LDS FAIR presentation of Martin Luther?

John gives us the scoop on Martin Luther’s notorious beliefs.

So if Martin Luther lived today in the LDS I-15 corridor he would be rebuking Todd Wood for his positions on biblical inerrancy, faith alone, polygamy, deification, etc., and he would actually be tuning in to LDS General Conference broadcasts and perhaps even grabbing the opportunity to be an adjuct professor at BYU? 🙂

Really.  Can you imagine if Martin Luther lived in the monolithic corridor – what kind of trouble he would be stirring up?


  1. Luther as proto-Mormon?

    I don’t think so, y’all.

    However, in all fairness, I have to note that Luther wasn’t exactly a proto-Baptist either.

  2. Can’t disagree with the conclusion, John, but if the whole point is that contemporary Evangelicals, who are largely Calvinist, in whole or in part, need to be careful in appealing to Luther, I guess I fail to see the relevance, because the same applies even more so to the LDS.

    Luther was, indeed “half papist” what with his doctrines of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, support of infant baptism, and belief in the perpetual virginity of the Theotokos (a title he did not shy away from); he was very much an heir to the Catholic Augustine (as opposed to the Augustine of Calvin), and he certainly embraced the whole biblical-patristic-scholastic ontological paradigm rejected by Joseph Smith and the LDS, so, as with C.S. Lewis, any doctrine of theosis emanating from Luther has nothing to do with the LDS doctrine. In short, Luther was a “creedal Christian” who, in rightly rejecting certain aspects of medieval Roman Catholicism, began the reforming process of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. In the meantime, the Orthodox Churches just kept on truckin’, often, as in the Ottoman Empire, against very great odds.

  3. Greg, I don’t think the point is finding a respected Christian theologian who agrees with the Mormon position in all particulars (I haven’t seen one yet). Rather, the point is to show that the dividing line between you and us isn’t as clear as some people would like to think.

  4. If professors start picking up on all my fringe comments, it is good that I am still around to speak clearly on the fundamentals for what I believe.


  5. Another thought . . .

    If John likes Luther, I think he ought to recommend that the church’s prophet and apostles start reading Luther to beef up on their theology – commentaries first than Table Talk. Isn’t this latter volume in the BYU-I archives?

  6. Todd, what does “fringe comment” mean?

    Any comment I don’t like? Any comment the guys at Touchstone Magazine don’t like? What’s the criteria?

  7. Do you think that Joseph Smith or Brigham Young made a lot of fringe comments?

    What if I entitled a post, “Will the real Joseph Smith or Brigham Young stand up?” and purposely selected comments that are either reactionary, out-of-character to most of the personal writings, or bizarre to the overall life of these men?

    I think I could have a lot of fun.

    A lawyer this past Sunday told me that a lot of the job is shifting information, looking at things from brand new angles, etc. Manipulation of facts is very easy to do.

    John is having fun, but I think genuine scholarship would now present a post sharing the other side of the coin. eh?

  8. Todd (#7): LOL. Good suggestion.

    Seth (#5):

    The respective doctrines of God, and the different ontological paradigms attendant upon them, make for an unbridgeable chasm in and of themselves. Spirit is NOT matter, and a god who (apart from the unique event of the Incarnation), is of the same species as man, is no god at all. Now, Todd and I obviously have some pretty marked differences, but they are not nearly as big as those between you and us, or between him and you; however, I think the real battle, in the end, is between you and us.

    If the Tradition of the pre-Reformation Churches is, in fact, “apostate,” as you claim, that, in and of itself, does not prove that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the LDS is truly “the Church restored” or any of the rest of it; IF, however, our Tradition is, in fact, “the faith once delivered,” then the LDS belief system is obviously false. Let me quote the Book of Mormon here: “I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth…” (Moroni 10:4-5) Or, as St. Paul puts it, writing to his envoy, St. Timothy: “Study to show thyself approved, a worker who need not be ashamed, rightly [analyzing] the Word of Truth.”

    It is my contention that the LDS Church was able to germinate and flourish because none of the pre-Reformation Churches, or even Anglicanism or Lutheranism, were substantially present in the early Nineteenth Century in upstate New York, northern Ohio, NW Missouri, or Western Illinois. You can, if you like, read more on this on my blog. The URL is given below (in non-link form):


  9. “Spirit is NOT matter, and a god who (apart from the unique event of the Incarnation), is of the same species as man, is no god at all.”

    The fact you have to throw a caveat in there makes your position a bit shaky at best.

  10. Just for fun Greg – where is the PRACTICAL dividing line between the Mormon position on exaltation and the E. Orthodox idea of theosis?

  11. Seth:

    Re: the Incarnation. That’s not a “caveat”. That’s closing a loophole, especially since the LDS teaches that the Incarnation of Christ is not a unique event.

    Re: practical differences. Good question. I will respond more fully to that in my own blog; however, one huge difference that immediately comes to mind is that, from an Orthodox/RC POV, there is no requirement that one be married in order to be divinized; in fact, since some are called to be “eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of God,” marriage for them would be an obstacle to “partaking in the Divne nature”.

  12. Taken from The A to Z of Lutheranism (2007) by Gunther Gassmann:

    “. . . Martin Luther and the Lutheran Reformation affirmed the inspiration of Scripture, but differentiated between biblical texts according to the degree in which they “convey Christ.” Lutheran Orthodoxy, however, taught the direct verbal inspiration of the Bible: The Hoy Spirit has used the hands of the biblical authors to write each word of the Holy Scripture. This concept was to secure the absolute truth, and inerrancy of Scripture, in part also to counter the infallible magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. The Word of God was identified with the words of Scripture. The Enlightenment radically questioned the theory of verbal inspiration and, as a reaction, more open, personal concepts of inspiration were developed. . . . ” (38).

    One of many heart issues that could be more fully fleshed out.

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