Have you ever wondered where the teaching of faith alone or sola fide came from? It originated with the man, Martin Luther, who on October 31st, 1517, famously (or infamously) tacked his “95 Thesis” on the doors of All-Saint’s Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This event is considered to be the main catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.
Below is a tract written in September of the year 1530 to a colleague Wenceslaus Link entitled Sendbrieff von Dolmetzschen which concerns Luther’s addition of the word “alone” to the words of St. Paul in Romans 3:28, forcing St. Paul to say “… a man is justified by faith alone, apart from the works of the law.”
“You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word ‘alone’ is not in the text of Paul. If your Papist makes such an unnecessary row about the word ‘alone,’ say right out to him: ‘Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,’ and say: ‘Papists and asses are one and the same thing.’ I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word ‘alone’ is not in the Latin or the Greek text, and it was not necessary for the Papists to teach me that. It is true those letters are not in it, which letters the jackasses look at, as a cow stares at a new gate…It shall remain in my New Testament, and if all the Popish donkeys were to get mad and beside themselves, they will not get it out.”
Many Lutheran bibles still retain the word “alone” in Romans 3:28 because of this. He decided to re-write the words of St. Paul, through his own authority, in an attempt to justify his own heretical doctrine of justification by faith alone.
The tract speaks for itself, really. The scripture Mark 7:7-8 comes to mind… truly, a tradition of men.
It is no wonder that he called the Epistle of James an “Epistle of Straw,” going so far as saying that it did not have the substance that the rest of the Gospels possessed. He opposed it, because the Epistle of James clearly contradicted his new teaching of “faith alone” in James 2:24. Remarkably, the first edition of his new bibles were without the Epistle of James–only to be re-added later after his own Reformer colleagues condemned him for it.