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Joined: 2003/10/3
Posts: 167

 Martin Luther on Mary

Despite the radicalism of early Protestantism with
regard to many ancient Catholic "distinctives," such
as the Communion of the Saints, Penance, Purgatory,
Infused Justification, the Papacy, the priesthood,
sacramental marriage, etc., it may surprise many to
discover that Martin Luther was rather conservative in
some of his doctrinal views, such as on baptismal
regeneration, the Eucharist, and particularly the
Blessed Virgin Mary.

Luther indeed was quite devoted to Our Lady, and
retained most of the traditional Marian doctrines
which were held then and now by the Catholic Church.
This is often not well-documented in Protestant
biographies of Luther and histories of the 16th
century, yet it is undeniably true. It seems to be a
natural human tendency for latter-day followers to
project back onto the founder of a movement their own
prevailing viewpoints. Since Lutheranism today does
not possess a very robust Mariology, it is usually
assumed that Luther himself had similar opinions. We
shall see, upon consulting the primary sources (i.e.,
Luther's own writings), that the historical facts are
very different. We shall consider, in turn, Luther's
position on the various aspects of Marian doctrine.

Along with virtually all important Protestant Founders
(e.g., Calvin, Zwingli, Cranmer), Luther accepted the
traditional belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary
(Jesus had no blood brothers), and her status as the
Theotokos (Mother of God):

Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the
Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . .
"brothers" really means "cousins" here, for Holy Writ
and the Jews always call cousins brothers.

(Sermons on John, chapters 1-4, 1537-39)

He, Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural
fruit of Mary's virginal womb . . . This was without
the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin
after that.


God says . . . : "Mary's Son is My only Son."
Thus Mary is the Mother of God.


God did not derive his divinity from Mary; but
it does not follow that it is therefore wrong to say
that God was born of Mary, that God is Mary's Son, and
that Mary is God's mother . . . She is the true mother
of God and bearer of God . . . Mary suckled God,
rocked God to sleep, prepared broth and soup for God,
etc. For God and man are one person, one Christ, one
Son, one Jesus, not two Christs . . . just as your son
is not two sons . . . even though he has two natures,
body and soul, the body from you, the soul from God

(On the Councils and the Church, 1539)

Probably the most astonishing Marian belief of Luther
is his acceptance of Mary's Immaculate Conception,
which wasn't even definitively proclaimed as dogma by
the Catholic Church until 1854. Concerning this
question there is some dispute, over the technical
aspects of medieval theories of conception and the
soul, and whether or not Luther later changed his
mind. Even some eminent Lutheran scholars, however,
such as Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73) of Concordia
Seminary in St. Louis, maintain his unswerving
acceptance of the doctrine. Luther's words follow:

It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion
of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so
that in the very infusion of her soul she was also
purified from original sin and adorned with God's
gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from
the first moment she began to live she was free from
all sin.

(Sermon: "On the Day of the Conception of the
Mother of God," December [?] 1527; from Hartmann
Grisar, S.J., Luther, authorised translation from the
German by E.M. Lamond; edited by Luigi Cappadelta,
London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, first edition,
1915, Vol. IV [of 6], p. 238; taken from the German
Werke, Erlangen, 1826-1868, edited by J.G. Plochmann
and J.A. Irmischer, 2nd ed. edited by L. Enders,
Frankfurt, 1862 ff., 67 volumes; citation from 152, p.

She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely
without sin- something exceedingly great. For God's
grace fills her with everything good and makes her
devoid of all evil.

(Personal {"Little"} Prayer Book, 1522)

Later references to the Immaculate Conception appear
in his House sermon for Christmas (1533) and Against
the Papacy of Rome (1545). In later life (he died in
1546), Luther did not believe that this doctrine
should be imposed on all believers, since he felt that
the Bible didn't explicitly and formally teach it.
Such a view is consistent with his notion of sola
Scriptura and is similar to his opinion on the bodily
Assumption of the Virgin, which he never denied -
although he was highly critical of what he felt were
excesses in the celebration of this Feast. In his
sermon of August 15, 1522, the last time he preached
on the Feast of the Assumption, he stated:

There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in
heaven. How it happened we do not know. And since the
Holy Spirit has told us nothing about it, we can make
of it no article of faith . . . It is enough to know
that she lives in Christ.

Luther held to the idea and devotional practice of the
veneration of Mary and expressed this on innumerable
occasions with the most effusive language:

The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very
depths of the human heart.

(Sermon, September 1, 1522)

[She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem
in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility,
wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor
her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to
her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the

(Sermon, Christmas, 1531)

No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or
Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and

(Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537)

One should honor Mary as she herself wished and
as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God
for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true
honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God's
grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself,
but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish
that we come to her, but through her to God.

(Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521)

Luther goes even further, and gives the Blessed Virgin
the exalted position of "Spiritual Mother" for
Christians, much the same as in Catholic piety:

It is the consolation and the superabundant
goodness of God, that man is able to exult in such a
treasure. Mary is his true Mother, Christ is his
brother, God is his father.

(Sermon, Christmas, 1522)

Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of
all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed
on her knees . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in
his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be
and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother
is also our mother.

(Sermon, Christmas, 1529)

Luther did strongly condemn any devotional practices
which implied that Mary was in any way equal to our
Lord or that she took anything away from His sole
sufficiency as our Savior. This is, and always has
been, the official teaching of the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, Luther often "threw out the baby with
the bath water," when it came to criticizing erroneous
emphases and opinions which were prevalent in his time
- falsely equating them with Church doctrine. His
attitude towards the use of the "Hail Mary" prayer
(the first portion of the Rosary) is illustrative. In
certain polemical utterances he appears to condemn its
recitation altogether, but he is only forbidding a use
of Marian devotions apart from heartfelt faith, as the
following two citations make clear:

Whoever possesses a good (firm) faith, says the
Hail Mary without danger! Whoever is weak in faith can
utter no Hail Mary without danger to his salvation.

(Sermon, March 11, 1523)

Our prayer should include the Mother of God . .
. What the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be
given to God, using these words: "Hail Mary, full of
grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among
women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
Christ. Amen!" You see that these words are not
concerned with prayer but purely with giving praise
and honor . . . We can use the Hail Mary as a
meditation in which we recite what grace God has given
her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may
know and respect her . . . He who has no faith is
advised to refrain from saying the Hail Mary.

(Personal Prayer Book, 1522)

To summarize, it is apparent that Luther was
extraordinarily devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
which is notable in light of his aversion to so many
other "Papist" or "Romish" doctrines, as he was wont
to describe them. His major departure occurs with
regard to the intercession and invocation of the
saints, which he denied, in accord with the earliest
systematic Lutheran creed, the Augsburg Confession of
1530 (Article 21).

His views of Mary as Mother of God and as ever-Virgin
were identical to those in Catholicism, and his
opinions on the Immaculate Conception, Mary's
"Spiritual Motherhood" and the use of the "Hail Mary"
were substantially the same. He didn't deny the
Assumption (he certainly didn't hesitate to rail
against doctrines he opposed!), and venerated Mary in
a very touching fashion which, as far as it goes, is
not at all contrary to Catholic piety.

Therefore, it can be stated without fear of
contradiction that Luther's Mariology is very close to
that of the Catholic Church today, far more than it is
to the theology of modern-day Lutheranism. To the
extent that this fact is dealt with at all by
Protestants, it is usually explained as a "holdover"
from the early Luther's late medieval Augustinian
Catholic views ("everyone has their blind spots,"
etc.). But this will not do for those who are serious
about consulting Luther in order to arrive at the true
"Reformation heritage" and the roots of an authentic
Protestantism. For if Luther's views here can be so
easily rationalized away, how can the Protestant know
whether he is trustworthy relative to his other
innovative doctrines such as extrinsic justification
by faith alone and sola Scriptura?

It appears, once again, that the truth about important
historical figures is almost invariably more complex
than the "legends" and overly-simplistic
generalizations which men often at the remove of
centuries - create and accept uncritically.

[url=]The Journey Home[/url]

Karsten Nordmo

 2007/12/9 15:50Profile

Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37453
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

 Re: Martin Luther on Mary

This comes from a catholic site trying to convert Protestants and is utterly false:

The purpose of The Coming Home Network International (CHNetwork) is to provide fellowship, encouragement and support for pastors and laymen of other traditions (Protestant, Orthodox, etc..) who are somewhere along the journey or have already converted to the Catholic Church. The CHNetwork is committed to assisting and standing beside all inquirers, serving as a friend and an advocate.


Here are some resources by Ian Paisley I just put up:

[b]Martin Luther - The Scourge Of Papacy In The 16th Century[/b]

[b]Cult of Mary - Part One[/b]

[b]Cult of Mary - Part Two[/b]

[b]Let Luther speak for himself[/b]

[b]Virgin Worship[/b]

"THE worship of the Virgin Mary throughout the Romish Church, is one of those things which there is no denying, any more than that the sun is in the firmament. It is a prime element of the system; and were it to be taken out of her literature, her conversation, and her devotions, it would leave a void that would look like desolation. Throughout the whole of the Popedom, wherever the eye falls it lights on images of the Virgin and her child."

"These stare you in the face at every corner of every street; they occupy a place in every room of every house, and are prominent at every altar; they are stamped on everything. These facts are not, and cannot be denied; there is, indeed, no hesitation on the part of the priests and people in confessing them. A Papist is no more ashamed to confess that he worships the Virgin, than that he looks at the sun or treads the earth."

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2007/12/9 18:37Profile

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732



Thank you for including the source link to the article you posted. By posting the article and the link without personal commentary, can we conclude that you are agreement with the mission of the CHNetwork?


Mike Compton

 2007/12/9 23:36Profile

Joined: 2003/10/30
Posts: 1554

 Re: Martin Luther on Mary

I encourage everyone who is dealing with this subject to watch a video called "Messages from Heaven" and share it with others also. Very well made biblical examination of the apparitions of a woman presenting as Virgin Mary and Queen of Heaven. In the same time supported by Catholic Church and followed by millions.

You can watch it online here:

[b][url=]Messages from Heaven - Google Video[/url][/b]

[b][url=]Messages from Heaven - Eternal Production[/url][/b]

[b]Description:[/b] A Biblical Examination of The Apparitions Of The Vigin Mary and Other Supernatural Activity In The End Times. For instance, tens of ... all » millions visit apparition sites hoping to encounter the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many believe that these increasing manifestations signal the advent of a new era on earth. Thousands of messages that we are entering a critical moment in world history - cataclysmic changes may soon occur. Those who follow the apparitions believe Mary has come to turn us back to God, while others insist that these events are either fabrications or the working of Satan. Does the Bible anticipate apparitions, signs and wonders in the last days? Does the Word of God reveal the origin of these phenomena? How might the apparition of Mary and other paranormal events transform the world in the third millennium? (scripture not KJV). Queen of Rome, Queen of Islam, Queen of All

 2007/12/10 0:29Profile

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