Facts about Luther
Luther as a Religious Reformer
from Chapter 9
The cesspool seems to have been the garden that furnished his choicest flowers of rhetoric. To be plainer still, "It is a fact," Fr. Johnston says, "that Luther's usual talk took its imagery most often from the privy. In this connection, perhaps, it is significant that Luther admitted that it was precisely in the privy of the monastery that he received from God the revelation of his famous doctrine about justification by faith alone. 'By the grace of God, while thinking on one occasion in this tower over those words, "The just man lives by faith alone," the Holy Ghost revealed the Scriptures to me in this tower.' Protestant biographers have naively attempted to show that this place was not the monastery toilet; but there is no reasonable doubt."
"This is significant," the same learned writer continues, "for, as above noted, it is simply amazing how habitually Luther made use of the imagery suggested by such a place. When he wishes to vomit his wrath against the Pope or the Cardinals, his favorite word is that word which indicates the contents of a privy. I forbear from repeating it. This particular word (the common popular English word for evacuations) is constantly on his lips. Repeatedly he says that if the Pope should send him a command to appear before him: "I should ... upon his summons." The reader can find plenty of other instances of the use of this word in [Hartmann] Grisar Vol. III, 226, 232, 235, 298. Concommitant with the use of this filthy word is the use of another signifying that portion of the human body which functions the same. Those expressions I cannot repeat here. See for yourself Grisar, e.g. 111, 229, where he tells the devil to "kiss -------".
"The vomits of the human stomach are also a frequent word wherewith to express his rage against his enemies. For instance, he says that the Pope 'vomits' the Cardinals. Again the 'monks' are the 'lice placed by the devil on God Almighty's fur coat.' 'No sooner do I pass a motion but they smell it at Rome.' Then note this specimen of stable boy's wit apropos of the 'Pope-ass' mentioned before. 'When I (the Pope-ass) bray, hee-haw, hee-haw, or relieve myself in the way of nature, they must take it all as articles of faith, i.e. Catholics.' That other filthy word common to people who suit their language to privies was also constantly on his lips, employed in endless variations."
"The most amazing aspect of this vulgarity is that Luther brings the very name of God into conjunction with just such coarse expressions. Thus in trying to explain how far God is or is not the author of evil, he says: 'Semei wished to curse, and God immediately directed his curse against David. God says, "Curse him not and no one else." Just as if a man wishes to relieve himself I cannot prevent him, but should he wish to do so on the table here, then I should object and tell him to betake himself to the corner.'"
The reader may consult Grisar's monumental work on Luther if he is anxious to learn more about the filthy, scandalous, and indecent utterances of this vile man. To all who have hitherto known little of his actual obscenity and vulgarity of speech, the study suggested will be not only surprising, but illuminating. After such an inquiry, no honest man with any pretention to decency would be found in the ranks of those who trample on the truth and insist in spite of such glaring faults that this man was an "instrument of God" for the reformation of society.
It is appalling that men should take this filthy talker, whose hopelessly dirty language indicated the morally diseased state of his mind, as a guide to expound Eternal Law, and that they should hang upon his words, hold him up for imitation and entrust to him their salvation. It is pitiable but true that men have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear not, they have hearts and feel not. Oh! that the eyes and the ears and the hearts of our separated brethren, if their faculties are not blunted, would come to recognize the unspeakable character of the heresiarch's utterances, his obscene remarks, his vulgar jokes, his habitual nasty references to sexual matters, and discover in time that this open, brazen and shameless violator of all conventional decency could not in any sense have been raised up by the All-Holy to lead men to the Kingdom of Heaven.
However outrageous to Christian feeling and abhorrent to Christian principle was his habitual filthy talk, it is far surpassed in vileness and obscenity when he treats of womanhood, a fertile theme for his dirty tongue and pen. On this subject he was quite at his ease and allowed himself singular license. In the Colloquia no fewer than a hundred pages are devoted to the fair sex. In this work he surpasses himself in vulgarity and shows his brutality in indecent references to women. No one could quote him in this respect without the blood rushing to his head. His warmest biographers are ashamed of his vulgar and unmanly references to women. The filthy expressions he recorded in his books were so habitual with him that he even used them in his own home before his companion and the children. "Certainly," Fr. Johnston says, "no Protestant woman can read them without - I will not say utter shame and womanly horror - but without indignation that any man, above all a spiritual leader and cleric at that, could speak of her sex with such ordinary common familiarity and courseness and vulgarity and downright obscenity; that could joke at her sex in its most sacred and venerable moral and physical aspects, taking a stable boy's unclean delight at rude witticisms over poor woman's physical differentiation from man; that could make her very body the inspiration of jokes - all evincing a cynical and vulgar contempt for woman as such; that could even have the vulgarity to lift the covers of the nuptial bed and disclose its sacred secrets to the gaze of others. Had any Catholic writer dared to utter a fraction of what Luther thus wrote and said, he would be an eternal and shameful reproach to the Church he so unworthily represented."
To give any idea, even the faintest, of this man's filthy and loathsome language would be impossible unless one is willing to descend into the gutter and wade in obscenity. The original sources are extant, and anyone who wishes to consult them may do so if he is prepared for the shock of his life. Then he will discover that even the Bullingers and Zwinglis of his own time were weak indeed in their description of Luther's language when they upbraided him for its "doggishness, dirtiness and lasciviousness." It is so downright disgusting and hopelessly obscene that no one can excuse or condone it. As his friend, the Protestant Kostlin, puts it, "his was a vehement, vulcanlike nature." Just so: but these vehement, vulcanlike natures are the very ones the Vice Purity Committees find in plenty in certain quarters of our modern cities.
Fr. Johnston says: "From a standpoint of morality, Luther's teachings and practical advice and example in conversation were infinitely below the moral standard hitherto held by the very Church he reviled and constantly below even the standard now generally accepted by the Protestants themselves. His claims, therefore, to 'reforming' the Church are pathetically weak. Instead of teaching a purer morality, he taught a lower. There is nothing in his teaching, by either pen or word of mouth, that is calculated to increase the love of purity, or of even conjugal fidelity, which in the Catholic Church has developed the fairest blossoms of maidenly chastity and conjugal love. A man or woman who is sexually weak will look to him in vain for advice wherewith to increase his or her strength in resisting the great passion -- rather they will find in his word the opposite. This is no time to mince words. Therefore, I say deliberately that from his own words Martin Luther must be held responsible for bringing into the world the lowest standard of morality ever advocated by a leader amongst Christians - so low that I defy a Protestant to read him, though I would advice no Protestant woman to do so if she be not ready to read with moral safety. Both will feel considerably befouled by the reading."
But Luther's partisans persist in forcing him upon public attention; and they have only themselves to blame if, under the limelight of actual quotations, his true words and doctrines and character are exposed to thinking minds, who by the thousands will come to see him in all his ugliness and deformity, and be forced to admit on grounds of modern historical research that he could not have been directly or indirectly called by God to reform His Church.
In our heart of hearts, we pity the man, regret his abuse of divine grace and deplore his lifelong antagonism to divine and human law; but when those who are ignorant of the facts resurrect and force this man on public notice in the role of a "reformer," "a liberator of humanity," "a model of domestic life" and "an instrument of God for the uplift of society," the interests of truth demand that such misrepresentation ought not to go unchallenged, and that the real portrait of the man as he actually was, ought to be given to the people.
The most scientific Lutheran historians now no longer make an attempt to deny his many and flagrant personal shortcomings. It is only those who are ignorant of the facts - that he proclaimed to the world that chastity is impossible and a delusion, that licentiousness is permissible, and that the gratification of the flesh is the aim of man - or those who, knowing them, deliberately close their eyes to his sinful teaching and abominable immoralities, who persist in believing that this moral leper and father of divorce and polygamy was a man of God chosen to "reform" the Church of Christ. Such men are not in a frame of mind to accept the verdict of Luther's contemporaries, nor are they willing to accept the results of the best historical research supplied by Lutheran authorities, which overwhelmingly testify to their hero's immorality of speech and teaching. In their ignoble course they are unfortunately not so intent on spreading the truth as they are in strengthening the Lutheran people in their errors.
Luther himself, be it remembered, felt keenly the vulnerability of his character, as is evident from the following significant words: "This is what you must say: whether Luther is a saint or a scamp does not matter to me; his doctrine is not his, but Christ's. Leave the man out of the question, but acknowledge the doctrine." No. We cannot do this. We cannot leave you out of the matter and accept your doctrine till you give proof that you are a "saint" and not a "scamp". Your Kostlins and other partisans may obey your orders, and hold that your "vehement and vulcanlike nature," as they describe you, was not incompatible with your role of a religious reformer. We cannot separate you from your utterances and actions. Your character must be taken into the count, and as you posed in the role of a reformer, we expect, in all decency, to find you a "saint" and not a "scamp." Which of these designations fits you the better? If you had been a man raised up by God to preach His doctrine and had led a life such as to prevent the finger of scorn from being raised against you, why did you complain so bitterly about the lamentable results of the teaching you wished acknowledged? As the life of a man is, so is his teaching and its results. Listen to your own confession. "God knows," you said,
"how painful it is for us to acknowledge that before the advent of the gospel everything was peaceful and quietude. Now all things are in ferment, the whole world agitated and thrown upside down. When the worldling hears it, he is scandalized at the disobedience of subjects against the government, rebellion, war, pestilence, the destruction of kingdoms and countries, untold unhappiness as the result of the doctrine of the gospel." (Walch 7, 2556).
Just so. You preached a gospel of your own manufacture and ignored that of Christ. What could you expect from your pride and rebellion but the spread of indifference to religion and an increase of immorality? Had you been loyal to the Church of your fathers and had you been actuated by her saving principles of reform, the results of your life work would not have been revolution, rebellion and war, but rather contentment, peace and true happiness such as ever follows in the wake of the saints of God.
Three hundred years go by. It is a long time. What Luther said of his work in his day, others, who were loyal to him and acquainted with the lamentable facts, confirmed and amplified. Hear this wail of distress from no less a man than the Lutheran theologian who, in the early part of the last century, compiled the Reformer's works in five large volumes. De Wette says:
"The dissolution of the Protestant church is inevitable; her framework is so thoroughly rotten that no further patching will avail. The whole structure of evangelical religion is shattered, and few look with sympathy on its tottering fall. Within the compass of a square mile you hear four, five, six different gospels. The people, believe me, mark it will; they speak most contemptuously of their teachers, whom they regard either as blockheads or knaves, in teaching these opposite doctrines...growing immorality, a consequence of contempt for religion, concurs also as a cause to its deeper downfall. ...Oh Protestantism! has it, then, at last come to this with thee, that thy disciples protest against all religion? Facts, which are before the eyes of the whole world, declare aloud that this signification of thy name is no idle play upon words."
Taken from Facts about Luther by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.
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