Saturday, September 10, 2005

Luther and Mary

I read about protestants who converted to RC refer to the fact that Luther 'honored" or "venerated" Mary. This "fact" is one of those things that led them to embrace RC. In this respect, these protestants think that they have been "short changed" by their churches.

When I read people say that Luther was a Marian and read the quotes from his sermons and works to prove this, I always ask the question - when did he say this? I do not have to deny that he said what he said, the question is when did he say them, did he say them while he was in RC or were they said after his break with RC? Why should we ask when? Because it matters, a man's understanding goes to development, it goes to maturity and greater understanding. I will naturaly expect him to toe the line before he broke away, that would be expected. The issue is what did he teach after he broke away?

At anyrate, even if Luther praised Mary, the Lutherans do not follow Luther in all things he espoused, the same way that Calvinists or the Reformed do not follow all of Calvin's espoused teachings. Why? Because like any human being their teachings will have to line and be at par with scripture. The issue are the confessions written up by the Lutheran and Reformed Protestants. Luther subjected himself to his fellow reformers and when they drew up their confessions , you will find that there is no veneration of Mary or the saints. In the Apology of Augsburg Confession article XXI, the veneration of Mary and the saints have been rejected and considered a pagan origin.

Lastly for a balanced and well researched discussion of how Mary played in Luther's Christianity see


Jeff Tan said...

Strange that Eric Svendsen (that link you have is from his site) and Dave Armstrong should thus meet here, too. They're favorite sparring partners, Dave being a convert Catholic.

Anyway, here is what Dave has to say about Martin Luther's devotion to Mary. Now before I get flamed, I make no claims that Martin Luther's Mariology is that of Catholics today, but as Dave notes, they are surprisingly close -- not contradictory, in fact. On the other hand, Luther would be aghast at what Protestants of various denominations have taken for granted about Mary and about Luther's beliefs about Mary. As Dave says:

'To the extent that this fact is dealt with at all by Protestants, it is usually explained as a "holdover" from the early Luther’s late medieval Augustinian Catholic views ("everyone has their blind spots," etc.). But this will not do for those who are serious about consulting Luther in order to arrive at the true "Reformation heritage" and the roots of an authentic Protestantism. For if Luther’s views here can be so easily rationalized away, how can the Protestant know whether he is trustworthy relative to his other innovative doctrines such as extrinsic justification by faith alone and sola Scriptura?'

LPC said...


I answer, like I said, we do not follow Luther in all respects, the same rule he applied to the church fathers is applied to him by his peers. A study of the history of Reformation would show that he subjected himself to his peers. Once again, it avails nothing even if Luther prayed to the saints(for the sake of arguement). The Reformation was a movement though Luther was its forerunner, it was not confined to him. Again, I direct you to the Confession of The Lutheran Reformers of which Luther subjected himself.

The Reformation got formalized through Luther but he gave credit to the life of John Huss as his inspiration so the Reformation was on the way when Luther came to the scene, it got formalized through him. Luther once said that "out of this goose (Huss) a swan will arise". After hindesight, people believed Luther prophesied because swan in German is the name of Luther.

LPC said...

In addition, Dave if he was a Protestant before should have known that sola scriptura as a principle is applied also to the Reformers. Protestants do this as a rule so I find the appeal to authority (of Luther) as fallacious. We do not treat our Protestant Fathers the same way that RCs treat the Church Fathers. We consider them as men though used by God are still men and must be subject to scripture. We do not consider them as divine and we do not venerate them l, for if we do, then we will follow them all the way and therefore we no longer operate under sola scriptura but under, sola papa. YOu will find that Luther was not crowned bishop, he remained a pastor of the German Evangelical Church. In fact he I think followed Paul's anathema rule Gal 1:8.

Roots of authentic protestantism? Again, I point to the confessions of the protestants. Because there you will find what they as a community believed. The principle is that a teaching must square w/ scripture. That is where the protestant reformers derived their authority. It was Christ the Lord who believed in sola scriptura, he came to fulfill the prophecies about him written in Scripture. Think about it. Those who think that Scripture should not be their sole authority for faith I think are not taking seriously the attitude of their Lord towards the Scripture. He held a high view of scripture, he came to fulfill the things written about him. We have no word from the Lord except that which has been promised to us in Scripture.