Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Martin Luther Said: The Individual Christian Is Subject To No Authority

"...every Christian is by faith so exalted above all things that, by virtue of a spiritual power, he is lord of all things without exception, so that nothing can do him any harm.  As a matter of fact, all things are made subject to him and are compelled to serve him in obtaining salvation."  (From the essay,' Freedom of a Christian,' 'Martin Luther: Selections From His Writings, ed. by Dillenberger, Anchor Books, 1962 p. 63.)
"Injustice is done those words 'priest,' 'cleric,' 'spiritual,' 'ecclesiastic,' when they are transferred from all Christians to those
few who are now by a mischievous usage called 'ecclesiastics.'" (Ibid., p. 65.)
Luther teaches that we don't need anyone between us, the community of believers, and our Savior.  So he objects to ecclesiastical authority -- and the hierarchy which exercises it.  God is with the entire congregation, he says, so why should we bother with a priest.
Sounds great.  Until you realize that this position echoes that of Moses' sister, the prophetess Miriam, who protests in Numbers Chapter 12, "Is it through Moses alone that the Lord speaks?  Does he not speak through us also?"  For her rebellion against the authority established by God, she contracts leprosy.  Thanks to Moses' intercessory prayer, she is cleansed.
And she is followed just a few chapters later by Korah, who incites the people against Moses and Aaron in the most disturbing words of all. They say, "Enough from you!  The whole community, all of them, are holy; the Lord is in their midst.  Why then should you set yourselves over the Lord's congregation?"  Whereupon Korah and his followers were consumed by fire sent by the Lord.  (Numbers 16.)

If Luther is correct, then the bible stories of Miriam and Korah show a great injustice. If Luther is incorrect, on what basis can he be assumed to be a good teacher of biblical faith? 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Martin says, "so why should we bother with a priest"

    The group is needful of services done as the Jesus Christ taught:

    Doctrine and Covenants 84:

    16 And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—

    17 Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

    18 And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

    19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

    82 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these.

    accessesd 071412,17?lang=eng

    and the Melchisedec priesthood:

    Doctrine and Covenants 107

    18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—

    19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

    20 The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

    accessed 071412

    I understand Martin's wish to approach his God without priesthood authority because he never withnessed in his lifetime the organization of the church as designed by Christ the true leader of our "group" as recorded in scripture many years ago back to Adam. Martin and these two young women had a really terrible time, Martin as a young priest-in-training in the Catholic Church, two women likely very harsh climates likely with men who forced issues, rather then gently --- with the Holy Spirit --- administer their priesthood authorities which they received under very sacred conditions.

  3. You miss my point. If Luther is correct, then the bible stories of Miriam and Korah show a great injustice. If Luther is incorrect, on what basis can he be assumed to be a good teacher of biblical faith?

  4. Jeff, in a world of infinities there is comfort in protection, so the question must be: where is true protection found? We all seek some form of it. It seems nebulous, unattainable, and evasive. Martin Luther retreated into the priesthood of the Catholic Church in order to make things right with his God. That would be the protection he desired. He was convinced of his guilt on every front. Finally, in the backdrop of his training in seminary in Germany, where daily he spiritually and physically flogged himself many times more than his classmates in the seminary over the contrition that had to be made for his sins which he determined were many (he had been disciplined that he was taking too much of his confessor's time, he spent hours in the confessional...,) from this backdrop, he endeavored to visit Rome, the great center of all things he thought was perfect and good. Yet, what he saw in Rome shocked him beyond belief. Then, so his reformation began, not to destroy, but to change the ecclesiastic structure of The Church which he then knew was corrupted.

    Persons who made themselves publicly notorious who went against The Great Roman Catholic Church were being burned at the stake. My point is - Martin's environment in which he is rebelling should not be ignored. Stories in the Bible notwithstanding, THE Church - which in his mind is perfect since it is his Perfect God's kingdom on earth, as IT was being administered by the very imperfect administrators, the latter was his obvious target, reflected in the quote you sent above. Relative to these quotes, in that context Luther of course was right in my opinion, just as Miriam and Korah were, from their LIMITED perspective which I meant to imply in my earlier answer. Ascribing illness by the way to a gracious God, i.e. blaming Him, is an old trick. Remember the ape that had three new mates and died in “perfect health.” Similar thing. Remember we have neuronal connections in our heart as well as in our heads. It is no misnomer that we can "die of a broken heart” We can also just get sick from a broken heart. Psychosomatic sickness is real. Families are delicate. When Miriam went against her family she got sick. She was probably heartsick to do it, but saw no recourse. When her brother Moses from whom she rebelled, blessed her, this no doubt eased her heart tremendously. I think the hard-hearted Korah is a different story, being a man, it was probably obvious to him that he could not overcome the force of good in these two men Moses and Aaron (as I have described in my former post, likened to the administrative structure of the Lord's true church on earth from Adam… and they knew it, but not Korah)… whose powers descended from Melchizedek. In fact Moses likely held that priesthood authority and of course Aaron is the one whose name is used for the lesser priesthood, which at the time he probably held. Simply, Martin Luther had no concept of who Melchizedek and Aaron were, having been trained in the Catholic tradition, who neglected the structure of the church intended by Jesus Christ – whom you must admit, No?,--- is a good man --- thousands of years into their deception.

    Try explaining this to the Catholic Church and their spin-off sects. It's impossible. I hope I haven't confused the issue too much. I am obviously not a priesthood holder. It's best to confer with them on the subject.

    Martin Luther is incorrect in the way he tries to correct an in-correctable church, but he is important because the schism had to be done and the efforts he made, made it possible, once the Age of Enlightenment took hold in New England in the early 1800s. The man who brought this true schism was from the Presbyterian tradition actually.

  5. I'm sorry. I misread Korah at first to be a woman, and really I did not reflect that much on the story about them. I am on "vacation" now and my days and nights are mixed up! : )

    I hope you understand that I think Luther is correct in his distrust in ecclesiastical authority given his experience. But really he was ignorant how the true organization was meant to be, although it is fully biblically, as you quoted, reflected in the experiences of Miriam and Korah. Thus, by the same token, he is incorrect, while due to his limited knowledge, he definitely made an extremely important contribution: unable to execute a true schism, he did initiate the true schism necessary to restart the biblical faith by new groups; these groups it would seem do fully understand the ecclesiastical pattern as it is practically shown (proven?) to work in the historical groups of the biblical faith.

    I think mankind will not live without the protections of such good groups, as long as the bad ones are still around.

  6. Does this answer your questions? Please request clarification. It is just stream of conciousness explanation and I have been heavily critiqued before. I am used to it. I have "thick skin." So go ahead.