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 Post subject: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:08 pm 
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I just read a quote from Luther talking about how reason doesn't prove that souls in Purgatory are unable to grow in love. Which would seem weird for one who doesn't even believe in Purgatory. It would be like me having a serious debate our the average Leprechaun shoe size.

It seems to me that, at least from this comment he doesn't disagree about the existence of Purgatory... merely what souls is n Purgatory can attain.

Then the quote finishes with:

Quote:
They [the papacy] preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.


I'm not saying some dastardly clergy members didn't do this.... but Luther seems to be raising it to the level of a doctrinal matter.... opposed to an abberation.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:54 pm 
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Are you getting this from the 95 Theses?

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:01 pm 
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He must be. His quotation is thesis 27.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 5:32 am 
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The full list: https://www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html

Given that #25 states, "That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish." It is not clear to me that in #27 Luther is referring to "the papacy." He may mean all the Catholic clergy.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:31 am 
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#27 is referring to those who were preaching indulgences to help pay for the new St. Peter's basilica.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:30 am 
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Okay, for the last few months and for the foreseeable future, I have very limited Internet access, but I now have WiFi so I can answer this question.

It sounded like what you were quoting were the 95 Theses.

There are certain things you need to know about the 95 Theses, and that is that one cannot assume that ANY of the Theses represent what Luther thought at the time, let alone represent his thought throughout his entire life.

The 95 Theses were intended as points that he was presenting for debate. It was common during the Middle Ages for philosophers and theologians to be expected to be able to argue both sides of an argument equally well. It was believed, I think correctly that one doesn't really understand his own point of view unless he understood the views of his opponents. It was common for philosophers and theologians to present things for debate or discussion, which they themselves did not really believe.

This is still common, but less so. If you are on the debate team in high school or college, you are expected to be able to argue either side of a disputed question, in one debate, you might be arguing for abolishing capital punishment and in the next debate, you might be expected to argue in favor of capital punishment.

It was believed that it was a sign of intellectual maturity to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it. You see this in St. Thomas' Summa, where he first presents 3 objections to the point that he is going to argue in favor of and then rebuts the 3 arguments. And St. Thomas didn't cherrypick the weakest arguments his opponents made either, he always chose the best arguments. Reading the Summa is like reading Marvel Comics, in every proposition, St. Thomas seems to argue into a corner, he first presents three arguments against his position, it seems like he is going to be defeated and then he successfully meets the challenge and refutes the 3 arguments. It's like reading Marvel Comics, where every issue ends with a cliffhanger, where it appears the hero is going to be killed, and then in the next issue, you see how he escapes.

So, nothing in the 95 Theses necessarily represent anything that Luther actually believed at the time and some of them we know for a fact he NEVER believed, ever.

Another important fact to recognize is that Luther did not arrive at his full, most radical views right away. His shift away from Catholic orthodoxy was gradual, it seems to have started around 1510 and didn't conclude until after his excommunication in 1521. It was only after the rise of the Anabaptists like Thomas Muenster and the Reformed theologians like Zwingli and Calvin that he started to adopt a more conservative (compared to other Protestants) theological position. So, it is not unusual to find passages in Luther's early works that directly contradict assertions that he makes in his later works.

Another thing to understand about Luther is that he was INCREDIBLY stubborn. He was one of those people who tended to adopt the attitude that 'tell me what you are for so that I might know what I am against', and he was one of those people who, in debate, would never admit that he might be wrong about something, therefore, it was easy to force Luther to make asinine assertions by arguing him into a corner, instead of admitting he might be wrong about something, he would just say whatever he needed to say to 'win' the debate. This is why he gradually became more and more extreme in his positions as he went along.

You see this, for example, in Luther's debate with Erasmus. At the beginning of the argument, Luther advocated a fairly moderate position on free will, but as Erasmus rebutted Luther's arguments, Luther responded by making gradually more extreme statements until, by the end, he was arguing that human beings have absolutely no free will whatever, making the most extreme statement on predestination that has ever been seriously advocated by a Christian theologian. Despite the fact that a strong position on predestination is, in the popular mind, more associated with Calvin than with Luther, Luther's views were actually far more extreme, they didn't start out that way, but Erasmus argued Luther into a corner and Luther responded by making more and more extreme statements.

I think a good biography of Luther would be Roland Bainton's 'Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther'. I don't recommend this book because it is fair, it isn't, in fact it has a fairly strong anti-Catholic bias, and I don't recommend it because it the most up to date, it isn't that either, it was published in 1957. I recommend it because it is short and gives a really good summary of the basic outline of Luther's life.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:35 pm 
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Thank you for this detailed response.

I'm going to look for something that covers the debate with Erasmus.
As well as the book by Bainton.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:37 pm 
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https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusi ... -purgatory

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:50 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Okay, for the last few months and for the foreseeable future, I have very limited Internet access, but I now have WiFi so I can answer this question.

It sounded like what you were quoting were the 95 Theses.

There are certain things you need to know about the 95 Theses, and that is that one cannot assume that ANY of the Theses represent what Luther thought at the time, let alone represent his thought throughout his entire life.

The 95 Theses were intended as points that he was presenting for debate. It was common during the Middle Ages for philosophers and theologians to be expected to be able to argue both sides of an argument equally well. It was believed, I think correctly that one doesn't really understand his own point of view unless he understood the views of his opponents. It was common for philosophers and theologians to present things for debate or discussion, which they themselves did not really believe.

This is still common, but less so. If you are on the debate team in high school or college, you are expected to be able to argue either side of a disputed question, in one debate, you might be arguing for abolishing capital punishment and in the next debate, you might be expected to argue in favor of capital punishment.

It was believed that it was a sign of intellectual maturity to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it. You see this in St. Thomas' Summa, where he first presents 3 objections to the point that he is going to argue in favor of and then rebuts the 3 arguments. And St. Thomas didn't cherrypick the weakest arguments his opponents made either, he always chose the best arguments. Reading the Summa is like reading Marvel Comics, in every proposition, St. Thomas seems to argue into a corner, he first presents three arguments against his position, it seems like he is going to be defeated and then he successfully meets the challenge and refutes the 3 arguments. It's like reading Marvel Comics, where every issue ends with a cliffhanger, where it appears the hero is going to be killed, and then in the next issue, you see how he escapes.

So, nothing in the 95 Theses necessarily represent anything that Luther actually believed at the time and some of them we know for a fact he NEVER believed, ever.

Another important fact to recognize is that Luther did not arrive at his full, most radical views right away. His shift away from Catholic orthodoxy was gradual, it seems to have started around 1510 and didn't conclude until after his excommunication in 1521. It was only after the rise of the Anabaptists like Thomas Muenster and the Reformed theologians like Zwingli and Calvin that he started to adopt a more conservative (compared to other Protestants) theological position. So, it is not unusual to find passages in Luther's early works that directly contradict assertions that he makes in his later works.

Another thing to understand about Luther is that he was INCREDIBLY stubborn. He was one of those people who tended to adopt the attitude that 'tell me what you are for so that I might know what I am against', and he was one of those people who, in debate, would never admit that he might be wrong about something, therefore, it was easy to force Luther to make asinine assertions by arguing him into a corner, instead of admitting he might be wrong about something, he would just say whatever he needed to say to 'win' the debate. This is why he gradually became more and more extreme in his positions as he went along.

You see this, for example, in Luther's debate with Erasmus. At the beginning of the argument, Luther advocated a fairly moderate position on free will, but as Erasmus rebutted Luther's arguments, Luther responded by making gradually more extreme statements until, by the end, he was arguing that human beings have absolutely no free will whatever, making the most extreme statement on predestination that has ever been seriously advocated by a Christian theologian. Despite the fact that a strong position on predestination is, in the popular mind, more associated with Calvin than with Luther, Luther's views were actually far more extreme, they didn't start out that way, but Erasmus argued Luther into a corner and Luther responded by making more and more extreme statements.

I think a good biography of Luther would be Roland Bainton's 'Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther'. I don't recommend this book because it is fair, it isn't, in fact it has a fairly strong anti-Catholic bias, and I don't recommend it because it the most up to date, it isn't that either, it was published in 1957. I recommend it because it is short and gives a really good summary of the basic outline of Luther's life.


I agree with Doom, even where he knows more about this than I do, which is risky.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:26 pm 
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Over the last 30 years or so, I have read probably dozens a biographies of both Luther and Calvin. over those years I've become intimately familiar with all of the major events for the lives of both of them. My opinion of them has been all over the map gone from thinking they were the greatest heroes ever deliver the greatest villains ever my current View that they were neither. In fact sometimes I've been known to defend one or the other some criticisms I thought were unfair.

For example it is not really true contrary to myth Calvin was essentially a totalitarian dictator while he was in Geneva. Nor are the most extreme accusations regarding Calvin's complicity in the execution of Servetus. Calvinist apologists have often argued Rihanna absolutely nothing to do with it while his detractors have often claimed the he had virtual sole responsibility. Neither veiw is correct

Some Protestants accuse me of hating Luther and or Calvin and some Catholics accuse me of being an apologist for them. The fact that neither extreme faction satisfied strongly suggest to me turn probably not far off from the truth.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:35 am 
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Doom wrote:
Over the last 30 years or so, I have read probably dozens a biographies of both Luther and Calvin. over those years I've become intimately familiar with all of the major events for the lives of both of them. My opinion of them has been all over the map gone from thinking they were the greatest heroes ever deliver the greatest villains ever my current View that they were neither. In fact sometimes I've been known to defend one or the other some criticisms I thought were unfair.

For example it is not really true contrary to myth Calvin was essentially a totalitarian dictator while he was in Geneva. Nor are the most extreme accusations regarding Calvin's complicity in the execution of Servetus. Calvinist apologists have often argued Rihanna absolutely nothing to do with it while his detractors have often claimed the he had virtual sole responsibility. Neither veiw is correct

Some Protestants accuse me of hating Luther and or Calvin and some Catholics accuse me of being an apologist for them. The fact that neither extreme faction satisfied strongly suggest to me turn probably not far off from the truth.



This is, then, is a case of what I call one of my book hobbies. Where the reading and books in hand must be in depth. Deep depth.

I was only mildly stirred by the subject of Luther, many years ago, on another board. No more than 5-6 books, so it never was an official obsession. But I found that much of the accepted picture was askew.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:37 am 
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Banned for claiming there are other boards.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:37 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Banned for claiming there are other boards.


Adjusted:

Other board-like entities.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:57 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Banned for claiming there are other boards.


the banning thread is thataway ------------------------------------>

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:30 pm 
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GKC wrote:
. But I found that much of the accepted picture was askew.


There are many myths about Luther, for example, virtually no modern historian believes the story about him nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg. Luther himself never mentions any such act, and the first time it is claimed that it happened was by Melanchthon after Luther died. As for where Melancthon got the story? Most historians think he made it up.

The Roland Bainton book is useful, even though it is incredibly biased because it gives you an idea of the kind of arguments made by Luther admirers to rebut the accusations that have been made against him. At one point, Bainton rather baldly states, without evidence, that Luther's well-documented scrupulosity, was not a result of his own personal personality flaws, but were the result of 'Catholic theology.' Bainton doesn't even attempt to explain why, if Catholic theology induces scrupulosity, that precisely NONE of Luther's Catholic contemporaries report experiencing the same problems.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:33 pm 
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p.falk wrote:
Thank you for this detailed response.

I'm going to look for something that covers the debate with Erasmus.
As well as the book by Bainton.


Go ahead and read Bainton, it is a short book, it is accessible to non-specialists, gives a good summary outline of the major events in Luther's life and gives you an idea of the kinds of arguments made by Luther admirers to defend him against criticism from Catholics and other Protestants.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:31 pm 
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Doom wrote:
GKC wrote:
. But I found that much of the accepted picture was askew.


There are many myths about Luther, for example, virtually no modern historian believes the story about him nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg. Luther himself never mentions any such act, and the first time it is claimed that it happened was by Melanchthon after Luther died. As for where Melancthon got the story? Most historians think he made it up.

The Roland Bainton book is useful, even though it is incredibly biased because it gives you an idea of the kind of arguments made by Luther admirers to rebut the accusations that have been made against him. At one point, Bainton rather baldly states, without evidence, that Luther's well-documented scrupulosity, was not a result of his own personal personality flaws, but were the result of 'Catholic theology.' Bainton doesn't even attempt to explain why, if Catholic theology induces scrupulosity, that precisely NONE of Luther's Catholic contemporaries report experiencing the same problems.



As to the theses, I know.

Bainton was the first book I bought on Luther, back in college. I think I bought 4 more.

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 Post subject: Re: Did Martin Luther deny the existence of Purgatory?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:57 pm 
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It is a sign of how well written that book is that after than 60 years, it has never been out of print and is still considered an "essential" introductory text.

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