Martin Luther: The Reformed Savage

By reading the title of this post, you can assume one of these three things: 1) I’ve gone mad, 2) I am taking a humorous route, or 3) I am too big a fan of Martin Luther. In all honesty, it’s very possible that all three of those assumptions would be at least half-true. However, I didn’t write this because of the fact that I feel like Martin Luther is one of the greatest heroes of the faith in Christian history. I wrote this simply because of the fact that after reading a few of his works, I have noticed that Martin Luther had a particular language that was too hilarious for me to believe at first.

Throughout his letters, Martin Luther would have a kind of language against heretics, blasphemers, and other opponents that would be met with statements that would make millennials scream, “[Insert generic slang. (ex. powned, kill ’em, got ’em, burned, etc.)]” Even some of Martin Luther’s sermons were filled with his sarcastic bashing and savagery. For some it might come across as crass and maybe even a little offensive. As for me…it was quite enjoyable.

Luther was a man of God, who concerned himself with proper understanding of biblical theology. He was also a man who loved to give the best insults and roasts to people. The best way to describe Luther in modern day language is that he was a savage. Savage is best defined by my millennial friends as someone who is swell, hip, and rad (I’ll be honest, I don’t have friends; I am just assuming people still say these words). So, by this definition, Martin Luther was the ultimate Reformed savage.

The following are a list of insults that Martin Luther included in his works that made me laugh, wince in pain for those he wrote to, and admire for his genius (even when insulting people).

You are spiritual scarecrows and monk calves.” (Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors)

A natural donkey, which carries sacks to the mill and eats thistles, can judge you – indeed, all creatures can! For a donkey knows it is a donkey and not a cow. A stone knows it is a stone; water is water, and so on through all the creatures. But you mad asses do not know you are asses.” (Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil)

Your astute minds have been completely turned into stinking mushrooms.” (Explanations of the Ninety-Five Theses)

How is it, then, that you act like people in their second childhood?” (The Bondage of the Will)

Perhaps you like to hear yourself talk, as the stork its own clattering.” (Against the Heavenly Prophets)

In appearance and words you simulate modesty, but you are so swollen with haughtiness, arrogance, pride, malice, villainy, rashness, superciliousness, ignorance, and stupidity that there is nothing to surpass you.” (Against Latomus)

Even if the Antichrist appears, what greater evil can he do than what you have done and do daily?” (Why the Books of Pope Were Burned)

Your words are so foolishly and ignorantly composed that I cannot believe you understand them.” (Explanations of the Ninety-Five Theses)

You rush forward as an ass under the pelt of a lion.” (Against Latomus)

Perhaps you want me to die of unrelieved boredom while you keep on talking.” (The Bondage of the Will)

and finally…

I would sit still and blithely watch how you, the devil, and your sausages and your tripes vainly fret and torment yourselves, and blubber and writhe, achieving nothing except to make us laugh and make you own case worse. Indeed, I would like to see you say aloud what you write, for if you did, people would gather with chains and bars and out of sympathy would seize and bind you as demoniacs. And if people did not do this, then, perhaps at God’s prompting, oxen and swine would trample you to death with their horns and hoofs.” (Against Hanswurst)

I hope that these quotes have not made you think that Martin Luther was arrogant, foolish, or wicked. We must remember that he was responding to heretics, enemies of the faith, and ungodly accusations. Nevertheless, we can’t hide the fact that Martin Luther did have the tendency to go full savage. Thankfully, we can take Martin Luther’s statements and have a good laugh, while also realizing that all men are imperfect in at least some way. That is why it is to be remembered that unlike Martin Luther, we can look to Christ at all times.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t admire the savagery of the great reformer!

Soli Deo Gloria.

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