Saturday, November 4, 2017

Lamenting the Reformation

From Charlotte Allen at The Catholic Thing:

The trouble is: it’s hard to think of anything. You don’t have to subscribe to Young Man Luther-style armchair Freudianism to conclude that Luther was a mess. He was arrogant, self-absorbed, self-dramatizing – and thought the world revolved around him personally because he was smarter than and spiritually superior to everyone else.

He spent his young adulthood dithering about what to do with himself (and wasting his father’s university tuition money) in an age – the late Middle Ages – when young adults couldn’t afford to dither because most of them didn’t make it much past age 40. Then, when he finally entered an Augustinian monastery (in one of his typical melodramatic gestures: You will “not ever” see me again), he wallowed in misery for a decade because he couldn’t get a guarantee that his soul would be saved – a sin against the Christian virtue of hope.

When it came to “reforming” the Church after 1517, what Luther really wanted wasn’t, say, getting rid of selling indulgence or “not ever” being seen again. Luther was seen. Everywhere: hobnobbing with powerful German princes who had beefs against the Holy Roman Emperor, helping them confiscate monasteries right and left (didn’t Luther have one single fond memory of the Augustinians he’d lived with those many years?), and viciously persecuting the Anabaptist ancestors of those nice Amish ladies who sell heirloom tomatoes at my local farmers’ market.

Luther preached sola scriptura, but he freely messed around with the Bible when it didn’t suit his theology. He inserted the word “alone” after the word “faith” into his German translation of Paul’s Letter to the Romans and tried to relegate the Letter of James to second-class status because it mentioned good works. When it came to getting married, he couldn’t just settle for a nice German burgher’s daughter. He had to marry an ex-nun, Katharina von Bora, whom he had personally lured out of her convent. (Read more.)
Share

1 comment:

Helen Davis said...

As a Lutheran, I agree with her about those awful jello salads! I never stay for potlucks!