Rorate Caeli

The accomplishments of Martin Luther, prince of the heresiarchs -
Part Two: Luther's theology was "Solus Lutherus"

This is the second and last part in a special series for this month of the Protestant revolt based on a conference delivered by Don Pietro Leone Monselice* on the theological work of the man who caused so much hurt and pain to Holy Mother Church, the "prince of the heresiarchs", as Don Pietro appropriately calls him.


III The failure of Martin Luther’s theology

         We shall now show briefly how Luther’s theology fails.
        1.With  the  words “ Scripture alone” , he rejects the role of the Church regarding Holy Scripture, but in rejecting the role of the Church, he rejects Holy Scripture itself because the Church furnishes its true meaning.
        2.With the words “Sola Fides”, he rejects the role of good works, but in rejecting good works he also rejects the Faith, because Faith without works is dead. (St. James 2,17)
        3.With the words “Sola Gratia” he rejects the role of free-will, but in doing so he rejects Grace also, because sanctifying Grace (apart from the case of Infant Baptism) is essentially a collaboration with free-will.
        4.With the words “Solus Deus” he rejects the role of the Church, but in doing so he also rejects God, because the Church gives us access to God, and the Church is, in a certain sense God, in the form of the Mystical Body of Christ.
        In other words, in his search for the essence of Holy Scripture, of Faith, of Grace and of God, Luther, in effect severs them from other realities with which they are necessarily connected, that is the Teaching Church, works, free-will, and the Sanctifying Church; and in so doing he ends up by losing their essence.  
        In all of these four cases, Luther, rejecting elements of the Faith, loses understanding of the entire Revelation, as the Jews by rejecting the Messiah, lost the understanding of the entire Revelation, since the Messiah is the key for understanding it. Thus the words of Our Lord apply to Luther as they had to the Jews: 'From he that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.' (Mt. 13.12).
IV The essence of Luther’s theology

         If we wanted to summarize in one word  Martin Luther’s theology, it would be “subjectivism.” Rather than submit himself to the authority of the Church in order to know the Faith, to know the true interpretation of the Faith, and to accept the Faith, Luther prefers to establish himself the object of the Faith (that is the Holy Scripture) and its true interpretation, and substitutes the act of faith (which according to the Catholic Church consists, as said before, in accepting the whole corpus of objective Catholic Dogma) with a purely subjective state of mind adopted by the person in their individual relationship with God.  The psychological roots of this subjectivism would seem to be Luther’s profound sense of guilt that is also manifest in his doctrine that human nature is totally corrupt.
         Romano Amerio shows in “Iota Unum” that this subjectivism is expressed clearly in his Article 29: “The way is open for us to deprive Councils of their authority and to contradict their acts freely and to profess confidently whatever seems to us to be true.”  In this way the four doctrines mentioned above can be expressed more accurately as “Solus Martinus Lutherus”.

V The Patrimony of Martin Luther

         Luther’s patrimony subsists not only in the Protestant sects, but for the last fifty years also in the heart of the Catholic Church Herself and in the modern mentality in general.
         Among Catholics today we discern Luther’s patrimony (and that of Protestantism) in the doctrines, at times mixed up with Catholic doctrines, of the self- interpretation of Holy Scripture, of the Church as solely an institution of men and as sinful, and of the Holy Mass as “a commemorative meal” where the Priest acts merely as “president”.
        We discern it, moreover, in that radical subjectivism widely diffused amongst Catholics of to-day who seem incapable of understanding that the Faith is objectively true, which they must thus profess and teach as such; instead of seeking communion with other Confessions or religions in the name of an indefinite and vague ecumenism; a radical subjectivism in opposition to the concepts of dogma, heresy, and anathema; an individualism that seeks a direct relationship with God in all things, setting aside the Church, the priesthood or Sacraments, and in particular the Sunday Mass and Confession.
         Protestant elements are especially found in the charismatic movement inside the Catholic Church to the extent that this amounts to an abandonment of the Church, dogmas, and Sacraments, in favour of a direct relationship with God.
         These elements are most clearly present in the charismatic group known as the 'Neocatechumenate' (at least before its recent reform by the Vatican) which proclaims the radical sinfulness of man, denies the true nature of the Church, the sacramental priesthood, the sacrificial nature of the Holy Eucharist in favour of a conception of “supper” or feast, denies the Real Presence (at least in the fragments of the Most Blessed Sacrament), harbours doubts regarding Transubstantiation, plays down the Sacrament of Penance, and teaches the self- interpretation of Holy Scripture.
        Regarding  the relationship of Lutheranism and Protestantism with the modern mentality, they are part of, or promote, that great current of subjectivism that smoothed the way for Descartes, for idealism and for modern philosophy in general, which draws the world away from God, from the True, the Good and the Beautiful, towards atheism and nihilism.

         In the light of these considerations it is difficult to understand the reasons why a Catholic would wish to extol the achievements of Martin Luther.

VI Putative Merits of Martin Luther

        Some praise Martin Luther for his sincerity, for his trust in God, for the clarity on which he based his doctrines, and his conscientiousness, but such qualities have no value whatsoever if they do not relate to objective reality: objective Truth and objective Good.  Yet for Luther it was not so, because he substitutes objective truth with sincerity; he severs trust, clarity and conscientiousness from the objective criteria which give them value:  he severs trust from the authority of God and of the Church, he severs clarity from the intrinsic properties of truth, and he severs conscientiousness from the moral law to which it is ordained. It follows that sincerity, trust, clarity and conscientiousness become mere subjective mental states of the individual, and so, morally indifferent.  Thus, these elements represent only ulterior manifestations of his radical subjectivism.
       Others praise Martin Luther for having attacked the moral abuses of the Clergy and Hierarchy of his time, even if Luther certainly cannot be proposed as a model of Catholic morality, as a Catholic Augustinian priest “married” to a nun, a psychotic, an antisemite, and a blasphemer, who taught: “Pecca fortier, sed crede fortius” (Let your sins be strong but your faith even stronger).  
       At any rate, the damage created by certain Churchmen of his time was definitely less than that caused by Luther: not so much for the civil war that he sparked off in Germany and the religious division in the whole of Europe, but for the damage brought to innumerable immortal souls through his disfigurement of the Catholic Faith.
       No, the true good that sprang from Martin Luther’s Reform is that which God, in His infinite mercy, deigned to draw from so many and such great evils: namely the Holy Council of Trent, which codified and established forever the Old Roman Rite, and dogmatically defined Divine  and Catholic Faith on Holy Scripture, on Tradition, on Original Sin, on Justification through Faith and works, on merits, on the Seven Sacraments, on Purgatory, on Devotion to the Saints and on Indulgences; so that all Catholics in all successive generations could enjoy that inexhaustible fount of grace and holiness which is the Old Roman Rite, and that they could know these eternal Truths, accepting them in a spirit of devout submission and humility, and living according to them for the Glory of the One and Triune God and for the salvation of their souls. 



*Nom de plume of a Priest who celebrates the Traditional Mass exclusively within a diocese in Italy. Translation and contribution: Francesca Romana.


  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Here Luther is accused of being an “antisemite,” i.e. a race hater, a despiser of the Jewish race. Let us be accurate. Let us possess proper counter-intelligence worthy of us.

    Luther despised Judaism.

    Quote me one line wherein he despised Jews because of their ethnicity.

    Thank you.

    Vincent Segni

  2. Wow, the four points at the top. I've never seen the self contradition in his arguements before (with exception of the sola scriptura) very neat.

  3. Of course Luther called James a "gospel of straw." He was consumed with Sola Fides to the point where he purposefully mistranslated Romans 3:28 to give the impression that salvation is by faith alone--an absurd concept (Cf Matthew 25:45-46 "Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting." And Matthew 7:21 "Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven..." Therefore personal actions can lead to eternal damnation despite faith.)

    Luther may have said "Lord, Lord" but he is assuredly in everlasting hell. A despicable heretic, he was bloated in both speech and body. An often drunk ex-monk who married a nun, he claimed to have had "farting matches" with the devil (Cf Triumph, H.W. Crocker), and said that "a Jew is such a noble, precious jewel that God and all the angels dance when he farts..."

    What a bizarre and strange man Luther was. That he started the protestant revolution is telling.

  4. Anonymous2:46 PM

    I had just finished reading this article on the papacy of Leo X ( ) when I found this post on Luther, awesome!

  5. Gratias3:37 PM

    Martin Luther prints are seen in the Novus Ordo mass.

  6. \\Luther may have said "Lord, Lord" but he is assuredly in everlasting hell.\\

    Is he?

    As I've said on Protestant blogs to similar statements, I really doubt that God has told you His eternal judgement of someone else. And if you believe He did, how can you possibly bear such knowledge? As the Psalmist sang, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot comprehend it."

    One of the Desert Fathers used to say, "All will be saved, and I alone condemned." St. Silouan echoed the same sentiment, "Keep your mind in hell, and despair not."

    Keep in mind that I'm not defending Luther. But I am reminding you and the danger of presuming to judge others and speculate on their eternal fate.

    There is only ONE person's eternal fate I ponder upon: my own.

    A word to the wise......

    Most holy Theotokos, save us.

  7. \\Martin Luther prints are seen in the Novus Ordo mass.\\

    Gratias, I wonder if you've ever read Luther's liturgical works?

    In my work as a supply organist, I've played in several Lutheran churches. Traditional Mass vestments were used and prayers were said ad orientam. (I'm making no comment on the spiritual efficacy of such services, but only their externals.)

    Most holy Theotokos, save us!

  8. Anonymous10:10 AM

    I read once where Luther would go to confession to a fellow monk at the monastery and in the middle of it he would hear a voice in his head say "you're not really sorry for that sin". He would get absolution, leave the confessional, but then go back ten minutes later to make confession for having had the voice that said "you're not sorry for your sins".
    Sometimes he went to confesion 5x a day because of these tormenting voices.
    Obviously he was not only a megslomaniac (one who likes/loves himself that he has an enormously high opinion of himself in his skills, atributes and talents ,in this case, Luther's academic abilities), but also he seems to have had a severe case of what today is called an "obcessive/compulsive" disorder.

    It is well know that Luther despised the Jews, and advocated rounding up all the Jews in Germany and putting them in work-camps to do all the servile work so that the Germans would not have to (till the soil, fix roads, etc.) and other labor intensive work.
    His writings influenced the Naziz in their persecution of the Jews and the setting up of work camps where they were imprisioned.
    But he did not inspire the mass extermination and killing of Jews. The Nazi's took Luther one step further.
    But Luther's words about Jews was the seed for the Nazi's and their perseution of the Jews.

    It is a disgrace that the Catholic Church has had any dialog/contact with Lutheranism, or any other Protestant body.
    There again, another rotten fruit of Vatican II.

  9. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Here's an old question and answer catechism style refutation of Lutheranism which expands upon the contradiction briefly mentioned in this article.

  10. This presents a bit of a dilemma to those of us who are converts to the Catholic Faith from erroneous Christian traditions outside the fold.

    Why? Because although these are truths that Catholics especially need to here in this day of ecumenical indifferentism, most of us who are converts were led to consider the truth of the Catholic Faith when we first realized that Catholics (whom we may have thought were lost in ignorance and superstition) also affirmed some of the most precious truths which we already knew in our hearts: that Jesus is indeed our only hope in life and in death.

    Many Catholic converts, like Louis Bouyer, Thomas Howard, Msgr. Ronald Knox, exhibit a deep appreciation for the elements of the Christian faith they imbibed as children from their Protestant parents. The strategy of Bouyer in his book, Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, was to show in the first half of his book the elements in the Catholic Faith that accord with the true parts of Protestant belief, and then, in the second part, to show how the only hope of sustaining these elements is for them to be rooted in the Catholic Church.

    Having said that, I don't deny for a moment that what you have said here is true and needs to be heard especially by Catholics.

  11. J. G. Ratkaj5:44 PM

    The toxic and abhorrent fruits of his heresies which undermined the strength of Christendom and then the rise following fiendish egalitarian ideologigies we caould observe yesterday in Rome at San Marcellino e Pietro in via Labicana. Not only this act of blasphemy and profanation is per se a act where words fail but also the absolute indifference as this so called "indignant" pass the defiled statue of our Most Holy Lady.

  12. Anonymous6:55 PM

    This is all well and good, but a lot of these propositions merely beg the question.

    Anything more substantive coming up the pipe (or anything with any substance)?

  13. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Has Bishop Williamson been kicked out of the SSPX?

    --Rob Bellermine

  14. Gratias5:14 AM

    Bravo J. G. Ratkaj for the link on the destruction of the Madonna by the 99%ters agitated from right here in the USA.

  15. Dear Anonymus at 12:39. Many thanks for that fantastic link to that Doctrinal Catechism


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