Lutheran Citations

I’m going to use this forum to address a criticism made against me on YouTube.  I don’t think it warrants a video response, but neither can I properly convey my defense in comment blocks limited to 500 characters or less; especially when YouTube doesn’t allow them to be sorted and read in order, and they’ll all be difficult to find or read in sequence mere moments after posting.  I think it is much more appropriate in this case to rebut those charges here.

Whenever I’ve made any significant error on the web, be it on videos, blogs, or whatever, one of my peers would usually point it out to me early on, and I would make the necessary corrections.  For example, I once posted a quote erroneously attributed to Philip Johnson, and then retracted it immediately upon word that it wasn’t said *by* him but *about* him.  When I get something wrong, I admit it.

Yet it seems my credibility is under attack by some YouTuber who actually thinks he has something worth crowing about.  In the comments on his channel, I see allegations that I am a definitely dishonest coward, deliberately lying in order to further my ‘agenda’.  Sadly this is how theists typically react whenever they disagree with me.

I haven’t actually seen either of the videos this guy has made about me.  At this point, I’m still more than a month behind on a couple thousand comments and personal messages I’m still trying to catch up on.  I usually can’t spare the time to watch the videos I want to see, much less listening to people gripe about mere opinions.  If there was any substance to it, someone I trust would have made me aware of it by now, and that didn’t happen.  So I figured there was no legitimate complaint; just a matter of interpretation.  Now that I found his script against me on his blog, I see that I was right.  He just wants to believe that some once-respectable historic theologian was more reasonable than I think he could have been.

My challenger’s whole complaint against me is limited to this:  I cited a quote popularly attributed to Martin Luther, (the 16th century founder of Protestant Christianity) for which the original source was never posted.  That’s it, that’s my alleged ‘lie’.

Now in fairness, I have used a different quote –again from Luther- which also had no discernible source, and I stopped using that one, because I couldn’t verify anywhere else he ever said that.  Ironically that quote was him purportedly defending the tactic of lying to further a religious agenda.  That quote is also considered questionable, because it is out-of-character for Luther, not like anything else he ever said.  However the quote I am being criticized for now is typical of the sentiments Luther is known to have repeated in identified works.

“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…”

So I am accused of misrepresenting Luther, as if he didn’t really say that unless I can prove that he did.  Funny how the burden of proof shifts depending on whether one is arguing for faith vs any other topic.  Much of my challenger’s accusations stem from a misunderstanding of what he thinks my interpretation is, and whether Luther thought that means that no illness could ever have a natural cause.  That’s not quite how I read it, but that’s not the real issue.

I must admit I don’t know the origin of this particular quote either, but at least I can show where Luther *did* say this, (albeit paraphrased) in another identified work, specifically his ‘Table Talks’.  My accuser claims to have read that, and yet he somehow missed this:

DLXXXIII.
“It was asked : Can good Christians and God-fearing people also undergo witchcraft?  Luther replied: Yes; for our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan.  The maladies I suffer are not natural, but devil’s spells.

Notice that Luther says that none of his own maladies are natural; they’re all caused by witchcraft.

DCCLXXXIII.
“The physicians in sickness consider only of what natural causes the malady proceeds, and this they cure, or not, with their physic. But they see not that often the devil casts a sickness upon one without any natural causes. A higher physic must be required to resist the devil’s diseases; namely, faith and prayer, which physic may be fetched out of God’s Word.”  

Notice that Luther says some diseases are devils’ work, but that physicians attempt to heal these infirmities as though they proceeded from natural causes.  My critic says that Luther permits that demonic diseases could still have natural causes.  Here we see that is not always the case –if it ever is.  Here Luther is clearly denying that there is anything natural about these illnesses.  This directly contradicts my challenger’s criticism of me.

DLXXIV.
“Many devils are in woods» in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly places, ready to hurt and prejudice people; some are also in the thick black clouds, which cause hail, lightnings, and thunderings, and poison the air, the pastures and grounds. When these things happen^ then the philosophers and physicians say, it is natural, ascribing it to the planets, and showing I know not what reasons for such misfortunes and plagues as Ensue«”

Notice that Luther allows for many instances wherein demons may establish themselves into their victims.

DXCVII.
“I maintain that Satan produces all the maladies which afflict mankind, for he is the prince of death. St Peter speaks of Christ as healing all that are oppressed of the devil.  He not only cured those who were possessed, but he restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, strength to the paralytic; therefore I think all grave infirmities are blows and strokes of the devil,”

Notice that Luther says that *all* diseases –specifically including the lame, the blind, and the dumb, are essentially curses, spells, and hexes –not stemming from natural causes.

Luther also repeatedly makes reference to “ignorant blockheads”, although in his ‘Table Talk’, he only used that label when referring to papal authorities.  He did say doctors were ignorant though.  In the same paragraph my antagonist cited, Luther criticized medical science as ‘fanciful theories’ in which he has no faith; because he noted that different healers gave different prescriptions for the same maladies.  He said medicine could be replaced with a good diet and an early bed time, and he said that graveyards are filled with those who followed their doctors’ advice.  Luther appears to believe that natural medicine CAN work on natural bodies, but only in accordance with prayer.  Otherwise they’re guilty of homicide.  Obviously Luther’s love of medical science wasn’t as great as my challenger prefers to believe.

The last time this particular antagonist questioned my credibility, it was about yet another quote from Martin Luther’s ‘Table Talks’, but as I understand it, that time it was a quote that the entire Protestant Christian community seems perfectly accepting of –despite the implications which only seem obvious to rationalists.

CCCLIII.
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.

Years ago, I read quite a lot of Luther’s ravings -especially from his sermons themselves.  From those I wrote a scathing report of him.  I could do the same for Calvin too.  These men both made careers out of pig-headed comments like these.

So I have obviously NOT misrepresented Luther’s position either on the subject of faith over reason, nor on the matter of spells and hexes vs medical science –despite how some critics claim to have ‘corrected’ me on either point.  Luther was himself an ignorant blockhead and deserves no apology from me.

On a final note, I have specific criteria required before I accuse someone of lying: (1) They have to be wrong, (2) they have to know that they’re wrong, and (3) there should be an apparent attempt to deceive someone.  If you accuse someone of lying, and they’re not, -either because they’re innocently mistaken, or especially when they’re right, then it’s rather like sinking the cue along with the 8-ball.  It means you blew it, because a false accusation is nearly as bad as the lie itself.  One shouldn’t make that accusation so readily.