Author Topic: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther  (Read 920 times)

A Catholic Lutheran

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Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« on: October 09, 2010, 09:00:48 AM »
An interesting idea for a topic has been floated:
Who, exactly, was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther and what was the nature of the Reformation he helped launch?

Was he a "traditionalist," who was seeking a "conservative" Reformation that would lead the Church "back" towards something?
Was he a "revolutionary," whose goal was to overthrow tradition in favor of individualism, Christian freedom, and trying to get the Church to step into a "brave new world?"
Was he both, niether, or somewhere in between?

Please feel free... heck, please USE... actual "source" material (ie.  the BoC, LW, etc...) and "recognized" expert opinions.  (PLEASE cite your quotations and sources so that we might benefit from them.  No citation, then they may be freely ignored.)

Will the real Martin Luther please stand up?

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

A Catholic Lutheran

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2010, 01:01:01 PM »
I'm surprised that nobody has bit, yet, so...

From Pr. Brian Stoffregen, on another thread:
Quote
Which tradition? Is the oldest practice always the "traditional" one? At some point in Christian history, the powers that be, determined among other things, that Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 7 that marriage meant that one had to devote some time and energy to the spouse -- and not totally to the Lord; meant that those taking vows to the Church meant that they had to be fully devoted to the Lord and his Church -- and could not be married. (I've heard some Roman Catholic priests talk about being "married" to the church. The Church in Luther's day had its interpretation of scripture and tradition. Luther had another interpretation.

Would you not agree that celebrating communion at least weekly (if not daily) is an older and longer lasting tradition than once a month communion? Would you not agree that celebrating first communion at one's baptism, regardless of age, as the Orthodox do, is an older tradition than waiting until confirmation or completing a class in 5th grade (or younger)? Yet, even though we can show that there are older traditions than what many are used to today, it certainly isn't easy to return to those traditions. The folks today are often convinced by their interpretation of scriptures and their own tradition (two or three generations) that what they are doing is the right way.

Just ask the folks in the pew to cross themselves at the appropriate times in the liturgy -- and point out that Luther himself told us to cross ourselves in the Small Catechism.

Staring that Luther was seeking to return to an older tradition doesn't make it any easier to fight the deeply held convictions and interpretations and practices of the folks of his day any more than it is for us to return to early church practices in our congregations. It is a battle of interpretations of scriptures and traditions. Celibacy for those taking vows to the church was the tradition in Luther's day based on an interpretation of scriptures.

It seems to me that Luther would reject, out of hand, your assertion that the question of returning "to what" as being a subjective matter.  Over, and over, and over again, the goals of Luther seem to invoke the words of Scripture as the objective standard of what we should "return to."  So, for example, the matter of Sacredotal Marriage.  Luther and Melancthon argue that the older practice of allowing priests to marry needs to be returned to, but not merely off the basis of it being the "older practice" (which is subjective), but more so because Scripture allows for married men being ordained to the priesthood, which is an objective standard.

So, you get, in AC XXIII:
There has been common complaint concerning priests who have not been continent.  On this account, Pope Pius is reported to have said that there were some reasons why priests were forbidden to marry but that there are now far weightier reasons why this rite should be restored.  Platina writes to this effect.  Since priests among us desired to avoid such open scandals, they took wives and taught that it was lawful for them to contract matrimony.  In the first place, this was done because Paul says, "Because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife." (1 Corinthians 7:2) and again, "It is better to marry than to be aflame with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:9)  In the second place, Christ said, "Not all men can recieve this precept" (Matthew 19:11), by which he declared that not all men are suited for celibacy because God created man for procreation (Genesis 1:28)  Moreover, it is not in man's power to alter his creation without a singular gift and work of God.  Therefore those who are not suited for celibacy ought to marry, for no law of man and no vow can nullify a commandment of God and an institution of God.  For these reasons our priests teach that it is lawful for them to have wives.
   It is also evident that in the ancient Church priests were married men.  Paul said that a married man should be chosen to be a bishop (1 Timothy 3:2), and not until four hundred years ago were priests in Germany compelled by force to live in celibacy.  In fact, they offered such resistance that the Archbishop of Mayance, when about to publish the Roman pontiff's edict on this matter, was almost killed by the enraged priests in an uprising.  In such a harsh manner was the edict carried out that, not only were future marriages prohibited, but existing marriages were also dissolved, although this was contrary to all laws, divine and human, and contrary even to the canons, both those made by the popes and those made by the most celebrated councils.
" AC XXIII, Tappert

My point is that, first Luther and Melancthon appeal to an argument from Scripture, which is not at all subjective, then to the Tradition and canons of the Church, which also are not subjective.  Rather, Luther and Melancthon argue, not out of a "subjective" framework, but instead from an objective framework, calling the Church back, not to a subjective understanding or tradition, but rather to an objective standard of faithfulness.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

« Last Edit: October 09, 2010, 01:22:54 PM by A Catholic Lutheran »

Jeff-MN

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2010, 01:24:36 PM »
For the most part, he was "tradionalist". 

An example of his attempt to "overthrow tradition in favor of individualism, Christian freedom.." was his dumping of the catholic liturgy for his own "home-made" liturgy.

ptmccain

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2010, 01:50:24 PM »
I'm surprised my good friend, The Venerable Weed, aka, Rev. William Weedon, has not mentioned already one of his favorite books:

The Conservative Reformation by Charles Porterfield Krauth.

I think it is the best thing ever written definitively proving the nature of Lutheranism as that of being conservative in its reforms and aims at "changing" what did not need changing at the time of the Reformation.

ddrebes

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2010, 02:07:40 PM »
Scott Hendrix's Recultivating the Vineyard sidesteps the usual conservative/radical debate by arguing that Luther, along with the other reformers, was interested in Christianization of society.  For Luther, this project largely took a pedagogical/catechectical/sacramental form.  So the common thread Hendrix finds when looking at Luther's innovations and traditional retentions is whether or not ____ illuminates and communicates the Gospel in a way that will transform people into Christians.

A "conservative" Luther implies Luther sought only to tweak the errors he saw, and usually involves a criticism that his "conservative" rejection of the radical reformers came from a personal quietism and a politically beneficial relationship with his princes.

A "radical" Luther implies Luther was interested in revolution for the sake of revolution.

Much better to try and describe what Luther was up to in a way that he would describe it himself.

ddrebes

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2010, 02:08:46 PM »
I'd be interested to compare Krauth's take to Hendrix's.  But I haven't read Krauth yet.

I'm surprised my good friend, The Venerable Weed, aka, Rev. William Weedon, has not mentioned already one of his favorite books:

The Conservative Reformation by Charles Porterfield Krauth.

I think it is the best thing ever written definitively proving the nature of Lutheranism as that of being conservative in its reforms and aims at "changing" what did not need changing at the time of the Reformation.

ptmccain

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2010, 02:09:58 PM »
Hendrix, if he actually believes Luther's goal was to "Christianize society," doesn't understand Luther, or was simply yet another scholar looking for a topic to write on that had never been covered before. As a professor friend of mine likes to say about such things, "That sounds like an idea that would make for a very interesting journal article, but is entirely wrong."

: )

ddrebes

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2010, 02:32:05 PM »
Well, it's a good book.  And "Christianize society" is the general goal Hendrix applies to each reformer in various ways.  Calvin, for example, emphasized building a Christian community.  Luther's approach tended toward forming Christians through the use of Word and Sacrament.  The end result would be a Christian society--the same goal as Calvin but with a different approach.

It's an interesting read.  Every Reformation professor I've had has their own take on what was really going on (and between Roanoke College, Princeton Seminary, and Philly, I'm blessed to count several Lutheran Quarterly writers as my teachers).  One prof had us compare/contrast Hendrix's book with Carter Lindberg's The European Reformations.  It's been a while, but the contrast was edifying.

That's a long response when what I mean to say is: don't take my brief summary (rebuilt by memory three years removed) as reason to knock what Hendrix did.  Read it yourself.

ptmccain

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2010, 02:33:08 PM »
I think one could make a much stronger case for "Christianizing society" being Calvin's agenda, more so than Luther.

racin_jason

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2010, 02:34:16 PM »
The defense will direct the jury's attention to exhibit a: the case of Andreas Karlstadt. Upon examining his witness and his relationship with Luther, we find compelling evidence that Luther was a conservative reformer, not some Frank Sinatra in monk's clothing bellowing "I did it my way".

I am weary of the half-baked logic we often see in the ELCA, citing Luther's reforms as rationale for embracing yet more change that leads us further down the ecclesiastical cul-de-sac of dying, liberal mainline protestantism.  
« Last Edit: October 10, 2010, 02:36:41 PM by racin_jason »
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ddrebes

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Re: Celebrity Deathmatch: Luther vs. Luther
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2010, 05:35:17 PM »
Well, Luther doesn't have to be "conservative" to reject Karlstadt's more radical reforms.  A big part of Luther's objection to Karlstadt was that people's hearts needed to be reformed, not just the operations of the church.  External reforms (iconoclasm, communing in both kids, etc.) could jeopardize faith if not matched with care for people's souls.