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Martin Luther . . . The Man And The Myth

July 22, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 3

(Editor’s Note: As this October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Raymond de Souza is taking a break from his usual apologetics to correct the popular image of Luther.)

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When Luther changed some texts in the Bible in order to find justification for his heresies, how did he justify that absurdity? By simply stating that he wished so. Period.
“ ‘Dr. Martin Luther will have it so’. . . . I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough” (cf. J. Stoddard, Rebuilding a Lost Faith. 1922, pp. 101-102; see also Luther M. Amic, Discussion, 1, 127).
Sola fide, or “faith alone,” is one of the two main tenets invented in the Lutheran heresy. Luther claimed that it is a biblical teaching, even though no Christian had ever mentioned this peculiar interpretation in the first 1,500 years of Christian history.
Of course, anyone who knows anything at all of the history of Christianity knows that this abhorrent doctrine has not got an ounce of support from any authentic Christian, any time prior to Luther, let alone a theologian prior to Luther’s deformation of Christianity.
No Church council has ever taught sola fide and no early Church father at any point in time has ever suggested, or hinted, even remotely, that faith alone suffices for justification and/or salvation.
One of the problems facing Luther’s religion is this: St. John teaches quite bluntly in the Apocalypse that “there shall not enter into it (heaven) anything defiled, or that works abomination or makes a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb” (Apoc. 21:27).
Although Bible translations may vary, especially among non-Catholics, the idea is always the same: Nothing impure, evil, unclean, sinful, or sordid can enter Heaven; nothing defiled enters Heaven. So, the sinful man will find it rather difficult to pass through the pearly gates, even though his sins may be covered in Jesus’ blood. In this way, nobody would ever go to Heaven!
But does the Bible really teach about faith without works?
Luther wanted to justify his less than moral habits and ideas. So, he invented the novel doctrine of sola fide — faith alone. Unfortunately for him and his supporters, the Bible he claimed to follow, does not teach his doctrine. Quite the opposite.
It is a fact that most Christians, if not all, know that faith is necessary for salvation. St. Paul leaves no room whatsoever for doubt: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).
Of course. But he did not say faith alone! Faith is a necessary requirement, but not faith alone.
It is like taking the sentence “water is necessary for life” and then saying that “water alone is necessary for life.” Or taking the statement “Italian food is good” and changing into “Italian food alone is good” — it is not true, purely and simply, however much you may like pizzas and raviolis. Chinese, Thai, German, and Mexican food are also good, among others — except perhaps junk food, but I digress.
No, you need more than faith. But Luther found a simple way to make the Bible agree with him: He simply changed the text of the Bible!
It’s the Western version of the saying, “If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.”
A famous example of this is how Luther treated Romans 3:28.
St. Paul taught that “therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
OK. But Luther, in his German translation of the Bible, specifically added the word “alone” to the text, a word that is not in the original Greek, and even Protestant scholars have admitted it (Brown, HOJ: Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass.: 1988, pp. 64-65).
How did Luther respond to the objection raised by both Catholics and Protestant against his changing the text of the Bible?
Look at this gem: “You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word alone in not in the text of Paul . . . say right out to him: ‘Dr. Martin Luther will have it so’. . . . I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word ‘alone’ is not in the Latin or the Greek text” (see citations at the beginning of this article).
That’s his argument: My will is reason enough. “A papist and an ass are the same thing. Such is my wish, such is my order, let my willing be the reason.”
Very convenient, eh? Just because he wished it so, it became so. His only reason is that he wanted it so. Such arrogance is unheard-of in Christian history! It is evident that Luther viewed his opinions as the first authority, and not the actual Bible.
But Luther was not satisfied with changing St. Paul’s letter. He went ahead and threw the Epistle of St. James out of the Bible, purely and simply!
And why? Because there you find the only place in whole of Sacred Scripture where the words “faith” and “alone” appear together. Yes, it is the only place in the whole Bible where two words “faith alone” are written together. But the writer, St. James, meant exactly the opposite of Luther!
“By works a man is justified and not by faith alone” (James 2: 24). Not by faith alone!
How do Luther’s followers manage to respond to this dilemma, where the second dogma of Lutheranism is flatly and clearly denied in the Bible?
I have seen, heard, and read an incredible number of brainy elucubrations, creative imaginative stories, and intellectual somersaults by intelligent people, desperately trying their hardest to circumvent the most evidently anti-Lutheran text in the Bible — but without success. They elaborate on their individual interpretations and opinions, but cannot disprove the fact that St James crushed Luther’s heresy of sola fide nearly 1,500 years before its appearance.
Let good St. James the Apostle have the floor:
“What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, ‘Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled’; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?
“Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, you have faith, and I have works: Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
“You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Do you see how faith worked along with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone. So faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26).
This passage of the Epistle of St. James is so blatantly against Luther’s novel doctrine, that one can understand why he removed the whole epistle from his bible, along with other books. I understand that after his death, his faithful followers quietly put that epistle back into the Bible and did not talk about it anymore.
Therefore, when I read last year in the British paper the Catholic Herald that “Pope Francis has told Lutheran pilgrims from Finland that Martin Luther’s intention 500 years ago ‘was to renew the Church, not divide Her’” (Catholic Herald, August 12, 2016), I have no idea where His Holiness found such a historical piece of evidence, since it does not exist.

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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