Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why I am suspicious of Menno Simons

"The Lutherans teach and believe, that we are saved by faith alone, without any regard to works. They maintain this doctrine as firmly as though works were not at all necessary; yea, that faith is of such a nature that no work can be suffered or allowed beside it."

The rest of Menno Simons' treatise is well worth reading (

It would appear that the reverand Menno is not overly keen on properly understanding Lutheran doctrine. Had he spent a few more pious and devoted hours in the Apology for Augsburg, Smalcald Articles.... perhaps Luther's treatise on Christian Liberty, he would have ommitted the false accusation that the Lutherans have no time for good works. But as this quotation seems to imply, Menno would have it that the Lutherans add good works to their doctrine of justification. And not only is such an addition a severe categorical error, it is also heresy. Rightly then did the Augsburg confession denounce the Anabaptists as pious frauds.

I am a Mennonite myself, born of pure blood Mennonite parents into a Mennonite Brethren community. But all of this is absolute rubbish compared to the ineffable gospel of God's powerful and rich grace. I am convinced that Luther and Melanchton grasped this gospel in ways that precious few have, and so if anyone has an issue with these two fellas, they have an issue with me.


Theophilus said...

I am inclined to give Menno the benefit of the doubt on account of his reference to "the Lutherans" rather than "Luther." Remember, Catholics and Lutherans have figured out that they actually agree about justification in terms of official doctrine, but it's still probably fair to say that the aggressive and misleading marketing of indulgences by Johann Tetzel was a legitimate reason for Luther's complaint with Rome. I think the same principle may apply here.

Emerson Fast said...

Hey Theo,

The document of accord between the RCC and certain Lutheran synods is a controvercial one. It by no means represents the whole of the Lutheran faith on the matter of justification.

As for Menno, I think he is jabbing at Luther just as much as he is Lutherans. Observe the sentence following the one I quoted:

"And, therefore, had the highly important, zealous, and earnest epistle of James (because he reproves such a frivolous, vain doctrine and faith), to be esteemed and considered as straw. O presumption! Is the doctrine straw, then must also the chosen apostle, the faithful servant and witness of Christ, who wrote and taught it, have been a man of straw; this is as clear as the meridian sun. For the doctrine shows the character of the man."

It sounds as if Menno came across Luther's comment that the epistle of James is "a right strawy epistle".