with ways to try to stop it. Earlier in the same text, Luther describes the way councils arose, and attributes the Devil saying, " It serves my purpose well that they should neglect the Word and not dispute over the Scriptures, but that at this very point they should be at peace and believe what the councils and the fathers say."

Turretinfan said...

James,

You wrote: "This quote works just as well, and makes just as much sense if it were popped into the context."

I would agree that even if we substituted Cochlaeus' gloss for Luther's words, in context, the quotation would not be helpful to anti-Sola-Scripture folks. He thinks that both harmful human bickering and harmful human pontifications are the result of Satan's influence.

-Turretinfan