The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, October 31, 2013

No Horns and No Teeth


The Protestant Reformation was a time in which the Bible was rediscovered, dusted off, and made available to the common man. For many years church leaders had concealed the truth of Scripture. The Bible was hidden behind layers of tradition and was considered to be only one source of authority. The church did not want the common people to read the Bible for themselves. During Martin Luther's day the Church believed that the pope and the church were primary sources of authority and that the Bible's authority was derived from the first two authorities.

When Luther stood before the assembly at the Diet of Worms he was asked to recant much of his teaching and writing. This was not an easy experience for Luther as he stood before the powerful Church and State. In fact Luther became fearful and asked for more time to consider and pray. The day after his request he appeared again before the assembly and was asked again to recant. Leaders of Church and State wanted Luther to reply without horns and without teeth--that is, simply. Luther's response was faithful and heroic.

Since your Majesty and your lordships desire a simply reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I cam convicted by Scripture and plain reason I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me, Amen.

Luther was saying that the Word of God alone was the determiner of his convictions and his actions. The Scripture is to direct the Christian's life. That being said the Bible recognizes certain authorities that God has ordained. He has ordained civil, family, and church authorities. The faithful Christian must be submissive to those authorities, unless they seek to bind his conscience in contradiction to the Bible. In that case his conscience is captive to the Word of God.

Luther stood on the Bible. What about you?

He left Worms but his life was in danger. The pope forbid him to preach, commanded that his writings be burned, and the emperor said that Luther could be killed. On Luther's way back to Wittenberg he was kidnapped. However, he was kidnapped by friends and taken to the castle of Wartburg where he was protected for a year and then he returned home. Luther wrote constantly during that time and completed a German translation of the New Testament in 1522.

We stand on the shoulders of Martin Luther. Let us learn from his mistakes, imitate his courage, and deepen our biblical convictions. Let us thank God for the Protestant Reformation.

Happy Reformation Day!


Material above taken from Family Worship for the Reformation Season by Ray Rhodes, Jr. Published by Solid Ground Christian Books.

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