Schaitberger’s Circular – Preface

By Joseph Schaitberger

(Translator’s note: For more on Joseph Schaitberger, see Wagenmann’s article on his life and work, Schaitberger’s hymn for exiles, and Erdmann’s article on the Lutheran Salzburgers.)

Title page of the enlarged 1710 Schwabach edition of Schaitberger’s Evangelical Circular

2 Corinthians 6:14,17:

Do not tug at the foreign yoke together with unbelievers, [but] leave their company and separate yourselves, says the Lord.

Preface

Dearest reader!

I handed over these present booklets or writings to the press several years ago at the request of a godly preacher,1 and at that time many of them were sent to Pressburg2 and to my fatherland in Salzburg through a good friend. Eventually my work even found its way among the Catholic priests, who immediately had at it and refuted it with cunning arguments. But they truly did so on such weak grounds that I do not consider it necessary to refute their arguments once again, for right must always be right, and all pious hearts will adhere to it (Psalm 94:15). I for my part simply count myself most fortunate and continue to thank them for the fact that they have assigned me a praiseworthy name by calling me a disciple or follower of Luther, even though I do not consider myself worthy of being compared to Luther—precious, blessed man that he is. Now although my first booklet was attacked rather harshly by those papist gentlemen, by the grace of God it still had a very beneficial effect within the papacy and opened the eyes of many simple people. For I have reliable testimony from certain persons in which they themselves have acknowledged that after they read through my simple writings, their conscience was so awakened that they immediately abandoned the papistic religion together with their fatherland and voluntarily declared their allegiance to the doctrine of the pure evangelical faith. So too many pious hearts still come to me daily and ask if they can purchase my booklets. But since none of them were available anymore, other God-loving Christians have now been found who have financed their reprinting and handed them over to the press, so that the admiring reader can now have all my writings together in one volume.

Now on my part, I wish from the bottom of my heart that it may please God the heavenly Father to bless the kind intentions of these God-loving persons and to have this simple, modest little work be directed solely and only to the honor of his holy name, so that it may not leave without bearing fruit among pious and Christian hearts. And may he himself, the God who abounds in love, be pleased in the meantime to enlighten the erring, to comfort the persecuted, and to bring back those who have been led astray, while graciously preserving us in the pure truth of the evangelical faith until our blessed end, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen! Amen!

Source

Joseph Schaitberger, Neu-vermehrter Evangelischer Send-Brieff/ Darinnen zwei und zwantzig nützliche Büchlein enthalten/ Geschrieben an die Lands-Leut in Saltzburg und andere gute Freund/ dadurch dieselbige zur Christlichen Beständigkeit/ in der Evangelischen Glaubens-Lehr/ Augspurgischer Confession/ in ihrem Gewissen/ aufgemuntert werden/ Aus Heiliger Göttlicher Schrifft zusammen getragen/ und auf Begehren guter Freund zum andern mahl in Druck übergeben [Newly Enlarged Evangelical Circular, Containing Twenty-Two Valuable Booklets, Written to Countrymen in Salzburg and Other Good Friends, Through Which Their Consciences Are Encouraged to Christian Perseverance in the Evangelical Doctrine of the Augsburg Confession, Put Together on the Basis of Holy, Divine Scripture, and Handed Over for Print for the Second Time at the Desire of Good Friends] (Schwabach: Moritz Hagen, and Nürnberg: Widows of Johann Hoffmann and Engelbert Strecken, 1710).

Endnotes

1 There is an book titled Evangelischer Send-Brief Samt noch etlich andern Unterricht- Vermahnungs- und Trost- Schrifften an seine liebe Lands-Leute in Salzburg und Tefferecker Thal that appeared in print in 1702. Other sources say that these booklets already began appearing in print individually in 1688. The “godly preacher” to whom Schaitberger refers is Andreas Unglenck, pastor at St. Jakob in Nuremberg who died in that city in 1697.

2 Present-day Bratislava in Slovakia, at the time the capital city of the Kingdom of Hungary

Luther Visualized 5 – The Tower Discovery

Luther Rediscovers the Gospel

Martin Luther, from his preface to Tomus Primus Omnium Operum Reverendi Domini Martini Lutheri, Doctoris Theologiae, etc. (Wittenberg: Hans Lufft, 1545)

This is the seventh and final page of Martin Luther’s preface to the first volume of the first attempted compilation of his works, published in 1545. The page begins:

At last, by the mercy of God, as I was earnestly meditating days and nights, I started paying attention to the context of the words [in Romans 1:17], namely, “The righteousness of God is revealed in it [viz., the gospel], just as it is written: ‘The righteous person lives by faith.’” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous person lives by a gift of God, namely by faith…

Sources
Lewis W. Spitz and Helmut T. Lehmann, eds., Luther’s Works, trans. Lewis. W. Spitz, Sr. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1960), 34:323-338

Weimarer Ausgabe, Tischreden 2:177, no. 1681 (recorded by Schlaginhaufen in 1532); 3:228, no. 3232abc (recorded by Cordatus in 1532); 4:72-73, no. 4007 (recorded by Lauterbach in 1538); 5:26, no. 5247 (recorded by Mathesius in 1540); 5:210,234-235, nos. 5518,5553 (recorded by Heydenreich in the winter of 1542-1543)

Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1985), pp. 221-227

Archeological excavation of the basement of “the tower,” © Red Brick Parsonage, 2013

The published preface mentioned above was the first time Luther made his gospel rediscovery public. From the Table Talk sources cited above, however, you can see that he had often talked about it privately with his friends before 1545. Most of Luther’s retellings focus exclusively on the content of his discovery. But the 1532 retelling, recorded by both Johannes Schlaginhaufen and Conrad Cordatus, is different. There Luther also makes a point of identifying the location (one gets the impression the group was near the site of the famous discovery at the time): “But when I was in this tower one time (in which there was a privy for the monks), I was speculating on those words [in Romans 1:17].” Another copy of Cordatus’ transcription has: “But when I was in this tower and sweating room…” And after describing his epiphany, he concludes, according to both of his transcribers, “The Holy Spirit introduced this art to me on this latrine” or “on this tower” or “on this latrine on the tower.”

Luther’s latrine in the excavation behind the Luther House Museum (© Red Brick Parsonage, 2018).

What are we to make of this? I cannot make anything of it except to take Luther at his words. Consider the following:

  1. The plain language of Luther’s description (with several references varying in explicitness) recorded by two different transcribers
  2. The effort at covering up the location in Johannes Aurifaber’s famous 1566 edition of Luther’s Table Talk, which has Luther concluding: “The Holy Spirit alone introduced this art to me” (emphasis mine). Such a cover-up would be unnecessary if Luther’s companions understood that he was referring to his study, where scholars will frequently try to locate his discovery.
  3. We know that Luther’s study was on the third floor of the tower (Brecht, 227). The latrine, as you can see from the pictures, was clearly not. How could Luther and his conversational transcribers confuse the two, or use the basement latrine to refer to the entire tower, including Luther’s study?
  4. We can only verify that Luther used the tower as his study from 1522 onwards (info marker outside the excavation in 2013), but his epiphany most likely took place in early 1518 (some scholars date it earlier).
  5. In all of his descriptions of his epiphany, Luther never once says he was at his desk or reading; he always says he was speculating or meditating.
  6. The ground floor of the tower had under-floor heating. The warm air from a small stove was led through the pictured conduit under the floor slabs (info marker). Considering that this conduit went right above the latrine, it would have indeed made it a “sweating room.”
  7. According to an info marker outside the excavation in 2013, at some point the tower was demolished and earth was deposited over the top for a garden, preserving the ground floor and basement underneath. (Ironically, it was in an attempt to plant another garden there that the latrine was discovered in 2004.) This fits perfectly with Georg Rörer’s copy of Schlaginhaufen’s transcript; either he or someone else wrote “in the garden” above “on this latrine.”
  8. According to an info marker outside the excavation in 2013, the tower with the latrine “could only be reached from the monastery” (later Luther’s house after the monastery was gifted to him). This accords with its description in Cordatus’ transcription as “a privy [or private place] for the monks.”
  9. Finally – and this is admittedly more speculative – the basement had another, larger room in addition to the latrine. Luther’s 1532 retelling took place in the summer between June 12 and July 12. Would it not make sense for Luther and his companions to be conversing in the basement to get away from the heat, thus enabling Luther to say in effect, “It happened right here” (without us having to imagine a more awkward setting)? To those who would think this unlikely due to some lingering smell down there, an info marker outside the latrine says, “A small drain served to take the sewage waste from the latrine out of the building. At the time it was in use, the land sloped down quite considerably from east to west and from north to south so that the majority of the sewage was washed away.”

Many of course who are convinced that Luther’s famous discovery happened on the toilet, and who are not sympathetic to his reforms and teachings, love to make crude jokes about “the 95 Feces” and Luther going to discharge his waste and having something even worse come out, namely Lutheranism. Never mind all that. The Bible consistently testifies that the triune God’s modus operandi is to bring order and glory out of disorder and shame (creation, Judah and Tamar, crossing of the Red Sea, the Messiah’s birth, etc.) and to hide the truth behind weakness, shame, offense/scandal, and foolishness (Jesus’ choice of apostles, crucifixion, the means of grace, the theology of the cross, etc.), so that only those who are earnestly and genuinely seeking the truth find and remain with the truth (Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 5:6; 13:11-15). Luther’s tower discovery on the toilet, then, really isn’t all that surprising. If you want to find the truth, you often have to look in the least likely places, according to our natural human reason. And if you want to find the truth of the gospel in 1518, you have to look in the bathroom at a monk from an ordinary copper miner’s family performing one of life’s less attractive chores. If you care nothing for the truth, you will run away disgusted. But to those who love the truth, that bathroom is one of the most attractive places on earth.

Strieter Autobiography: Preface

By Heinrich Louis Hoelter

Translator’s Preface

Pastor Johannes Strieter and his wife.

Pastor Johannes Strieter and his wife.

I feel that any attempt on my part to capture the enormous significance of this autobiography for all the various branches of history that it touches, especially Lutheran church history, can only fail miserably in comparison to the original preface and the autobiography itself. To attempt to do so would be akin to attempting to describe all the grandeur of the Grand Canyon or one of the great European cathedrals in such a way that no one reading my description would ever gain any advantage by gazing upon it with his own eyes – an utterly useless endeavor. So permit me simply to share how I came to undertake a translation of this remarkable work.

Pastor Johannes Strieter (1829-1920), a Lutheran pastor of the Missouri Synod, was the first pastor to serve those who would become the founding members of my two current congregations. I have been working to compile a thorough history of these two congregations for several years now, and so I had necessarily become well acquainted with Pastor Strieter. I had even visited his hometown in Germany and the area in Michigan where he grew up. But I had no intention whatsoever of translating his autobiography.

It seems that everything in connection with Strieter’s autobiography has taken place against someone’s will. Strieter himself wrote it against his will, as he relates in his Preliminary Remarks. The preface for it, presented below, was written against the writer’s will. And now I have undertaken to translate it against my will. At least three men had already attempted translations of it. The most worthy attempt was by his son, Carl Strieter (d. 1952), who actually made it through the entire work. But in June of this year I had checked out an original German copy from the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library, and a few nights later I was reading through portions of it, just to get a sense of the German. As I was reading the first several pages, I thought, “I don’t remember reading some of this stuff before.” So I checked it against Carl Strieter’s translation and, sure enough, there were, here and there, phrases or even entire sentences that he inexplicably omitted. Upon further investigation I discovered no end of lamentable omissions of choice details.

I plan to present the various parts of Strieter’s autobiography in successive, manageable portions. If any reader even merely stumbles across these posts and fails to read them, I can only say that I will not be able to help feeling deeply sorry for such a person, and neither will anyone else who has tasted and savored these exquisite morsels from Strieter’s memory.

This translation and all those that follow are taken from the Lebenslauf des Johannes Strieter, Pastor Emeritus, von ihm selbst erzählt und geschrieben (Life Story of Johannes Strieter, Pastor Emeritus, as Told and Written by Himself) (Cleveland: F. M. F. Leutner, 1904).

I am indebted to Winfried Strieter of Ohio, Johannes’ great-great-grandson, for contacting me, being the first to put me in touch with the original German autobiography, and for all his other manifold help and encouragement.

Johannes would have refused to write his autobiography if it would not have glorified God. But his relatives assured him that it would, and it has, and it will continue to do so. My prayer therefore is simply that as many people as possible would read and digest this autobiography. Thus the triune God will be glorified.

Original Preface

The venerable author of this autobiography relates within it that in his youth the idea of becoming a pastor had been awakened in his heart. Feeling his unworthiness, he had chosen an ash tree in the vicinity of his homestead as an altar and at that ash had repeatedly implored God on his knees to please take this idea away from him, since he was unfit for the ministry. But the One who governs the heart does lead him into the preaching ministry. After he has been active in God’s vineyard for a half century, and the same God has put him into retirement, he is asked to compose an account of his life’s story. In humility he earnestly resists this request. But the reasons given – namely that in this way he could promote the glory of God and the building up of his kingdom even now, since his Lord had deprived him of the work he was accustomed to, and that he should not bury his talent in the handkerchief like that [cf. Matthew 25:14-30], and so on – have pressed the quill into his hand. “Thus the Lord governs hearts” [cf. Psalm 33:15], will be the judgment of the Christian readers of this book.

The undersigned, who was once confirmed and won over to the work in God’s vineyard by this venerable spiritual father, has let himself be persuaded to write a preface only after much resisting, and for this purpose he has read through the manuscript repeatedly. The cliff which threatens to ruin a work like this has thankfully been avoided. This self-authored biography is not a self-trumpeting. It is rather a work praising the One who entered the author’s name in the Book of Life with the precious blood of Christ at his baptism, just as the author’s father wrote in the family Bible. Consequently the entire work is not a narrative laboriously pieced together and forced into a desired format. If you had the pleasure of hearing the author especially on the occasion of the various conferences and synod conventions, or of simply interacting with him otherwise, and if you now got the chance to read this book, you will immediately acknowledge: This is Pastor Strieter as he lives and breathes, in his seriousness and humor, as he talks, jokes, thinks, reports, and admonishes. And what a string of instructive, gripping, delightful, encouraging experiences, events, and anecdotes! You have to laugh; right after that you would like to cry! A preface should be short, but this one would get very long if we were only to pick out pieces here and there from the full work.

Biographies like this are wells for church historians. From this mine many a building stone can be taken for a history of our precious synod. Here an eyewitness tells the story of the colonies of the Franconians in Michigan, established in the backwoods, and the story of the Indian mission there, and the story of our institution in Fort Wayne from the years when the initial passion was still burning. Here we see the young laborer, pressed into the ministry prematurely by the church’s need, in hopeless and in productive mission stations, also ministering to a wide and broad field where he never preached less than four or more than nine times a week and covered some 6000 miles during the year with his horse. Here we find the spiritual shepherd relaxing at home, even though seldom ministering to just one congregation. As we watch, he leads many well-known figures past our eyes, e.g. Walther, Crämer, Wyneken, Fürbringer, Schwan, Lindemann, Sihler, Sievers, Hattstädt, Ruhland, Jox, Brauer, Wunder, Wagner – some he leads past quickly, others leisurely. He tells the story of conflicts with sects, lodges, and false brothers, of cross and distress within and without, but also of enjoyable experiences in an extremely happy marriage, in the genuine love of penitent Christians, and in the fruit harvested already on earth from seed that had been scattered years earlier. And all of this is done in the original, unique style of the straightforward and steady evangelical Missourian warhorse, who has cleared, dug, plowed, planted, and watered for more than fifty years exactly where God placed him, and now presents here both old and new from the treasure of his rich experience [cf. Matthew 13:52].

Many a preacher, teacher, or listener still living among us like a pillar from ancient times will read the memories from the author’s youth shared here and will live in them for hours at a time, and they will also evoke his own such memories. Many a person will be refreshed by these recollections in the quiet hours after exhausting work. Many a person will take away helpful tips and ready weapons from the author’s pastoral activity and will utilize and apply them according to his own gifts. For every reader there is some benefit inside.

Dear, beloved fellow believer, take and read. You will not regret it!

God has taken the pastoral ministry in a congregation away from the beloved Father Strieter through the deafness imposed on him. May God let him experience in these years that, at God’s direction, he has taken his hands out of his lap in order to strengthen his fellow pilgrims on the way to the city of eternal rest through this autobiography. Finally, up to the present Father Strieter has as a matter of fact belonged, along with the apostle Paul, to those who are poor, but who make many rich, to those who have nothing, yet possess everything [cf. 2 Corinthians 6:10]. So for him and his life’s companion, may God also partially use the proceeds from the sale of this little book to answer the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread”!

L. Hölter
Chicago, December 4, 1904

[Read the next part here.]

Amsdorf Preface from 1557

By Nikolaus von Amsdorf (1483-1565)

Translator’s Preface

In Friedrich Bente’s Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis: CPH, 2005; also printed at the beginning of the Concordia Triglotta), he discusses the Majoristic Controversy in chapter 13. This controversy, which took place after Luther’s death, centered around the proposition that good works are necessary for salvation. In response to this erroneous proposition, Bente says that Nikolaus von Amsdorf, “the intimate and trusted friend of Luther,” reacted absurdly and that “the momentum of his uncontrolled zeal carried him a step too far—over the precipice. He declared that good works are detrimental and injurious to salvation” (p. 285).

But in supporting this accusation against Amsdorf, Bente only cites Amsdorf’s infamous 1559 publication, That the Proposition “Good Works Are Harmful to Salvation” Is a Correct, True, and Christian Proposition. But on the very next page (286) Bente writes:

Melanchthon refers to the proposition of Amsdorf as “filthy speech, unflaetige Rede.” In 1557, at Worms, he wrote: “Now Amsdorf writes: Good works are detrimental to salvation… The Antinomians and their like must avoid the filthy speech, ‘Good works are detrimental to salvation.'”

Bente does not explain how Melanchthon could react to Amsdorf’s proposition in 1557, when Amsdorf did not publish his infamous work until 1559.

The answer is below, translated from vol. 28 of the Weimar edition of Luther’s works (D. Martin Luthers Werke: kritische Gesammtausgabe [sic] [Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1903], p. 765-767). In 1557, the Erfurt pastor Andreas Poach was ready to have his first edition of Luther’s sermons on John 18-20 published in Jena, on the basis of Georg Rörer’s shorthand transcripts. Nikolaus von Amsdorf wrote the preface for that edition, in which, to our knowledge, he came out publicly with the proposition “that good works not only are not necessary for salvation, but are also harmful to salvation” for the first time.

Article IV of the Formula of Concord eventually dealt with both erroneous propositions (see Endnote 4 below).

For more on Poach’s first edition of Luther’s sermons on John 18-20, see here.

I was informed via email by the staff of Concordia Publishing House (CPH) that this preface is also included in vol. 69 of the American edition of Luther’s Works. (Volume 69 is one of the new volumes that CPH is publishing in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.) However, I do not own this volume, nor have I touched it, seen it, or consulted it. Any similarities between that translation and the one below are purely coincidental.

Though Amsdorf goes too far in this preface, he also has many fine things to say. His second to last paragraph and final two sentences are my prayer in providing this translation.

Preface by Amsdorf (1557)

To all pious Christians I, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, wish God’s grace, understanding, Spirit, and wisdom, so that they continually remain and persist in the pure doctrine of the holy gospel until their end. Amen.

Many beautiful and glorious sermons preached by the holy and cherished man Doctor Martin Luther of blessed memory on several chapters of the two Evangelists John and Matthew were taken down as Luther was speaking by the worthy and well educated Mr. Georg Rörer. Another man1 has put these on paper and dispatched them to press faithfully, diligently, and in the best possible way. Until now they have never been printed or published. They are not like the other writings which Luther himself produced and had published, but in these last and dangerous present times, when all sorts of error and heresies are once again being freshly stirred up and are appearing in abundance, they are still very necessary, beneficial, and comforting for guarding oneself and standing firmly against them.

Therefore the illustrious, highborn princes and lords, the brothers Lord Johann Friedrich, Lord Johann Wilhelm, and Lord Johann Friedrich the Younger, dukes of Saxony, landgraves in Thuringia, and margraves of Meissen, my gracious princes and lords, have decreed and commanded that these sermones or sermons be specially printed. (They have done this out of the their special desire and love for having the Holy Scriptures brought to light according to their pure, natural, and correct understanding.) For in these sermons many articles of our holy Christian faith are dealt with and explained according to the contents of the pure doctrine of the holy gospel.

Their Princely Graces likewise wanted to have the special confessiones, that is, the glorious and Christian confessions, both of their dear lord and father, the formerly most illustrious, highborn Elector of Saxony, Lord Johann Friedrich of Christian and praiseworthy memory, and of Doctor Martin2 printed and published along with the above-mentioned sermons, for compelling and weighty reasons.

From these confessions all pious and troubled hearts, which are assailed under the cross that they carry in any situations like those of these men, should take a comforting example and illustration, so that they too confess their faith as joyfully and steadfastly as the praiseworthy elector of Christian memory did. He confessed his faith during his imprisonment dauntlessly, yet with the utmost patience and humility.

For he did not rant and rave, he did not disparage the Imperial Majesty or his counselors who urged him to accept the Interim, nor give them empty prattle. Instead, with due honor and reverence, he humbly and submissively requested, and yet at the same time announced, that he could not and would not accept such an Interim in good conscience, just as everyone will see and read in this confession of his.3

Likewise everyone can also see and note from the confession of Dr. Martin Luther that he agrees with neither sects nor factions nor fanatics alike, but condemns and rejects them all, including those that have arisen after his Christian departure from this world, whoever they may be – Interimists, Adiaphorists, or Majorists. Therefore they are quite unjust and shameless in availing themselves of Dr. Martin and in crying out, writing, and boasting that Doctor Martin has taught and written just as they write and teach, even though the opposite is found in his books for all to see. To point out the one worst, most pressing, and most dangerous article: All those who teach and write that good works are necessary for salvation are going directly against Luther, yes, directly against themselves. For Luther of blessed and holy memory writes everywhere and especially on Galatians that good works not only are not necessary for salvation, but are also harmful to salvation. For this is what he says:

When one just considers the matter at its foundation and in the light, then it is certain and is found that such teaching and emphasizing of works as necessary for salvation does more and greater damage than any human reason could ever comprehend or understand. For in so doing not only is the knowledge of grace clouded, but Christ with all his benefits is ripped away and the entire gospel is turned upside down, as Paul here testifies.4

And they themselves also write and cry out that we obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation by pure grace, without our works or merit, purely for free. Now if this, their own confession, is true, how then can our good works be necessary for salvation (which we have already obtained for free, by grace, before any good work, as they themselves confess)? This is contrary to their very own confession.

I therefore ask all Christians for the sake of God to read diligently and take to heart these sermons of Luther, along with the two confessions. Then they will experience and take away from them sure comfort, strength, and power, so that they will persist and remain in the pure doctrine of the gospel and will avoid and condemn all Adiaphoristic and Majoristic doctrines. This is now highly necessary at this time, for people are rashly wanting to hold a convention with the Zwinglians, with the idea that we should settle our differences, join forces, and reach an agreement with them. But to do this without harm to religion and our conscience is impossible. This is no more an option for us than is settling our differences or reaching an agreement with the papists or Adiaphorists.

Thus any conventions, colloquies, or conferences are vain and pointless, for there can be no agreement or unity in these matters. Rather, as soon as we undertake a negotiation or colloquy, the truth has already been suppressed and defeated. For the persuasibilia verba humanae sapientiae [persuasive words of human wisdom]5 (which are nothing more than words and ink) do not diminish in value but stay on top, so that they and their dreams win out in the end.

This is exactly what I have not only read in histories and chronicles, but also seen and experienced in our colloquies which I have attended. Therefore there is nothing better or safer than to remain with the pure word of God without any comment, interpretation, or exposition of human reason. This is what the holy man of God has offered and given us in these sermons and his other writings and also in this last confession of his. In this way we are sure and certain that we cannot go astray or be in error.

May God, the Father of all mercy, help us from heaven to this end, so that we ever remain with the pure Word without any gloss, exposition, or human interpretation.

For as soon as we depart from the Word and follow the Adiaphorists’ interpretation and exposition, we are already gone and eternally lost. For Christ does not want to be preached persuasibilibus verbis humanae sapientiae [with persuasive words of human wisdom], as Paul says. He does not want to have his Church built, planted, and watered by great scholars, but by fishermen and uneducated people who have a correct faith, no matter how lowly and despised they might be on earth.

Endnotes

1 Andreas Poach – trans.

2 The “special confessiones” referred to are the confession of Elector Johann Friedrich I against the Augsburg Interim of Emperor Charles V (1548) and the Brief Confession concerning the Holy Sacrament of Martin Luther (1544). – trans.

3 Amsdorf almost makes it sound as though this confession of the elector was going to be published with Luther’s sermons in the same volume, but that did not happen. It was published by Valentin Ernst Loescher “from the manuscript” (“ex M[anu]S[crip]TO”) in his Unschuldige Nachrichten von Alten und Neuen Theologischen Sachen, Büchern, Uhrkunden, Controversien, Veränderungen, Anmerckungen, Vorschlägen, u. d. g. zur Heil. Sonntags-Ubung, Verfertiget von Einigen Dienern des Göttlichen Wortes. Auff das Jahr 1702. Andere Aufflage. (Leipzig: Bei den Großischen Erben, Druckts Martin Fulde, 1705), p. 393-398. (Loescher was, among other things, a collector of rare books, codices, and manuscripts.) Bente quotes a good portion of the elector’s confession on p. 224-225 in the work cited in my Translator’s Preface above. Bente took the quote from C. F. W. Walther’s Der Concordienformel Kern und Stern (Heart and Soul of the Formula of Concord), who in turn took it from Loescher’s printing in the Unschuldige Nachrichten. However, Walther’s citation there – “S. 364ff” – is incorrect; it should read “S. 394ff”. It just so happens that p. 394 was misprinted as 364; the other page numbers were printed correctly. – trans.

4 This assertion by Amsdorf thus predates his infamous writing from 1559, “Daß die Propositio (Gute Werk sind zur Seligkeit schädlich) ein rechte wahre christliche Propositio sei” (“That the Proposition ‘Good Works Are Harmful to Salvation’ Is a Correct, True, and Christian Proposition”). Amsdorf could put on a show appealing to Luther’s Commentarius in Epistolam ad Galatas (Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians); he is probably thinking of: “Cum igiturmea iustitia coram Deo mihi non prosit sed plus obsit…” (“Since therefore…my own righteousness before God does not help me, but hurts me much more…” (Johann Konrad Irmischer, D. Martini Luther Commentarium in Epistolam S. Pauli ad Galatas [Erlangen: Carl Heyder, 1843], 1:59). Amsdorf probably did not use the German translation of these lectures on Galatians by Justus Menius (his opponent at the time), which used to be the section that was cut out and printed in the Erlangen edition, 2nd ed., 20/II:145f, even though it is simply not a sermon; q. v. p. 156. – G. Koffmane.

Note that in the quote Koffmane cites Luther does not actually say flatly that good works are harmful to salvation, but that good works hurt us when we attempt to use them to earn righteousness before God or gain salvation from him. Even in the Luther quote Amsdorf cites, which is apparently an adaptation and not a quotation according to Koffmane, it is the teaching and emphasizing of good works as necessary for salvation that does the harm, not the good works themselves. Cf. Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article IV, §37ff. – trans.

5 Rf. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. – trans.