Monday, October 04, 2010

Observe the Similarities: Luther 1540 - Luther 1544

Reading through James Swan's latest quotations from Luther (contra the Immaculate Conception), one particular line caught my eye:
But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin.
This reminded me of a similar line from the 1540 material that had been set forth as showing that Mary was immaculately conceived:
all that flesh and blood of Mary's has been purified in conception, so that nothing sinful remains.
Notice that in the translation (one of many translations that has been made) there is some ambiguity about whose conception it is. In the first quotation I've provided, there's a similar ambiguity. In both cases, the ambiguity goes away as soon as one looks at the context. I've already shown the context for the 1540 quotation (here). And Mr. Swan has provided the context for the 1544 quotation (here), a portion of which I'll reproduce below:
The flesh of Christ comes forth from an incestuous union; likewise, the flesh of the Virgin, His mother, and of all the descendants of Judah, in such a way that the ineffable plan of God’s mercy may be pointed out, because He assumed the flesh or the human nature from flesh that was contaminated and horribly polluted.

The scholastic doctors argue about whether Christ was born from sinful or clean flesh, or whether from the foundation of the world God preserved a pure bit of flesh from which Christ was to be born. I reply, therefore, that Christ was truly born from true and natural flesh and human blood which was corrupted by original sin in Adam, but in such a way that it could be healed. Thus we, who are encompassed by sinful flesh, believe and hope that on the day of our redemption the flesh will be purged of and separated from all infirmities, from death, and from disgrace; for sin and death are separable evils. Accordingly, when it came to the Virgin and that drop of virginal blood, what the angel said was fulfilled: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). To be sure, the Messiah was not born by the power of flesh and blood, as is stated in John ( cf. 1:13): “Not of blood nor of the will of a man, etc.” Nevertheless, He wanted to be born from the mass of the flesh and from that corrupted blood. But in the moment of the Virgin’s conception the Holy Spirit purged and sanctified the sinful mass and wiped out the poison of the devil and death, which is sin. Although death remained in that flesh on our account, the leaven of sin was nevertheless purged out, and it became the purest flesh, purified by the Holy Spirit and united with the divine nature in one Person. Therefore it is truly human nature no different from what it is in us. And Christ is the Son of Adam and of his seed and flesh, but, as has been stated, with the Holy Spirit overshadowing it, active in it, and purging it, in order that it might be fit for this most innocent conception and the pure and holy birth by which we were to be purged and freed from sin. [LW 7:12]
As you can see, context is key. "Mary's conception," or "the conception of Mary" (or replace "Mary" with "Virgin") can refer to two very different things: it can refer to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, and it can refer to the conception of Jesus (or any of his ἀδελφοὶ - look up its etymology). In the latter case, Mary is doing the conceiving, in the former case she is receiving the conceiving. The difference in meaning is significant and - in English - the difference can only be determined by looking at the context.

Moral of the story: check the context of your quotations. In these cases, quotations that might sound like support for the Roman Catholic error of the Immaculate Conception end up being rebuttals to it.

-TurretinFan

1 comment:

natamllc said...

I don't know; I always come away after reading these sorts of arguments and things with a sense that the devil put them up to it!

Yes, the devil did that.

He it is who has a vested interest in people getting it wrong.

Not God.

It seems to me we ought to just submit to having our proverbial wings clipped with these Words of the Gospel and come into obedience to this Faith mindful that before ever there was this sort of imagination in the minds of sinful fallen men and women which precipitated the writings of both 1540 and 44 God heralded this:

Isa 66:1 Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?
Isa 66:2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Isa 66:3 "He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig's blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;
Isa 66:4 I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight."
Isa 66:5 Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: "Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for my name's sake have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy'; but it is they who shall be put to shame.
Isa 66:6 "The sound of an uproar from the city! A sound from the temple! The sound of the LORD, rendering recompense to his enemies!
Isa 66:7 "Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.
Isa 66:8 Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.
Isa 66:9 Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?" says the LORD; "shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?" says your God.
Isa 66:10 "Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her;
Isa 66:11 that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance."
Isa 66:12 For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.
Isa 66:13 As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
Isa 66:14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants, and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.


This exercise is a good one, in that, with this Sword of Life one thrusts through the hearts of the ones who thrust the air holding a sword of death!

The has come and should we not submit to it?

Isa 2:20 In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats,
Isa 2:21 to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
Isa 2:22 Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?


Thank you again TF for your untiring Love and Grace to be opened up, yet again, to be ridiculed by those not enlightened!