Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 17 - What Else Did Luther Critcize? (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CHURCH HISTORY 02 May 27, 2005 17 CH2 CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY: CAPTION FIRST, INC. P.O. BOX 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 1 800 825 7234 * * * * * This is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in Order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings * * * * >> This is pretty exciting. It's so interesting to dig this deeply into what Luther was struggling to understand and to teach. What else did his renewed understanding of the Gospel lead him to criticize or reject? We've already talked about Luther's criticism of indulgences, but I know there was more. >> Well, you're right, David. There was a lot more that Luther began to understand with his renewed thinking about the Gospel. There were a number of things that he wrote about and debated that he considered abuses in the church, places where the church had gotten the message wrong, places where the church had created ideas that actually detracted from the teaching of the Gospel. I'm going to talk about those under three main heads at this point: The authority of Scripture, the distinction between priests and lay people, and the understanding of the sacraments. On the authority of Scripture, Luther was challenged by Johann Eck after the indulgence controversy to a debate in Leipzig in 1519. Eck wanted to debate Luther on the issue of papal authority. As we've already mentioned, Luther was rather critical of the authority of the Pope, but that wasn't terribly unusual early in the 16th Century, either. But what happened at the Leipzig debate put Luther in a class by himself in terms of questioning the traditional ideas of church authority. During this debate, as Luther was defending his ideas about what the Papacy was and was not, Johann Eck accused Luther of being a follower of Jan Hus. Now, if you recall from history, Jan Hus was the Bohemian reformer who had been burned at the stake at the Council of Constance in 1415. Hus had taught some things that were indeed very similar to Luther about the church and the authority of the Pope. Hus had even criticized indulgences a Century before Luther did. But for Eck to accuse Luther of being a follower of Hus was something that Luther couldn't let slide. Because Hus was a heretic, he had been condemned by the church, and because we were in a part of Germany that still remembered the devastation of the Husite wars in the 15th Century, Luther had to respond. But in his response, he ended up defending many of the things that Hus had said and questioning what the Council of Constance had said. This was another opportunity for Eck in the debate, and he asked Luther whether he accepted the authority of a Church Council. On the spot, Luther decided that he could, in fact, no longer defend the authority of Church Councils. And so from the typical Medieval idea that authority in the church consisted of the Bible, councils, Pope together, Luther had gotten rid of both Pope and councils in 1519 and said that it was Scripture alone that was authoritative for the church and authoritative for the Christian. This, of course, is one of the famous ideas of the Protestant reformation, the idea of Solo Scriptura, that there is no authority more supreme than the Scripture. And that is where we go for the teaching for the life of the church. The second area that Luther discussed and criticized following the indulgence controversy and in light of the Gospel was the traditional distinction between priests and lay people. In the middle ages, everyone understood that priests and monks were simply a better class of Christians than everyone else. Priests especially had the power to celebrate the mass, the Lord's Supper, because they had been ordained and given the power to do that. This set them apart from lay people and led to the idea that lay people were simply not as good as the clergy. Well, Luther challenged this idea, and he challenged it especially in a 1520 treatise, his "Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation." There Luther set forth the idea that all Christians are, in fact, priests by virtue of their baptism. Because Christians have been baptized, they stand before God with no other mediator necessary and, in fact, have been given the power to preach the Gospel. Now, Luther advanced this idea in the "Appeal to the Christian Nobility" because in that treatise, he was asking the German princes to take on the task of reforming the church. The bishops of the church were the ones who should have seen to reformation, who should have begun to put Luther's ideas into practice. Many of them, of course, would not do that. So in 1520, Luther wrote to the princes, reminding them of their duty as Christians, telling them that they had as much right as the bishops to reform the church, and that because the bishops refused to, they would have to become emergency bishops and see to the task of reformation. This, too, this idea that all Christians are priests because of baptism became a standard part of reformation teaching and led to the destruction of this wall that had been built between the clergy and laity in the Middle Ages. The final point of church teaching that Luther criticized was that of the sacraments. This, too, came out in a 1520 treatise, "The Babylonian Captivity of the Church." In that treatise, Luther, first of all, criticized sacraments that had been established by the Medieval church that he felt could not be found in Scripture as sacraments. You might recall that even to this day, the Catholic church says there are seven sacraments. Well, in the treatise "The Babylonian Captivity of the Church," Luther reduced that number to three and finally to two. At the beginning of the treatise, he names Lord's Supper, baptism and confession and absolution as three sacraments that are Biblical. By the end of the treatise, he has decided that confession and absolution are really also part of baptism. So you can say there are two or three sacraments depending on how you want to count. The important thing is this was an expression of Luther's Solo Scriptura principle applied to, really, the main part of the church for lay people. In the Middle Ages, the average lay Christian experienced the faith largely through the sacraments of the church and especially the Mass. So it was very important that Luther took on this idea that there are seven sacraments and expounded the Biblical teaching that it's really baptism and Lord's Supper. In addition to that, he criticized the Roman understanding of the Lord's Supper. In the Middle Ages, it was really the sacrifice of the Mass that became important. And most lay people received communion only once a year. They continued to go to the Mass and felt that they got credit for doing a good work if they were there at the sacrifice of the Mass, as it was called. Well, Luther criticized this idea. He said "Christ made the sacrifice on the cross once and for all. This is not something that we are offering as a sacrifice to God. It is, instead, something God has done for us." In other words, the Medieval theologians had gotten the direction of the Lord's Supper all wrong. It's not something we're doing for God to gain his favor. It's something God has done for us to give us the forgiveness of sins. So in those three areas, we see, in different ways, how Luther worked out his understanding of the Gospel and how he applied this teaching of the Gospel to what the church had traditionally done and taught. * * * * * This is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in Order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings * * * *