Turning Point 7: The Diet of Worms (1521)

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The Diet of Worms (1521) is a major turning point in Church History according to Mark Noll, author of "Turning Points".

The Diet of Worms (1521) is a major turning point in Church History according to Mark Noll, author of "Turning Points".

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  • 1. The Diet of Worms (1521) Turning Point 7 Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity
  • 2. Turning Points in Christian History
    • Fall of Jerusalem (70)
    • Council of Nicaea (325)
    • Council of Chalcedon (451)
    • Benedict’s Rule (530)
    • Coronation of Charlemagne (800)
    • Great Schism (1054)
    • Diet of Worms (1521)
    • English Act of Supremacy (1534)
    • Founding of Jesuits (1540)
    • Conversion of Wesleys (1738)
    • French Revolution (1789)
    • Edinburgh Missionary Conference (1910)
  • 3. 16 th Century: Turbulent Times
    • Recent discovery of the New World by Columbus
    • Explosion of Renaissance learning
    • Emergence of modern nation-states
    • Beginnings of the modern economy
    • Ottoman empire pressing into Eastern Europe
    • Invention of Gutenberg’s printing press
    • Widespread church corruption
  • 4. Martin Luther: Early Years
    • Born in Eisleben (Germany) in 1483
    • From a blue-collar family
    • Studied in university to be a lawyer
    • Troubled conscience
  • 5. Martin Luther: Spiritual Crisis
    • Surviving a lightning storm (“St. Anne, I’ll become a monk!”)
    • Became an Augustinian monk in 1505 (age 22)
    • Spiritual depression (hated the “righteousness of God”)
      • In the law
      • In the gospel
  • 6. Professor Luther
    • Luther’s monastic spiritual advisor (Staupitz) counseled him to study the Scriptures devotionally and academically
    • Became a theology instructor at the University of Wittenberg
    • But his conscience still troubled him as he “beat importunately” on a range of scriptural texts
  • 7. Luther’s Evangelical Breakthrough
    • Meditation on Romans 1:17 “ For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith .’”
    • Began to understand the righteousness of faith is a gift of God by faith: “ the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live .’”
  • 8. The Gate of Paradise
    • “Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God…”
  • 9. The Gate of Paradise
    • “…with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God. And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word ‘righteousness of God.’ Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate of paradise .”
  • 10. Questions for Discussion
    • Can you relate to Luther’s struggle to understand how sinners can be reconciled to God?
    • What is your experience of entering the “gate of paradise” of which Luther spoke?
  • 11. Beginning to Rock the Boat
    • At first, Luther’s newfound understanding of Scripture didn’t cause any controversy
    • But the application of his theology to current church practices caused an immediate eruption of controversy that spread quickly across Europe
  • 12. The (In)Famous 95 Theses
    • Posted October 31, 1517
    • Intended to start an theological discussion among academics
    • Posted on the church door (the community bulletin board) in Latin (not the common language of the people)
    • Luther’s students translated them into German, had copies printed, and widely distributed them
    Not meant for public consumption
  • 13. The Most Contentious Thesis
    • At first : Selling of indulgences
      • Not the most important thesis
      • But instantly put Luther in the center of controversy because important church officials (including the pope) profited from indulgence revenue
    • But finally : Church obscuring the free gift of grace through faith in Christ
      • The sum of the 95 Theses was concerned with reforming the Church to remove obstacles from God’s grace
      • Basic theological issues quickly moved to the fore in the debate
  • 14. 95 Theses: A Closer Look
    • 32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence , will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
    • 33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.
    • 34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental "satisfactions" decreed merely by man.
    • 35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses , have no need to repent of their own sins.
    • 36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence .
    At least 37 of 95 theses explicitly concern the sale of indulgences
  • 15. Luther: The “Wild Boar”
    • In 1520 Luther laid his axe at the root of the Roman Catholic church by publishing 5 major books exposing various corruptions*
      • Treatise on Good Works
      • The Papacy of Rome
      • Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation
      • Babylonian Captivity of the Church
      • The Freedom of the Christian
    • In 1520 Luther also published many other less substantial writings
    • In total his literary output against church corruption was prolific in 1520
    • * See page 161 in Turning Points for details regarding the content of these books
  • 16. Question for Discussion
    • In a sense, Luther was attacking the medieval synthesis that propped up Christendom. How did Luther impact the medieval concept of Christendom by his ideas and theology?
  • 17. Christendom’s Central Convictions
    • Human beings, corrupted by sin, need salvation, which is accomplished by the merit of Christ communicated through God’s grace
    • God’s saving grace comes through the sacraments in a social setting defined by the cooperation of church & state
  • 18. The 7 Roman Catholic Sacraments
    • The Ideal Comprehensive Life Course
    • Baptism
    • Confirmation
    • Penance
    • Eucharist
    • Holy Orders
    • Marriage
    • Extreme Unction
    Sacraments stood for spiritual realities and worked toward the salvation of those who participated in them.
  • 19. Medieval View of Sacraments
    • Exhibit the principles of the incarnation, whereby the most important spiritual realities were embodied in a material form
    • Express the objective character of God’s action on behalf of humanity
      • Receiving God’s grace depended upon actually receiving the vehicle of that grace, and not so much on how one felt about the transaction
      • Latin: ex opere operato ; trans: “from the work done”
    • Reinforce the essentially social structure of grace, the fact that Christ worked for his people together through the institutional church.
  • 20. Sacraments in Christendom
    • Institutional church was the sole mediator of the sacraments, and thus the sole mediator of God’s grace for salvation
    • Since the salvation of sinners is paramount, all spheres of life must bow to the church
      • Political leaders must cooperate with church
      • Education must be compatible with church
      • Economic structures must support the church
      • Social order ideals must imitate church patterns
    • Effect: the church was foundational to all of life
  • 21. A Wanted Man
    • In June 1520 the pope issued the papal bull (written mandate) Exsurge Domine (Latin: Rise up O Lord!)
      • It called Luther “the wild boar from the forest” whose tongue was a “fire”
      • It accused Luther of seeking to destroy the church
    • Luther was now a criminal in the sight of the church and the civil magistrate
    • Luther publically burned a copy of the papal bull thereby becoming a fugitive from the emperor and the pope
    • In 1521 Luther secured a “safe conduct” pass to his hearing before the emperor Charles V in Worms (in Germany)
  • 22. Luther’s Trial: The Diet of Worms
    • ”Luther” movie: Diet of Worms scene
      • http://youtu.be/r5P7QkHCfaI
  • 23. Three Parties at the Trial 1. The Accused: Martin Luther 2. The Holy Roman Emperor: Charles V 3. The Church: Italian Church Officials
  • 24. Diet of Worms: At a Glance
    • Date: April 18, 1521
    • Location: Improvised imperial hall in Worms (on the Rhine river south of Mainz)
    • On trial: Martin Luther, 37 year old monk with 15 years service in the monastery
    • Purpose: Summon Martin Luther to publicly recant his writings regarding
      • The gospel
      • The nature of the Church
      • The current state of Christendom
  • 25. Luther’s Careful Response
    • His books were of three different kinds
      • Simple Christian piety (nothing controversial)
      • Against the doctrinal and moral evils of popes and papists (evils no one would dare defend)
      • Book containing some things perhaps overly harsh
    • Luther expressed his willingness to consider retracting books from the third group ON ONE IMPORTANT CONDITION
  • 26. Luther’s Gauntlet
    • “ Therefore I ask by the mercy of God, may your most serene majesty, most illustrious lordships, or anyone at all who is able, either high or low, bear witness, expose my errors, overthrowing them by the writings of the prophets and the evangelists. Once I have been taught I shall be quite ready to renounce every error, and I shall be the first to cast my books in the fire .”
  • 27. An Answer Without Horn or Tooth
    • Luther was asked to be more clear and answer the question: “Will you recant or not?”
    • Luther replied, “ Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed …”
  • 28. The Birth of Protestantism
    • “… 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 I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. God help me !”
  • 29. The Foundations of Protestantism
    • Obey the Bible before all other authorities, which led to the following codification
    • Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation
      • Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
      • Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
      • Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
      • Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
      • Soli Deo Gloria (The Glory of God Alone)
  • 30. Questions for Discussion
    • Bases of authority are a key concern for the Christian church from its beginnings to the present. Up until the time of Luther, what had served as the authoritative bases of the Christian church?
    • What new element does Luther add to this list?
  • 31. Official Response to Luther
    • Charles V wrote, “ It is certain that a single friar errs in his opinion which is against all of Christendom and according to which all of Christianity will be and will always have been in error both in the past thousand years and even more in the present .”
    • Charles V thought it would be shameful if in his age “ not only heresy but suspicion of heresy or decrease of the Christian religion should through our negligence dwell after us in the heart of men and our successors to our perpetual dishonor .”
  • 32. A Valid Criticism of Luther?
    • The emperor’s secretary responded to Luther with a stinging question that has plagued Protestantism to this day:
      • What if everyone simply followed conscience ?
    • The RC church predicted:
      • Total uncertainty and confusion
      • Rampant schism and division
  • 33. Question for Discussion
    • In what ways were Emperor Charles V’s warnings to Luther at the Diet of Worms prophetic, as we look at the history of Christianity in Europe and North America after 1521?
  • 34. Luther and the Diet of Worms: Symbolic End of Ecclesiastical Unity
  • 35. Diet of Worms: Consequences
    • Luther escaped and went into hiding at Wartburg Castle where he translated the NT into German
      • Significantly influenced the development of German language and future German Bible translations (more than Tyndale and KJV influenced development of English language!)
    • Luther left the monastery and married a former nun (Katherine von Bora)
      • Significantly influenced the Protestant view of family and vocation
  • 36. Luther’s Hideout and Office Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany Est. 1067
  • 37. Luther’s Wife Katherine von Bora, c. 1526 Former nun
  • 38. Diet of Worms: Consequences
    • Civil and Ecclesiastical Upheaval
      • European nations and provinces split into various Protestant and Roman Catholic territories, leading to the “Wars of Religion”
    • New Sense of the Self
      • The principle of the authority of the individual’s conscience over against the authority of church councils, church tradition, and the emperor significantly changed Europe and the Church
  • 39. Europe’s Religious Landscape (16 th century)
  • 40. Luther’s Vision for a Reformed Church
    • No longer needed a special priestly caste to do the real work of God
    • Lack of priestly caste should not be taken as an excuse to disrupt the social order
    • Should fully embrace Augustine’s fourfold understanding of human nature
      • Posse pecare (Able to sin)
      • Non posse non pecare (Not able to not sin)
      • Posse non pecare (Able to not sin)
      • Non posse pecare (Not able to sin)
  • 41. Colloquy at Marburg: What Might Have Been
    • In 1529 Luther and the Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli met to debate points of doctrine and practice
    • The hope was that the Lutherans and the Reformed (led by Zwingli) could find enough points of agreement to unite their Protestant movements
    • They found agreement on every substantial point of doctrine and practice except for the nature of the Lord’s supper
      • Luther: consubstantiation (Lord’s body “in, with, under”)
      • Zwingli: memorial (Lord’s body absent; merely a remembrance)
    • This single theological difference kept the Lutherans and Reformed apart and set the precedent for Protestant factionalism
  • 42. Protestant Church  Churches
  • 43. Luther’s Theology of the Cross
    • Luther’s secondary concerns
      • “Christianized” abstract pictures of God
        • Aristotle’s “Unmoved Mover”
        • Plato’s “Perfection of Eternal Form”
        • Augustine’s “Pure Moral Light” and the Trinity as “Constant Divine Interaction”
      • Religion as personal assurance
    • Luther’s primary concern
      • Religion defined by a crucified savior
  • 44. Where to Find God?
    • Luther’s idea of God is a paradox
      • To understand the power of God the creator, one must first understand the powerlessness of God hanging on a Roman cross
      • To conceive the moral perfection of deity, it is necessary to understand the scandal, shame, pain, and sordidness of a criminal’s execution
    • To find God is to find the cross
      • “Jesus is God”
      • “God is Jesus”
  • 45. Theology of Glory vs. Theology of the Cross
    • Luther argued in debate at Heidelberg, “ He deserves to be called a theologian…who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross…A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing it actually is .”
  • 46. Is Luther’s Theology of the Cross Biblical?
    • Luther found his paradoxical explanation of God as revealed in and through the cross in Paul’s writings
      • For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God . 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified , a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God . 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men . (1 Corinthians 1:18-25 )
  • 47. Luther’s Theology of Glory: Trust Your Own Works
    • Urges people to trust themselves, to make their own efforts their security in this life and the next
    • Guides people to think if only they can discipline themselves properly, they would finally and ultimately please God
    • Teaches people to believe that what they do for God matters most in creating a spiritual life, rather than what God has done for us .
    • The theology of glory is a different gospel, indeed it is the polar opposite of the gospel!
  • 48. Luther’s Theology of Glory: Trust Your Own Wisdom
    • Encourages people to rely upon their own understanding of the world as a sufficient guide for life.
    • Urges people to think that what the mind discovers about self, others, the world, and God can open a path to righteousness
  • 49. Misconceptions about the Theology of Glory
    • Luther did not condemn
      • Human activity
      • Valuable contribution of human traditions, structures, and institutions
    • Luther did condemn
      • The idea that these things were in themselves life-giving
  • 50. Finding God through Suffering and the Cross
    • To find God one must look to Calvary where God made himself most fully known
    • Any hope for the self must involve a secondary crucifixion of the sinful self
    • Intellectual humility and a confession of the gross ignorance of all humanity before the mysterious wisdom of God displayed on the cross
    • Believers can embrace the cross only if they despair in themselves and forsake a theology of glory
  • 51. The Beautiful Scandalous Cross
    • A scandal for Jews and all who seek God through moral exertion (works)
    • A scandal for Greeks and all who seek God through the exercise of the mind (wisdom)
    • God’s everlasting “Yes” to all who have come to the end of themselves
    • To embrace the scandalous cross is in turn to be embraced by Jesus
    • The theology of the beautiful scandalous cross shows us how to become a child of God
  • 52. Questions for Discussion
    • Discuss how the theology of the cross, in Luther’s scheme of thinking, was being contradicted by the established church of his day. In other words, what made the “theology of the cross” stand apart from the “theology of glory”?
    • Discuss how the theology of the cross reintroduced the biblical concept of grace to the 16 th century.
  • 53. A Turning Point for the Church and Society
    • For the Church : a timely, effective reminder that our hope rises from the transaction that occurred at the cross and the empty tomb
    • For society : the timing of his theological contribution and effort to remove church-erected obstacles to God’s grace joined to great effect with other turning points that transformed Europe’s national, economic, intellectual, and ecclesiastical life
  • 54. Application for Today’s Church
    • The paradoxes found in Luther’s theology of the cross are a timeless truth of our Christian heritage. Discuss the various paradoxes that Luther presented and discuss why they still remain powerful truths today.
  • 55. Theology of Glory or the Cross?
  • 56. Theology of Glory or the Cross?