As we move beyond the five-hundred-year anniversary of the Protestant reformulation on October 31, 2017, it is good for us to look back and examine how that all worked out for them. For, how are we to judge the fruit of a tree over the last 500 years unless we first examine the roots of that tree? Therefore, let us start from the beginning and blink our eyes at the 38 Most Ridiculous things that Martin Luther, the illustrious Father of Protestantism and the Bible-Only (sola-scriptura) movement, said. It is still hard to believe how we allowed and still allow this very plain instrument of Satan to divide God’s people . . .
Martin Luther on the Dignity and Majesty of God
- “I look upon God no better than a scoundrel” (ref. Weimar, Vol. 1, Pg. 487. Cf. Table Talk, No. 963).
- “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.” (ref. Trishreden, Weimer Edition, Vol. 2, Pg. 107. – What a great blasphemy from a man who is regarded as “great reformer”!).
- “I have greater confidence in my wife and my pupils than I have in Christ” (ref. Table Talk, 2397b).
- “It does not matter how Christ behaved – what He taught is all that matters” (ref. Erlangen Vol. 29, Pg. 126).
Martin Luther on the 10 Commandments
- “[The commandments] only purpose is to show man his impotence to do good and to teach him to despair of himself” (ref: Denifle’s Luther et Lutheranisme, Etude Faite d’apres les sources. Translation by J. Paquier (Paris, A. Picard, 1912-13), Volume III, p. 364).
- “We must remove the Decalogue out of sight and heart” (ref. De Wette 4, 188)
- “If we allow them – the Commandments – any influence in our conscience, they become the cloak of all evil, heresies and blasphemies” (ref. Comm. ad Galat, p.310).
- “It is more important to guard against good works than against sin.” (ref. Trischreden, Wittenberg Edition, Vol. VI., p. 160).
Martin Luther on the Material Necessity of Good Works
- “Good works are bad and are sin like the rest.” (ref. Denifle’s Luther et Lutheranisme, Etude Faite d’apres les sources. Translation by J. Paquier (Paris, A. Picard, 1912-13), VOl. III, pg. 47).
- “There is no scandal greater, more dangerous, more venomous, than a good outward life, manifested by good works and a pious mode of life. That is the grand portal, the highway that leads to damnation.” (ref. Denifle’s Luther et Lutheranisme, Etude Faite d’apres les sources. Translation by J. Paquier (Paris, A. Picard, 1912-13), VOl. II, pg. 128).
Martin Luther on the Importance of Free-Will
- “…with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, (man) has no ‘free-will’, but is a captive, prisoner and bond slave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan.” (ref. From the essay, ‘Bondage of the Will,’ ‘Martin Luther: Selections From His Writings, ed. by Dillenberger, Anchor Books, 1962 p. 190).
- “Man is like a horse. Does God leap into the saddle? The horse is obedient and accommodates itself to every movement of the rider and goes whither he wills it. Does God throw down the reins? Then Satan leaps upon the back of the animal, which bends, goes and submits to the spurs and caprices of its new rider… Therefore, necessity, not free will, is the controlling principle of our conduct. God is the author of what is evil as well as of what is good, and, as He bestows happiness on those who merit it not, so also does He damn others who deserve not their fate.” (ref. ‘De Servo Arbitrio’, 7, 113 seq., quoted by O’Hare, in ‘The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, pp. 266-267).
- “His (Judas) will was the work of God; God by His almighty power moved his will as He does all that is in this world.” (ref. De servo Arbitrio, against man’s free will).
- “No good work happens as the result of one’s own wisdom; but everything must happen in a stupor . . . Reason must be left behind for it is the enemy of faith.” (ref. Trischreden, Weimer VI, 143, 25-35).
Martin Luther on Christian Living
- “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides… No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.” (ref. ‘Let Your Sins Be Strong, from ‘The Wittenberg Project;’ ‘The Wartburg Segment’, translated by Erika Flores, from Dr. Martin Luther’s Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter No. 99, 1 Aug. 1521. – Cf. Also Denifle’s Luther et Lutheranisme, Etude Faite d’apres les sources. Translation by J. Paquier (Paris, A. Picard, 1912-13), VOl. II, pg. 404))
- “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.” (ref. J. Dollinger, La Reforme et les resultants qu’elle a produits. (Trans. E. Perrot, Paris, Gaume, 1848-49), Vol III, pg. 248).
Martin Luther on Capital Punishment and Charity
- “If some were to teach doctrines contradicting an article of faith clearly grounded in Scripture and believed throughout the world by all Christendom, such as the articles we teach children in the Creed — for example, if anyone were to teach that Christ is not God, but a mere man and like other prophets, as the Turks and the Anabaptists hold — such teachers shuold not be tolerated, but punished as blasphemers . . . By this procedure no one is compelled to believe, for he can still believe what he will; but he is forbidden to teach and to blaspheme.” (ref. Luther’s Works [LW], Vol. 13, 61-62)
- “That seditious articles of doctrine should be punished by the sword needed no further proof. For the rest, the Anabaptists hold tenets relating to infant baptism, original sin, and inspiration, which have no connection with the Word of God, and are indeed opposed to it . . . Secular authorities are also bound to restrain and punish avowedly false doctrine . . . For think what disaster would ensue if children were not baptized? . . . Besides this the Anabaptists separate themselves from the churches . . . and they set up a ministry and congregation of their own, which is also contrary to the command of God. From all this it becomes clear that the secular authorities are bound . . . to inflict corporal punishment on the offenders . . . Also when it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism, original sin, and unnecessary separation, then . . . we conclude that . . . the stubborn sectaries must be put to death.” (ref. pamphlet of 1536; in Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 volumes, translated by A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 [orig. 1891]; Vol. X, 222-223)
Martin Luther on Social Justice
- “Peasants are no better than straw. They will not hear the word and they are without sense; therefore they must be compelled to hear the crack of the whip and the whiz of bullets and it is only what they deserve.” (ref. Erlangen Vol 24, Pg. 294).
- “To kill a peasant is not murder; it is helping to extinguish the conflagration. Let there be no half measures! Crush them! Cut their throats! Transfix them. Leave no stone unturned! To kill a peasant is to destroy a mad dog!” – “If they say that I am very hard and merciless, mercy be damned. Let whoever can stab, strangle, and kill them like mad dogs” (ref. Erlangen Vol 24, Pg. 294).
- “Like the drivers of donkeys, who have to belabor the donkeys incessantly with rods and whips, or they will not obey, so must the ruler do with the people; they must drive, beat throttle, hang, burn, behead and torture, so as to make themselves feared and to keep the people in check.” (ref. Erlangen Vol 15, Pg. 276).
Adolf HitlerMartin Luther on the Love of 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… He who hears this name [God] from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away”. (ref. Martin Luther; On the Jews and Their Lies, translated by Martin H. Bertram, Fortress Press, 1955).
- “Burn their synagogues. Forbid them all that I have mentioned above. Force them to work and treat them with every kind of severity, as Moses did in the desert and slew three thousand… If that is no use, we must drive them away like mad dogs, in order that we may not be partakers of their abominable blasphemy and of all their vices, and in order that we may not deserve the anger of God and be damned with them. I have done my duty. Let everyone see how he does his. I am excused.” (ref. About the Jews and Their Lies,’ quoted by O’Hare, in ‘The Facts About Luther, TAN Books, 1987, p. 290).
- “If I had to baptize a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe, hang a stone round his neck and push him over with the words I baptize thee in the name of Abraham” (ref. Grisar, “Luther”, Vol. V. pg. 413).
- “The Jews deserve to be hanged on gallows seven times higher than ordinary thieves.” (ref. Weimar, Vol. 53, Pg. 502).
Martin Luther on the Sanctity and Dignity of Marriage
- “If the husband is unwilling, there is another who is; if the wife is unwilling, then let the maid come.” (ref. Of Married Life).
- “Suppose I should counsel the wife of an impotent man, with his consent, to giver 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 women in a saved state? I answer, certainly.” (ref. On Marriage).
- “It is not in opposition to the Holy Scriptures for a man to have several wives.” (ref. De Wette, Vol. 2, p. 459).
- “The word and work of God is quite clear, viz., that women are made to be either wives or prostitutes.” (ref. On Married Life).
- “In spite of all the good I say of married life, I will not grant so much to nature as to admit that there is no sin in it. .. no conjugal due is ever rendered without sin. The matrimonial duty is never performed without sin.” (ref. Weimar, Vol 8. Pg. 654. In other words for Luther the matrimonial act is “a sin differing in nothing from adultery and fornication.” ibid. 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 women and must have it” or again “To marry is a remedy for fornication” – Grisar, “Luther”, vol. iv, pg. 145).
Martin Luther on the Quality of Edifying Speech
- “What harm could it do if a man told a good lusty lie in a worthy cause and for the sake of the Christian Churches?” (ref. Lenz: Briefwechsel, Vol. 1. Pg. 373).
- “To lie in a case of necessity or for convenience or in excuse – such lying would not be against God; He was ready to take such lies on Himself” (ref. Lenz: Briefwechsel, Vol. 1. Pg. 375).
Martin Luther on Humility
- “St. Augustine or St. Ambrosius cannot be compared with me.” (ref. Erlangen, Vol. 61, pg. 422).
- “What I teach and write remains true even though the whole world should fall to pieces over it” (ref. Weimar, Vol. 18, Pg. 401).
Martin Luther on the value of Sacred Scripture
- “To my mind it (the book of the Apocalypse) bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character… Everyone may form his own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it.” (ref. ammtliche Werke, 63, pp. 169-170, ‘The Facts About Luther,’ O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p. 203).
- “If your Papist annoys you with the word (‘alone’ – Rom. 3:28), tell him straightway, Dr. Martin Luther will have it so: Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil’s thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom.” (ref. Amic. Discussion, 1, 127,’The Facts About Luther,’ O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p. 201. Cf. Also J. Dollinger, La Reforme et les resultants qu’elle a produits. (Trans. E. Perrot, Paris, Gaume, 1848-49), Vol III, pg. 138).
- “The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible.” (ref. The Facts About Luther, O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p. 202).
- “…the epistle of St. James is an epistle full of straw, because it contains nothing evangelical.” (ref. ‘Preface to the New Testament,’ ed. Dillenberger, p. 19. – Cf. Also Jean Janssen, L’Allemagne et la Reforme. (Trans. E. Paris, Plon, 1887-1911). Vol II, Pg. 218).
– For more great quotes from the Father of Protestantism, visit Luther, Exposing the Myth. Also, check out my book Dead on Arrival: The Seven Fatal Errors of Sola-Scriptura.
9/16/13 – Addendum:
Even though you can find all of these quotes online, this compilation, ever since its publication, has received a lot of attention from our brothers and sisters in the protesting community. I have read all of the comments on the blogs and message boards that are linked to this article, and here are some of their conclusions. (1) The book Table Talk is not a reliable reference for Martin Luther’s work (ONLY TWO quotes above come from Table Talk). (2) There is a problem with the translation of some of the quotes because some are from German or Latin to French to English rather than from German or Latin to English. (4) Luther’s violent comments against the peasants are to be contextualized in light of the Peasant Revolt in which he sided with the German Princes. (5) Luther’s violent comments against the Jews are to be contextualized in light of his disappointment that they didn’t receive his reformulation of the Gospel. (6) Luther’s comments against Scripture are true. (7) Luther’s comments against monogamous marriage are true (probably). (8) Luther’s violent comments against the Anabaptists are true, (9) Luther’s comments against the Catholic understanding of Freewill are true, and (10) The only writings of Luther that conservative Lutheran pastors are required to subscribe to (because they strictly reflect biblical doctrine) are the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Smalkald Articles.
In regards to one of the sources of this compilation (Luther, Exposing the Myth), Reformed protester and Martin Luther Apologist James Swan of William Paterson University has written a detailed critique. In crafting this compilation, I considered Swan’s response, and I ended up not including many of the quotes that he had a good case against. In some cases, Swan was spot on, but in other cases, he would have been much better off not trying to contextualize or excuse Luther. In those cases, Swan’s intellectual honesty is betrayed by his passion for Luther.