"... 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!
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!