This site is meant entirely in good humor. Just as the Shakespearean Insulter was meant in good humor and not as a judgment upon the bard, so this insult generator presents some of Luther's more crass words in good humor and not as a judgment upon the reformer. That said...
I, a Lutheran myself, neither approve of nor condone Luther's insults as appropriate for modern theological discourse, nor most modern discourse for that matter. Luther was a product of his time. Some of his insults are inexcusable; a few are so crass as to make me reluctant to put them on this site (e.g. those to do with whoredom). However, when one reads his works, it becomes clear that these insults, a common rhetorical device in the polemical literature of the sixteenth century, were spoken in hopes of defending the pure faith against impure doctrine and guiding the church of his day back into the faith of the Church.
As I have followed commentaries about this website, I have noticed people using these quotes to condemn Lutheranism. It should be known that the Lutheran tradition does not accept most of Luther's works as doctrine, though it does embrace much of his theology. Only three documents written by the reformer are explicitly part of the Lutheran doctrine, compiled in the Book of Concord, and only one of these documents is universally accepted among Lutherans, namely Luther's Small Catechism. Moreover, Lutherans explicitly reject some of the reformer's ideas. For example, Luther's anti-Semitic writings have been rejected by most in the Lutheran tradition, and we continually seek forgiveness and reconciliation with our Jewish brothers and sisters for what Luther said and the effects it had on the world.
To imagine that modern Lutheranism is the sum total of Martin Luther's output is to misconstrue the Lutheran tradition, which was composed of many more voices even in its infancy. Of course, to imagine Luther's crass words are the sum total of the reformer is to misconstrue Luther, for he had many beautiful thoughts as well. As Martin would say, he was simul justus et peccator.
In Luther's Words
In order to obtain a proper appreciation for and understanding of Luther's insults, they must be read in context. For those who do not have the time or interest to read Luther's works, here is a brief explanation of Luther's insults by the theologian himself.
When asked to retract his works in Luther at the Diet of Worms, Luther divided his works into three categories, 1) ones where he discussed religious faith and morals simply and evangelically, 2) ones where he attacked the papacy and the affairs of the papists that have laid waste to the Christian world, and 3) ones against some private individuals. Of this last group, as holds true when looking at which works hold the most or the worst insults, Luther says the following:
I have written a third sort of book against some private and (as they say) distinguished individuals - those, namely, who strive to preserve the Roman tyranny and to destroy the godliness taught by me. Against these I confess I have been more violent than my religion or profession demands. But then, I do not set myself up as a saint; neither am I disputing about my life, but about the teaching of Christ. It is not proper for me to retract these works, because by this retraction it would again happen that tyranny and godlessness would, with my patronage, rule and rage among the people of God more violently than ever before.(Luther at the Diet of Worms, pg. 110-111 of Luther's Works, Vol. 32)
From this short excerpt, it is clear that Luther felt he was using the rhetorical device of insults - violence, as he calls them - in service of the defense of pure doctrine and against tyranny and godlessness.
A Note on the Insults Themselves
Realizing the insults are extremely contextual, it must be recognized that all the insults on this site have been taken out of context. Considering their original context, including the work in which they are found and the socio-political context of sixteenth century Germany where insulting was a norm, is vital for understanding both their meaning and Luther's vehemence. For example, a few of the insults found on this site are said in complete sarcasm in their original context. A couple are Luther quoting insults that had been hurled him or written in direct response to such insults. Others are said amidst tender words of guidance, trying to bring someone back to the pure faith while showing them what their errors have done to Christendom. A number are said against those who, as Luther saw it, were turning the Church into the Devil's whorehouse. For one to judge Luther based on any insult, one must first read the insult in context and determine why Luther was using the insult.
The original wording of the insultes was maintained as much as possible. However, the following changes were made:
- Third person language has been changed to second person singular or plural.
- Most gender specific words have been made gender neutral.
- Most references to people of the sixteenth century, including the papacy and the Jews, has been removed.
- Other modifications were made if necessary to fit a general audience.