Church History: Martin Luther Part 2
In his volume, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther launched missiles at the heart of Roman Catholicism, the sacramental system.
It had become the practice of the church to withhold the cup from the laity…what if some careless person spilled Jesus onto the floor?
Luther called this “tyranny” and called for the laity to be served both the bread and wine.
He rejected transubstantiation, the belief that the elements were miraculously converted into the real body and blood of the Lord.
He did so by rejecting the Aristotelian reasoning behind it, calling the philosopher a “dead, blind, accursed, proud, knavish heathen teacher”.
He rejected the teaching of the sacrifice of the Mass wherein Christ is actually resacrificed and he demanded that the mass be spoken in the language of the people.
He affirmed infant baptism and on this sacrament he varied little from Roman teachings.
All the other sacraments of the church…he rejected.
On June 15, 1520 a papal bull (declaration) was issued beseeching God to judge His cause…”a wild boar has invaded the vineyard”.
Luther was given sixty days to recant his teachings or be excommunicated.
His response was to throw a party and burn the letter. He was excommunicated on January 3, 1521.
It was the duty of the state to prosecute heretics and Luther was called to appear before the Diet of Worms in April,1521.
He was guaranteed safe passage…but Jan Huss had been promised the same a hundred years before and then condemned and burned at the stake.
He was asked to first acknowledge his writings, then recant them.
He asked to sleep on it.
The next day he tried to give a reasoned defense of his work, but was cut short…his accusers wanted a direct answer.
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust in either the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor wise to go against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”
The enraged council responded with shouts of “to the fires!”…but it was not politically expedient to execute Luther immediately for he had won the hearts of the German people.
Thus, the prophecy of Huss as he was being executed a hundred years before came to pass…“You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.”