Church History: Martin Luther, Part 3
He would safely escape the fires, but he would also live the rest of his life as an outlaw and a heretic in the eyes of the state.
His protector, Frederick the Wise, had him “kidnapped” on the way home to insure his security and Luther lived in the Wartburg Castle for about a year and a half under an assumed name.
It was there that Luther translated the Scriptures into the German language, changing both the common religion and the language at one time.
He returned to Wittenberg to take charge of the Reformation…radicals had taken control of the churches and Luther came back to insure a more moderate and orderly transition.
His primary theological contributions would fill volumes to do justice to…but this is a blog, so let’s just hit the high spots.
Luther drew a strong distinction between “law” and “Gospel”…his hermeneutic is based on this and it was his belief that distinguishing them properly was the key to biblical interpretation.
The cross is the only source of knowledge about who God is and how God saves. This is contrasted with a “theology of glory” that credits human reason and works.
The crux of the Reformation, the doctrine upon which all else stands or falls.
The doctrine that Christians are simultaneously saint and sinner.
God rules the earth in two different ways…the secular through the law and the church through the Gospel.
Luther was a deeply committed to the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist and would tolerate no dissent, nor give any quarter on the matter. Reconciliation with Rome and the second generation of the Reformation always was defeated on this point.
Luther not only freed the ministry from celibacy, but he changed the way that Europe thought about marriage. Dr. Frank James notes that the reasons for marriage previously centered on the size of a dowry, political considerations, and upward social mobility. Luther’s outspoken affection for his wife Katie (who was smuggled out of a nunnery in a herring barrel) changed the reason for marriage to love and mutual affection. What a concept…
Next…the dark side of Luther.