what? did luther really say that?
* Did Luther really say that the Bible is the Christian’s only real authority, that every believer is his own pope and church and at the same time that no one could be saved who didn't accept his doctrine?
* Did Luther really say we are justified in the sight of God by “faith alone” and that a believer in Christ could commit murder and adultery thousands of times a day and still be saved?
* Did he really say that he didn’t want the Epistle of James in his Bible and that he even felt like tossing it into the stove because it so clearly contradicted St. Paul?
* Did he really talk Catholic monks and nuns into breaking their solemn vows and leaving their monasteries and converts?
* Did he really counsel someone to secretly take a second wife because the man claimed he couldn't stop committing adultery?
Did Luther really say these sorts of things? What if he did, what did he mean by them?
If you're interested, check out my three-talk series "Luther: The Rest of the Story," available for MP3 download right here.
God’s Instrument for Renewing the Church?
This is how Luther’s good friend Philip Melanchthon described him at his funeral. Luther, he said, was “God's instrument for renewing the Church."
And this is precisely how most Protestants feel about Luther.
This is how I felt about Luther for a great many years!
Over the decades I've read thousands of pages of Luther's writings as well as a number of books on his life and teaching and now, well, now I’m Catholic.
So does this mean I now see nothing good in Luther?
Does this mean I think Luther's critique of the Church was entirely false and without merit? That he was a devil in human form, as some said at the time?
Actually, the Catholic Church has admitted that much of Luther's critique of the spiritual state of the Church at the time was true.
There was corruption and abuse of authority and it extended to the highest levels. In fact, Pope Hadrian VI, who served a short time during the early years of the Reformation, confessed this publicly.
Listen to how strongly he puts it!
We know that for years there have been many abominable offenses in spiritual matters and violations of the Commandments committed at this Holy See, yes, that everything has in fact been perverted…. The first thing that must be done is to reform the curia, the origin of all the evil.
No. The Catholic Church has never insisted that Luther was wrong in everything he said. We need to get that idea entirely out of our minds.
What the Church has insisted, however, is that Luther's "solutions" to the Church's problems were wrong. Especially is this the case with two key teachings that became the very battle cries of the Reformation: justification by faith alone (sola fide) and scripture as the Christian's sole infallible rule for faith and practice (sola scriptura).
In this series of three talks, I introduce Martin Luther's life and teaching.
In the first talk, "Man Between God and the Devil," we look at his family background, his decision to enter the monastery, his struggle as an Augustinian monk to find peace with God, his becoming a professor of Scripture and his discovery of the "answer" to his spiritual struggles in the doctrine of justification by faith alone
In talks two and three we focus in on those two primary theological issues that arise from the story of Luther and that form the basis of Protestantism as a worldview. These were (and remain!) the two most critical issues separating Protestant and Catholic Christianity.
My goal in this series is to tell the story of Luther as sympathetically as I can, as one who agreed with Luther for many years. In this sense, I want to tell the story as it is told to Lutheran children in Lutheran schools, like the Lutheran schools both my daughter and son attended when they were young.
But then I also want to tell the parts Lutheran schoolchildren do not hear. As Paul Harvey used to say, I want to give you "The rest of the story."
Click here to purchase talks
I want to recommend my good friend, Ken Hensley, who is a very effective speaker on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from Scripture and Apologetics to Church History and the New Atheism... Ken is an expert pastor, with a pastor's heart, who can make the Bible come alive. I'm looking forward to more of his teaching in the future.
--- Scott Hahn, Professor of Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Ken Hensley is a truly remarkable apologist, especially when it comes to Sacred Scripture, Reformation history, and taking complex theological issues and making them accessible to the average Catholic in the pew.
--- Tim Staples, Director of Apologetics and Evangelism at Catholic Answers
Having worked in the field of Catholic apologetics for nearly 30 years, I’ve been privileged to know and collaborate with many talented, inspirational, and effective teachers of the Faith. It’s no exaggeration to say that my friend Ken Hensley is among the very best of the best of the Catholic apologists serving Christ and His Church today. Ken has a wide and deep knowledge of Scripture, Church history, and theology, he is personable and approachable, and he invariably makes a compelling case for truth with charity and aplomb."
--- Patrick Madrid, Catholic Apologist, Host of "Right Here, Right Now Radio Show," Author of Why Be Catholic?