Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 18 - The Diet of Worms (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CHURCH HISTORY 02 May 27, 2005 18 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 * * * * >> May I redirect things a bit? I'm still pretty interested in this history lesson. I'm curious to know what happened after Luther's excommunication in 1521? I've seen movies and read books about Luther's life, of course. But I'd like to know what is true. Was the Diet of Worms really as dramatic as it is depicted in the film? There seemed to be both political and theological struggles playing themselves out there. And what happened after Worms? >> Well, you bring up an interesting point, Joshua, because of course the Diet of Worms where Luther appeared before Emperor Charles V makes for great drama and it's the central scene in any number of movies about Luther's life. But it's important to understand what was really going on there. First of all, Emperor Charles V was not at all interested personally in talking to Luther. For Charles, it was enough that the Pope had excommunicated Luther and named him a heretic, as you recall that had happened in January of 1521. Yet, there were those in the empire who continued to push for a meeting between Luther and the emperor. Their argument was and this gets back to what I said before about the conciliar movement in the later Middle Ages their argument was that until Luther had been tried by a general council, his case really wasn't settled. Luther had, in fact, appealed twice, by this time, from the judgment of the Pope to that of a general council of the church, even though as I mentioned he didn't really believe general councils were infallible by this time, either. Nevertheless, the argument was made that the emperor had every right to have Luther appear before him and make his case. Now, the Pope's legates were working against that, and finally Charles agreed that he would meet with Luther in spite of protestations from the Pope. The reason for that and I mentioned this previously the reason for that was that the emperor had to be very careful how he dealt with the German princes. And as you mentioned, we'll see throughout this history of the Diet, the extent to which politics is involved in the course of the reformation. So Luther is summoned to appear before the emperor. And this is part of the mood in Germany at the time, which was very anti papal. One of the papal legates sent a letter back to Rome in which he summarized how things were going in Germany. He said, "All of Germancy in an utter uproar. Nine tenths of the people are shouting Luther; and the other tenth, if Luther is of no consequence to them, at least have death to the Roman court as their slogan. But all of them have inscribed on their banners the demand for a council that is to meet in Germany. There is that conciliarism again. So Luther travelled to Worms in April of 1521 to stand before the emperor at the Diet, which is simply a name for a meeting of the officials of the empire. Charles, however, had no intention of listening to Luther explain his views. When Luther appeared before Charles, well first of all, let's set the scene a little bit. I don't know of a single movie that's really gotten this right and shown it the way it probably was. The fact is anyone early in the 16th Century was very conscious of the vast distance between the Holy Roman Emperor and a monk and professor from the University of Wittenberg. It's very likely that Luther was not even in the same room as Charles, that he was instead standing in a small anteroom where he could see Charles and the other folks in the other room but was not actually in the emperor's presence. Charles never spoke directly to Luther. He spoke through one of his officials. And this is often shown in the movies. But, again, this wasn't meant to be a discussion. Luther was asked when he appeared if a pile of books on a table was his work, were these all his books? Luther said more or less I guess I won't know if I don't look at them. He agreed then they were his books. Then he was asked a more important question. Would he stand by what was in them? Well, Luther asked at that point for time to think about it since he said there are many different things his books dealt with. So he was given that night to think about how he would answer this question. He was to appear before the emperor again the next day to answer for what was in his books. Now, historians have speculated we're not exactly sure why Luther asked for extra time. He didn't really seem to be in much anguish that evening over what he was going to say. Nevertheless, he appeared the next day before the emperor and answered the question. This is the famous answer, as Luther put it, was without horns or teeth. That is, without any fancy words by which I'm trying to trick you. He said, "Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the Pope or 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 I will not retract anything since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen." Now, Luther may or may not have said "Here I stand", which is always depicted in the movies and has become quite famous. Go ahead and tell people he said it. It makes for a great story and we don't know that he didn't say that. In that answer, though, you see again Luther's reliance on Scripture and his willingness to put at stake even his life for the truth of what he has discovered there. And so Luther gave his answer to the emperor. The conversation was over. And Luther was hurried from the hall with an escort of soldiers. Now, at this point many people wondered what would actually happen. A lot of Luther's friends had wanted him to refuse the invitation to the Diet because of what had happened to Jan Hus over 100 years before. Hus had been granted safe conduct to go to Constance where he was to be tried. But that safe conduct was rescinded. He was not allowed to go back to Bohemia from Constance and instead he was burned at the stake as a heretic. Many people were afraid that the same thing would happen to Luther, that now that he had refused to recant before the emperor, he would be summarily executed rather than allowed to return to Wittenberg. But Charles proved that he was at least an honorable man and allowed Luther to return. Yet Luther didn't make it back to Wittenberg. Now this was the work of Elector Frederick rather than the work of Charles or any of his supporters. On his way back, Luther was kidnaped in a bit of a stage play by horsemen and taken to the Wartburg, one of Frederick's castles, where he was to remain for his own safekeeping, since, again, no one knew exactly what was going to happen following this appearance before the emperor at the Diet. What happened at the Diet after Luther left is instructive again about the politics going on here. Even though Luther had refused to recant, a number of the German princes still supported him at the Diet. And that support was so strong that Charles was unable to get the Diet to agree on a procedure for dealing with Luther. So he finally issued, under his own authority, the Edict of Worms, which declared Luther a heretic and an outlaw and said that he should not be given safe harbor anywhere in Germany. Luther, of course, would find many defenders, not least of them Frederick of Saxony. But this edict, and Luther being an outlaw, complicated his life from this point on. He was unable, for example, to go to the Diet of Augsburg because he was an outlaw in the empire. He had to spend the rest of his life within the territory of Saxony. At any rate, Luther found himself at the Wartburg; and separated from his colleagues at Wittenberg and from the people of the church there, he filled his time with writing, writing in promotion and defense of the gospel that he had been preaching. One of the projects he undertook there is one of his most famous works: The translation of the Bible, New Testament, from Greek into German. He did that in 11 weeks. And it was published, after some editing, when he returned to Wittenberg. But that, among other things, is what he occupied himself with. And in the meantime, his colleagues were left to deal with the continuation of reform in the city of Wittenberg. * * * * * 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 * * * *