The year is 1521. 500 years ago on the 18th of April, Martin Luther stood before the Emperor Charles V and the Papal authorities at the Diet of Worms and, risking his life, he proclaimed his commitment to the authority of Scripture and his faith in the Gospel.
Luther was at the Diet from 16-18 April 1521. On the 17th he was questioned about his writings and whether or not he would renounce them. He requested more time for a proper answer. He was given until late afternoon on the 18th.
On 18 April, Luther, saying that he had prayed for long hours and consulted with friends and mediators, presented himself before the Diet. Luther began his response first by apologizing for his lack of etiquette of the court. He then placed his writings into three categories:
- Works which were well received even by his enemies: those he would not reject.
- Books which attacked the abuses, lies and desolation of the Christian world and the papacy: those, Luther believed, could not safely be rejected without encouraging abuses to continue. To retract them would be to open the door to further oppression. “If I now recant these, then, I would be doing nothing but strengthening tyranny.”
- Attacks on individuals: he apologized for the harsh tone of these writings but did not reject the substance of what he taught in them; if he could be shown by Scripture that his writings were in error, Luther continued, he would reject them.
In summation of his position he responded saying: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in 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 right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”
According to tradition it is said he further declared: “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
In reflecting upon the Diet of Worms and the gospel of Mark 6:53-56 I ask myself “How do we recognize God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our lives, in FPCH, or in the world?”
The answer is in Scripture, in worship, in prayer, and in fellowship with one another. In these aspects we learn to recognize God. In recognizing God we run to God for all of God’s good that He does for us daily. We respond to God’s goodness by reaching out to touch the fringe of Jesus Christ’s garment so that we may be whole.
Join with me in reaching out to touch Jesus’ garment in reading through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy (the Torah) as outline in previous pastoral updates. In your reading and reflection how do you recognize God, how are you running to God, how are you responding to the Word of God … the way of life in the resurrected Jesus Christ?
Yours in Christ,