I have been reading a bit about Martin Luther lately, and I did not realize what a brawler this guy was! All I remembered from classes and movies was this pious guy crying out that, “there he stood and could do no other.” I knew he cussed and drank etc., and I had a vague notion that he was anti-semitic. I also knew he was more “Catholic” than many Protestants realize. But I did not know that, for Luther, the object of sola fide was one’s [infant!] baptism, or that Luther vigorously fought against the memorial view of communion. I also did not realize how many times he talked about farts, poop, and anuses! Reading his own words really brings these things (and others) home.
So, in honor of Reformation Day, I am beginning a blog of interesting Martin Luther quotes on various topics. Some of these are second hand, and I have yet to verify every one in his original writings (many times this is made difficult by differing translations), so it is a work-in-progress. Any I am still unsure of are in red. If I identify any that are said to be spurious I will note that too, so that internet slander may not continue. Any additions or citations would be welcomed!
I quote them out of context and without comment for the reader’s consideration.
“But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?” (Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, XIII)
“Now, they are so mad as to separate faith and that to which faith clings and is bound though it be something external. Yea, it shall and must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses, and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching. In short, what God does and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances. Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must hold. Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God’s ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism.” (Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, XIII)
“But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what then, becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God’s (for, as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper’s baptism). God’s works, however, are saving and necessary for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not be apprehended. For by suffering the water to be poured upon you, you have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it benefits you anything; but it becomes beneficial to you if you have yourself baptized with the thought that this is according to God’s command and ordinance, and besides in God’s name, in order that you may receive in the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot do, nor the body; but the heart must believe it.” (Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, XIII)
“Thus we must regard Baptism and make it profitable to ourselves, that when our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say: Nevertheless I am baptized; but if I am baptized, it is promised me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body. For that is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism namely, that the body, which can apprehend nothing but the water, is sprinkled, and, in addition, the word is spoken for the soul to apprehend. Now, since both, the water and the Word, are one Baptism, therefore body and soul must be saved and live forever: the soul through the Word which it believes, but the body because it is united with the soul and also apprehends Baptism as it is able to apprehend it. We have, therefore, no greater jewel in body and soul, for by it we are made holy and are saved, which no other kind of life, no work upon earth, can attain. (Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, XIII)
“We concede — as we must — that so much of what they say is true: that the papacy has God’s word and the office of the apostles, and that we have received Holy Scriptures, Baptism, the Sacrament, and the pulpit from them. What would we know of these if it were not for them?” (Martin Luther, Sermon on the Gospel of St. John, 1537)
“Most Holy Father, before God and all his creation, I testify that I have never wanted, nor do I today want, to touch in any way the authority of the Roman church and of Your Holiness or demolish it by any craftiness. On the contrary I confess the authority of this church to be supreme over all, and that nothing, be it in heaven or on earth, is to be preferred to it, save the one Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (Martin Luther, Letter to Pope Leo X, 1519)
“I can do only one thing, I shall most willingly promise Your Holiness that in the future I shall leave this matter of indulgences alone, and will be completely silent concerning it (if [my enemies] also stop their vain and bombastic speeches). In addition I shall publish something for the common people to make them understand that they should truly honor the Roman church, and influence them to do so. [I shall tell them] not to blame the church for the rashness of [those indulgence preachers], nor to imitate my sharp words against the Roman church, which I have used—or rather misused—against those clowns,and with which I have gone too far. Perhaps by the grace of God the discord which has arisen may finally be quieted by such an effort. I strive for only one thing: that the Roman church, our Mother, be not polluted by the filth of unsuitable avarice, and that the people be not led astray into error and taught to prefer indulgences to works of love.” (Martin Luther, Letter to Pope Leo X, 1519)
“That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. St. Peter and St. Paul, forty-six popes, some hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have laid down their lives in its communion, having overcome hell and the world; so that the eyes of God rest on the Roman Church with special favor. Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the church we can make her better. We must not separate from God on account of any work of the devil, nor cease to have fellowship with the children of God who are still abiding in the pale of Rome, on account of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body. For love can do all things, and nothing is difficult to those who are united.” (Attributed to Luther with no citation in Jean Henri Merle d’Aubigné, History of the great Reformation of the sixteenth century in Germany, 132)
“Of all the fathers, as many as you can name, not one has ever spoken about the sacrament as these fanatics do. None of them uses such an expression as, ‘It is simply bread and wine,’ or, ‘Christ’s body and blood are not present.’ Yet since this subject is so frequently discussed by them, it is impossible that they should not at some time have let slip such an expression as, ‘It is simply bread,’ or, ‘Not that the body of Christ is physically present,’ or the like, since they are greatly concerned not to mislead the people; actually, they simply proceed to speak as if no one doubted that Christ’s body and blood are present. Certainly among so many fathers and so many writings a negative argument should have turned up at least once, as happens in other articles; but actually they all stand uniformly and consistently on the affirmative side.” (Martin Luther, That These Words of Christ, ‘This is My Body’ Still Stand Firm—Against the Fanatics, 1527)
“. . . in foreign lands a large number are already pouncing upon it and maintaining that Christ’s body and blood are not present in the bread and wine, the times demand that I say something on this subject also. At the outset I will say this, however: if anyone is thought to be engulfed in such an error, I would earnestly advise him to abstain from the sacrament until he emerges from his error and becomes strong in the faith.” (Martin Luther, The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ—Against the Fanatics)
“Sooner than have mere wine with the fanatics [Zwinglians], I would agree with the pope that there is only blood.” (Martin Luther, Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper, 1528)
“I shall not have it judged by any man, not even by any angel. For since I am certain of it, I shall be your judge and even the angels’ judge through this teaching (as St. Paul says [1 Cor. 6:3]) so that whoever does not accept my teaching may not be saved – for it is God’s teaching and not mine.” (Martin Luther, Against the Spiritual Estate of the Pope and the Bishops Falsely So Called, 1522)
“For no heresy has ever sprung from pagan belief, from Aristotle, and from the books of other heathen unless it originated in the church and was drawn from Holy Writ.” (Martin Luther, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16)
“[S]hould some thought that isn’t worth a fart nevertheless overwhelm me, I have the advantage (that our Lord God gives me) of taking hold of his Word once again.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 461)
“Almost every night when I wake up the devil is there and wants to dispute with me. I have come to this conclusion: When the argument that the Christian is without the law and above the law doesn’t help, I instantly chase him away with a fart.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 469)
“Again, the Lord wants to have his sacrament given to strengthen the poor consciences through faith. ‘No,’ says pope fart-ass, ‘one should sacrifice it for the dead and the living, sell it, and make a profitable business and market out of it so that we can expand our belly with it and devour all of the world’s goods.’” (Martin Luther, Against The Roman Papacy an Institution of the Devil, 1545)
“I was frightened and thought I was dreaming, it was such a thunderclap, such a great horrid fart did the papal ass let go here! He certainly pressed with great might to let out such a thunderous fart—it is a wonder that it did not tear his hole and belly apart! If I were to ask here, ‘But what did all the other apostles, especially St. Paul, pasture?’ perhaps the big fart of the papal ass will say that maybe they pastured rats, mice, and lice, or, if it went well, sows, just so that the papal ass remains the shepherd, and all apostles swineherds.” (Martin Luther, Against The Roman Papacy an Institution of the Devil, 1545)
“Again, the Lord wills that whoever confesses his sins and believes the absolution should be forgiven. ‘No,’ says ass-pope fart, ‘faith does nothing; but your own repentance and atonement do, as well as the recounting of all your secret, forgotten, and unrecognized sins.’ . . . The reason for this is that I have authority to bind and loose. Perhaps even: ‘Whoever does not worship my fart is guilty of a deadly sin and hell, for he does not acknowledge that I have the authority to bind and command everything. Whoever does not kiss my feet and, if I were to bind it so, lick my behind, is guilty of a deadly sin and deep hell, for Christ has given me the keys and authority to bind all and everything.” (Martin Luther, Against The Roman Papacy an Institution of the Devil, 1545)
“This is the way—this is exactly the way one should lie and blaspheme if one wants to be a proper pope. Dear God, what an utterly shameless, blasphemous lying-mouth the pope is! He talks just as though no man on earth knew that the four principal councils and many others were held without the Roman church, and instead thinks like this, ‘As I am a crude ass, and do not read the books, so there is no one in the world who reads them; rather, when I let my braying heehaw, heehaw resound, or even let out a donkey’s fart, then everyone will have to consider it an article of faith; if not, St. Peter and St. Paul and God himself will be angry with them.’ For God is nowhere God anymore, except solely the assgod in Rome, where the big, crude asses (pope and cardinals) ride on better donkeys than they are.” (Martin Luther, Against The Roman Papacy an Institution of the Devil, 1545)
“But the Jews are so hardened that they listen to nothing; though overcome by testimonies they yield not an inch. It is a pernicious race, oppressing all men by their usury and rapine. If they give a prince or magistrate a thousand florins, they extort twenty thousand from the subjects in payment. We must ever keep on guard against them.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 863).
“God has struck them with “madness and blindness and confusion of mind.” So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them.” (Martin Luther, On the Jews and their Lies, ch. 14, 1543)
“I shall give you my sincere advice [on treatment of the Jews]: First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. . . . Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. . . . Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. . . . Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen. 3).” (Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies, ch. 15)
“I’m fed up with the world, and it is fed up with me. I’m quite content with that. The world thinks that if it is only rid of me everything will be fine, and it will accomplish this. After all, it’s as I’ve often said: I’m like a ripe stool and the world’s like a gigantic anus, and so we’re about to let go of each other.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 5537).
“God not only deigns to speak to men through the Word but adds to the Word visible signs of grace, such as Baptism, the Eucharist, and absolution are in the New Testament. Those who despise these, or treat them with contempt, are worthy of purchasing, adoring, and praising the pope’s excrement as balsam.” (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 4:3).
“So we are not only true clerics and priests according to our right as children but also according to our right as brothers. This, our hereditary priesthood with which we are born, we do not want to have taken away, impeded and obscured; rather, we want to have it brought out into the open, proclaimed and extolled with all its honors in order that it should beam and shine like the precious sun and blind the eyes of the devil and his hypocrisies and abominations, making his private mass and chrism in contrast with it an illusion and an evil odor, stinking worse than the devil’s excrement.” (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, 38:187-88).
“How is it that the pope became so completely heretical and that he brought one heresy after the other into the world until there are now at Rome, especially at the papal court, nothing but Epicureans and mockers of the Christian faith? It is because they have fallen from faith in Christ and depend on works, that is, on their own righteousness. Of what use were all the other articles of faith to him? What good does it do him greatly to exalt with his mouth the true God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to make a splendid pretense of living a Christian life? For he, nevertheless, is and remains the greatest enemy of Christ and is the true Antichrist. He has made himself the head of Christendom, yes, the anus as the place of excrement for the devil, through which so great an abomination of masses, monkery, and unchastity has been passed into the world, until finally the monks helped the dying Christian on to heaven by means of their vermin-infested cowls.” (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 38:310-11)
“’I maintain that God is just as busy annihilating as creating.’ This he [Martin Luther] said when there was mention of excrement, and he added, “I marvel that man hasn’t long since defecated the whole world full, up to the sky,’ etc.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk 1259)
“’Silence, you heretic! What comes out of our mouth must be kept!’ I hear it—which mouth do you mean? The one from which the farts come? (You can keep that yourself!) Or the one into which the good Corsican wine flows? (Let a clog shit into that!)” (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 41: 281)
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. May God help me. Amen.” (Martin Luther, Diet of Worms, 1521)
“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but–more frequently than not –struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 353).
“But since the devil’s bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she’s wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil’s greatest whore.” (Martin Luther, Last Sermon in Wittenberg, 1546)
“Therefore, whoever wishes to be a Christian, let him pluck out the eyes of his reason (Matt. 5:29)” (Martin Luther, Lecture on Psalm 45, 1532)
“Whoever wants to be a Christian must be intent on silencing the voice of reason.” (Martin Luther, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John 6:46)
“Reason is directly opposed to faith, and one ought to let it be; in believers it should be killed and buried.” (Martin Luther, Erlangen, Vol. 44, Pg. 156-157)
“Reason must be left behind for it is the enemy of faith.” (Martin Luther, Trischreden, Weimer VI, 143, 25-35)
“For wherever love and unity are destroyed and schism and discord take root, there agreement in doctrine also disappears, and defection from Christ ensues.” (Martin Luther, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16)
“I make bold to say that the devil, the father of all dissension, is their teacher. For St. Paul says, ‘God is not a God of dissension’.So also all Christians are of one mind, Ephesians 4, and do not cause schism, I Corinthians 1. Thus you recognize this spirit from the first fruits of their dissension.” (Martin Luther, Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper)
“There will be great confusion. Nobody will conform with another man’s opinions or submit to his authority. Everybody will want to be his own rabbi . . . and the greatest offenses and divisions will arise from this.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 3900)
“I have always expected Satan to touch this sore, but he did not want to do it through the papists. It is among us and among our followers that he is stirring up this grievous schism, but Christ will quickly trample him under our feet.” (Martin Luther, Letter to Melanchthon, 1522)
“Heretics cannot themselves appear good unless they depict the Church as evil, false, and mendacious. They alone wish to be esteemed as the good, but the Church must be made to appear evil in every respect.” (Martin Luther, Dictations on the Psalter in What Luther Says, 3:1590)
“If a man is in open rebellion, everyone is both his judge and his executioner. . . Therefore, let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel. It is just as when one must kill a mad dog.” (Martin Luther, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants, 1525)
“I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity.” (Attributed to the Letter to Pope Leo X, but I read the whole thing and did not find this quote.)
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. May God help me. Amen.” (Martin Luther, Diet of Worms, 1521)
“St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.” (Martin Luther, Preface to the New Testament)
“About this book of the Revelation of John, I leave everyone free to hold his own opinions. I would not have anyone bound to my opinion or judgment. I say what I feel. I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic. . . . For myself, I think it approximates the Fourth Book of Esdras; I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it. . . . let everyone think of it as his own spirit leads him. My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it.” (Martin Luther, Preface to the Revelation of St. John, 1522)
“The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish foolishness.” (Often cited as taken from Patrick F. O’Hare ‘The Facts About Luther,” 202 – However, this quote appears to be spurious.)
“If your Papist annoys you with the word sola (alone), tell him this, ‘Dr. Martin Luther will have it so: Papist and ass are one and the same thing.'” (Martin Luther, On Translating: An Open Letter, 1530 – Concerning Luther’s adding of the word “alone” to his German translation of Rom. 3:28)
“I can expound psalms and prophets; they cannot. I can translate; they cannot. I can read the Holy Scriptures; they cannot. I can pray; they cannot. And, to come down to their level, I can use their own dialectics and philosophy better than all of them put together; and besides I know for sure that none of them understands their Aristotle. If there is a single one among them all who correctly understands one proemium [preface] or chapter in Aristotle, I’ll eat my hat. I am not saying too much, for I have been trained and practiced from my youth up in all their science and am well aware how deep and broad it is. They are very well aware, too, that I can do everything they can. Yet these incurable fellows treat me as though I were a stranger to their field, who had just arrived this morning for the first time and had never before either seen or heard what they teach and know. So brilliantly do they parade about with their science, teaching me what I outgrew twenty years ago, that to all their blatting and shouting I have to sing, with the harlot, “I have known for seven years that horseshoe-nails are iron.'” (Martin Luther, On Translating: An Open Letter, 1530)
“If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.” (Martin Luther, Let Your Sins Be Strong: A Letter From Luther to Melanchthon Letter no. 99, 1521)
“Seek out the society of your boon companions, drink, play, talk bawdy, and amuse yourself. One must sometimes commit a sin out of hate and contempt for the Devil, so as not to give him the chance to make one scrupulous over mere nothings…” (Martin Luther, Works, XX, p.58)
“Women ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 55).
“I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture.” (Martin Luther, Letter to Chancellor Gregory Brück, 1524)
“A woman has no control over herself.” (Martin Luther, Letter to Several Nuns, 6 Aug. 1524)
- Luther’s Works (LOGOS)
- Martin Luther Quotes
- On the Jews and Their Lies (TEXT)
- On the Jews and Their Lies (SUMMARY)
- Selected Works of Martin Luther (ICLNET)
- Works by Martin Luther (CCEL)