What Are We Protesting About? Martin Luther and the Reformation
What are We Protesting About?: Martin Luther and the Reformation • 4/26/2009: The Medieval Church and the Seeds of Reformation • 5/3/2009: Martin Luther’s Problems with the Church • 5/10/2009: Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • 5/17/2009: Other Reformations and the Counter-Reformation
The Medieval Church and the Seeds of Reformation • Two weeks ago… • A.D. 743-756: Pope Zachary and Pope Stephen II conspired with Pepin the Short, making Pepin King of the Franks in exchange for the eliminating the threat of the Lombards and creating the Papal States, a kingdom ruled by the Popes. • 1305-1378: The Avignon Papacy; 1378-1414: The Western Schism. St. Peter’s Basilica fell into disrepair. • 1513: Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici becomes Pope Leo X, bankrupting the papacy and necessitating increased fundraising, including indulgences.
Martin Luther’s Problems with the Church • Last week… • 1505-1517: Martin Luther entered a monastery and was later ordained a priest. He was obsessed with his own sinfulness and couldn’t understand how God could accept him. • His reading of Romans 1:17 gave him an understanding that our faith alone justifies us before God. • 1517-1520: Preached against sale of indulgences (and other perceived problems with the Church) which conflicted with this theology. • 1521: Luther was excommunicated by the Pope and declared a heretic by the Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms, but was abducted on his way home…
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • The masked horsemen who abducted Martin Luther on the way home from Worms were pre-arranged by Frederick III, who brought him to Wartburg Castle for his own safety. • Luther grew a beard and posed as a knight named Junker Jörg, and remained out of sight for 11 months. • By far, Luther’s most important work during this time was his translation from Greek to German of the entire New Testament. This was published in September 1522. Image: Wartburg Castle. Photograph by Robert Scarth, via Wikimedia commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • The version of the Bible used by the Roman church since the fifth century was known as the Vulgate, which was compiled and translated by St. Jerome. • Desiderius Erasmus, in 1512, had begun the process of updating the Vulgate using some six Greek manuscripts he had of the New Testament (none dating from later than the 12th century, and all but one of which were mainstream Byzantine copies). • This book, the Textus Receptus, included what Erasmus judged to be the best Greek version in the left column, and his Latin translation in the right. It was this Greek that Luther used to write his German translation. • The Greek from the Textus Receptus was also the version used to create the New Testament in the King James Version. Image: The final page of the Textus Receptus. Via Wikimedia commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • It’s hard to underestimate the importance of the Luther Bible (both the New and the Old Testaments, which was eventually translated and published in 1538). The Church read all services in Latin only, a language most people no longer understood. They relied on the Church to tell them what the message of scripture was, and what rules people needed to follow in order to receive salvation. • Now, suddenly, anyone who could read could understand for themselves what the Bible really said. Image: Luther’s room at Wartburg Castle, Photochrom print from the Library of Congress, c. 1890-1905. Via Wikimedia Commons:
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Luther’s Bible was notable also for its contribution to the German language. • The Holy Roman Empire was a crazy patchwork of tiny duchies, kingdoms, and nation-states, all of which spoke wildly varying dialects of German. • As Luther wrote his translation, he would go out into local taverns and public places just to listen to everyday speech, to make sure his translation could be clearly understood. • As this translation spread throughout the Empire, it had the side effect of standardizing German speech to Luther’s Saxon dialect, and strengthening the Empire into something almost approaching a cohesive nation. Image: First page of Luther’s Bible. Photo by Wikipedia user Torsten Schleese, Lutherhaus Wittenberg, 1999. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Luther was also in communication with his supporters back home in Wittenberg and was alarmed with what was happening there. • Some of his fellow Augustinians revolted against their prior, vandalizing churches. • In December 1521, Andreas Karlstadt, the former Chancellor of the University of Wittenberg, led mass in German, and offered both bread and wine to the congregation. • In January 1522, a group of Anabaptists from Zwickau arrived in Wittenberg and tried to impress their ideas of adult (believer’s) baptism and radical reformation of the church. Image: Andreas Karlstadt, portrait by unknown artist c. 1541-1542. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Luther secretly traveled back to Wittenberg, arriving home on 6 March. • “During my absence, Satan has entered my sheepfold, and committed ravages I cannot repair by writing, but only by my personal presence and living word.” • Beginning the next Sunday and going for eight days, Luther returned to the pulpit of his old church and preached a series of sermons now known as the “Invocavit Sermons,” wherein he exhorted his followers to keep the Christian values of love, patience, charity, and freedom firmly in mind and to reject violence, allowing God’s word to make the necessary changes. • This calmed things down and drove the Zwickau Prophets away, but it did not end their influence in other parts of the Empire. Image: Martin Luther, portrait by Lucas Cranach, 1529. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Meanwhile, in a Cistercian convent near Grimma, a group of nuns had secretly been reading Luther’s writings and had become convinced of the need for reform in the church. However, they were cloistered and unable to leave. • One of the nuns, Katharina von Bora, wrote to Luther to beg for assistance. He contacted the herring deliveryman and asked him to smuggle Katharina and several other nuns out of the convent, which he did on Easter Eve 1523. Image: Herring Fishing in Scania. Woodcut by Olaus Magnus, from the History of the Nordic People, published 1555. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • In 1524, the Zwickau Prophets ignited the Peasant’s War in the southern and western portions of the Empire, a popular revolt against the feudal system and clergy. • Thomas Müntzer, the leader of the revolt, used several of Luther’s writings to support the cause. • Luther deplored the violence and urged the reformers to act peacefully, but that movement was beyond his control. The rebels were soundly defeated at Frankenhausen on May 15, 1525. Thomas Müntzer, 18th Century engraving by Christoph van Sichem. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • On June 13, 1525, Martin and Katharina were married. • Luther later wrote, “Suddenly, and while I was occupied with far different thoughts, the Lord has plunged me into marriage.” • Some former monks and priests, including Andreas Karlstadt, had already married, but this put the official seal of approval on priestly marriage in the budding Lutheran movement. • The happy couple moved into a former monastery, which was a wedding gift from John Frederick, the son of John, the new Elector of Saxony. Image: Katharina von Bora, portrait by Lucas Cranach, 1526. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Other notable writings: • 1525: On the Bondage of the Will, a reply to Erasmus’s first attack on Luther, On Free Will. Luther concluded that sin incapacitates humans, and Satan prevents unredeemed persons from exercising free will, but that when God redeems someone, that person’s will returns to them only at that point. • Erasmus and Luther continued to debate each other in their writings until Erasmus died in 1536. Image: The Bondage of the Will, screenshot from Amazon.com created on 5/11/2009.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Other notable writings: • 1526: German Mass, which laid out suggestions for how mass was to be sung • 1528: Large and Small Catechisms. The Small Catechism laid out Luther’s thoughts on the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the (3) sacraments. It is still used today in Lutheran churches in youth education and confirmation. The Large Catechism covered the same topics but was aimed at the clergy in order to aid them in teaching their congregations. • Of all the works Luther penned, he later stated he was most proud of On the Bondage of the Will and the two Catechisms. Image: Luther’s Small Catechism, screenshot from Amazon.com created on 5/11/2009.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Luther was not the only reformist active in the Empire at the time. There was a Swiss movement led by Huldrych Zwingli. • Less radical than the Anabaptists, Zwingli and his followers seemed to have many of the same problems with the Catholic Church as Luther did, and many of the same solutions (new masses, clerical marriage). • In October 1529, Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, who had met Luther at the Diet of Worms, held the Marburg Colloquy, seeking to hammer out differences between the theologies of these emerging Protestant Churches. Luther and Zwingli both attended. Image: Huldrych Zwingli, portrait by Hans Aspur, c. 1531, in the Winterthur Kunstmuseum. Via Wikimedia commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Luther and Zwingli held differing views of the Eucharist. • Luther insisted that Christ is truly present (“Real Presence”) in the bread and wine, while still denying the Roman doctrine of Transubstantiation. Zwingli and the other theologians, however, believed that there was only a symbolic presence. • On this point, they could not agree, and so the two reform movements remained separate. Image: Marburg Colloquy. Coloured woodcut, c. 1557. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, called a Diet at Augsburg in 1530 to deal with the religious unrest within his Empire and the looming Ottoman threat. • John, Elector of Saxony, asked Luther and some of his fellow leaders to prepare a statement of their faith that he could present at the Diet. • The Augsburg Confession was largely written by Luther’s close friend Philip Melanchthon. The Confession consists of 21 Theses, stating what Lutherans believe, and 7 Antitheses, stating Catholic doctrines in which Lutherans do not believe. • Though Charles rejected the Confession, it became the primary statement of faith for the Lutheran Church. Image: Diet of Augsburg, by Christian Beyer. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • In 1539, Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, decided he wished to take a second wife, which he felt was permissible as per his reading of the Bible. He asked Luther and other protestant leaders for their approval, and though he did not explicitly approve of the bigamy, Luther also did not tell Philip not to marry. • In 1540, Philip took his second wife, but tried to keep it a secret. Word did get out, and it caused some lasting damage to Luther’s reputation (and health). Image: Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. Etching by Matthäus Merian. Via Wikimedia commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Luther’s writings on Judaism and Islam are a source of some controversy nowadays. • His polemics against Islam can largely be explained when one considers that he was speaking more against the expanding Ottoman Empire, which captured Budapest and laid siege to Vienna during his lifetime, threatening the Holy Roman Empire itself. • However, the clear anti-Semitism in, for example, On the Jews and their Lies (1543) is another matter. Luther advocated setting synagogues on fire, expelling Jews from the Empire, and stated that “We are at fault for not slaying them.” These thoughts were widely quoted in the 1930s and 1940s in Germany. Image: Original cover page of On the Jews and their Lies. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • Luther’s health declined rapidly as he reached his 60s. He suffered from tinnitus, vertigo, kidney stones, constipation, arthritis, and angina. The death of his 13-year-old daughter in 1542, and the constant struggles with Rome and more radical reformers took a great toll on his health. • He preached his last sermon in Eisleben, the town where he was born, on 15 February 1546. He was there to negotiate on behalf of his siblings’ families regarding some problems with his father’s copper mine. Image: Statue of Martin Luther outside St. Mary’s Church in Berlin. Photo by Adam Carr, May 2006. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Luther’s Bible and the Spread of Lutheranism • On 17 February, having successfully concluded negotiations, he felt chest pains. He prayed, “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God” (Psalm 31:5). In the early hours of the next morning, after another bout of chest pain, his companion Justus Jonas, shouted, “Reverend father, are you ready to die trusting in your Lord Jesus Christ?” Luther responded firmly, “Ja!” He died shortly thereafter. • Luther is buried beneath the pulpit of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. • To be concluded… Image: Luther’s tombstone. Photo by Paul T. McCain, May 2006. Via Wikimedia Commons.