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Luther's "Evangelical Praise of the Mother of God"

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  • Luther's "Evangelical Praise of the Mother of God"

    "O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but graciously regard us also, according to your example."
    Elbe Swim Team 2013!

  • #2
    Originally posted by SalusaSecondus View Post
    "O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but graciously regard us also, according to your example."
    Aha, my favorite topic! Not sure why you posted this but...

    The entire paragraph states:

    Again, nothing would please her better than to have you turn in fear from all lofty things on which men set their hearts, seeing that even in His mother God neither found nor desired anything of high degree. But the masters who so depict and portray the blessed Virgin that there is found in her nothing to be despised, but only great and lofty things—what are they doing but contrasting us with her instead of her with God? Thus they make us timid and afraid and hide the Virgin’s comfortable picture, as the images are covered over in Lent. For they deprive us of her example, from which we might take comfort; they make an exception of her and set her above all examples. But she should be, and herself gladly would be, the foremost example of the grace of God, to incite all the world to trust in this grace and to love and praise it, so that through her the hearts of all men should be filled with such knowledge of God that they might confidently say: “O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but graciously regard us also, according to your example.” Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 21: The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 21, p. 323). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    Luther's Mariology was in flux at the time of this writing. While it may appear to be that Luther was invoking Mary, it wasn't that long after that he abandoned prayer or invoking Mary completely, and even in this treatise, something not quite Roman Catholic is going on. Luther's exposition of the Magnificat was actually a controversial document in its time. The main point of Luther's exposition of the Magnificat was not even Mariological per se, but rather a treatise to understand God’s work in law and Gospel. Luther presents the contrast between the “mighty princes” and the “lowly virgin,” in order that his readers might understand the paradox of law and Gospel.

    Consider the following analysis from Roman Catholic historian Hilda Graef:

    In his Exposition of the Magnificat… [Luther’s] tone became different. True, at the beginning and end of the work he still asks "the tender Mother of God" to obtain for him the right spirit to explain the Canticle usefully and thoroughly; but this spirit differs considerably from that of the traditional interpretation...in accordance with his teaching that man can do absolutely nothing to co-operate with God and everything is wholly due to his grace, the Reformer stresses over and over again that Mary has nothing of herself, indeed, she herself is but "nothingness". If we would honour her we should say to her: "0 blessed Virgin and Mother of God, how utterly nothing and despised you have been, and yet God has looked upon you so graciously and abundantly and has done great things in you. You have not been worthy of any of these, and the superabundant grace of God is in you far above your merit." He blames those who honour her, because they make an "idol" of her. To honour her properly, she should "be stripped completely of everything and only be regarded in her nothingness, afterwards we should admire the overwhelming grace of God who looks so graciously on such a lowly, worthless human being". If, on the other hand, she is represented as having great things of herself we are contrasted with her and not she with God, and so we lose all confidence in his grace. Because she was so unworthy and God nevertheless gave her so much grace, we are encouraged to trust in him. The whole Lutheran theology is in this: man can do nothing whatsoever, everything comes from God without any human co-operation. [Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion Vol. II (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965) , 7-8].

    Luther eventually abandoned the most significant aspect of Roman Catholic Mariology: the intercession of Mary and the saints. This is one of the key doctrines that defines Roman Catholic Mariology. Without a doctrine of the intercession of Mary, this woman and her attributes become less important in Luther’s theology.

    One final point: Luther saying nice things about Mary is not Roman Catholic Marian dogma, veneration, devotion, or praise. The question that needs to be asked is what exactly does it mean to "praise" Mary as a Protestant? Does it mean, "Marian devotion"? Absolutely not! We as Protestants can say nice or praising things about Mary or other Biblical personages without it implying a Roman Catholic worldview. Luther saying nice things about Mary does not equal Rome's version of devotion to Mary.
    Last edited by James Swan; 07-26-16, 11:50 AM. Reason: typos

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by James Swan View Post
      Aha, my favorite topic! Not sure why you posted this but...

      The entire paragraph states:

      Again, nothing would please her better than to have you turn in fear from all lofty things on which men set their hearts, seeing that even in His mother God neither found nor desired anything of high degree. But the masters who so depict and portray the blessed Virgin that there is found in her nothing to be despised, but only great and lofty things—what are they doing but contrasting us with her instead of her with God? Thus they make us timid and afraid and hide the Virgin’s comfortable picture, as the images are covered over in Lent. For they deprive us of her example, from which we might take comfort; they make an exception of her and set her above all examples. But she should be, and herself gladly would be, the foremost example of the grace of God, to incite all the world to trust in this grace and to love and praise it, so that through her the hearts of all men should be filled with such knowledge of God that they might confidently say: “O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but graciously regard us also, according to your example.” Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 21: The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 21, p. 323). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

      Luther's Mariology was in flux at the time of this writing. While it may appear to be that Luther was invoking Mary, it wasn't that long after that he abandoned prayer or invoking Mary completely, and even in this treatise, something not quite Roman Catholic is going on. Luther's exposition of the Magnificat was actually a controversial document in its time. The main point of Luther's exposition of the Magnificat was not even Mariological per se, but rather a treatise to understand God’s work in law and Gospel. Luther presents the contrast between the “mighty princes” and the “lowly virgin,” in order that his readers might understand the paradox of law and Gospel.

      Consider the following analysis from Roman Catholic historian Hilda Graef:

      In his Exposition of the Magnificat… [Luther’s] tone became different. True, at the beginning and end of the work he still asks "the tender Mother of God" to obtain for him the right spirit to explain the Canticle usefully and thoroughly; but this spirit differs considerably from that of the traditional interpretation...in accordance with his teaching that man can do absolutely nothing to co-operate with God and everything is wholly due to his grace, the Reformer stresses over and over again that Mary has nothing of herself, indeed, she herself is but "nothingness". If we would honour her we should say to her: "0 blessed Virgin and Mother of God, how utterly nothing and despised you have been, and yet God has looked upon you so graciously and abundantly and has done great things in you. You have not been worthy of any of these, and the superabundant grace of God is in you far above your merit." He blames those who honour her, because they make an "idol" of her. To honour her properly, she should "be stripped completely of everything and only be regarded in her nothingness, afterwards we should admire the overwhelming grace of God who looks so graciously on such a lowly, worthless human being". If, on the other hand, she is represented as having great things of herself we are contrasted with her and not she with God, and so we lose all confidence in his grace. Because she was so unworthy and God nevertheless gave her so much grace, we are encouraged to trust in him. The whole Lutheran theology is in this: man can do nothing whatsoever, everything comes from God without any human co-operation. [Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion Vol. II (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965) , 7-8].

      Luther eventually abandoned the most significant aspect of Roman Catholic Mariology: the intercession of Mary and the saints. This is one of the key doctrines that defines Roman Catholic Mariology. Without a doctrine of the intercession of Mary, this woman and her attributes become less important in Luther’s theology.

      One final point: Luther saying nice things about Mary is not Roman Catholic Marian dogma, veneration, devotion, or praise. The question that needs to be asked is what exactly does it mean to "praise" Mary as a Protestant? Does it mean, "Marian devotion"? Absolutely not! We as Protestants can say nice or praising things about Mary or other Biblical personages without it implying a Roman Catholic worldview. Luther saying nice things about Mary does not equal Rome's version of devotion to Mary.
      I am completely opposed to Romes veneration of Mary but not to a passive sort of Mariology a la Barth.
      Elbe Swim Team 2013!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by SalusaSecondus View Post
        I am completely opposed to Romes veneration of Mary but not to a passive sort of Mariology a la Barth.
        As a Protestant, I'm leary of using the word "veneration" along with the word "Mary." I think it's quite proper to say nice things about people in the Bible, be it Mary, Joseph, Paul, Stephen, Priscilla, Martha, etc. but venerate? No, I would rather not swim that close to the Tiber.

        Edited to add: I find it more apt (and more Biblical) to attach the word "honor" to "say nice things about people in the Bible" than to attach the word "honor" to the word "venerate" because of what Rome has done to the word.
        Last edited by James Swan; 07-26-16, 01:19 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by James Swan View Post
          Aha, my favorite topic! Not sure why you posted this but...

          The entire paragraph states:

          Again, nothing would please her better than to have you turn in fear from all lofty things on which men set their hearts, seeing that even in His mother God neither found nor desired anything of high degree. But the masters who so depict and portray the blessed Virgin that there is found in her nothing to be despised, but only great and lofty things—what are they doing but contrasting us with her instead of her with God? Thus they make us timid and afraid and hide the Virgin’s comfortable picture, as the images are covered over in Lent. For they deprive us of her example, from which we might take comfort; they make an exception of her and set her above all examples. But she should be, and herself gladly would be, the foremost example of the grace of God, to incite all the world to trust in this grace and to love and praise it, so that through her the hearts of all men should be filled with such knowledge of God that they might confidently say: “O Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, what great comfort God has shown us in you, by so graciously regarding your unworthiness and low estate. This encourages us to believe that henceforth He will not despise us poor and lowly ones, but graciously regard us also, according to your example.” Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 21: The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 21, p. 323). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

          Luther's Mariology was in flux at the time of this writing. While it may appear to be that Luther was invoking Mary, it wasn't that long after that he abandoned prayer or invoking Mary completely, and even in this treatise, something not quite Roman Catholic is going on. Luther's exposition of the Magnificat was actually a controversial document in its time. The main point of Luther's exposition of the Magnificat was not even Mariological per se, but rather a treatise to understand God’s work in law and Gospel. Luther presents the contrast between the “mighty princes” and the “lowly virgin,” in order that his readers might understand the paradox of law and Gospel.

          Consider the following analysis from Roman Catholic historian Hilda Graef:

          In his Exposition of the Magnificat… [Luther’s] tone became different. True, at the beginning and end of the work he still asks "the tender Mother of God" to obtain for him the right spirit to explain the Canticle usefully and thoroughly; but this spirit differs considerably from that of the traditional interpretation...in accordance with his teaching that man can do absolutely nothing to co-operate with God and everything is wholly due to his grace, the Reformer stresses over and over again that Mary has nothing of herself, indeed, she herself is but "nothingness". If we would honour her we should say to her: "0 blessed Virgin and Mother of God, how utterly nothing and despised you have been, and yet God has looked upon you so graciously and abundantly and has done great things in you. You have not been worthy of any of these, and the superabundant grace of God is in you far above your merit." He blames those who honour her, because they make an "idol" of her. To honour her properly, she should "be stripped completely of everything and only be regarded in her nothingness, afterwards we should admire the overwhelming grace of God who looks so graciously on such a lowly, worthless human being". If, on the other hand, she is represented as having great things of herself we are contrasted with her and not she with God, and so we lose all confidence in his grace. Because she was so unworthy and God nevertheless gave her so much grace, we are encouraged to trust in him. The whole Lutheran theology is in this: man can do nothing whatsoever, everything comes from God without any human co-operation. [Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion Vol. II (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965) , 7-8].

          Luther eventually abandoned the most significant aspect of Roman Catholic Mariology: the intercession of Mary and the saints. This is one of the key doctrines that defines Roman Catholic Mariology. Without a doctrine of the intercession of Mary, this woman and her attributes become less important in Luther’s theology.

          One final point: Luther saying nice things about Mary is not Roman Catholic Marian dogma, veneration, devotion, or praise. The question that needs to be asked is what exactly does it mean to "praise" Mary as a Protestant? Does it mean, "Marian devotion"? Absolutely not! We as Protestants can say nice or praising things about Mary or other Biblical personages without it implying a Roman Catholic worldview. Luther saying nice things about Mary does not equal Rome's version of devotion to Mary.

          And right on cue one of "Geneva's cyber defenders" posts another control-v paste job. Do yourself a favor and actually read Fr. Luther's sermon and maybe you too, like young John Frederick, will learn something about **edit per mod ** instead of trying to whitewash his words for fear they sound too Catholic.

          Ad fontes, James.
          Last edited by cdrom1; 07-27-16, 01:14 AM. Reason: alert:12 personal neg comment
          "Truth exists. The Incarnation happened."

          "First, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is heralded throughout the world." - St. Paul to the first Roman Catholics

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Walpole View Post
            And right on cue one of "Geneva's cyber defenders" posts another control-v paste job. Do yourself a favor and actually read Fr. Luther's sermon and maybe you too, like young John Frederick, will learn something about **edit per mod ** instead of trying to whitewash his words for fear they sound too Catholic.

            Ad fontes, James.
            Hi Walpole,

            I didn't get to read your unedited post but if it accurately reflects the letter/commentary then you most likely referred to the relationship between the Lord and ruler, and ruler and ruled through what the Holy Spirit led Mary to proclaim. In any case, a letter/commentary from 1521 will at times sound Roman Catholic for the right reasons and at other times for the wrong reasons. Luther readily states that early on he was drowning in Roman Catholic doctrine. (paraphrase)
            Test all things and praise God from whom all blessings flow!

            Peace,
            BJ -Bear
            VDMA (1 Peter 1:25)
            WELS

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Walpole View Post
              And right on cue one of "Geneva's cyber defenders" posts another control-v paste job. Do yourself a favor and actually read Fr. Luther's sermon and maybe you too, like young John Frederick, will learn something about **edit per mod ** instead of trying to whitewash his words for fear they sound too Catholic.

              Ad fontes, James.
              Besides insults, do you have any positive statements demonstrating I whitewashed Luther's words in his commentary on the Magnificat? Primarily I have argued that Luther's Mariology was in flux, and even what he did say in this writing about Mary presented a Mary often different than what was accepted in the popular Marian piety of his day.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by James Swan View Post
                Besides insults, do you have any positive statements demonstrating I whitewashed Luther's words in his commentary on the Magnificat? Primarily I have argued that Luther's Mariology was in flux, and even what he did say in this writing about Mary presented a Mary often different than what was accepted in the popular Marian piety of his day.
                Humilitas, James. You see a prayer to the Virgin and instead of discussing the actual content and context in which is offered - amidst Luther's message to young Frederick on modeling his life after Mary's example exemplified in her great canticle - you immediately whitewash it, for it just sounds too Catholic.

                Pointing this out hardly constitutes an insult, unless you are referring to my use of "Geneva's cyber defender". In that case, you would be guilty again of a double-standard, as I borrowed the term from you.


                "May the tender Mother of God herself procure for me the spirit of wisdom, profitably and thoroughly to expound this song of hers, so that your Grace as well as we all may draw therefrom wholesome knowledge and a praiseworthy life, and thus come to chant and sing this Magnificat eternally in heaven. To this may God help us. Amen."

                May this prayer of Fr. Luther's also be yours.


                Ad fontes, James.
                Last edited by Walpole; 07-29-16, 12:30 PM.
                "Truth exists. The Incarnation happened."

                "First, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is heralded throughout the world." - St. Paul to the first Roman Catholics

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Walpole,

                  Originally posted by Walpole View Post
                  Humilitas, James. You see a prayer to the Virgin and instead of discussing the actual content and context in which is offered - amidst Luther's message to young Frederick on modeling his life after Mary's example exemplified in her great canticle - you immediately whitewash it, for it just sounds too Catholic.

                  Pointing this out hardly constitutes an insult, unless you are referring to my use of "Geneva's cyber defender". In that case, you would be guilty again of a double-standard, as I borrowed the term from you.


                  "May the tender Mother of God herself procure for me the spirit of wisdom, profitably and thoroughly to expound this song of hers, so that your Grace as well as we all may draw therefrom wholesome knowledge and a praiseworthy life, and thus come to chant and sing this Magnificat eternally in heaven. To this may God help us. Amen."

                  May this prayer of Fr. Luther's also be yours.


                  Ad fontes, James.
                  For the record, the very next year Luther wrote in his Prayer Book of 1522, "They (some Roman Catholic prayer books) drub into the minds of simple people such a wretched counting up of sins and going to confusion, such un-Christian tomfoolery about prayers to God and his saints!" Luther's Works, AE, vol. 43, p. 11, (c) FP In that same work he also wrote that Christians aren't to place their trust in Mary because that belongs to God alone. Christians are instead to cleave to Mary because of the Son.
                  Test all things and praise God from whom all blessings flow!

                  Peace,
                  BJ -Bear
                  VDMA (1 Peter 1:25)
                  WELS

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Personally, I'm not afraid of sounding "too Catholic" on St Mary. Just keep it Biblical and the problems with these things dissolve.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BJ BEAR View Post
                      Hi Walpole,
                      For the record, the very next year Luther wrote in his Prayer Book of 1522, "They (some Roman Catholic prayer books) drub into the minds of simple people such a wretched counting up of sins and going to confusion, such un-Christian tomfoolery about prayers to God and his saints!" Luther's Works, AE, vol. 43, p. 11, (c) FP In that same work he also wrote that Christians aren't to place their trust in Mary because that belongs to God alone. Christians are instead to cleave to Mary because of the Son.
                      And Also:

                      "I beseech in Christ that your preachers forbear entering upon questions concerning the saints in heaven and the deceased, and I ask you to turn the attention of people away from these matters in view of the fact…that they are neither profitable nor necessary for salvation. This is also reason why God decided not to let us know anything about His dealings with the deceased. Surely he is not committing a sin who does not call upon any saint but only clings firmly to the one mediator, Jesus Christ" [Martin Luther, “Letter to Erfurt evangelists July 10, 1522,” What Luther Says, Vol. 3, 1253 (WA 10-2-: 165)].

                      And Also:

                      "I know of no reason why I should find fault with you, as our sophists do, for not invoking or honoring the Mother of God or any saint but clinging to, and being satisfied with, the one Mediator in heaven, Jesus Christ; though on earth, everyone is duty bound to pray for the other" [What Luther Says, Vol. 3, 1253, (WA 11:415)].

                      And Also:

                      "Probably the P***ists took this custom of praying to the saints from the heathen" [What Luther Says, Vol. 3, 1254, (WA TR 5, no. 6351)].

                      And Also:

                      "[W]ho has commanded you to set up this new idolatry of worshiping the saints, canonizing them, and appointing fast days and feast days on which to honor them, just as if they were God himself, so that men rely on and trust in their merit more than in Christ himself, his blood and his merit? You have portrayed him for us as a judge, whom we must appease, and whose grace we must win through the merit and intercession of his mother and all the saints, together with our worship of the saints. The result is that your church has become in this matter nothing less than a heathen church, praying to Jove, Juno, Venus, Diana, and other dead men. Just as the Romans built a Pantheon in their city of Rome, so you have built a pantheon in the church, which is the church of all devils. You will not find this in the writings of the apostles, nor in the nascent church, which in former times would not even allow pictures of the saints—and a lot of blood was spilt over this—not to mention invocations or prayers to them, things that belong to God alone." [Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 41: Church and Ministry III. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 41, p. 204). Philadelphia: Fortress Press].

                      Comment

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