By Walid Shoebat (Shoebat Exclusive)
“If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly … as long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin … No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day.” (1)
Had this been an instruction of mine, the church would definitely condemn me, but since this is an instruction of someone respected by millions, the moment I will give his name, you might not condemn him, but you would instantly condemn the messenger instead, or better yet, even try to re-interpret the man.
The man who said this is Martin Luther, our Protestant reformer, and since he said it (and not I), many will try to explain it away.
But how can one explain away “Be a sinner and sin boldly,” that “sin does not separate us from God”?
How can we accept a statement like this that does not advocate repentance and turning away from sin?
One theologian, David Clines attempts to clarify our confusion lest we misunderstand the pious Luther:
“Luther here is far from advocating ‘the power of positive sinning’ he is warning from over scrupulousness and charging the young Melanchthon to recognize only genuine sin can be forgiven; he is making a distinction between sin and ‘sin’. (2)
And another writes in Luther’s defense:
“Luther was prone to strong hyperbole. It’s his style.”
And another writes:
“Luther’s point is not to go out and commit multiple amounts of gleeful sin everyday, but rather to believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly despite the sin in our lives.”
So how should I interpret Luther’s troubling statement here?
Well, I don’t.
I simply look at the rest of the evidence to see what Luther really meant. Anyone can find clear statements in which Luther was clearly promoting sin and debauchery:
“Do not ask anything of your conscience; and if it speaks, do not listen to it; if it insists, stifle it, amuse yourself; if necessary, commit some good big sin, in order to drive it away. Conscience is the voice of Satan, and it is necessary always to do just the contrary of what Satan wishes.” (3)
Ok, we might try to explain this away. But how about:
“If the husband is unwilling, there is another who is; if the wife is unwilling, then let the maid come.” (4)
That might sound good for a Saudi Muslim, but a Christian?
“Suppose I should counsel the wife of an impotent man, with his consent, to give herself to another, say her husband’s brother, but to keep this marriage secret and to ascribe the children to the so-called putative father. The question is: Is such a woman in a saved state? I answer, certainly.” (Ibid)
I guess we can be saved regardless if we commit the most horrendous acts of debauchery.
And then this:
“It is not in opposition to the Holy Scriptures for a man to have several wives.”(5)
Isn’t this polygamy? Can I have a harem and still am saved? Maria my wife would kill me.
Luther then says:
“As to divorce, it is still a debatable question whether it is allowable. For my part I prefer bigamy to it.” (6)
We each have to ask; who is Luther that I should care to interpret his interpretation of Scripture; the Bible should be sufficient without Luther, shouldn’t it?
The question isn’t Luther’s statements, but why so many theologians defend him, especially that there are countless obvious immoral statements in his writings? I gave only three references from some of Luther’s defenders (there are hundreds) who re-interpret Luther’s statements. Many are simply Luther’s sycophants.
We cannot avoid that Scripture has been interpreted in the first century up to the sixteenth and after, without Luther. Why then do we insist on erecting websites and writing books in defense of Luther?
I had lost respect for Luther the day I learned he was an anti-Semite. He wrote regarding the Jews:
“My advice, as I said earlier, is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire…Second, that all their books—-their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible—-be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted … Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country…Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it…The rulers must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs.” (7)
This sounds more like the works of the Muslim Al-Ghazali rather then a true Christian. Al-Ghazali wrote:
“Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]…on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]… They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells…their houses may not be higher than the Muslim’s, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle [-work] is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths…[dhimmis] must hold their tongue…” (8)
How can someone re-interpret Luther here without sanctioning Al-Ghazali?
Whenever I brought up all the negatives of Luther, especially his anti-Semitism, the response was that these were residues he had picked up from his background in the Catholic Church. But whenever we find all the good about Luther (his genius in translating Scripture) it was because he revolted against the Catholic Church.
But it was from the God of the Jews—-whom Luther hated His people–that was the origin of our faith.
I concluded that I didn’t need the Hitler-like speech with an Islamic tone anti-Semite Luther to teach me issues on faith, which to me having come from the Middle East were simple; tested faith is faith indeed.
By now, you might think “why should I care” “I do not follow Luther”, or you might object, “do not throw the baby with the bathwater”.
But the two, Martin Luther and the Protestant, regardless if he was called evangelical, Messianic, Charismatic or whatever, they are inseparable from Luther’s teachings. It was Luther who coined our two most important theological principles; Sola-Fide and Sola-Scriptura. Dare any of us argue these?
Throughout the years, I asked tons of questions to my mentors, that if we were so intertwined to Luther, the other issue for me was; does my salvation depend on my acceptance or rejection of Luther or my acceptance or rejection of Jesus?
And how could we accept such analogy “do not throw the baby out with the bathwater”, especially that when such a slogan comes from liberals defending Darwin? It was that freak of nature Darwin who penned racist remarks that the “negro” was still evolving?
While the liberal defends Darwin’s racism by countering that we need not throw the baby (evolution theory) out with the bathwater (Darwin’s racism), which Protestants rebuke such an analogy; nevertheless, Protestants make the same arguments in defending Luther.
And we always argue that Protestants are not liberal.
One would counter this argument that while Darwin’s theory was all “bath water,” Luther’s is not.
Indeed, but the bathwater is drowning once we examine the volumes of statements made by Luther from promoting adultery to clear blasphemies.
I hated reading Luther’s interpretations; to me they were the tradition of men. He had convoluted ideas that stemmed from his hatred of Jews, works, and obedience to God. He introduced easy believism and promoted sin. To Luther the matrimonial act is:
“a sin differing in nothing from adultery and fornication.” (9)
What then is the purpose of marriage for Luther you may ask? Luther affirms that it’s simply to satisfy one’s sexual cravings:
“The body asks for a woman and must have it”
“To marry is a remedy for fornication.” (10)
Even when it comes to Christ, Luther blasphemed Him:
“Christ committed adultery first of all with the women at the well about whom St. John tell’s us. Was not everybody about Him saying: ‘Whatever has He been doing with her?’ Secondly, with Mary Magdalen, and thirdly with the women taken in adultery whom He dismissed so lightly. Thus even, Christ who was so righteous, must have been guilty of fornication before He died.” (11)
Luther was a liberal. If Luther was here today, he would probably have written The Da Vinci Code. Even when it came to Christ, Luther himself would not throw Jesus with the non-existing bathwater:
“It does not matter how Christ behaved—what He taught is all that matters.” (12)
Sure, I could understand it, if such statements came from some lunatic Nazi, but to be the Moses of the Protestant movement who had brought us all crossing the Red Sea to flee the bondage of the Pharaoh who was the Pope, was too much to bear.
I could understand that Muhammad married A’isha when she was six, sure that was some sinner, but for that pedophile to be a prophet?
Can one accept a Bible interpretation by an anti-Semite madman?
Also, according to Jesus the main instruction He gave us to recognize a true believer was the “fruits of the spirit”. Jesus clearly said that we shall “know them by their fruit”.
Had tyrants written the volumes of Luther’s works, can we expect to follow the Bible According to Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, or Mussolini?
How could it matter not what one feels about Luther, all Protestant denominations adhere in someway or the other to Luther’s interpretations using sola scriptura and sola fide which the evangelical, the messianic, charismatic … no matter what species of Protestant, this is the most major doctrine, which without, you become an anathema.
I must then say that Sola Fide is not Luther’s discovery, it was in fact used all along before him.
To do away with Luther is to have to ignore all Protestant Bible interpretations from the sixteenth century onward and only read commentaries and interpretations from the first century to the fifteenth before Luther showed up at the doorstep challenging Pharaoh to “let my people go”.
Some might argue, “let the one with no sin cast the first stone”.
But we are not speaking of sin, but heresy and blasphemy of the worst kind.
Why not then read the old aged wine; Polycarp, Tertullian, Julius Africanus, Ignatius, Origen, Clement, Jerome, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil and Ambrose instead of Luther?
And so what if these were considered Catholic? Can anyone show me these men’s blasphemies? I know that the Catholic Church of today with all its corruption is not the Catholic Church of yesteryears, but I also see many great Catholics who are fighting a good fight. Do I alienate these just because Luther said so?
And so what if some writers were Protestant; can anyone show me the blasphemies of C.S. Lewis?
And so what if I read the Deuterocanonical books? Should I not read these because Luther decided to take them out?
Prior to Luther, all Christians read these as the Word of God.
What about the Didache? I read this wonderful work, which is the oldest Christian writing after the New Testament. From it I saw how the first Christians conducted their practices and there are many things that have been excluded as a result of Luther and Zwingli. And who is Zwingli anyway that I must obey him? For how long will man elevate man instead of Christ?
And why can’t I use the Didache as a support document with Biblical texts to understand more about 1st Century Christianity?
Must we as Christians be strict Sola Scripturist, to the point that we cannot learn from the ancients on how they viewed Scripture?
Most Evangelicals steer clear of Patristic study since they exercise a strict “Sola Scriptura” that was acquired from Luther. But this I fear is to our detriment in the long run, we should be interested in how those Christians closest to the apostles understood the teaching of the apostles. Isn’t that the reason Evangelicals are attracted the Messianics?
And if Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, why can’t I nail 95 of Luther’s blasphemies on my blog?
1) Letter to Melanchthon, August 1, 1521, American Edition, Luther’s Works, vol. 48, pp. 281-82. Von Loewenich Walther, Martin Luther: The Man and His Work, P.p. 204. Placher William Carl The Domestication of Transcendence: How Modern Thinking about God Went Wrong, P.p. 89. Bayne Peter Martin Luther, His Life and Work, Volume 2, P.p. 156-157.
(2) Clines David J. A On the Way to the Postmodern: Old Testament Essays 1967-1998, P.p. 560-561
(3) J. Dollinger, La Reforme et les resultants qu’elle a produits. (Trans. E. Perrot, Paris, Gaume, 1848-49), Vol III, pg. 248*.
(4) Luther, On Married Life
(5) From De Wette, Vol. 2, p. 459
(6) From “On Marriage
(7) Luther, On The Jews And Their Lies
(8) See 53 Al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Kitab al-Wagiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam al-Safi’i, Beirut, 1979, pp. 186, 190-91; 199-200; 202-203. [English translation by Dr. Michael Schub.].
(9) Weimar, Vol 8. Pg. 654. Grisar, “Luther”, vol. iv, pg. 145.
(10) Grisar, “Luther”, vol. iv, pg. 145. Weimar, Vol 8. Pg. 654.
(11) Trishreden, Weimer Edition, Vol. 2, Pg. 107. – What a great blasphemy from a man who is regarded as “great reformer”
(12) Erlangen Vol. 29, Pg. 126