Martin Luther

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We were two and had but one heart between us.
François de Montcorbier Villon
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Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.

Martin Luther (1483-11-101546-02-18) was a German theologian, an Augustinian monk, and an ecclesiastical reformer whose teachings inspired the Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines and culture of the Lutheran and Protestant traditions.

Sourced

  • Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum.
    • We are beggars: this is true.
    • "The Last Written Words of Luther," Table Talk No. 5468, 1546-02-16, in James A. Kellerman, Tr., Dr. Martin Luthers Werke, (Weimar: Hermann Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1909), Band 85 (TR 5) 317–318. [1]
  • By God's grace, I know Satan very well. If Satan can turn God's Word upside down and pervert the Scriptures, what will he do with my words -- or the words of others?
    • Confession Concerning Christ's Supper, Part 3. Robert E. Smith, tr. Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtsusgabe. (Weimar: Herman Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1909), pp.499-500. [2]

  • Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.
    • An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans from Dr. Martin Luthers Vermischte Deutsche Schriften. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63(Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. (EA 63:124-125)[3]

  • If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.
    • Letter 99, Paragraph 13. Erika Bullmann Flores, Tr. from: Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften Dr. Johann Georg Walch Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15, cols. 2585-2590. [4]

  • What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together faith and God. That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.
    • Large Catechism 1.1-3, F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau, tr. Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), 565. [5]
  • But since the devil's bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she's wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil's greatest whore.
    • The original German is "Vernunft ... ist die höchste Hur, die der Teufel hat".
    • Martin Luther's Last Sermon in Wittenberg ... Second Sunday in Epiphany, 17 January 1546. Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe. (Weimar: Herman Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1914), Band 51:126, Line 7ff
    • Martin Luther (1483-1546). The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • When we are inclined to boast of our position [as Christians] we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord. Therefore, if one is to boast of flesh and blood the Jews are actually nearer to Christ than we are.
    • That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew Luther's Works, American Edition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1962), Volume 45, Page 201
  • I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture.
    • Letter to Chancellor Gregory Brück (An Den Kanzler Brück), 1524-01-13, in Dr. Martin Luther's Briefe, Sendschreiben und Bedenken: volständig aus den verschiedenen Ausgaben seiner Werke und Briefe, aus andern Büchern und noch unbenutzten Handschriten gesammelt. From the Wilhelm Martin Leberecht De Wette Collection of Luther's Letters (Berlin: Georg reimer, 1826) vol. 2, p. 459 (Letter DLXXII; Latin text).
  • But the Jews are so hardened that they listen to nothing; though overcome by testimonies they yield not an inch. It is a pernicious race, oppressing all men by their usury and rapine. If they give a prince or magistrate a thousand florins, they extort twenty thousand from the subjects in payment. We must ever keep on guard against them.
    • Table Talk, Hazlet, tr., p. 43
  • They are splendidly built ( Italian Hospitals ), the best food and drink are at hand, the attendants are very diligent, the physicians are learned, the beds and coverings are very clean, and the bedsteads are painted. As soon as a sick man is brought in, all his clothes are taken off in the presence of a notary and are faithfully kept for him. He is then laid in a handsomely painted bed with clean sheets. Two physicians are fetched at once. Attendants come with food and drink, served in immaculate glass vessels; these are not touched with as much as a finger but are brought on a tray.
  • I think these things ( firearms ) were invented by Satan himself, for they can’t be defended against with (ordinary) weapons and fists. All human strength vanishes when confronted with firearms. A man is dead before he sees what’s coming.
  • For the history of the centuries that have passed since the birth of Christ nowhere reveals conditions like those of the present. There has never been such building and planting in the world. There has never been such gluttonous and varied eating and drinking as now. Wearing apparel has reached its limit in costliness. Who has ever heard of such commerce as now encircles the earth? There have arisen all kinds of art and sculpture, embroidery and engraving, the like of which has not been seen during the whole Christian era. In addition men are so delving into the mysteries of things that today a boy of twenty knows more than twenty doctors formerly knew.
    • Sermon for the Second Sunday in Advent, Luke 21:25-36 (1522), in John Nicholas Lenker, ed., Sermons of Martin Luther: Church Postils (Baker Book House, 1989), ISBN 0-80105-626-8 [6]
  • Few are the women and maidens who would let themselves think that one could at the same time be joyous and modest. They are all bold and coarse in their speech, in their demeanor wild and lewd. That is now the fashion of being in good cheer. But it is specially evil that the young maiden folk are exceedingly bold of speech and bearing, and curse like troopers, to say nothing of their shameful words and scandalous coarse sayings, which one always hears and learns from another.
    • Denifle vol.1, part 1, p.305.
    • Denifle, Heinrich, Luther and Lutherdom, vol.1, part 1, , tr. from 2nd rev. ed. of German by Raymund Volz, Somerset, England: Torch Press, 1917. Denifle give as his source for this quote: Luther’s works, Erlangen edition, vol. vi, p.401.( 67 vols. ).
  • "For He that is mighty hath done great things for me, and Holy is His Name" (Luke 1:49). Luther comments:
  • The "great things" are nothing less than that she became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed upon her as pass man's understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among whom she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in Heaven, and such a child. She herself is unable to find a name for this work, it is too exceedingly great; all she can do is break out in the fervent cry: "They are great things," impossible to describe or define. Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her or to her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees, or grass in the fields, or stars in the sky, or sand by the sea. It needs to be pondered in the heart, what it means to be the Mother of God.
  • On coming to the house, they (the Magi), saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2:11)
  • [This] adoration, too, was not the same as the worship of God. In my opinion they did not yet recognize him as God, but they acted in keeping with the custom mentioned in Scripture, according to which Kings and important people were worshiped; this did not mean more than falling down before them at their feet and honoring them.
  • Religion is not 'doctrinal knowledge,' but wisdom born of personal experience.
    • Holborn, Hajo; A HISTORY OF MODERN GERMANY: The Reformation; 1959/1982 Princeton university Press.
  • And I myself, in Rome, heard it said openly in the streets, “If there is a hell, then Rome is built on it.” That is, “After the devil himself, there is no worse folk than the pope and his followers.”
    • Against the Roman Papacy, An Institution of the Devil ( Wider das Papstum zu Rom vom Teuffel Gestifft, A. D. 1545)[9]
  • Luther’s Works, Church and Ministry III, American Ed., Helmut T. Lehman, Eric W. Gritsch, eds., Augsburg Fortress Press, 1966, Vol. 41:279. ISBN 0800603419 ISBN 9780800603410.
  • A mighty fortress is our God,
    A bulwark never failing;
    Our helper He amid the flood
    Of mortal ills prevailing.
    • Psalm. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (translated by Frederic H. Hedge), Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • Tell your master that if there were as many devils at Worms as tiles on its roofs, I would enter.
    • Psalm. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (translated by Frederic H. Hedge), Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). "On the 16th of April, 1521, Luther entered the imperial city [of Worms]... On his approach… the Elector's chancellor entreated him, in the name of his master, not to enter a town where his death was decided. The answer which Luther returned was simply this". Bunsen, Life of Luther.
  • Here I stand; I can do no otherwise. God help me. Amen!
    • Speech at the Diet of Worms (1521), Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Table Talk (1569)

  • Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes a-begging.
    • 53.
  • For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel...Thus is the Devil ever God's ape.
    • 67. Compare "Where God hath a temple, the Devil will have a chapel", Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, part III, section 4, member 1, subsection 1.
  • so it is with human reason, which strives not against faith, when enlightened, but rather furthers and advances it.
    • On Justification CCXCIV
  • A faithful and good servant is a real godsend; but truly ’t is a rare bird in the land.
    • 156.
  • The Mass is the greatest blasphemy of God, and the highest idolatry upon earth, an abomination the like of which has never been in Christendom since the time of the Apostles.
    • 171.
  • There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.
    • 292.
  • A theologian is born by living, nay dying and being damned, not by thinking, reading, or speculating.
    • 352.
  • Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but--more frequently than not --struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.
    • 353.

Unsourced

  • If it were art to overcome heresy with fire, the executioners would be the most learned doctors on earth.
    • To the Christian Nobility of the German States (1520)
  • Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen.
    • Translation: Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.
    • Speech at the Diet of Worms (April 18, 1521)
  • The mad mob does not ask how it could be better, only that it be different. And when it then becomes worse, it must change again. Thus they get bees for flies, and at last hornets for bees.
    • Whether Soldiers Can Also Be in a State of Grace (1526)
  • Ein' feste burg is unser Gott,
    ein gute wehr und waffen.
    Er hilft uns frei aus aller not,
    die uns itzt hat betroffen.
    • Translation: A mighty fortress is our God,
      A bulwark never failing.
      Our helper He amid the flood
      Of mortal ills prevailing.
    • Ein' Feste Burg (1529)
  • What can only be taught by the rod and with blows will not lead to much good; they will not remain pious any longer than the rod is behind them.
    • The Great Catechism. Second Command (1529)
  • Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.
    • On Marriage (1530)
  • Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die.
    • On Marriage (1530)
  • Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads.
  • If [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth--that is why they are there.
  • Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God.
    • Said to be from V, 1312
  • Sin cannot tear you away from him [Christ], even though you commit adultery a hundred times a day and commit as many murders.
  • There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.
  • We are all ministers of the Gospel. Some of us just happen to be clergymen.
  • Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason.
    • Said to be from V, 425
  • Nothing good ever comes of violence

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