I have heard and read it several times: when Luther was tempted by the devil, he would look at the words written in chalk on his desk: “baptizatus sum” (Latin for “I am baptized”). In connection with my upcoming catechism sermon on Lord’s Day 26, I decided to look into this a little more. I have been unable to find an exact reference for the words being written in chalk on his desk. However, I did find several other references which I find rather interesting.
In his biography, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil, Heiko Oberman quotes Luther: “The only way to drive away the Devil is through faith in Christ, by saying: ‘I have been baptized, I am a Christian.” The endnote refers to the source of this as WAT 6. no.6830; 217, 26f.
A blog entitled Liber locorum communium provides a few relevant quotes from Luther, including this one: “I am a child of God, I am baptized, I believe in Jesus Christ crucified for me” (translation mine). The source is given as TR 5658a, WA TR 5, p. 295, ll. 27-30.
Finally, there is Because of Christ, the memoirs of the Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten. In a footnote, he says that the full quote from Luther is: “Behold, I am baptized, and I believe in Christ crucifed” (translation mine). Unfortunately, he does not provide the source.
The intriguing thing about each of these quotes is that baptism does not stand alone — it is joined to faith. Was Luther always consistent in maintaining the appropriate connection between baptism and faith? Patrick Ramsey says no.