Martin Luther (1483-1546) is one of the most important persons in history. He fearlessly opposed Roman Catholic teachings and practices that ran counter to what is found in the Bible and early Christianity. His rebellion against Rome was the greatest single event leading to the Reformation and the establishment of Protestantism.
Ironically, the Reformation, with its emphasis on scripture and rejection of long-standing tradition, led to schisms within Protestantism itself. In many cases, this was because some Protestant leaders emphasized some things, while others emphasized different ideas. John Calvin, for example, emphasized the concept of predestination, an idea also advanced by Luther. The Baptists emphasized the necessity of immersion baptism (though many Baptists today believe that no rites, including baptism, are needed for salvation). The Presbyterian Church got its name from the fact that the early Christian Church was led by elders (Greek presbuteroi). The Church of England stressed the equality of all bishops and rejected the pope as universal pontiff of the church; ironically, it led to the British monarch being considered the head of the church. After the American Revolution, the Anglican Church in the United States renamed itself Episcopalian, from the Greekepiscopos (“overseer”), origin of the title “bishop.”
Protestants generally look to Martin Luther as the one who introduced such concepts as the inerrancy and all-sufficiency of the Bible (sola scriptura, “only scripture”) and salvation by faith alone (sola fide, “only faith”). However, the great reformer would not recognize himself in the dogmatic way in which such ideas are taught today. Indeed, some of his teachings are much closer to those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then to those of today’s Protestant denominations. We shall examine some of these.
An Inerrant and All-Sufficient Bible?
Having severed himself from Catholic tradition and its claim to apostolic authority, Luther found it necessary to base his authority on the Bible. In his 1519 debate with Catholic theologian Johann Eck at Leipzig, Luther denied final authority in matters of faith to tradition, councils, and popes, saying that the Bible was his authority. Eck responded with the words of Augustine, “I should not believe the Gospel did not the authority of the Church lead me thereto.” Luther replied that it was the Bible that had brought the Church into existence, being a revelation of Christ. Historically, this is incorrect; Christ founded the Church, but none of the books of the New Testament were written during the Savior’s sojourn in mortality.
Despite his heavy reliance on the Bible as the source of truth, Luther did not believe it was inerrant. He cast doubts on some traditional dates and authorship of biblical books and questioned the Mosaic authorship of parts of the Pentateuch. He rejected the Solomonic origin of Ecclesiastes and declared Job to be mere allegory. Kings, he said, was “more to be believed than Chronicles”1 and Esther was “without boots or spurs.” Of 2 Maccabees (a book in the Apocrypha), Luther wrote, “I am so hostile to this book and to Esther that I could wish they did not exist at all; for they judaize too greatly and have much pagan impropriety.”2 He further declared “The third book of Esdras I throw into the [river] Elbe.” He also had serious questions about the book of Jeremiah, Jonah, and the Song of Solomon (also called Song of Songs). Of Jude, he wrote, “He quotes sayings and stories found nowhere else,”3 and noted that “Although I praise the book, it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books.”4
For the New Testament, Luther gave greater prominence to works that spoke of Christ and his redemption, such as Paul’s epistles (especially Galatians and Romans), the gospel of John, 1 John, and 1 Peter. Despite his leanings toward Paul, Luther on occasion disagreed with the apostle. “My dear Brother Paul,” he wrote in one of his commentaries, “this argument won’t stick.”5
Having placed emphasis on the New Testament books that glorified Christ, Luther ended up discounting four of the doubtful seven writings previously brought into question by Erasmus:6 Hebrews (because it refuses a second forgiveness to apostates),7 James (which declares that ‘faith without works is dead’), Jude (which Luther thought derived from 2 Peter and gave no clear witness to Christ), and Revelation (which, he believed, was not clear, did not properly teach Christ, was neither apostolic nor prophetic, and was subject to personal interpretation).
Luther wrote, “St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians and Ephesians and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is good and necessary for you to know.” He went on to call these books the “kernel and marrow of all books,” but declared that “St. James is really an epistle of straw compared to them for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it . . . [It is] not the writing of any apostle.”8
Luther’s disdain for the epistle of James was because James wrote of the importance of works coupled with faith, as opposed to Paul’s emphasis on faith, and James “does not mention the Passion, the Resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ.” Luther concluded his preface to James, “All of the genuinely sacred books agree in this that all of them preach Christ and deal with Him. That is the test to judge all books, when we see whether they deal with Christ or not, since all the Scriptures show us Christ (Rom. 3) and St. Paul will know nothing but Christ (I Cor. 15),” to which he added, “What does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even though St. Peter or St. Paul taught it; again, what preaches Christ would be apostolic, even though Judas, Annas, Pilate and Herod did it.”9 By this standard, the Book of Mormon is scripture, for it testifies of Christ.
Luther’s dislike of the epistle of James is best illustrated in these words from his Table Talk:
Let us banish this Epistle from the university, for it is worthless. It has no syllable about Christ, not even naming him except at the beginning. I think it was written by a Jew who had heard of the Christians but not joined them. He had learned that the Christians insisted strongly on faith in Christ, and so he said to himself, “Well, you must take issue with them and speak only of works,” and so he does. He says not a word of the passion and resurrection of Christ, the text of all the other apostles. Moreover, he has no order nor method. He speaks now of clothes, now of wrath, jumping from one topic to another. He has this simile: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Mary, mother of God! He compares faith to the body, when it should be compared to the soul.10
In his 1522 preface to the book of Revelation, Luther wrote:
About this Book of Revelation of John, I leave everyone free to hold his own opinion. I miss more than one thing in this book and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic . . . There is no prophet in the Old Testament, to say nothing of the New, who deals exclusively with images. For myself, I think it approximates the Fourth Book of Esdras. I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it . . . They are supposed to be blessed who keep what is written in this book and yet no one knows what it is, to say nothing of keeping it . . . My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book . . . Christ is neither taught nor known in it . . . Therefore I stick to the books which present Christ to me, clearly and purely . . . This is the way it has been with this book heretofore. Many have tried their hands at it. But until this very day they have also let it alone until now, especially because some of the ancient fathers held it was not the work of St. John the Apostle . . . For our part, we share this doubt.”11
Most of Luther’s reasons to reject Revelation are based on false assumptions. For example, Revelation does not deal “exclusively with images,” though it has more of them than any other book of the Bible. Some Old Testament prophets also dealt with images and they play an important role in the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah, which share many similarities with Revelation. Luther’s mention of 4 Ezra (4 Esdras) is a bit ironic, since he included it in the Apocrypha section of his Bible, though only some copies of the Vulgate (long the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church) included it.
Luther suggested that John’s vision could not be understood nor its precepts observed. While that may be true to later generations, it is likely that the people in the seven churches to which the book was addressed understood it. Luther’s declaration that “Christ is neither taught nor known in it” is clearly wrong, as anyone who has read Revelation can attest. Indeed, the preface to the book clearly testifies of Christ:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:1-6)
Christ is named 18 times in the book of Revelation, in addition to the passages where he is depicted as the “Lamb of God,” the title attributed to him by both John the Baptist (John 1:36) and Peter (1 Peter 1:19). Indeed, it is in John’s revelation that we find one of Christ’s important titles, “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Revelation 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13).
Luther removed James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation from their normal places and relegated them to the end of the New Testament, as not being entitled to the same status as other biblical books. In his New Testament table of contents, he numbered books 1-23 and then placed the four rejected ones without numbers. Tyndale followed Luther’s order in his English translation, as did Coverdale in 1535. The Great Bible of 1519 put Hebrews and James back in their original positions, and this is the order kept in the King James Version, which was based on the Great Bible.
Luther was not the only reformer to reject portions of the Bible. Ulrich Zwingle opposed the book of Revelation, while Calvin denounced it as unintelligible and forbad his pastors at Geneva to attempt to interpret it.
Though later Protestants rejected the twelve books of the Apocrypha found in Catholic Bibles, they were included in Luther’s Bible. In the 1534 edition, he called them “books not on a level with Holy Writ and yet profitable and good to read.”12He removed all of them from the Old Testament and placed them in a special section after the Old Testament, just as he moved questionable New Testament books to the end of that collection. The Apocrypha were included in the first (1611) edition of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible and were included in some editions as late as the 19th century. Even today, Cambridge University, which has long been the official publisher of the KJV or “authorized version,” publishes the KJV version of the Apocrypha in a separate volume.
In view of the intense criticisms leveled against Latter-day Saint beliefs about the scriptures and revelation, it is somewhat ironic that Joseph Smith’s view of the Bible accords rather well with that of Luther. In addition to the declaration in Article of Faith 8 (“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly”), the prophet declared, “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (History of the Church 6:57).
Salvation by Faith Alone
As a monk, Luther later wrote, he was tormented by the thought of damnation for sins, saying that he “hated this God who punished sinners, if not with silent blasphemies at least with huge murmurings. I was indignant against God. As if it were not enough that miserable sinners, eternally ruined by original sin, should be crushed . . . through the Law of the Ten Commandments . . . And so I raged with a savaged and confounded conscience.” He therefore turned to the Bible. The Catholic Church had always taught that grace was active, in the sense that it came into force at the day of judgment when the righteous would be separated from the damned. As he read Romans 1, Luther became convinced that the grace of which Paul wrote was passive, hence available to everyone. This led to his conclusion that salvation came not through penance and repentance, nor through the intercession of saints and martyrs or the prayers of the church, but by faith alone. It was an entirely new idea. As Luther re-read Romans 1:16-17, he wrote, “I felt myself straightaway born afresh and to have entered through the open gates into paradise itself.” This led to the further belief that the Bible was the sole authority. In 1517, he nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg University.
Luther’s view of salvation was heavily influenced by his opposition to indulgences, introduced in his day by the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic view was that, since even one drop of Christ’s blood was sufficient to atone for the sins of all repentant Christians, the Savior had left the rest of his atoning blood as a gift to the church. For a fee, one could purchase an “indulgence,” which pardoned sins.13 More than anything else, it was Luther’s opposition to this practice that led to his rejection of papal authority.
In 1520, Luther wrote his “Treatise on Good Works,” in which he acknowledged that the Spirit guides us into good works, but also stresses their importance. He begins the treatise with these words: “We ought first to know that there are no good works except those which God has commanded, even as there is no sin except that which God has forbidden. Therefore whoever wishes to know and to do good works needs nothing else than to know God’s commandments. Thus Christ says, Matthew 19, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.'”
Though the treatise deals with a variety of works expected of Christians, Luther wrote that “The first and highest, the most precious of all good works is faith in Christ.” In this, he agrees with Joseph Smith, who wrote that the first principle of the gospel was “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Article of Faith 4).14
Though both Martin Luther and Joseph Smith stressed the importance and primacy of faith in Christ, both also taught that baptism was essential for the forgiveness of sins and for salvation. In his Larger Catechism, Part Fourth (“Of Baptism”), Luther wrote, “I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved.” He added, “And this also we cannot discern better than from the words of Christ above quoted:15 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Therefore state it most simply thus, that the power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare, that he be saved. But to be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil, and to enter into the kingdom of Christ, and to live with Him forever.” His Small Catechism, Part IV (“Holy Baptism”), II, agrees:
II. Q. What does Baptism give? What good is it?
A. It gives the forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the Devil, gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, just as God’s words and promises declare.
Based upon his study of the Bible, Martin Luther concluded as early as 1522 that “Abraham did not commit adultery by leading a decent life with his second wife also. Abraham was a true Christian.16 His example dare not be condemned. It is true, one dare not make any laws out of the behavior of our forefathers, but one may not make sin out of their example.”17 Luther’s views were supported by his colleagues, notably Philip Melanchthon18 and Martin Bucer (whose writings influenced Calvin and who later helped Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, in the Protestant reform of the Church of England).19
In 1522, Henry VIII, king of England, wrote a book denouncing Luther’s reforms and defending the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. For this action, the pope bestowed on him the title “Defender of the Faith.” The friendship between England and Rome was not to endure, however. Henry had fallen in love with Anne Boleyn and sought to have the church grant an annulment of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, on grounds that she had been the wife of his deceased brother Arthur and that all of their children had been stillborn. Pope Clement VIII drafted an order directing the king to reject his “concubine,” Anne, or face excommunication or even an interdict against his entire kingdom. In January 1533, Henry secretly married Anne and thus became a polygamist. His actions may have been prompted by a letter that Melanchthon wrote to the king in August 1531:
But what is to be done, if the public welfare renders a new marriage advisable for the sake of succession, as is the case with the King of England, where the public welfare of the whole kingdom renders a new marriage advisable? Here I reply: if the King wishes to provide for the succession, it is much better to do this without any stigma on the previous marriage. And this can be done, without any danger to the conscience or reputation of anyone, through polygamy . . . So I hold that the safest course for the King is the first one; for it is certain that polygamy is not forbidden by divine law (quia certum est polygamiam non esse prohibitam iure divino), nor is it a thing altogether without precedent. Abraham, David, and other holy men had several wives; hence it is obvious that polygamy is not against divine law (unde apparet polygamiam non esse ius divinum).20
As tensions grew, Henry, backed by Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, sought more earnestly to distance himself from Catherine and from the Pope. Cranmer had been influenced by the Lutheran reformer Andreas Osiander, whose niece Margarete he married secretly in 1532.21 On 30 March 1533, Cranmer became Archbishop of Canterbury, in which position annulled King Henry’s marriage to Catherine, and subsequently presided over Henry’s public marriage to Anne Boleyn. In 1534, the British parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, by which the nation was declared free from all allegiance to Rome and naming the British monarch as head of the Church of England. Rather than follow Melanchthon’s advice to enter into a polygynous relationship, Henry went through a series of wives and divorces and actually executed two of them.
Another European ruler, Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, also wanted to take other wives. John Calvin argued that the practice was “unchristian.” When Philip petitioned Luther to allow him to take another wife, the Reformer counseled him to have “secret relations,” comparing this to the concubinage of the Patriarchs in the Old Testament. Though Philip was already an adulterer and pedophile, he persisted in his request for a sanctioned bigamous marriage, though technically illegal in Germany since 1832 and punishable by beheading. Permission was granted in a document (issued on 10 December 1539 and subsequently called the “Wittenberg Deliberation”) written by Luther’s right-hand man Philip Melanchthon and signed by Luther and six other “reformers,” including Martin Bucer. It approved Philip’s request on condition that he “abstain from fornication, adultery and boys.” A portion of the letter reads, “We declare under an oath that it ought to be done secretly . . . It is nothing unusual for princes to have concubines . . . and this modest way of living would please more than adultery.”22 On 4 March 1540, Denis Melander, one of the signatories, who himself had three living wives, officiated at Philip’s second marriage, with Melanchthon present.23 The marriage made Philip a brother-in-law of Luther himself.24
Concubinage was regularly practiced by Catholic European rulers, but it was the insistence of Philip of Hesse that his second marriage be considered legal that made things difficult for Luther. The secret marriage soon became public and caused much consternation among Lutherans, whereupon Melanchthon “sickened almost to death with remorse.” Luther pretended that he knew nothing about the affair and counseled the adulterer to “tell a good, strong lie.”25 Criticized by Roman Catholics and Protestants such as Calvin, Luther feared that the Reformation might fail if he insisted on allowing polygyny. In this he was probably correct. Ferdinand, archduke of Austria, was leaning toward Protestantism but changed his mind after hearing of the Hesse affair, thus averting possible political and religious turmoil when he later became Emperor Ferdinand I of the Holy Roman Empire.
Ironically, Lutherans and Catholics had earlier joined forces to defeat a Protestant sect called Anabaptists (“rebaptizers”), who had begun to gain a foothold in parts of northern Europe. By about 1530, they were prominent in Amsterdam. In 1534, a more activist group of Anabaptists, led by John of Leyden, took control in the German city of Münster, where the people had just rebelled against their prince-bishop, and instituted a communist state. As men in the city died during skirmishes with a joint Protestant-Catholic army that laid siege to the city for twelve months, Anabaptist leaders introduced polygyny. Following the defeat of the Anabaptists, polygyny continued to be practiced secretly by a few. Many polygynists were executed by Lutherans and Catholics alike. The most well-known of these was Jan Willemsen of the German province of Westphalia, who had 21 wives.
Though the Reformation ultimately distanced itself from plural marriage, it continued to be advocated by such sects as the Muckers of Germany, the Agapemonites of 19th-century England, and 19th-century American groups such as the Oneida Perfectionists and the Shakers.26 John Milton, most noted for his 1667 book Paradise Lost, wrote a defense of defense of polygamy in another of his works, entitled Christian Doctrine.27
In recent years, a number of scholarly papers have discussed Martin Luther’s belief in theosis, the concept that humans are destined to become gods through Christ.28 Lutheran Bishop Michael McDaniel, in a paper read at a dialogue with eastern Orthodox clergy, wrote that “Luther can write that ‘the one who has faith is a completely divine man, a son of God, the inheritor of the universe. He is the victor over the world, sin, death, and the devil’; and, in a clear and unqualified affirmation of theosis: ‘Faith makes a man God.'”29
Franz Posset quotes Luther that “‘to be born of God is to acquire the nature of God;’ ‘God’s grace makes man deiform and deifies him;’ ‘/Christ/ becomes totally man and we become totally deified;’ ‘The person who is in the Father becomes deified. We are made ‘gods.'” He concludes: “Deification was for Luther the synonym for justification and sanctification.”30
It would be wrong to conclude that Martin Luther was a “Mormon” or that he saw everything the same way Joseph Smith did, but it is equally wrong to think that Luther’s beliefs and teachings were identical to those found among modern Evangelical Christians. Frequently called the “father of the Reformation,” Luther retained many Catholic views that other Protestants rejected. For example, in 1545 he described the Eucharist as the “adorable Sacrament,” prompting Calvin to accuse him of “raising up an idol in God’s temple,” and of being “half-papist.” In a letter addressed to Melanchthon, he wrote that “It was very dangerous to assume that the Church which had existed for so many centuries . . . should not have taught the true doctrine of the Sacraments.” Luther considered Reformers such as Zwingli and Oecolampadius to be “damned . . . out of the Church . . . offspring of hell . . . heretics,” because they acknowledged the Eucharist to be merely symbolic rather than literally becoming the flesh and blood of Christ. Were the real Martin Luther to stand up today, he would not recognize some of the dogmatic issues imposed on the Reformation by some later adherents of Protestantism.
About the Author
John Tvedtnes retired in 2007 as senior resident scholar at BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He had previously taught at the University of Utah and the BYU Jerusalem and Salt Lake centers. He earned a BA in anthropology, a graduate certificate in Middle East area studies, an MA in linguistics (specializing in generative-transformational grammars and Semitic languages, with minor in Arabic), and an MA in Middle East studies (Hebrew), with minor in archaeology and anthropology, all at the University of Utah. He also studied Arabic and linguistics at the University of California (Berkeley) and spent many years in doctoral studies in Egyptian and Semitic languages at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. To date, he has published ten books and over 300 articles.
1 The Chroniclers, who are generally thought to have lived after the Babylonian captivity of the sixth century B.C., revised the accounts in the books of Samuel and Kings, changing some facts and adding other material whose origin is unknown.
2 Tischedren, I (Weimar Edition, 1912), 208.
3 Jude is known to quote the pseudepigraphic 1 Enoch.
4 All cited in Holma’s Edition of Luther’s Works, Vol. VI, “Preface,” translations by Dr. C. M. Jacobs, and this in turn by William Harrison Bruce Carney, “Luther and the Bible, Its Origin and Content,” chap. 2 in O. M. Norlie, ed., The Translated Bible 1534-1934, Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Translation of the Bible by Martin Luther (Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1934). For Luther’s disparaging remarks concerning Esther and other Old Testament books, see Floyd V. Filson, Which Books Belong in the Bible (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1957), 10. His feelings about Esther may have resulted from the fact that the book doesn’t mention God, which is probably why it is the only Old Testament book not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
5 Cited in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 7:37.
6 Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch scholar, published his first critical edition of the Greek Bible in 1516, followed in subsequent years by other editions that incorporated materials from manuscripts not previously available to him. Luther and other early Protestant translators of the Bible relied heavily on Erasmus’s text.
7 Of the epistle to the Hebrews, Luther declared, “it cannot in all respects be compared to the Apostolic Epistles.”
8 C. M. Jacobs, Holman’s Edition of Luther’s Works, 6:444, also cited in William Harrison Bruce Carney, “Luther and the Bible, Its Origin and Content,” 21. All citations are found in Holman’s Edition of Luther’s Works, Vol. VI, “Preface,” translations by Dr. C. M. Jacobs, and this in turn by William Harrison Bruce Carney, “Luther and the Bible, Its Origin and Content,” chapter 2 in O. M. Norlie, ed., The Translated Bible 1534-1934, Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Translation of the Bible by Martin Luther (Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1934). Luther’s statement regarding the relative value of the New Testament books (calling James “straw”) appeared in the first (September 1522) and second (December 1522) editions, the third edition (1524), and the small octavo edition of 1530. In his Vorrhede to the epistles of James and Jude, Luther gave a further evaluation. In his Vorrhede to Hebrews, he again compared Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelations with the books that preceded them. Luther’s statement is also noted by Floyd V. Filson, Which Books Belong in the Bible? (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1957), 34.
9 All quotes are from C. M. Jacobs, Holman’s Edition of Luther’s Works, preface, cited by William Harrison Bruce Carney, “Luther and the Bible, Its Origin and Content,” chapter 2 in O. M. Norlie, ed., The Translated Bible 1534-1934, Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Translation of the Bible by Martin Luther (Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1934).
10 Preserved Smith, “The Methods of Reformation Interpreters of the Bible,” Biblical World 38/4 (October 1911): 242.
11 Jaroslav J. Pelikan (ed.) and George V. Schick (transl.), Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress and Concordia, 1960), 35:398-400. See also C. W. Jacobs, Holman’s Edition of Luther’s Works, 6:488-489.
12 Luther’s Roman Catholic opponent, Cajetan, agreed with him that the Apocrypha were not on a par with the books of the Hebrew canon. St. Jerome was the first to consider them of lesser value and coined the term Apocrypha at the time he translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate.
13 One may still purchase indulgences from the Vatican. During my mission, I saw one of the official documents issued to a woman in France, pardoning her of all sins.
14 For a brief discussion by a non-Latter-day Saint Bible scholar, see Dillenberger, John. “Grace and Works in Martin Luther and Joseph Smith,” in Truman G. Madsen, Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center and Bookcraft, 1978).
15 The reference is to Mark 16:15-16, where Jesus tells his apostles “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
16 Though modern critics of the Book of Mormon and the restored Church find fault with the concept that the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets (including the Book of Mormon prophets) were Christians, it was taught by a number of the early Church Fathers of the second through the fifth centuries A.D. Luther, who studied these early writings as a Catholic priest/monk, undoubtedly was aware of this.
17 Paul G. Hansen, Oscar E. Feucht, Fred Kramer, and Erwin L. Lueker, Engagement and Marriage (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), 71. Luther delivered the sermon at Wittenberg.
18 Melanchthon was born Philip Schwarzerd (meaning “black earth” in German) and adopted the Greek form of his surname.
19 Polygyny was practiced among Irish Christians and by the Merovingian kings of France. As early as A.D. 726, Pope Gregory II decreed that when a man has a sick wife who cannot discharge her marital responsibilities, he could take a second wife on condition that he continue to care for the first. The Catholic Emperor (of the Holy Roman Empire) at the time of the Reformation fathered children all over Europe and had the Pope legitimize them.
20 Eugene Hillman, Polygamy Reconsidered, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1975, pp. 221.
21 While studying for the priesthood, Cranmer had married a woman named Joan, who died in childbirth.
22 De Wette-Seidemann, Luther’s Letters (Berlin, 1828), 6:255-265.
23 Robert Stupperich-Melanchthon, Bauhr (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1960). See also Robert Halst, “Polygamy and the Bible,” International Review of Mission, April 1967, 205-213 (esp. p. 212 No. 2).
24 Brigham Young discussed Luther’s involvement in the Hessian affair in a discourse delivered 18 June 1865 (Journal of Discourses 11:127).
25 Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville and New York: Aliengton Press, 1950).
26 Lawrence Foster, Religion and Sexuality: Three American Communal Experiments of the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981). See also the entry for “Spiritual Wifery” in E. Royston Pike, The Encyclopedia of Religion and Religions (New York: Meridian, 1958), 360.
27 See Leo Miller, John Milton among the Polygamophiles (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), 180-82. Milton’s defense of polygamy was published in the Latter-day Saint Millennial Star 16 (27 May, 3 June 1854): 321-24, 342-45. For a discussion, see John S. Tanner, “Making a Mormon of Milton,” Brigham Young University Studies 24/2 (Spring 1984), 202. Tanner draws attention to David J. Whittaker, “Early Mormon Pamphleteering,” Ph.D. dissertation (Brigham Young University, 1982), 363-64, 383-84, 391-92.
28 See, for example, Kurt E. Marquart, “Luther and Theosis,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 64/3 (July 2000); and Simo Peura and Antti Raunio, “Luther und Theosis: Vergottlichung als Thema der abendlandischen Theologie,” Church History 63/3 (September 1994). A series of articles on Luther and theosis was published in Luther Digest 3 (1995).
29 Michael C.D. McDaniel, “Salvation as Justification and Theosis,” in John Meyendorff and Robert Tobias, eds., Salvation in Christ: A Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue (Minneapolis 1992): 67-83, at page 82, citing Luther, Lectures on Galatians; the translation cited is Luther’s Works, edited Jaroslav Pelikan (1955-87), volume 26: 100, 247. McDaniel’s paper was abridged in Luther Digest 3 (1995): 142-4. See also the reviews of two works by Ulrich Asendorf, in Luther Digest 3 (1995): 108-32; 4 (1996): 198; 5 (1997): 94. I am indebted to Ted Jones for providing some of the references in this section.
30 Franz Posset, “‘Deification’ in the German Spirituality of the Late Middle Ages and in Luther: An Ecumenical Historical Perspective,” Archiv fur Reformationsgeschichte 84 (1993): 103-25, at page 125; abridged in Luther Digest 3 (1995): 135-141.