Luther At The Diet Of Worms -- By: William Crowe

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 085:339 (Jul 1928)
Article: Luther At The Diet Of Worms
Author: William Crowe

Luther At The Diet Of Worms

William Crowe

On April 2, 1521, a little company of men entered upon their tedious journey from Wittenberg to the City of Worms, reaching their destination fourteen days later.

One of the company was under indictment and was obeying the summons of the king to appear before the imperial diet, which had been in session in the city of Worms since January 6, of that year.

The man under indictment was Martin Luther.

The complainant was Leo X, occupant of the pontifical chair.

The foreman of the jury was Charles V, who was at the same time judge on the bench.

The indictment can be given in the words of Aleander: “Most august Emperor, most mighty princes, most excellent deputies, I appear before you in defense of a cause for which my heart glows with the most ardent affection. It is to retain on my master’s head that triple crown which you all adore; to maintain that papal throne for which I should be willing to deliver my body to the flames, if the monster that has engendered this growing heresy that I am now to combat could be consumed at the same stake, and mingle his ashes with mine. No, the whole difference between Luther and the Pope does not turn on the papal interests. I have Luther’s books before me, and a man only needs to have eyes in his head to see that he attacks the holy doctrines of the Church. He teaches that those alone communicate worthily whose consciences are overwhelmed with sorrow and confusion because of their sins, and that no one is justified by baptism. He denies the necessity of works to obtain heavenly glory. He asserts that we sin of necessity in every one of our actions. Has the arsenal of hell ever sent forth weapons better calculated to break the bonds of decency? He preaches in favor of the abolition of monastic vows. Can we imagine any greater sacreligious impiety? Shall I enumerate all the crimes of this Augustinian monk? He

sins against the dead, for he denies purgatory; he sins against the priests, for he maintains that all Christians are priests; he sins against the world, for he forbids the punishment of death to be inflicted on any who have not committed a deadly sin. Some of you may say that he is a pious man; I have no desire to attack his life, but only to remind this assembly that the devil often deceives people in the garb of truth.”

With this case against him, did Martin Luther, clad in the friar’s cowl, appear before his two hundred and four judges, the emperor and his nobility, with unfailing courage. An epochal event in the world’s history resulted therefrom.

Luther, Staupitz, Charles V, ...

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