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Friday, December 25, 2015

"Here I Stand!" (4th witness blunder), Part 3 of 3

      This concludes from Part 2 regarding the controversy surrounding the historicity of Luther's famous phrase "Here I Stand...".   But what I had originally planned as a 4th witness for the defense of the phrase turned out to be a blunder on my part.  I had to completely rewrite this post.  But in my error, I take comfort because I realize that my 4th witness is actually a true witness in a perverse way – but who is the culprit?... (Hint: I should have known.)
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 Andrew Pettegree for the defense?
Andrew Pettegree,
author of
Brand Luther
      Andrew Pettegree is the author of the new book Brand Luther (reviewed in this blog post). From Wikipedia: Pettegree is “ of the leading experts on Europe during the Reformation. ... He is also the founding director of the St Andrews Reformation Studies Institute.” — Andrew Pettegree is hardly a friend of Martin Luther or Lutheranism. After describing the events of Luther’s burning of the papal bull, Pettegree judges Luther (page 131):
“In many respects this was the most unfortunate of the dramatic set-piece events of the Reformation.”
At least Pettegree does not deny that the burning of the papal bull happened! This statement is only one of many examples where Pettegree shows his unfriendliness to Martin Luther’s Reformation.  However Pettegree shows a modicum of ability in judging history when he defends the account (or “myth”) that Luther actually nailed the Ninety-Five Theses to the Wittenberg castle church door on October 31, 1517 (ref. pages 12-13).
But how will Pettegree report the controversial phrase "Here I Stand"? Will he now also take the opportunity to take another shot at Luther’s legacy by mentioning this controversy of the historicity of Luther’s “Here I Stand…” phrase, and so give it credence?  It would be a good opportunity for him to gain added stature as one who can stand over Luther and over Lutheranism, as he does in many other places.  Hmmm, no controversy is even mentioned at this point by Pettegree. (Why doesn't he even mention the controversy?) Rather he quotes Ernest Schwiebert's book Luther and His Times, (pages 504-505) verbatim without comment.  And what does Schwiebert record of Luther at this critical time of the Reformation? He says:
"... I am bound by the Scriptures adduced by me, and my conscience has been take captive by the Word of God, and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience. [omitted "Here I stand" text here] God help me. Amen."
At this point I made an error. In my haste, when I saw "God help me. Amen", I thought that Schwiebert (and Pettegree) had included the "Here I stand..." phrase. But as I was about to publish this blog post, I double checked my sources and discovered my blunder. How stupid! How embarrassing! ... or is it?
  • Who is this Ernest Schwiebert that he should boldly omit the "Here I Stand" phrase? And who published his book that strips one of the best known phrases ever recorded of the sayings of Martin Luther? ... and gives Pettegree free license to do the same and thus embarrass true Lutherans that they should be so encouraged by this actual phrase of Luther? One could say that this historian "Schwiebert" was no friend of Luther or Lutheranism, just like Pettegree who praises papal indulgences and criticizes Luther's burning of the papal bull.
  • Who is it that published "Ernest George Schwiebert"?... it is the great Concordia Publishing House and the LC-MS!! Oh! What? ... Concordia Publishing House? I thought they were supposed to be friends of Luther and his Reformation...? Hmmm, seems that is in question now. (I found my culprit!)
  • And what is this? I notice that the American Lutheran collaborators for the 1953 Martin Luther film were the great theologians Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan and Oswald C.J. Hoffmann of the LC-MS, and Theodore Tappert of the opposing LCA synod, an American synod that was highly liberal. But wait! Did they contradict Schwiebert's judgment and left the controversial phrase in the Luther film? Really? Pelikan, Hoffmann and Tappert opposed Schwiebert? Surely not!
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In the end, neither Schwiebert or Pettegree or “Diarmaid MacCulloch” or Dr. Scott Hendrix or an editor of the Weimar Ausgabe or any other “church historian” of today could convince me one way or the other if this phrase was actually spoken.  No, it is C.F.W. Walther, it is Pastor Hermann Fick, it is Prof. Franz Pieper who strongly convince me that this possible “myth” substantially happened.  And even if this phrase were a “myth”, no screenwriter could have done a better job of putting words into Luther’s mouth.  I believe that, on this matter, it is C.F.W. Walther, NOT Ernest George Schwiebert, who is the best judge of those other recorders of Luther and the Reformation, of those who recorded that Luther actually spoke these words.  It is C.F.W. Walther who understood Martin Luther better than anyone since the Reformation century.  And it is C.F.W. Walther who will be the best judge of those who recorded the Reformation writings of and about Luther, including George Rörer.
      No, I have to say... would to God! that CPH sold more than just socks with this phrase, but much more, sold framed artwork, screen-printed pencils, embroidered table cloths, whatever... so that Christians are constantly reminded of what they stand on, the same as Martin Luther, whether he said those exact words at the Diet of Worms or not!  That phrase is the perfect summary phrase for the Reformation!
      So to anyone who would be stubborn on this “controversy”, I will point them to Pelikan, Hoffmann and Tappert's allowance for this phrase in their 1953 film, even in the face of Schwiebert's (and CPH's) 1950 attempt to mythologize the phrase. Pettegree’s report even cements Schwiebert's place among "modern historians", surely because Schwiebert was published by CPH  But to true Lutherans, I will say: Walther, Fick, and Franz Pieper report this phrase "Here I Stand..." and much more, as not only “fact” but all the events surrounding it as one of the top defining moments in Reformation history... in true Church History. Let the naysayers chatter and cackle!
      And surely we don’t want to deprive Queen Elsa, Disney Pictures, the Frozen movie, and the songwriters of “Let It Go” their rightful glory in this phrase “Here I Stand!”, do we?
Here I Stand!... with Luther, Walther, and Pieper -- on God's Holy Word! (sola Scriptura) Here I Stand, on God's Grace (sola fidei), by God's Grace Alone! (sola gratia) Amen!

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Addendum 2017-12-10:  There is evidence in Luther's own Table Talk (or Tischreden) to corroborate the phrase "Here I stand".  In the Weimar Ausgabe, vol. 5, there are 2 versions of the same "Table Talk" where Luther himself recounts the events at the Diet of Worms: #5342a and #5342b.  In his narrative, he paraphrases the basics of what he said at the Diet before the Emporer, and all the world:
  • #5342a, p. 66, line 20: “und will dabey stehen, es gehe mir druber, wie der liebe Gott wil!”
  • #5342b, p. 71, lines 4-5: “bei den will ich bleiben, es gehe druber, wie der liebe Gotte wolle.”

This Table Talk is not in the American Edition.  I did not check to see if it is in the St. Louis edition.  
If I understand the archaic German wording, the #5342a bold phrase means: 
"and will thereby stand" on my teachings regarding Holy Scripture. – 
Translator Charles Daudert in his book Off the Record With Martin Luther, p. 81 (Amazon), renders #5342b as 
I must stand by them [his writings of Scripture teaching]. I can do no other than what our dear God wills”.
Addendum 2018-02-09: The St. Louis Edition's German text of Luther's last words to the Diet of Worms is in Vol. 15, 1926; American Edition LW 32, p. 113..

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