By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM
It has become quite evident that, as he interpreted the Scriptures according to his own peculiar criteria of subjective preference, Luther’s Sola Scriptura ultimately led him to deny the Scriptures.
One should always bear in mind that what he called “the gospel” was only his prejudiced interpretation of the Scriptures, namely, Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. In his unbridled subjectivism, he abandoned the teachings of the apostles that had been handed down through the centuries by the Catholic Church and adopted the idea that man has no free will (something very similar to the maktub! — “It is written!” — of Islam). Accordingly, man can do no good at all, and his nature was so corrupted by original sin that it is impossible to subdue his animal passion.
He was adamant that the moral law taught by Moses (the good ol’ Ten Commandments) was not binding on Christians. Let us see some of his “luminous” teachings on the Law that Jesus came not to destroy, but to fulfill:
“We must remove the Decalogue out of sight and heart” (De Wette, 4, 188). “If we allow them [the Commandments] any influence in our conscience, they become the cloak of all evil, heresies, and blasphemies” (Comm. Ad Galat., p. 310). “We have no wish either to see or hear Moses.” “If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid Ten Commandments, tell him right out: Chase yourself to the Jews” (Wittenb., ad. 5, 1573).
What is the consequence of throwing away the Ten Commandments? It is a license to sin, purely and simply, especially the sins of the flesh. Here are the “prophet’s” words:
“As little as one is able to remove mountains, to fly with the birds (Mist und Harn halten), to create new stars, or to bite off one’s nose, so little can one escape unchastity” (Alts Abendmahlslehre, 2, 118).
Now read this gem: “They are fools who attempt to overcome temptations [of impurity] by fasting, prayer, and chastisement. For such temptations and immoral attacks are easily overcome when there are plenty of maidens and women” (Jen. Ed., 2, p. 216, Apud: “The Facts About Luther,” p. 311).
No wonder that Bullinger, the Swiss Protestant “reformer,” referred to Luther’s “moral” teachings as “muddy and swinish, vulgar and coarse.” We couldn’t agree more!
The man had a real problem with chastity, big time. When he was living in the Wartburg, Luther wrote to his faithful friend Melanchthon: “I sit here in idleness and pray, alas, and sigh not for the Church of God. Much more am I consumed by the fires of my unbridled flesh. In a word, I, who should burn of the spirit, am consumed by the flesh of my lasciviousness” (De Wette, 2, 22).
Yes, that was one of his main problems: impurity. The man was a slave of his animal passions. In the Table Talks he is recorded as saying: “I burn with a thousand flames in my unsubdued flesh: I feel myself carried on with a rage toward women that approaches madness. I, who ought to be fervent in spirit, am only fervent in impurity.”
Of course. He did not work to reform the Church, he worked to deform her. Take, for instance, his 180 degrees perversion in morals from his Catholic days to his self-gratification days of Lutheranism. While he was a Catholic priest, he passed his days in “austerities, in watchings, in fasts and in praying, in poverty, chastity, and obedience.” Once a deformed Christian, he “can no longer forgo the indulgence of the vilest natural propensities” (Serm. De Matrim. Fol. 119).
And why are you so inclined to such “vilest natural propensities,” Mr. Luther?
Because “chastity and continence,” he replies, are “physically impossible.” “Though the womenfolk are ashamed to confess it, yet it is proved by Scripture [sic] and experience that there is not one among a thousand to whom God gives the grace to keep entirely chaste. A woman has no power over herself. God created her body for man and to bear offspring. This clearly appears from the testimony of Moses (Gen. 1:28), and from the design of God in the construction of her creation.” “The gratification of sexual desire was nature’s work, God’s work, and, as necessary, aye, and more so, than eating, drinking, sweating, sleeping,” etc. (De Wette, II, 535).
“Hence, the vow or promise to restrain this natural propensity is the same as to vow or promise that one will have wings and fly and be an angel, and morally worth about as much as if one were to promise God that he would commit adultery.”
“Chastity is as little within our power as the working of miracles. He who resolves to remain single should give up his title of being a human being and prove that he is either an angel or a spirit.” “As little as we can do without eating and drinking, so it is impossible to do without women.” “The reason is that we have been conceived and nourished in a woman’s womb, that from woman we were born and begotten; hence our flesh is for the most part woman’s flesh and it is impossible to abstain from it” (Tischr., 2, s 20, S. 27).
“Pecca fortiter, sed crede fortius” — “Be a sinner and sin on bravely, but have stronger faith and rejoice in Christ, who is the victor of sin, death and the world…sin must be committed. To you it ought to be sufficient that you acknowledge the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world; the sin cannot tear you away from him, even though you commit adultery a hundred times a day and commit as many murders” (enders, Briefwechsel III).
Wow! Here we have the ultimate consequences of Sola Scriptura: the glorification of sin and the animalization of human nature. And Luther insists that “he who does not believe like me is destined to hell. My doctrine and God’s doctrine are one and the same. My judgment is God’s judgment” (Werke, Weimar, vol. 10. 2, abt. 107).
There is a lot more to quote, but decency prevents us from doing so. What has been quoted suffices to confirm the opinion of Bullinger, the Swiss Protestant “reformer,” who referred to Luther’s “moral” teachings as “muddy and swinish, vulgar and coarse.”
But was monogamist marriage sufficient for the “prophet” of Wittenberg? Let him speak for himself: “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture [sic!]. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case, the civil authority has nothing to do in this matter” (De Wette, II, 459).
This is from the horse’s own mouth: In the end, Sola Scriptura means that you can interpret the Bible as you like, to fit in with your own choices, even the ones that favor your vilest natural propensities. It is religious anarchy properly so called.
Since Luther favored polygamy, we do not know if he had other wife or wives apart from the runaway nun he married, Katharina von Bora. In any event, polygamy is common among Muslims. Having nothing like a Magisterium, all they have is their book, the Koran, which individual believers attempt to follow. It amounts to their version of Sola Scriptura.
Luther was not too far from being like them: “It is stated that there is no finer government in the world than that of the Turks, who have neither a spiritual nor a secular code of law, but only their Koran. And it must be acknowledged that there is no more disagreeable system of rule than ours, with our Canon Law and our Common Law, while no class any longer obeys either natural reason or the Holy Scripture” (Coppens, Protest. Reform., p. 29 – Apud: “The Facts About Luther,” p. 88).
When one finds the Koranic laws more appropriate to Christians than the Christian Tradition, one must ask oneself which spirit is guiding one’s biblical interpretation.
In his unbridled impurity, the German Deformer of Christianity did not only impute uncontrollable lasciviousness on every man and woman conceived in sin: He blasphemously imputed adultery on Jesus Christ Himself!
“Christ committed adultery for the first time with the woman of the well, of whom St. John tells us. Didn’t they murmur around him, ‘What did he do, then with her?’ Later with Magdalene, then with the adulterous woman whom he absolved so frivolously. Thus Christ, so pious, had to fornicate before dying” (Werke, Weimar, vol. 11, p. 107).
Isn’t that enough? Lutherans, friends, brethren in Baptism, come home. You’ve been deceived. Sola Scriptura is unbiblical and anti-Christian. Let us forget the past and be once again united in one Lord, one faith, one Baptism (Eph. 4:5) in the one Church of God, the pillar and mainstay of the Truth (1 Tim. 33:15).
Next article: Summing up.
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(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is: www.RaymondeSouza.com.)