Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong: Similarities and Dissimilarities

By COGwriter

Since the apostasy at the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), many who once claimed to be part of the Church of God have accepted various versions of Protestantism (though the faithful in the genuine Church of God do not), most of which are somewhat based on the writings of Martin Luther. What did Martin Luther believe?

Martin Luther was a former Roman Catholic monk and priest, who is famous for his part in the Protestant Reformation. Herbert W. Armstrong, who once led WCG, had been a minister ordained by the Church of God, Seventh Day and is perhaps most famous for reaching world leaders (and others) with the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

They were both religious leaders and still have followers after their deaths. This article will mainly focus on a few of the similarities and dissimilarities of their doctrines and beliefs. Since Martin Luther was not English-speaking, all references to what he wrote have been translated (by supporters of his in most all instances cited).

Similarities

There were some similarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong. Martin Luther left his church after he had posted a list of objections he had towards it (called The 95 Theses), and the Catholic Church rejected his list (years later, the Catholic Church did accept most of Martin Luther’s list as correct). Herbert Armstrong left the church he had been affiliated with after he had sent in a doctrinal article that that church said it would not teach (even though one of its leaders acknowledged his correctness).

The lives of both Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong had worldwide ramifications. Both men officially taught that the Bible alone (sola Scriptura per Martin Luther; and "don’t believe me, believe what is written in your Bible" per Herbert Armstrong) should be the basis of doctrine. They both felt called of God and claimed to lead their respective churches according to the way they each believed God wanted them to. They both believed that a Sunday Pentecost should be somehow observed. Both taught against celibacy for the ministry.

Ten Commandments

Regarding the Ten Commandments, Martin Luther claimed that

God threatens to punish all who break these commandments...Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands" (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.12).

The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments...we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit (Luther Martin. The Smallclad Papers. 1537. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau Published in: _Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church_. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), pp. 453-529).

…teach them first of all these articles, namely the ten commandments…But as for those that will not learn, let them be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians…(Luther M.  The Short Catechism, 1529.  Cited in  Bettenson H, ed., Documents of the Christian Church. London: Oxford University Press, 1943, p. 225).

Furthermore the Christian Questions and Their Answers section of that book states (it is unclear he Martin Luther actually wrote that section, though it is ascribed to him),

"1. Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes, I believe it, I am a sinner. 2. How do you know this? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept...The Ten Commandments are the law of God" (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986. pp.39-40,53).

Martin Luther wrote,

...whoever wishes to know and to do good works needs nothing else than to know God's commandments. Thus Christ says, Matthew xix, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." And when the young man asks Him, Matthew xix, what he shall do that he may inherit eternal life, Christ sets before him naught else but the Ten Commandments (Luther M. Treatise on Good Works, March 29, 1520).

For even if a Moses had never appeared and Abraham had never been born, the Ten Commandments would have had to rule in all men from the very beginning, as they indeed did and still do (Luther, M. Against the Sabbatarians:Letter to a Good Friend, Part II, 1538).

Similarly, Herbert Armstrong taught,

"The ten commandments were first made known to ADAM in the Garden of Eden…We read the answer in Romans 5:12, ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and DEATH BY SIN; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ And in verse fourteen, ‘Death reigned FROM ADAM TO MOSES’. ‘Sin is NOT imputed when there is NO law,’ you read in the 13th verse. Yet sin was imputed because death did reign from Adam to Moses. There must then have been a law from Adam's time…What is sin? Is there a BIBLE definition? Is there any place in the Bible where it says, "Sin is . . . and then follows the definition? The answer is in 1 John 3:4, ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ " (Armstrong, H. Were the TEN COMMANDMENTS in force before Moses? Circa 1956).

An article of related interest may be The Ten Commandments and the Early Church.

State of the Dead

They even had similarities on the state of the dead.

The immediate cause of Luther's stand on the sleep of the soul was the issue of purgatory, with its postulate of the conscious torment of anguished souls. While Luther is not always consistent, the predominant note running all through his writings is that souls sleep in peace, without consciousness or pain. The Christian dead are not aware of anything—see not, feel not, understand not, and are not conscious of passing events. Luther held and periodically stated that in the sleep of death, as in normal physical sleep, there is complete unconsciousness and unawareness of the condition of death or the passage of time.† Death is a deep, sound, sweet sleep.‡ And the dead will remain asleep until the day of resurrection (Martin Luther and William Tyndale on the State of the Dead pp. 571-572).

Martin Luther specifically taught:

It is probable, in my opinion, that, with very few exceptions indeed, the dead sleep in utter insensibility till the day of judgment... On what authority can it be said that the souls of the dead may not sleep out the interval between earth and heaven... (Luther M. Translated by W. Hazlitt. The life of Luther written by himself. M. Michelet, ed. Bohn's Standard Library. G. Bell, 1904, p. 133).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

"The Bible teaching contrary to much religious and church teaching - that is the WORD OF GOD teaching - is that the dead ARE DEAD - utterly unconscious. Notice the inspired wisdom of Solomon: "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything..." - the RSV translates it "the dead KNOW NOTHING" (Eccl.9:5)… I Corinthians 15:49: "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall [future - resurrection] also bear the image of the heavenly" (verse 49). As we are now flesh, we shall be SPIRIT - at the resurrection, that is, when we shall be "BORN AGAIN" - when we shall see, enter into, the Kingdom of God - when we are Spirit - at the resurrection! ‘Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot Inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [be dead], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the then living] shall be changed (verses 50-52)’" (Armstrong HW. Incredible Human Potential. Chapter 12).

While some criticize this teaching and call it "soul sleep", it was held by the earliest Christians. Please check out the article Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?

Becoming God

Both taught about man becoming God, though they probably intended it differently.

From a Martin Luther sermon,

"For the Word became flesh in order that the flesh might become Word. That is, God becomes man in order that man might become God (On the Word Became Flesh Martin Luther, 1483-1546 From: Sermo Lutheri in natali Christi, [December 25, 1514]) _D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesammtausgabe_ (Weimar: Hermann Boehlau, 1883) Vol. 1, p. 28).

From a Herbert Armstrong sermon,

And the second thing to be restored is the PURPOSE of God. And the gospel has to do with that. That God IS reproducing us and that MAN CAN BECOME God! (Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era sermon. December 17, 1983).

The idea that man can become God was a view of the earliest Christians. For details, please check out the article Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?

Catholic Church

Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong both taught against the concept that the Roman Catholic Church was the one true church—both taught that the Roman Catholic Church was the "great harlot of the Apocalypse" (O’Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, originally 1916, 1987 ed., p.9). They both also taught against the papacy—both taught about a Pope being the "Antichrist" (Ibid). They both taught against the monastic lifestyle.

Dissimilarities

Both men had a lot of dissimilarities, personal and professional. But, this article will not focus on personal dissimilarities, but rather on a few of the doctrinal dissimilarities. Because, from the perspective of biblical truth, those are the primary dissimilarities which should count.

Is the Bible Fallible? Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Martin Luther seems to think so as he wrote about the Book of James,

In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works. It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15…But this James does nothing more than drive to the law and to its works. Besides, he throws things together so chaotically that it seems to me he must have been some good, pious man, who took a few sayings from the disciples of the apostles and thus tossed them off on paper. Or it may perhaps have been written by someone on the basis of his preaching. He calls the law a ‘law of liberty’, though Paul calls it a law of slavery, of wrath, of death, and of sin (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546; originally 1522).

As the following quotes show, Martin Luther did not care for several books in the Old Testament either:

Job spoke not as it stands written in his book, but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probable that Solomon wrote and made this book…Ecclesiastes ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it...Solomon did not, therefore, write this book…I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much…The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible. (as quoted in O’Hare, p. 202).

For additional information, please read the article, Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther: What Did Martin Luther Actually Teach about the Bible?

Yet WCG under Herbert Armstrong taught,

The Bible is true not only scientifically, but historically. Again, though the Bible is not a history book, what ever is mentioned as history in the Bible is always true…Is the Word of God infallible? It certainly is (Is the Bible Infallible? Good News Article – Dec. 1980).

Are All the Books of the New Testament Proper?

Martin Luther had a fairly low view of the Books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as he wrote,

Up to this point we have had the true and certain chief books of the New Testament. The four which follow have from ancient times had a different reputation. In the first place, the fact that Hebrews is not an epistle of St. Paul, or of any other apostle, is proved by what it says in chapter 2 (Luther, M. Prefaces to the Epistle of the Hebrews, 1546; originally1522).

Martin Luther wrote,

Concerning the epistle of St. Jude, no one can deny that it is an extract or copy of St. Peter’s second epistle, so very like it are all the words. He also speaks of the apostles like a disciple who comes long after them and cites sayings and incidents that are found nowhere else in the Scriptures. This moved the ancient fathers to exclude this epistle from the main body of the Scriptures. Moreover the Apostle Jude did not go to Greek-speaking lands, but to Persia, as it is said, so that he did not write Greek. Therefore, although I value this book, it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books which are supposed to lay the foundations of faith (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546; originally 1522).

Martin Luther taught,

Which are the true and noblest books of the New Testament? From all this you can now judge all the books and decide among them which are the best. John’s Gospel and St. Paul’s epistles, especially that to the Romans, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the true kernel and marrow of all the books…Therefore John’s Gospel is the one, fine, true, and chief gospel, and is far, far to be preferred over the other three and placed high above them. So, too, the epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter far surpass the other three gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it (Luther, M. Prefaces to the New Testament. LW 35:357-362, 394-399 Preface to the New Testament, 1546; originally 1522).

Under Herbert Armstrong, WCG taught,

The Bible is true not only scientifically, but historically. Again, though the Bible is not a history book, what ever is mentioned as history in the Bible is always true…Is the Word of God infallible? It certainly is" (Is the Bible Infallible? Good News Article – Dec. 1980). " ‘To bind up’ comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘to complete.’ The apostles were used ‘to complete’ the testimony of Jesus Christ. The New Testament Church has "the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17). It was also through Jesus' disciples that God's seal of approval was placed on those laws which are eternally binding on Christians. Yes, we can know! The Bible is COMPLETE! Not one book of the Bible has been lost. Not one is missing. The books of the Bible as you find them in your King James Version constitute the complete Bible! (Do We Have The COMPLETE BIBLE? Copyright 1959, 1974 Ambassador College).

Two articles of possibly related interest may be The Old Testament Canon and The New Testament Canon - From the Bible Itself.

It may be of interest to also realize that while Martin Luther wrote, "John’s Gospel is the one, fine, true, and chief gospel, and is far, far to be preferred over the other three and placed high above them", he (unlike HWA) ignored much of what it taught. The plain truth is that much of the Gospel According to John had to do with two holy day seasons: the final Passover season (Chapters 13-21) and one particular Feast of Tabernacles' season (Chapters 7-9)--times that Martin Luther did not observe like the original Christians did, but that Herbert Armstrong did.

The Epistle of James

Martin Luther taught that the following about the Epistle of James,

Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it (Luther, M. Prefaces to the New Testament. LW 35:357-362, 394-399 Preface to the New Testament, 1546; originally 1522).

In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ. He names Christ several times; however he teaches nothing about him, but only speaks of general faith in God. Now it is the office of a true apostle to preach of the Passion and resurrection and office of Christ, and to lay the foundation for faith in him, as Christ himself says in John 15, ‘You shall bear witness to me. ‘All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach and inculcate [treiben] Christ. And that is the true test by which to judge all books, when we see whether or not they inculcate Christ. For all the Scriptures show us Christ, Romans 3; and St. Paul will know nothing but Christ, I Corinthians 2. Whatever does not teach Christ is not yet50 apostolic, even though St. Peter or St. Paul does the teaching. Again, whatever preaches Christ would be apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, and Herod were doing it. But this James does nothing more than drive to the law and to its works. Besides, he throws things together so chaotically that it seems to me he must have been some good, pious man, who took a few sayings from the disciples of the apostles and thus tossed them off on paper. Or it may perhaps have been written by someone on the basis of his preaching. He calls the law a ‘law of liberty’, though Paul calls it a law of slavery, of wrath, of death, and of sin (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546; originally 1522).

Martin Luther did not like the book and felt that it interfered with his basic Protestant premise of sola fide--that one is justified by faith alone.

Herbert Armstrong frequently cited the Epistle of James as proof that the basic Protestant premise of sola fide was incorrect. Specifically James 2:24 states, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone". This is a major doctrinal dissimilarity between Herbert Armstrong and Martin Luther.

The Book of Revelation

Perhaps none of Martin Luther’s writings about books of the Bible are as harsh as what he wrote about the book which refers to itself as "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:1). Specifically Martin Luther wrote,

About this book of the Revelation of John, I leave everyone free to hold his own opinions. I would not have anyone bound to my opinion or judgment. I say what I feel. I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic…I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it. Moreover he seems to me to be going much too far when he commends his own book so highly-indeed, more than any of the other sacred books do, though they are much more important-and threatens that if anyone takes away anything from it, God will take away from him, etc. Again, they are supposed to be blessed who keep what is written in this book; and yet no one knows what that is, to say nothing of keeping it. This is just the same as if we did not have the book at all. And there are many far better books available for us to keep…My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it. But to teach Christ, this is the thing which an apostle is bound above all else to do; as Christ says in Acts 1, ‘You shall be my witnesses.’ Therefore I stick to the books which present Christ to me clearly and purely (Luther, M. Preface to the Revelation of St. John; first appearing in the September Testament of 1522).

Martin Luther seems to be teaching that since he has a hard time understanding this book that it is not inspired, that John made inaccurate statements in it, that the sayings from Jesus in this book are false (as he wrote the ‘Christ is neither taught or known in it’).

Herbert Armstrong believed,

A comparison of the book of Genesis with the book of Revelation would prove conclusively that the book of Revelation was intended to be the last book of the Bible. And as a final warning not to add any other book, God inspired John to write (Rev. 22:18-19), ‘For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book’ (Do We Have The COMPLETE BIBLE? Copyright 1959, 1974 Ambassador College).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

Approximately ONE THIRD of all the Bible is devoted to PROPHECY. Many whole Books of Scripture, especially in the Old Testament—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the so-called "minor" prophets—are devoted primarily to PROPHECY. And do you realize that the very CHURCH of Jesus Christ is actually built on the very FOUNDATION of these PROPHETS, and of their prophetic writings? You'll read that in Ephesians 2:20. But the actual FRAMEWORK, or superstructure, of all the prophecies is found in two prophetic Books—one in the Old, the other in the NEW Testament—the Books of Daniel and the Revelation. And in the Book of Revelation, alone, do we find events of the various other prophecies correlated in order of TIME SEQUENCE. While the Book of Revelation, itself, is a vital KEY to a large portion of the other prophecies, there are certain KEYS which open up this Book to understanding. ONE important key is that in the Book of Revelation is a STORY-FLOW, relating one future event to another in time order—with occasional INSETS…The very opening verse says: "The revelation of Jesus Christ . . . to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass." The very word "Revelation"—the English word translated from the original Greek word "Apocalypse," as it is called in one version—means the REVEALING. Not the hiding, sealing, or closing up, but the REVEALING! Yet the prophecy of future world events in this Book was sealed with seven seals! Of course! And absolutely NO ONE, except Jesus Christ, was able to strip off the seals, to open up, to REVEAL the meaning of the prophecies (Armstrong H. The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last! 1959, 1972).

The Sabbath Commandment

"As we study Luther’s expositions of the Decalog, or the Ten Commandments, we find that he does not quote the Third Commandment in its Old Testament form: ‘Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy’, but rather in the spirit of the New Testament: ‘Thou shalt sanctify the holy day’ " (Mueller, John Theodore. The Lutheran Confessions. circa 1953, p.10).

In another place, Martin Luther wrote,

Now follows the Third Commandment: "Thou shalt hallow the day of rest." (Luther, M. A treatise on Good Works together with the Letter of Dedication, published 1520. In Works of Martin Luther. Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds. Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915, Vol. 1, pp. 173-285).

It should be noted that Lutherans (and Roman Catholics) consider the Sabbath to be the Third, not Fourth, Commandment. The order that Martin Luther chose to accept was an order changed by Augustine (please see the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Church of God?) and not the order from the Bible or that as understood by the early Church (please see the article The Ten Commandments and the Early Church). Sadly, Martin Luther often accept Roman Catholic changes instead of believing what the Bible actually taught (and of course, he came up with other teachings that neither the Bible nor the Roman Church supported).

Herbert Armstrong’s expositions of the Ten Commandments were always quoted in its Old Testament form.

Observe more closely, now, the Sabbath command. "REMEMBER the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex. 20:8). God said REMEMBER this day! So men have insisted on forgetting -- or trying to change it to a different day!.. Now notice verses 9 and 10 (Ex. 20): "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work .... In this present verse -- Exodus 20:10 -- He said to all the people assembled, "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God." Not the Sabbath "of the Jewish people" -- but "of the LORD thy God."… In verse 11 you will read, "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth ... and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Armstrong, HW. WHICH DAY IS THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH? 1962, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1976 edition)

Hebrews 4:9 states, "There remains therefore a sabbath-rest for the people of God" (NIV). An article of possible interest may be The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad.

The Sabbath Meaning

Martin Luther seemed to believe that the Sabbath command had to do with learning about God’s word, as opposed to rest, as he wrote about it,

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p. 10).

We sin against the Third Commandment when we despise preaching and the Word of God...What does God require of us in the Third Commandment? A. We should hold preaching and the Word of God sacred (Ibid p. 68).

A book that Herbert Armstrong authorized to print stated,

Certainly this insight into the background of the Sabbath gives added meaning to God’s command: "REMEMBER the sabbath day, to KEEP it holy." Through Jesus Christ, God made the seventh day of the week holy -- and on His authority as our Creator He commands us to keep it that way! The Sabbath, then, is holy time. Yet it was made FOR man -- as a great blessing to all mankind! Our Creator knew that we would need a period of rest and worship every seventh day, and this is the basic purpose for which the Sabbath was created. Each of us tends to become overly absorbed in our daily cares and work and pleasure during the week. Our Creator foresaw this, and set apart His Sabbath day as a consecrated time when we can completely forget our daily routine and draw closer to the Creator God in study, meditation and prayer. Modern man desperately needs this period of time in which to have real communion with his Maker and God. Taking time to think about God and to worship Him, to pray, to study and meditate upon the purpose for human existence, and upon God’s revealed laws of life -- all this adds great strength and meanings to man’s life the other six days of the week… Except for the explanatory and expository statements, the fourth commandment consists of two basic injunctions: First, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." Second, "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work." It is by the authority of God that the first six days of the week are appointed for man’s business and labor. It is the will of God that man should work and earn his daily bread. He who idles away his time in the six days is equally guilty in the sight of God as the one who works on the seventh! The idle person is ordinarily clothed with rags, and his idle mind and hands lead him into many wretched vices and sins. This second part of the Sabbath command is just as binding as the first! He who never works is totally unfitted for worship! The honest, purposeful work of the six days is in itself an act of worship and obedience to God. Man is placed in a world that contains all that is necessary for his physical being, but to obtain it he must work! It is part of the original intention of God, for man was placed in the garden of Eden "to dress it and to keep it" (Gen. 2:15). However, in like manner, he who never pauses from his daily business and pursuits to worship as God has commanded on the seventh day which God has made holy and set apart is -- through lack of contact with his Maker -- rendered incapable of his highest potential achievement in work, in service and in the joy of accomplishment. Since the very Creator has so commanded, we can keep the Sabbath day of rest and spiritual rejuvenation with complete confidence that God will bless and prosper us, because we have done this! (Meredith R. The Ten Commandments. 1960, 1968, 1972, 1977 edition).

Herbert Armstrong himself wrote,

Now when God made the Sabbath for man, He gave man a rest day carrying great significance and purpose. To His Church in the wilderness, God said that the Sabbath was a covenant sign between Him and His people. A sign is a supernatural proof of identity. It is the sign by which we know that He is God. How does it prove that to us? "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested." It is a memorial of creation. And creation is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God's power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day but the seventh day of the week could have that great significance and meaning. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God (Pagan Holidays or God's Holy Days Which? Herbert W. Armstrong).

Worship When?

Martin Luther taught,

But the sanctifying—that is, the teaching and preaching of God's word, which is the true, genuine, and sole meaning of this commandment—has been from the beginning and pertains to all the world forever. Therefore the seventh day does not concern us Gentiles, nor did it concern the Jews beyond the advent of the Messiah, although by the very nature of things one must, as already said, rest, celebrate, and keep the Sabbath on whatever day or at whatever hour God's word is preached. For God's word cannot be heard or taught when one is preoccupied with something else or when one is not quiet. (Luther, M. Against the Sabbatarians:Letter to a Good Friend, Part II, 1538).

From Martin Luther,

This Sabbath has now for us been changed into the Sunday, and the other days are called work-days; the Sunday is called rest-day or holiday or holy day. And would to God that in Christendom there were no holiday except the Sunday" (Luther, M. A treatise on Good Works together with the Letter of Dedication, published 1520. In Works of Martin Luther. Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds. Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915, Vol. 1, pp. 173-285) and "God requires Christians to worship together...He has not specified any particular day...The church worships together especially on Sunday because Christ rose from the dead on Sunday (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.67).

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote,

We have been reared in a Sunday-observing world…These three facts are self-evident.

1. Sunday is the first day of the week. See any calendar, dictionary, or encyclopedia. Is it, then, by BIBLE authority, "the Christian Sabbath," or truly the "Lord's Day," as it is popularly called today?

2. Jesus kept the SABBATH (Luke 4-16). It was His custom. The Sabbath He kept was the same day of the week the Jews observed, for the minister and congregation were all in the synagogue (verse 20), and the Pharisees continually rebuked Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day.

3. The Sabbath Jesus kept was the seventh day of the week. Three days after His crucifixion, this Sabbath still was the day before the first day of the week (Mat. 28:1). Therefore it was not just any day in seven, it was the seventh day of the week. See also Luke 23:56 and 24:1.

. . . BUT, was the day CHANGED by Christ or the apostles, after this, to the first day of the week so that Sunday is now the New Testament Christian Sabbath?…The word "Sunday" does not appear any place in the Bible. But the phrase "first day of the week" is found in the New Testament. It occurs in exactly EIGHT places. So it will not take long to examine these eight texts employing this phrase…So, finally, we find upon honest examination that NOT ONE of the texts speaking about "THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK" sets it apart as a rest day. Not one makes it holy, calls it the Sabbath or by any other sacred title. In EVERY case, the first day of the week was a common work day. In NONE of them was there a religious meeting and preaching service being held on the hours we now call SUNDAY. In NONE of them can we find a single shred of BIBLE AUTHORITY for Sunday observance! There is no record in the Bible of celebrating the Resurrection on Sunday…And Paul "as his manner was, went in unto them, and three SABBATH DAYS reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." (Acts 17:2) It was his MANNER--his CUSTOM, as we have seen by ample evidence showing a total of eighty-four different Sabbaths Paul is shown specifically to have kept. Did he follow Jesus in this? Why, CERTAINLY! Jesus, as His Custom was . . . went into the synagogue ON THE SABBATH DAY." (Luke 4:16). It was Jesus' custom. Paul followed Him, and COMMANDED the Gentile converts to follow Him, even as he followed Christ. The question for us, today, is, "Are WE willing to follow in His steps?" Jesus came to set us an example, that we should FOLLOW HIS STEPS. If we, like Paul, are CRUCIFIED with Christ, and HE lives HIS Life IN us, Christ IN us will still keep the Sabbath, for He is the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever! (Armstrong H. Which Day is The Sabbath of the New Testament?).

How Long are 3 days and 3 nights?

Martin Luther wrote,

How can we say that he rose on the third day, since he lay in the grave only one day and two nights? According to the Jewish calculation it was only a day and a half; how shall we then persist in believing there were three days? To this we reply that be was in the state of death for at least a part of all three days. For he died at about two o'clock on Friday and consequently was dead for about two hours on the first day. After that night he lay in the grave all day, which is the true Sabbath. On the third day, which we commemorate now, he rose from the dead and so remained in the state of death a part of this day, just as if we say that something occurred on Easter-day, although it happens in the evening, only a portion of the day. In this sense Paul and the Evangelists say that be rose on the third day (Luther M. Of Christ's Resurrection from volume II:238-247 of The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI). It was originally published in 1906 in English by Lutherans in All Lands Press (Minneapolis, MN), as The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, vol. 11).

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote,

I had learned -- and found completely PROVED -- that Jesus was in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea three days and three nights. Jesus Himself said so (Matthew 12:40). It was the only SIGN He gave as a miraculous PROOF of Messiahship. The usual argument employed to discredit Jesus' statement, that this was an idiomatic expression in the original Greek meaning only three parts of days, or either a day or night, did not stand up. We had the same three days and three nights duration expressed in Jonah, inspired in Hebrew which knows no such idiomatic twist -- or idiotic twist. Also many other passages verified the full 72-hour duration. The crucifixion was on Wednesday. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was late Sabbath afternoon, prior to sunset. This is proved conclusively, not only by all the scriptures on the subject, which are many, but also by astronomy, and by the Hebrew calendar. In the year in which Jesus was crucified -- A.D. 31 -- the Passover was on a Wednesday, not a Friday (Armstrong HW. Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong).

Thus, Herbert Armstrong taught that three days and three nights equaled three days and three nights, and thus the resurrection was not on Sunday, whereas Martin Luther used a non-accepted form of math to justify a Sunday resurrection. More information can be found in the article What Happened in the Crucifixion Week?.

Baptism of Infants/Children

"Why are babies to be baptized? A. Babies are to baptized because they are included in the words ‘all nations’ (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.202).

Furthermore, Martin Luther got these statements confirmed,

Article IX: Of Baptism. Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children...Article XII:...They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

Thus Martin Luther not only encouraged infant baptism, he condemned those who opposed infant baptism.

The Apostle Peter taught, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38) "Then those that gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:42).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

Should Children Be Baptized? One cannot be baptized until after he has fully REPENTED. Only those who BELIEVE, both the true GOSPEL (the Message Jesus preached, which is the Kingdom, or Government of God) and on JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour, can be baptized (see Acts 2:38; 8:37; 16:31). Children have not reached that maturity where they have the self-discipline to truly repent, and believe (Armstrong H. All About Water Baptism. 1948, 1954, 1972 edition).

There is no recorded instance of any babies being baptized in the Old or New Testaments. An article of related interest may be Baptism and the Early Church.

Prayer

Martin Luther believed that certain rituals should accompany prayers,

In the morning when you get up, make the sign of the cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen...In the evening when you go to bed, make the sign of the cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.30,31). When praying before or after meals, Martin Luther said those there are to "fold their hands" (p.31).

Herbert Armstrong taught that people should try to pray three times per day as David and Daniel did (Psalm 55:17;Daniel 6:10), but he was opposed to performing ‘the sign of the cross’, folding hands, or other similar rituals.

Fasting

Martin Luther objected to fasting,

This doctrine is so wicked and shameful before God, that no carousing or gluttony, no intemperance or drunkedness could be so bad, that it would be better to be completely fuddled all day than thus to fast (Luther’s Works, vol ii., p.730 as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p. 91).

Herbert Armstrong encouraged fasting,

Jesus and the men of God mentioned in the Bible fasted FOR A PURPOSE -- in fact, there are two vital reasons for occasional fasting. One is for health and physical fitness. The other is for spiritual reviving. Fasting and prayer together is the most effective means of drawing closer to God, re-establishing the vital contact and close communion most of us have drifted away from… For purely spiritual purposes a fast of from one to three days is usually sufficient. You may expect head-aches, and a very thick-headed feeling the first few days. It is not pleasant. It is, in Bible language, AFFLICTING THE SOUL. It takes courage and will-power, and self-denial (Armstrong HW. The Importance of Fasting. Co-worker letter, July 7, 1948).

The New Testament teaches that Jesus said His disciples would fast:

14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" 15 And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast (Matthew 9:14-15, NKJV).

Sin

Did Martin Luther sin boldly? Or did he teach that it was acceptable to strongly and boldly sin?

Believe it or not, Martin Luther actually taught,

Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger...No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day" (Let Your Sins Be Strong: A Letter From Luther to Melanchthon Letter no. 99, 1 August 1521, From the Wartburg (Segment) Translated by Erika Bullmann Flores from: _Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften_ Dr, Johannes Georg Walch, Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15,cols. 2585-2590).

(Later, sadly, one may be able to see why Martin Luther excused murder—see section on War below.)

Although, as mentioned earlier, Martin Luther taught to keep the ten commandments based on Matthew 19, he also seemed to teach against them,

To do means to believe—to keep the law by faith. The passage in Matthew: Do this and thou shalt live, signifies Believe this and thou shalt live. The words Do this, have ironical sense, as if our Lord should say: Thou wilt do it tomorrow, but not today; only make an attempt to keep the Commandments, and the trial will teach thee the ignominy of thy failure (O’Hare, p.205).

Although in the preceding quote, Martin Luther mentioned Matthew’s account (which is in Matthew 19:16-21), the quote in question is actually from Luke. Martin Luther’s comments clearly suggest that he felt that Jesus meant the opposite of what He said in Matthew 19:16, "But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (NKJV).

Herbert Armstrong wrote,

"ALL have sinned," says the Scripture. What IS sin, anyway?… God's definition is: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). The law of "LOVE," as defined by the Ten Commandments. Jesus said: "That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, OUT of the heart of men, proceed EVIL THOUGHTS adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness [violations of the law -- the Ten Commandments] ..." (Mark 7:20-22). "ALL have sinned," says the Scripture. And what man -- especially what Christian, is there who has not time and again experienced the struggle against sin described by the Apostle Paul? "What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do would not, that I do." Who is there who has not LOST that struggle, perhaps many times? Of course no man, of himself, can live above sin. "With men it IS impossible," said Jesus, "but with God all things are possible." And Paul continues (Rom. 8) to show that the only DELIVERANCE from this body of death is through Jesus Christ, and the indwelling power of God's Holy Spirit -- "that the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Yes, but we have OUR part in it, too. And it all centers in the MIND. REPENTANCE of sin means, literally, to CHANGE one's MIND in respect to sin. If we repent, and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour, the promise is we SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ... "and be renewed in the Spirit of YOUR MIND" (Eph. 4:23) -- the presence of the Holy Spirit is the RENEWING of THE MIND. How does sin actually happen? "... every man is TEMPTED when he is drawn away of his own lust [desire], and enticed. Then when lust [the desire IN THE MIND] hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15). The TEMPTATION is in the MIND. When you THINK about the thing that tempts you -- let your mind dwell on it -- turn it over in your mind -- whether it be a desire to GO some place, to DO something, or to HAVE something you know is wrong -- that THINKING ABOUT IT finally conceives -- leads to ACTION -- and breeds SIN. You finally DO the thing you kept thinking about, wanting to do. If you keep thinking about it, after a while you'll be UNABLE to resist it. That's why you've lost so many of these struggles against sin -- you kept THINKING about it, desiring it, wanting it. The way to prevent sin is to let God's Spirit fill the mind. "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2)… But instead of material or worldly things, a mature person should use self-discipline and set his mind on spiritual things. Open your Bible. Put the study of some SPIRITUAL subject in your mind. Next time you are tempted, try it. Pray over it. Ask God to help you. See how rapidly you begin to win the victory over temptation and sin, and how marvelous will be your spiritual and CHARACTER growth (Armstrong HW. How to Prevent Sin. Plain Truth, January 1968).

The preceding quotes suggest that Herbert Armstrong emphasized repentance from sin, while Martin Luther emphasized trust in his interpretation of what Jesus said without true repentance.

War

Regarding peasants opposed to him and the leaders that favored him, notice what Martin Luther advised:

Pure devilry is urging on the peasants…Therefore let all who are able, mow them down, slaughter and stab them, openly or in secret, and remember that there is nothing more poisonous, noxious and utterly devilish than a rebel.  You must kill him as you would a mad dog…

The authorities must resolve to chastise and slay as long as they can raise a finger…It may be that those who are killed on the side of the authorities is really a martyr in God’s cause.  A happier death no man could die.  The present time is so strange that a prince can gain Heaven easier by spilling blood than by praying (Luther M.  Against the Murderous and Rapacious Hordes of the Peasants, May 4, 1525-Erl, 24, 287, ff.  As cited in O’Hare PF.  The Facts About Luther, p. 232).

Notice what Martin Luther admitted:

I, Martin Luther, slew all the peasants in the rebellion, for I said that they should be slain; all their blood is upon my head. But I cast it on the Lord God, who commanded me to speak this way (Werke, Erl. Edition, lix, p. 284 ‘Table Talk’ as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.96).

It is reported that 100,000 perished at that time.

Notice what the followers of Martin Luther declared in 1530,

Article XVI: Of Civil Affairs. Of Civil Affairs they teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to bear civil office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by the Imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers...They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civil offices to Christians.

It should be noted that some of those called Anabaptists were in the Church of God (please see the article The Sardis Church Era).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

We believe that Christian disciples of Christ are forbidden by Him and the commandments of God to kill, or in any manner directly or indirectly to take human life; by whatsoever means; we believe that bearing arms is directly contrary to this fundamental doctrine of our belief; we therefore conscientiously refuse to bear arms or to come under the military authority (Armstrong H. Fundamentals of Belief, Radio Church of God, circa 1949).

In the 21st century, the Continuing Church of God has taken the following position in its Statement of Beliefs:

NOT OF THIS WORLD

Jesus taught, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). John the Baptist taught, “Do violence to no man” (Luke 3:14, KJV). Historically, those of the Church of God have considered military service as wrong for its members. From Revolutionary War times to the Civil War and to present, countries like the United States have tended to have had provisions to exempt Church of God members and congregants from military participation because of conscientious objections. Early Christians did not participate in military warfare nor watch violent sports.

The Apostle Paul taught “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20). The Apostle Peter taught that God’s people were “a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out” (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible also teaches that this world has been deceived by Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9) and that God’s people need to be separate from the world (John 15:19; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; Revelation 18:4). Thus, historically, the Church of God has taught that its members not participate in secular juries and secular politics. However, Christians are expected to listen to (and pray for, 1 Timothy 2:1-3) governmental authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17) and pay their taxes (Matthew 22:17-21), yet if there is a conflict between the laws of men and the laws of God, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29, NLT). (Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God)

This is historically consistent with the COG throughout history as well as the New Testament--but it is one that the Lutherans condemned.

Are real Christians suppose to kill for an easier way into Heaven? An article of possible interest may be Military Service and the Churches of God.

Were early Christians martyrs because they were persecutors or the persecuted (please see the article )?  How can any true Christian support the murderous Martin Luther?

Use of the Term ‘Reverend’

Martin Luther wrote,

PEACE BE WITH You, Reverend Spalatin! ("Martin Luther's to George Spalatin," from Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporan, Letters, trans. by P. Smith (1913), Vol. 1, pp. 28-29).

Herbert Armstrong taught against the use of the terms ‘reverend’ and ‘father’ for religious leaders, as only God is reverend and Jesus taught against calling religious leaders father (Matthew 23:9).

Jewish People

Martin Luther wrote,

My heart is fuller of these thoughts than my tongue can tell. I have come to the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God as all the prophets have predicted. He who neither reads nor understands this, as yet knows no theology, in my opinion. And so I presume the men of Cologne cannot understand the Scripture, because it is necessary that such things take place to fulfill prophecy. If they are trying to stop the Jews blaspheming, they are working to prove the Bible and God liars ("Martin Luther's to George Spalatin," from Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporan, Letters, trans. by P. Smith (1913), Vol. 1, pp. 28-29).

Furthermore he wrote,

I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that those miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews and who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them…They are so blind and stupid that they see neither the words found in Genesis 17 nor the whole of Scripture, which mightily and explicitly condemns this lie…They are real liars and bloodhounds who have not only continually perverted and falsified all of Scripture with their mendacious glosses from the beginning until the present day. Their heart's most ardent sighing and yearning and hoping is set on the day on which they can deal with us Gentiles as they did with the Gentiles in Persia at the time of Esther…The worse a Jew is, the more arrogant he is, solely because he is a Jew — that is, a person descended from Abraham's seed, circumcised, and under the law of Moses. David and other pious Jews were not as conceited as the present-day, incorrigible Jews...I wanted to present this to us Germans so that we might see what rascals the blind Jews are and how powerfully the truth of God in our midst stands with us and against them (Medieval Sourcebook: Martin Luther (1483-1546): On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543)

Martin Luther advised his followers,

...to burn down Jewish schools and synagogues, and to throw pitch and sulphur into the flames; to destroy their homes; to confiscate their ready money in gold and silver; to take from them their sacred books, even the whole Bible; and if that did not help matters, to hunt them of the country like mad dogs (Luther’s Works, vol. Xx, pp. 2230-2632 as quoted in Stoddard JL. Rebuilding a Lost Faith, 1922, p.99).

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is: First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch (Martin Luther (1483-1546): On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543 as quoted from Luther's Works, Volume 47: The Christian in Society IV, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971). pp 268­293).

On the other hand, Herbert Armstrong taught,

The fact that they are Jewish and we are not makes no difference {to how his party was treated}…In many ways I have had a deep personal interest in Jerusalem since December 1, 1968. On that date, in a formal ceremony at the palace of the late President Shazar, Ambassador College entered into this joint participation formally with Hebrew University and the Israel Archaeological Society. ‘Do you want a formal, legal contract?’ I was asked. ‘My word is good,’ I replied. ‘And I believe yours is, too, without any legal entanglements.’ That was good enough for them, and our friendship and mutual participation has grown ever since…Mayor Kollek had done a remarkable job of restoring this area. There were about four synagogues -- each in a different room in the same building -- now very modern, very bright and beautiful on the interiors. I was really impressed with all the plans Mayor Kollek told us he has in mind for renewing and re-beautifying the city of Jerusalem...On July 4 there will be a big ‘4th of July Celebration’ in Jerusalem, hosted jointly by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Teddy Kollek, and myself…We've been participating in this foundation for twelve years. A whole square in front of the main headquarters building in the newer area of Jerusalem is named ‘The Herbert W. Armstrong Square’ (Armstrong H. Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume 2, 1986/1987).

Actually Herbert Armstrong was photographed with the Mayor of Jerusalem who showed him a plaque that read:

UNDER CONSTRUCTION HERE:
A CHILDREN'S PLAYGROUND
 A GIFT OF
THE AMBASSADOR INTERNATIONAL
CULTURAL FOUNDATION
H.W. ARMSTRONG, PRESIDENT

Herbert Armstrong also reported that the then Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin said to him, "Mr. Armstrong...we all do deeply appreciate your interest in Israel" (Armstrong HW. Keep Your Eyes on Jerusalem. Plain Truth. October 1976).

Hence, while Herbert Armstrong was recognized for helping those who were Jewish, Martin Luther has been recognized for his hatred of those who were Jewish.

Jesus

Martin Luther wrote,

That article of faith shall remain, that Christ is true God and true man… We do not say that Christ is merely a creature, but that he is God and man in one person. The natures are joined personally in the unity of the person… God has given us patterns of speech: that Christ is God and man in one person, and there are not two persons, but two natures are united in one person, so that what is done by the human nature is said also to be done by the divine nature, and vice versa" (The Disputation Disputation of Herr Doctor Martin Luther concerning the divinity and humanity of Christ. In the year 1540, the 28th day of February). Martin Luther also taught, "And John 1 says: "The Word was made flesh," when in our judgment it would have been better said, "The Word was incarnate," or "made fleshly" (Disputation On the Divinity and Humanity of Christ February 27, 1540 conducted by Dr. Martin Luther, 1483-1546 translated from the Latin text WA 39/2, pp. 92-121 by Christopher B. Brown The Theses Theological Disputation).

Herbert Armstrong wrote,

For we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God; all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3). "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (verse 14 -RSV). Also, "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not…He, who was God, actually became human flesh because I John 4:2, 3 -RSV - states, "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come iii the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God." He was conceived in and born of the human virgin, Mary. "Now, the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:18). He was made not only flesh, but human flesh and blood. Notice Heb. 2:14: "Since then the children are sharers in blood and flesh, himself also in like manner partook of the same" (Ivan Panin translation)"… Jesus, in nature, is equal with God -"Jesus Christ: who, existing in God's form, counted not the being on an equality with God ought to be grasped at, but emptied himself . . . being made in likeness of men" (Phil. 2:6 Panin translation) (Armstrong HW. Is Jesus God?).

Essentially, Herbert Armstrong maintains that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity while on Earth, while Martin Luther holds that Jesus was not truly flesh but remained divine while on Earth. An article of possible interest may be Jesus is God, But Was Made Man.

Trinity

Martin Luther was a devout trinitarian and believed in the Greco-Roman version determined by the Council of Constantinople in 381.

How many Gods are there? Only one, but there are three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.40).

Luther called the Athansen Creed the grandest production of the Christian Church since the times of the apostles" (Mueller, John Theodore. The Lutheran Confessions. circa 1953, p.5).

The creed discusses the belief in the Trinity and concludes with:

"This is the catholic (general) faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved" (p.6).

Yet, Martin Luther also wrote the following about Galations 1:3:

Men Should Not Speculate About the Nature of God The Apostle adds to the salutation the words, "and from our Lord Jesus Christ." Was it not enough to say, "from God the Father"? It is a principle of the Bible that we are not to inquire curiously into the nature of God (Luther Martin. Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, 1535. Translated by Theodore Graebner, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949, Chapter 1, pp. 9-18).

Although he believed in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Herbert Armstrong was not a Greco-Roman trinitarian,

The generally accepted teaching of traditional Christianity is that God is a Trinity--God in three Persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit (which is often called a "Ghost"). How did this "Trinity" doctrine enter traditional Christianity? It most emphatically did not come from the Bible…Dr. Arius stoutly opposed the Trinity doctrine, but introduced errors of his own (Armstrong HWA. Mystery of the Ages).

It is astounding that Martin Luther claimed that it was a principle of the Bible to not curiously inquire into the nature of God as the Bible says no such thing. Furthermore, trinitarians as a group make the requirement to accept the trinity as one of their top criteria to eliminate ‘heretics’, which is totally illogical if humans are not suppose to inquire about the nature of God and the Bible never mentions the term trinity nor defines the Godhead the way that church councils put together by Roman Emperors did. Two articles of possible interest may be Threeness of the Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning and
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Greco-Roman Trinity?

Religious Holy Days

Martin Luther taught,

This epistle is read today because the festival of Holy Trinity, or of the three persons of the Godhead--which is the prime, great, incomprehensible and chief article of faith--is observed on this day" (originally published in 1909 in English by The Lutheran Press (Minneapolis, MN), as Luther's Epistle Sermons, vol. 3). Although he taught, "And would to God that in Christendom there were no holiday except the Sunday" (Luther, M. A treatise on Good Works together with the Letter of Dedication, published 1520), Martin Luther also celebrated such holidays as Lent, Palm Sunday, Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas. (The switch from Passover to Easter appears to be one of the several doctrines of antichrist that Martin Luther accepted.)

Herbert Armstrong taught,

Ancient Rome's pagan holidays have been chained upon a heedless and deceived world. These include certain annual holidays Christmas, New Year's, Easter, as well as many more, every one a pagan day every one used to stimulate the sale of merchandise in the commercial markets. Upon honest investigation, the earnest seeker after truth learns that these days are all of heathen origin and pagan significance. He learns that he can have no part in them. But is the Christian of today left without any annual holy days? Did God never give to His people annual holy days, as well as the weekly Sabbath? Are not ancient Rome's annual holidays mere counterfeits of God's true holy days, exactly as Sunday is a counterfeit of the true Sabbath?… Most people have supposed that all the annual Sabbaths and feast days of Israel were done away. And yet Church history shows that the early true Church did, for more than four hundred long years at least perhaps much longer after Christ's resurrection, continue to keep and observe these annual holy days given by God! (Armstrong HW. Pagan Holidays--or God’s Holy Days—Which?, booklet).

Some articles of possible interest may include Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible?, Passover and the Early Church, Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?, Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2?, Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days?, The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets?,The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance

, The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians?, Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter?, What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?, and Sunday and Christianity.

Millennium

Like the Roman Catholics, Martin Luther and his followers decided against teaching that there would be a reign of Christ on the earth. Instead they condemned it.

"Article XVII: Of Christ's Return to Judgment. Also they teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils. They condemn also others who are now spreading certain Jewish
opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly
being everywhere suppressed." (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

Herbert Armstrong taught,

"But remember, the humans remaining on the earth after Christ’s return—ruled then by Christ and those resurrected or changed to immortality—will themselves still have human nature. They will be still unconverted. But Christ and the governing Kingdom of God, then set up as the Governing Family, will bring about the coming utopia by two basic courses of action. Two Courses of Action 1) All crime, and organized rebellion will be put down by force—Divine supernatural force. 2) Christ will then set His hand to reeducate and to save or spiritually convert the world" (Armstrong HW. Wonderful World Tomorrow: What it Will Be Like).

An article of related interest may be Did the Early Church Teach Millenarianism?

Hope of Salvation

Similar to that which is contained in the Athansen Creed, followers of Martin Luther teach,

Those who deny the Triune God and His redemptive work are outside the church and without hope of salvation (Mueller, p.6).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

Now in like manner, when God gave His Church seven annual Sabbaths, God, in His wisdom, had a great purpose. These days, too, were given to keep God's children in the true memory and worship of God by keeping us constantly in the understanding of God's great plan of redemption. For these annual days picture the different epochs in the plan of spiritual creation mark the dispensations, and picture their meaning… The New Testament Church continued, year after year, to keep this annual Sabbath, Pentecost, as we shall show. And God gave this festival to His people in order to reveal, and to keep them continually informed, that the present dispensation is only the first, preliminary "harvest of souls." As already explained, God's purpose in giving His Church His annual holy days was to keep His children constantly in true understanding of God's great plan. To accomplish this, God took the yearly material harvest seasons in ancient Israel as the picture of the spiritual harvest of souls. In the Holy Land there are two annual harvests. First, is the spring grain harvest. Second, comes the fall harvest. God intended His holy days to picture to His Church repeatedly year by year the fact that only those He Himself calls during this age can become His begotten children now! And we are merely the firstfruits of the great spiritual harvest!… This eighth day, which immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, pictures the completion of the plan of redemption. It is just prior to the new heaven and the new earth. All parents and children, young and old will be resurrected. Notice that the "book of life" typifying salvation is opened (Revelation 20:12). Revelation presents the final view of the "judgment day" as the present material heaven and earth are perishing and the faithful are receiving their eternal reward at the throne of Christ. The wicked those who disobey are seen perishing in the lake of fire! What a marvelous plan! All will have an equal opportunity (Armstrong HW. Pagan Holidays--or God’s Holy Days—Which?, booklet).

More information on the above can be found in the articles Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from Protestantism and Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis.

Christmas Trees

"Stars!" Martin Luther said suddenly, as he realized what he was seeing "Lights from Heaven to guide and comfort me, just as a star led the Wise Men to the stable that first Christmas. What a splendid theme for a sermon." Martin Luther smiled up at the twinkling sky…Martin Luther looked around for a small tree he could take home for Christmas. He found a young fir tree, pulled up, and dragged it with him through the forest. At long last Martin Luther was safe at home. He quickly prepared the little fir tree, hoping to surprise his family...Everyone gasped at the sight of the little fir tree, for it was customary to hang Christmas trees upside-down from the ceiling beams and leave them undecorated. Yet, Martin Luther had placed this little tree upright in a pot, high on a table. The candles had been removed from the triangle shaped holder. Now, as the very first Christmas tree lights, they flickered from the tree's delicate branches - just as the stars had flickered through the forest to guide Martin Luther" (Lieurance, Suzanne. The First Christmas Tree Lights. The Junto Society, 2002).

According to the Historic Trinity Lutheran Church of Detroit:

Dr. Martin Luther is credited with originating the use of lighted pine trees in the home for Christmas (http://www.historictrinity.org/advent.html).

Here is more information on Martin Luther and Christmas trees:

Why do we have a decorated Christmas Tree?... In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night (The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree Copyright © 1998-2007 Maria Hubert von Staufer. http://www.christmasarchives.com/trees.html viewed 12/22/07). 

Herbert Armstrong taught,

But if the Bible is silent about telling us to observe Christmas, or recording any such observance by the apostles or early true Church, it DOES have something to say about the Christmas tree. This will come as a real surprise to many. But here it is: Jeremiah 10:2-6: "Thus saith the Lord, LEARN NOT THE WAY OF THE HEATHEN...FOR THE CUSTOMS OF THE PEOPLE ARE VAIN: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." There is a perfect description of the Christmas tree, termed by the Eternal as "the way of the heathen - the customs of the people." We are commanded not to learn that way or follow it. It is also viewed in this passage as idolatry. The fifth verse shows that these trees cannot speak - cannot walk - must be carried. "Be not afraid of them; for THEY (the trees) cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good." They are not gods to be feared. Some people MISread this to make it say there is no harm in having a Christmas tree, but that is not what it says"" (Armstrong HW. The Plain Truth About Christmas, booklet).

An article of possible interest may be What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

Character

While many seem to wish a variety of false information about Herbert W. Armstrong (the truth of which can be found in the article 15 Accusations and Truthful Responses About Herbert W. Armstrong), the truth is that Martin Luther had very serious character issues.

Notice the following report that came out after an series of archealogical digs in three of Martin Luther's former residences:

Archaeologists Unveil Secrets of Luther’s Life

Spiegel - Oct 28, 2008

Archeologists have uncovered Martin Luther’s household waste, including beer mugs, toy marbles and a child’s crossbow. The find is being shown in a new exhibition that casts the religious reformer’s private life in a new light…

Brother Martin, a stout man, was sitting on the toilet in the Wittenberg Monastery, wearing the black robe of the Augustinian Order, when he was suddenly struck with the fundamental concept of his reformist body of thought.

Martin Luther himself noted, in two after-dinner speeches (Nos. 1681 and 3232b), that Protestantism was born in the sewer: “The spiritus sanctus imparted this creation to me on dis cloaca.”…

Luther, a German national hero, has been the subject of dozens of biographies. His translation of the Bible into German was as influential as his curses were memorable. Now archeologists have uncovered surprising new information about the religious reformer at three different excavation sites:

 

    • The floor of the building where Luther was born, in the town of Eisleben
    • His parents’ house in the town of Mansfeld
    • The estate in Wittenberg where the former monk lived with his wife and their six children

The digs exposed toys and food remains, broken dishes and grain (dated to the year 1500, using the C-14 method). The archeologists also found his wife’s wedding ring and a hoard of 250 silver coins…

All of this snooping around in the refuse of the founder of their church has not exactly been met with enthusiasm within Germany’s protestant congregations. In their view, the notion that the Luther family tossed dead cats into the household garbage is just as irrelevant, from a religious standpoint, as the suspicion that Luther, as a monk, attached his theses to the castle church with tacks instead of nails.

But the debris from Luther’s household should not be downplayed. Some of it, analyzed using the methods of criminology, relates to the reformer’s intellectual works, and it even reveals that he was not always entirely truthful.

For instance, the scholar fudged his parents’ social circumstances. He claimed that he was the son of a “poor miner” who toiled away in the mines with his hatchet, and that “my mother carried all her wood home on her back.”

But this is far from the truth. Luther’s father already owned a copper mill as a young man, while his mother came from a bourgeois family in Eisenach and had good connections to the royal mine administration.

In 1484, when Martin Luther was still an infant, the family moved to Mansfeld, where the father quickly became a successful foreman. He operated three copper smelters, owned 80 hectares (198 acres) of land and lent his money for interest.

The size and grandeur of his house, as the excavation revealed, were in keeping with his economic standing. “The front of the house on the street side was 25 meters (82 feet) wide,” says archeologist Björn Schlenker. The excavation exposed massive basement vaults and a rear courtyard surrounded by large outbuildings.

It was on this farm that young Martin and his siblings played, surrounded by flocks of geese and chickens. The fragments at the site reveal that they played with crossbows, clay marbles and bowling pins made of beef bones — toys not every family could afford at the time.

The remains of kitchen scraps discovered on the property reveal that the family frequently ate roast goose and the tender meat of young pigs. During Lent, the Luther family ate expensive ocean fish, like herring, codfish and plaice…

It is well known that Luther’s parents firmly believed in witches and the devil, but now further details have emerged. The remains of a pilgrim’s horn, a noisemaker pilgrims could buy in the western city of Aachen, were found in the rubble. The father had apparently traveled to Aachen, the German version of Lourdes, to marvel at the swaddling clothes and loincloth of Jesus.

The young Luther did not yet find such relics repulsive when he studied law in Erfurt, a city in eastern Germany. But then suddenly he discontinued his university studies and fled into a monastery. Why?

The reformer later explained that his decision was prompted by a severe storm he had been caught in on July 2, 1505. After a lightning strike, he spontaneously vowed to become a monk…

But the tale of a sign from above coming to Luther in the form of a lightning strike is greatly exaggerated. In truth Luther, who was 21 at the time, was fleeing from an impending forced marriage.

“Newly discovered archive records show that the father had already married off three of his daughters and one son to the children of wealthy foremen,” explains expert Schlenker. Apparently it was now Martin’s turn.

Instead of submitting to his father’s will, the young man went to the monastery of the Augustinian hermits near Erfurt…

He denounced Turks as “devils,” Jews as “liars” and gay priests as “garden brothers who do it with each other.” Rome, he wrote, was surrounded by “pig-theologians.”

After penning such sharp words, the powerfully eloquent reformer ate from faience bowls and drank from magnificent Turkish pitchers. The archeologists found intricate oven tiles decorated with motifs from the Old Testament, as well as more than 1,600 shards from glasses Luther, an avid eater, used to quench his considerable thirst for beer. Luther needed it to numb his emotions…

He also suffered from angina pectoris, which made him anxious. As gout set in, writing became increasingly difficult.

And then there was his obesity. At first, the doctor weighed 100, then 120 and, finally, an estimated 150 kilograms (the estimate is based on an ink drawing made of Luther shortly after his death).

The archeologists also found dozens of small containers, which Luther used to hold the many ointments and medications he bought for himself.

Gradually he wasted away...

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,586847,00.html

Martin Luther and his false non-biblical teachings simply cannot and should not be trusted or relied upon by those who profess Christ.

On the other hand, Herbert Armstrong stood for biblical truth:

Don't believe me – BELIEVE YOUR BIBLE – BELIEVE GOD! I always say...check up! Listen without prejudice, with open mind, then check up--go to your BIBLE, and BELIEVE what you read there. (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth. September 1963.)

This is what I encourage readers of this website to do.

An article of related interest may be Who Was Herbert W. Armstrong? How is He Viewed Today?

Conclusion

I believe that, where they differ, the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong are much more biblically defendable than the teachings of Martin Luther.

Although the reader can come up with whatever conclusion he/she wishes, I agree with the following statement by one of Martin Luther’s critics who wrote,

...for if he founded a religion, it is not the Christian religion established by Christ fifteen hundred years before (O’Hare, p.8).

Those of us the COGs should not pretend otherwise. Nor should the Protestants.

For further information, please view the articles the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 and Hope of Salvation: How the Genuine Church of God differ from most Protestants.

Thiel B. Ph.D. Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Similarities and Dissimilarities. www.cogwriter.com 2003/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2012/2013 0526

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