Martin Luther on the Blessed Virgin Mary

Martin Luther

Mary the Mother of God

“She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God … It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God.”  

(Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], volume 24, 107.)

Mary the Perpetual Virgin

“It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a Virgin.”

(Martin Luther, op. cit., Volume 11, 319-320.)

The Immaculate Conception

“But the other conception, namely the infusion of the soul, it is piously and suitably believed, was without any sin, so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin and adorned with the gifts of God to receive the holy soul thus infused. And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin…”

 (Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Volume 4, 694.)

Honor to Mary

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

(Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works (Translation by William J. Cole) 10, III, p.313)

“Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent’s head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing.”

(Martin Luther, Weimar edition of Martin Luther’s Works, English translation edited by J. Pelikan [Concordia: St. Louis], Volume 51, 128-129.)

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13 thoughts on “Martin Luther on the Blessed Virgin Mary

  1. Unfortunately not everything is true as historically written. Vikings used to force monks to write pretend stories about them, and for a long time, people thought they were all true. Quotes from people like Luther are very hard to track down, or anyone else from that time and beforehand. Some may be written by a hater on Luther then forged Luther’s signature on it or something. However I’m going off-track, so I’ll be quick about this.

    The Virgin Mary, is not the mother of God, she is the Mother of Jesus. This is significant. God the Father sits in Heaven and was never born, however God the Son was God in human flesh. So we have a special name for him. Jesus. I’m not saying that Jesus isn’t God or anything like that. I’m not a Jehovah’s witness. but it is important to recognise how the Trinity works, because one Word can change more than you think.

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    • Denying that Mary is not the Mother of God denies that Jesus is God. Catholics only use the title to refer to Mary as Jesus Christ’s Mother. Because she is Christ’s Mother, she is the mother of God. That does not mean she is the mother of the trinity, but is the Mother of the Son of God.

      have you researched the Nestorian heresy, and the Council of Ephesus?

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  2. Patrick,

    Vetting Luther quotes is difficult. His works were published by others to whom he delegated the editing but who did not always give entire quotes. Luther did not always check an edition of his sermons (which included the work of others) as he said that he did in prefaces and then he objected to problems in them after the fact. James Swan has his work cut out for him, and Catholic apologists who quote Luther may not know the history of these quotes. This year, during the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of The 95 theses, with Pope Francis’s desire for unity with Lutherans and to bring Luther out from under a charge of heresy, I would be cautious of quotes like this because they don’t tell the whole story of the development of Luther’s theology due to study.

    Here is something I found at the above link:

    “As noted above, the actual end of the sermon appears to be, ‘But what God actually did in the other conception with Mary, is not shown to us in scripture; therefore, we have nothing firmly to believe or preach. However, anyone’s thoughts are free; may each one think what he wants; but in such a manner that he not make an article of faith out of it.’”

    Therefore at a minimum Luther believed that this doctrine shouldn’t be made an article of faith. Another point James Swan makes is that Luther’s 1527 statement was not like the 1854 Dogma:

    “As has been noted on this blog, Luther appears to have moved away from this position. It is obvious that Luther does not hold to the 1854 dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1527.”

    Swan writes the following, with links to a Google book for a later quote of Luther’s. However I couldn’t find the quote in the Google book on the page cited:

    “Luther went on in his writings to hold a much different position about Mary. Julius Köstlin noted this many years ago, that Mary, like all believers, becomes free from sin by faith:

    “’In regard to Mary, the mother of the Saviour, Luther had, when speaking of her in the Sermon in the Church Postils already referred to, not rejected the opinion that, in order to be prepared for her high calling, she had been conceived without original sin, or without lust on the part of her parents, or had, at least, been sanctified in her mother’s womb. He even himself supposes that her soul was, at all events, at its ” infusion ” into the embryonic body, purified from original sin. The sermon passed, in this form, into the edition of the Postils published in 1527. Luther afterwards, however, taught, in regard to Mary, simply that she was herself born in sin from sinful parents, just as we are; and that she also became blessed and free from sin by faith. Erl. Ed., xv, 53 sqq.; vi, 199, 189. [source; c.f. p. 211 for “free from sin by faith”].’”

    As I’ve said, I’ve read p. 211 and can’t find a direct quote from Luther about Mary. But please consider that we know that Luther’s theology developed; it wasn’t what it was in 1527.

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    • Thanks for going through the trouble to get that for me! It seems that Luther at least was okay (at the time of the quote) for a person to believe in the Immaculate conception.

      I had heard of Francis asking for unity on the anniversary of the nailing of the theses, but what exactly about bring Luther out from the title of heretic? I wasn’t aware Francis said that.

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  3. Patrick, the quote on the Immaculate Conception is really interesting but incomplete, I believe. This afternoon I’ve been trying to vett it at a Lutheran blog, Beggars All ~ Reformation & Apologetics (James Swan). Swan spends a lot of time tracking down quotes attributed to Luther, a labor-intensive task. Here is part of the conclusion to his article, “Luther: the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin”:

    “Luther went on in his writings to hold a much different position about Mary. Julius Köstlin noted this many years ago, that Mary, like all believers, becomes free from sin by faith:
    In regard to Mary, the mother of the Saviour, Luther had, when speaking of her in the Sermon in the Church Postils already referred to, not rejected the opinion that, in order to be prepared for her high calling, she had been conceived without original sin, or without lust on the part of her parents, or had, at least, been sanctified in her mother’s womb. He even himself supposes that her soul was, at all events, at its ‘infusion’ into the embryonic body, purified from original sin. The sermon passed, in this form, into the edition of the Postils published in 1527. Luther afterwards, however, taught, in regard to Mary, simply that she was herself born in sin from sinful parents, just as we are; and that she also became blessed and free from sin by faith.” Erl. Ed., xv, 53 sqq.; vi, 199, 189. [source; c.f. p. 211 for “free from sin by faith”]

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/10/luther-infusion-of-marys-soul-was.html

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    • Thanks for the link Tradcat! Something was wrong with it, but I found it on the Traditional Sermon site. Unfortunately I recently moved to a new house, and we have not set up our sound system on our computer. I’ll save it for later. 😉

      [audio src="http://www.traditionalcatholicsermons.org/wordpress/audio/?link=http://traditionalcatholicsermons.org/BishopSanbornSermonArchive/BpSan_MaternityOfTheBlessedVirginMary_10-11-98_1500.mp3" /]

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