Sunday, January 16, 2011

Against the Heavenly Prophets

The document:  Against the Heavenly Prophets.

In the Volume 9 of  The Christian History Project, I found a section that complained about the tone of Luther in this document and how even his contemporaries complained about it.  This is a recurrent theme in the book.

I just read the document and thought it was brilliant and important writing.  I am fully behind it.  No apologies.  He had very weighty reasons to speak this way.  The man had brains and courage and faith.  Thank God for him.

Someone wrote a very long dissertation on this recently and seems to also think it important.


James Swan said...

I just read the document and thought it was brilliant and important writing. I am fully behind it. No apologies. He had very weighty reasons to speak this way. The man had brains and courage and faith. Thank God for him

Against the Heavenly Prophets (1525) was written against Luther's former colleague Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt. In this treatise, Luther expresses (among other things) his harsh disagreement with Karlstadt over the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Karlstadt held the body and blood of Christ are not in the sacrament.

What many people don't know, is that even though Luther strongly disagreed with Karlstadt, he didn't hate Karlstadt, even during the time of the writing of this treatise. During the Peasant's War, Luther took Karlstadt into hiding in his home, along with his wife.

It just goes to show the polemical treatises of the Reformation period were typically that: polemical.

For a good overview of Luther & Karlstadt, see: Mark U. Edwards, Luther and the False Brethren (Califorina:Stanford University Press, 1975). As to Luther taking Karlstadt into hiding, see page 79. If I recall Google books has a preview of this book.

Brigitte said...

Thanks James. There were huge issues at stake from rebellion, to all the solas, to the sacraments, to how calls should be issued and who should preach, to peace in the land, parishes, homes and schools. A very firm hand was needed and Karlstadt had not show that he could be corrected. The document makes all that very clear.

He was not fooling around and not equivocating. This had to be checked and now and properly. A stitch in time saves nine. This had already become a big tear in the fabric.

Especially the making of new rules was a return to external phariseeism and upset consciences. Jesus words for the same phenomenon were not pretty either.

James Swan said...

The book from Edwards does a good job with the details of their relationship. The details on pages 183-184 say that in his final days Karlstadt was bothered by a "demon / Ghost." Luther was troubled that Karlstadt did not repent before his death.

Frankly, I rarely am troubled by Luther's language (His later comments on the Jews were over the top, those I can do without).

But for the most part, his writing style makes him interesting. He's rarely dull, that's for sure!

Brigitte said...

That's interesting about Karlstadt. This whole thing about the Heavenly Prophets must have been very painful for him.

When the language gets colorful, it is never just colorful, it communicates some deep thinking with lots of relevance in the context, creativity and even sensitivity in a different vein.

About the Jews he also said so many honoring things, trying to include them. I don't know how that hateful stuff came about. I've read some of the explanations, but it does not make sense to me. It does not seem to be the same man talking. My own private feeling is that he is being framed, but I am assured by people who know more than me that it surely is not the case.