Luther Revolutionary or Reformer?

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Temple Nov 2
Luther Reformer or Revolutionary?
The “Larger” Debate
-> one of the fundamental questions is what was it that drove Luther?
Erik Erikson- deep inner termoil/flaw identity crisis. Some psychological problem
oberman – Luther sees himself as part of a larger cosmic struggle between god and the devil. Luther is
afraid of the coming judgement
Marrious- Fear of unbelief. Dying in unbelief.
The larger debate is... is luther internally broken or externally motivated? This is important for the people
who followed him.
What caused the break? Break within Luther or Rome. Who is responsible for the ramifications of the
reformation? (this is the larger debate)
Those who blame the break on something internal in Luther.... Would argue that he was a rebel from the
start. He was just waiting for a cause. He would not submit to the authority of the church because he
could not get what he wanted within the system. They also would argue that the Church would try to help
and keep him within the bounds of orthodoxy. Therefore Luther's fault
Outside motivation. Corrupt church. Luther's goal was not to destroy the church but to rebuild it. He
breaks because the Church will not work with him. The Church breaks with Luther. It refuses to listen to
him and forces him out. Therefore the Rome's fault.
Temple's position: Rome threw Luther out. (take bias into account) Begins as a reformer and becomes a
revolutionary when no other options remain.
On what grounds for beginning as a reformer. 95 Theses (Oct 31 1517) – 95 arguements to challange the
sale of indulgences. He argues that why the sale is wrong. Luther was challenging the church on
something that had been debated for a long time. Luther had not come up with his rejection of church
doctrine with sola fide etc. Luther was not striking out against core doctrine because there was no real
doctrine on how indulgences worked. In his writing he makes it out to the pope and says you are unaware
with the way the indulgences are being abused. If you knew you would stop it. How could he write this to
the person in charge of the sale is he naive? Or is he being clever like erasmus? It is most likely that he is
naive. Luther is always writing in the heat of the moment and he doesnt really understand politics.
Temple argues that the 95 theses are not radical Luther is trying to work within the system.
Augsburg (1518) Luther is confronted by Cardinal Cajetan
Luther wants to debate and present his biblical research
Cajetan's was an institutional reformer he does not want reform at a doctrinal level.
Cajetan was a dominican (they hate the augustians)
Cajetan has not interest in debating. He just wants Luther to recant and be quiet.
It is clear the church does not want to listen to what luther has to say.
Leipzig Debate (1519) Debate between Luther and Johann Eck (number 2 humanist)
Eck was the better debater. Luther was more bombastic. Eck is aware that Luther has a bad temper and
hopefully when luther is angry luther would say something wrong.
Eck gets Luther to admit that Pope's have erred in the past. Luther says popes cannot make an infallible
Eck says well what about councils? Can they tell us what is write infallibly.
Eck says well what can? Luther: The Bible. Only the Bible could be relied upon to articulate true
The result of this: Luther alienates himself. He kills a good portion of support from the church.
Eck: Do you know who else made those same statements? John Hus. Hus was burned for being a Heretic.
The Result of this: Luther goes and reads the writing of Hus. Hus' writing opens Luther's eyes. It inspires
Erasmus: The Leading Humanist. (Wants people to have a personal relationship with God. )
The Humanists come to believe that Luther has gone to far. It isn't contributing to the strength and unity
of the church but it is beginning to tear it apart. They argue that Luther has become a revolutionary.
(Temple argues it is the break with the Humanists that pushes Luther to become a revolutionary.)
Erasmus publishes the: Freedom of the will
(Luther had argued that as a result of original sin Human Will could not of its own power choose what
was right and good) Erasmus argues that yes human will is damaged by original sin but it can still choose
what is good and right by god. Erasmus argues that merit theology not sola fide is the key to salvation.
Luther acted with rage as a result of this. Luther responded with the Bondage of the Will.
He tears Erasmus apart in his response. Luther digs deeper into the bible.
Bull – Exsurge Domine (1520)
Pope realizes that Luther is not going to be quiet. He says either you will recant or you will be
excommunicated and your books will be burned. Luther responds by publicly burning the Bull and some
Diet of Wurms (1521) HRE Charles V
Charles does not really get along with the pope so he says I will decide if Luther is a Heretic.
Luther believes he is being brought before the HRE to debate
Charles asks Luther will you recant? Luther says not unless you can prove to me that what I said is wrong
in the bible.
Charles decrees that Luther is an outlaw. Luther is now severed from the church and the state. He could
be hunted and killed without spiritual or civil reprisal. Now Luther has nothing left to lose.
Wartburg Castle- Frederick the Wise
Fred knows that Luther is in trouble. (FW is Luther's prince)
Fred stages a kidnapping and hides Luther in Wartburg Castle. He hides for 2 years. No one knows if he
is alive or dead.
During this time Luther undergoes the last of his spiritual conflicts. (Thunderstorm, Tower Experience,
Wartburg Castle) In the castle he is confronted by what he has done. He is able to step back and look at
the last few years. He has time for reflection. He believes that during this time he is under attack by the
devil. The Devil wants him to give up his work. Throws an inkpot at the devil and gets over it. He moves
on and does not have another spiritual upheaval. Luther will translate the bible. The importance of
Luther's translation: (Luther wanted people to read and understand the bible in their own language/
german) There is a real vitality to luther's translation. Real energy in Luther's prose. Luther's bible will
standardize the German language.
What are some of the ways Luther becomes radical?
He Rejects Merit Theology. He replaces it with Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura.
1520 Three Tracts
Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation
Listen Princes, the Church will not listen to my calls for reform. You need to step in.
On what grounds does he make this claim? The notion of the Priesthood of all Believers
Clergy for centuries had argued that they had a unique relationship with God, and they were
mediators between man and god. How do they do that? They do it through the Sacraments.
Through the sacraments people commune with God. The highest point is mass and taking of the
bread and wine through transubstantiation.
Luther says no Faith saves you. You do not need sacraments to convey grace. You do not need the
Clergy. The only intermediary you have is Christ. Therefore there is no difference between Clergy
and Lay People. Luther says we are all priests we can all commune with God.
Freedom of a Christian (Tutorial Reading)
Christians are free and subject to nothing and Christians are bound and subject to all.
All people need access to the word of God. They all need to be able to read the bible in their own
Babylonian Captivity of the Church
All out attack on the church
Power of the church is rooted in the sacraments. Only Clergy can give you the sacraments and
sacraments give you grace and thus salvation.
Church provides Cradle to Grave coverage.
Sacraments is a source of income for the church (marriages etc)
There are only two sacraments are found in the bible. Baptism and Eucharist.
So Luther says hey lets get rid of the other five that popes have made up.
Luther has called the Princes in for this emergency situation. And he believes that they will leave when
things are done. This is not the case.
Luther becomes a revolutionary but he never becomes an organizer of builder.
Why is that?
It comes down to the dichotomy between law and gospel. He draws a sharp divide between
Commandments and the Gospel. Luther says the law (Commandments) only has value for those who
have not yet been saved. They show you your own weakness. It shows you that you will always be a
sinner. It shows you that you need someone else for your salvation ( you need christ). You need faith for