I’m part way through a book on the Reformation.

It’s clear that long before Luther came along, there was much mumblings going on in catholicism right throughout Europe.

It’s clear that Luther was a very devout Catholic.

It’s clear he was teaching his justification by faith in Witttenberg before he ever heard of Tetzel.

When I read about Eck and Luther, I was really moved to think - darn - they stitched him up big time.

I have enormous sympathy with Luther.

I think he and I are similar personality wise.

When he was excommunicated he said he retracted what he said about SOME of Huss’ propositions being truely christian. He said ALL of them are truely christian and in condemning them the Pope condemns the Gospel !!!

That’s exactly what I’d do !!! I have that kind of personality. Trap me in a corner and threaten me, and I’ll bring the walls down, even if it be on top of myself also, but youre coming with me !!!

Not nice.not nice at all I know - but there it is. I have such empathy with him.

So Im wondering, did the catholic church handle Luther all wrong. Did the catholic church create the protestant reformation by the way she handled Luther.

If the catholic chuch had not tried to humiliate Luther, could it all have been avoided.

Was Luther an instrument of God?

What book are you reading?


Penguin History of the Church - The Reformation - Owen Chadwick :thumbsup:

Chadwick is good.

Try Diarmaid MacCulloch’s THE REFORMATION. For another perspective, Hilaire BellOc’s HOW THE REFORMATION HAPPENED, which is better than his CHARACTERS OF THE REFORMATION.


Noted :thumbsup: I picked this one up for a buck on a bookstall in London yesterday - something to kill time with on the ferry to Holland - but couldnt resist dipping into it :slight_smile:

I always watch for Owen’s or his brother Henry’s books.


Warren Carroll’s take on Luther in “The Cleaving of Christendom” is also a great read. He’s Catholic and an amazing historian. His contention from all the evidence and documentation in the book is that Luther planned on breaking off from the Church and had read radical anti-Catholic literature long before his “crisis” with indulgences or mental wrestling with justification by faith vs. works, etc. Carroll’s view is that he never had any intention of remaining Catholic and that he had more than just a simple plan to reform from within…he wanted a complete overhaul long before…the book is interesting.

I am not well read on all of the particulars of the Lyuther case, but I can say this. The success of the Protestant reformation was due in no small part to Politics of the day.
By that I mean that the Church was heavily and directly involved in politics and had naturally had political friends and enemies among the elite of Europe, especially in Germanic lands which were not terribly well organized at the time. This led to a politicisation (sp) of the issue that in turn led to much bloodshed and hardening of positions.
It is my firm belief that if the matter had reamined firmly in the arena of theology the protestant reformation would have died off of it’s own accord once the Church undertook the necessary reforms that were already being promoted within the Church.

As to whether the Church handled Luther himslef right, well - I’d say there were enough mistakes to go around from both sides.


I think the thing that made it happen in Luther’s time was the printing press.

he was a product of his mom and dad, his environment, and biology :smiley:

Good point. Though I think that, while the printing press helped to speed up both good information and bad information, it was still the politics of the time that really allowed things to become entrenched.


I coubt seriously that Luther had a longstanding desire to break from the Catholic Church. The following are excerpts from an open letter written Pope Leo X by Luther that shows that give no indication of any such desire.

To Leo X, Pope at Rome, Martin Luther wishes salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Living among the monsters of this age with whom I am now for the third year waging war, I am compelled occasionally to look up to you, Leo, most blessed father, and to think of you. Indeed, since you are occasionally regarded as the sole cause of my warfare, I cannot help thinking of you. To be sure, the undeserved raging of your godless flatterers against me has compelled me to appeal from your see to a future council, despite the decrees of your predecessors Pins and Julius, who with a foolish tyranny forbade such an appeal. Nevertheless, I have never alienated myself from Your Blessedness to such an extent that I should not with all my heart wish you and your see every blessing, for which I have besought God with earnest prayers to the best of my ability. It is true that I have been so bold as to despise and look down upon those who have tried to frighten me with the majesty of your name and authority. There is one thing, however, which I cannot ignore and which is the cause of my writing once more to Your Blessedness. It has come to my attention that I am accused of great indiscretion, said to be my great fault, in which, it is said, I have not spared even your person.

I freely vow that I have, to my knowledge, spoken only good and honorable words concerning you whenever I have thought of you. If I had ever done otherwise, I myself could by no means condone it, but should agree entirely with the judgment which others have formed of me; and I should do nothing more gladly than recant such indiscretion and impiety.


Allow me, I pray, most excellent Leo, this once to plead my cause and to indict your real enemies. You know, I believe, what dealings your legate, cardinal of St. Sisto, [Cajetan] an unwise and unfortunate, or rather, an unreliable man, had with me. When out of reverence for your name I had placed myself and my cause in his hands, he did not try to establish peace. He could easily have clone so with a single word, for at that time I promised to keep silent and to end the controversy, provided my opponents were ordered to do likewise. As he was a man who sought glory, however, and was not content with such an agreement, he began to defend my opponents, to give them full freedom, and to order me to recant, even though this was not included in his instructions. When matters went fairly well, he with his churlish arbitrariness made them far worse. Therefore Luther is not to blame for what followed. All the blame is Cajetan’s, who did not permit me to keep silent, as I at that time most earnestly requested him to do. What more should I have done?

There followed Karl Miltitz, also a nuncio of Your Holiness, who exerted much effort and traveled back and forth, omitting nothing that might help restore the order which Cajetan had rashly and arrogantly disturbed. He finally, with the help of the most illustrious prince, the Elector Frederick, managed to arrange several private conferences with me.  Again I yielded out of respect for your name, was prepared to keep silent, and even accepted as arbiter either the archbishop of Trier or the bishop of Naumburg. So matters were arranged. But while this arrangement was being followed with good prospects of success, behold, that other and greater enemy of yours, Eck, broke in with the Leipzig Debate which he had undertaken against Dr. Karlstadt. When the new question of the primacy of the pope was raised, he suddenly turned his weapons against me and completely upset our arrangement for maintaining peace. Meanwhile Karl Miltitz waited. The debate was held and judges were selected. But again no decision was reached, which is not surprising, for through Eck’s lies, tricks, and wiles everything was stirred up, aggravated, and confused worse than ever. Regardless of the decision which might have been reached, a greater conflagration would have resulted, for he sought glory, not the truth. Again I left undone nothing that I ought to have done.


Finally, that I may not approach you empty-handed, blessed father, I am sending you this little treatise The Freedom of a Christian] dedicated to you as a token of peace and good hope. From this book you may judge with what studies I should prefer to be more profitably occupied, as I could be, provided your godless flatterers would permit me and had permitted me in the past. It is a small book if you regard its size. Unless I am mistaken, however, it contains the whole of Christian life in a brief form, provided you grasp its meaning. I am a poor man and have no other gift to offer, and you do not need to be enriched by any but a spiritual gift. May the Lord Jesus preserve you forever. Amen.

Wittenberg, September 6, 1520.

The excerpts above taken from: Luther, M. (1999, c1957). Vol. 31: Luther’s works, vol. 31 : Career of the Reformer I (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (Vol. 31, Page 343). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

I can’t imagine that Luther would have written anything so conciliatory had he been intent on leaving the Church.

No, he was not an instrument of God, and he was not a devout Catholic. Devout Catholics are obedient to Christ’s Church.

That’s laughable.



Yeah, laughable.

As usual, your response here is even-handed and level-headed. Couldn’t agree more.


the CC never makes mistakes do they?

In faith morals and doctrine - administration, dealing with crisis’ and politics are another matter.

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