In the great divide between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, it is usually a contest between who is right and who is wrong. If history is the only arbiter of truth, then the real answer is everyone is right. And everyone is wrong.
Within the early fathers of the Church, Luther found eloquent support for his position on justification by grace through faith, for the primacy of baptism and the Eucharist, for priestly ordination, for the deuterocanonicals, as well as against indulgences, against purgatory, and against the claims of the papacy. (Read the citations within the Lutheran Confessions.) At the same time, Rome also found their eloquent voices in favor of infused grace to which works are added, for the seven (or more) sacraments, for episcopal ordination, for adding the seven books between the testaments to the canon, for indulgences, for purgatory, and for the claims of the papacy (and against Luther). It has been a war of proof texts from Scripture and proof citations from the fathers. Unfortunately for both sides, the result is not unanimity.
Take the issue of the Apocrypha, or, as named by Sixtus of Siena in 1566, the deuterocanonicals. St. Jerome put them where Luther did, between the testaments, but did not weight them as he did the Old or the New Testament books. On the other hand, St. Augustine found them all of equal weight within the canon. So, if you are searching through the fathers for a definitive answer, you find contradiction with regard to Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, 1–2 Maccabees and additional portions of Daniel and Esther. Rome even found that to be a problem and cleared up the confusion after Luther when the Council of Trent defined these books as canonical.
Even in Luther's day, it was not set in stone whether these books belonged in the Bible or not. All around Luther there were different voices taking different positions and no council (before Trent) decided the matter. So Luther was not on thin ice when he did what he did. He was prudent, in the way of St. Jerome. The East did not accept their canonicity even though they were Greek and even in the West their status was not without question. In the Complutensian Polyglot, a multi-linguistic Bible printed in Spain by Roman Catholic Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros with the approval of Pope Leo X in 1520, the deuterocanonicals were not within the canon. In his preface, the good Cardinal Jiménez explains that they “are books outside the canon which the Church has received more for the edification of the people than for the authoritative confirmation of ecclesiastical dogmas.”
The same could be written about many more issues of substance between Rome and Wittenberg. So does that mean that everyone IS right? Well, not exactly. If early church attestation is the only defining authority, then everyone is correct and everyone is in error. Line up your fathers like soldiers on the battlefield and have at it. If proof texting the position and judging truth by how many passages from Scripture one can line up on your side, then perhaps it will not so easily be decided then either. However, catholicity is not merely a tally of supporters or passages but the context and how it is read, how it has been confessed, and how it has been believed. Lutherans have insisted that Scripture interprets Scripture. This means that passages which appear to contradict must be read wrong. I believe even St. Jerome agrees here in saying that whatever he does not understand is not the fault of God or His Word but of Jerome's own limited and frail mind. In that position, we all sit.
In this regard Lutherans often have to put up with the intemperance of Luther. He was outlandish. His descriptive put downs and his penchant for the extreme statement sold pamphlets and books and made him a celebrity author, to be sure. But we must not only judge Luther on what he said but what he did. So Luther followed St. Jerome with regard to what to do with the deuterocanonicals. He may have said some shocking things about the value of the Book of James or the Book of Hebrews, for example, but he did not boot them from the canon. He translated them. Even though he also left us with some rather tantalizing statements about what he thought about them.
Strangely, Luther's words were rather Protestant but his practice quite Catholic. Today, we Lutherans find ourselves in the odd position of having our people (on both sides of the equation) practicing quite Protestantly while quietly affirming the Confessions (more Catholic, especially when it comes to such things as liturgy, confession, ministry, etc.). In this respect, some have suggested that some Lutherans might have a more interesting conversation with Pope Benedict XVI than Francis and other Lutherans the opposite. In other words, Rome finds itself in much the same boat. Lots of quotes and lots of passages but still conflict and disagreement. Which is why it is a good thing for us to remember that the Church belongs to the Lord and not to us. The structures we know as churches today may or may not survive but the Word of the Lord will and so will His Church. He is the guarantor of that.