Luther on His Severe Attacks of the Roman Catholic Church

In 1520 Martin Luther wrote – among other things – three treatises that became very popular. In many ways these three treatises are a must-read for students of the Reformation. These treatises are as follows: “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation,” “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” and “The Freedom of a Christian.” These treatises are all found in one book that Fortress Press published some years back: Martin Luther, Three Treatises. I was reading part of this book again today and noticed earlier highlights of mine. Here’s one paragraph I marked up again. It shows a little of Luther’s early perspective on his work of reforming the church:

I know full well that I have been very outspoken. I have made many suggestions that will be considered impractical. I have attacked many things too severely. But how else ought I to do it? I am duty-bound to speak. If I had the power, these are the things I would do. I would rather have the wrath of the world upon me than the wrath of God. The world can do no more to me than take my life. In the past I have made frequent overtures of peace to my enemies, but as I see it, God has compelled me through them to keep on opening my mouth wider and wider and to give them enough to say, bark, shout, and write because they have nothing else to do. Well, I know another little song about Rome and the Romanists. If their ears are itching to hear it, I will sing that one to them, too – and pitch it in the highest key! You understand what I mean, dear Rome.

…God give us all a Christian mind, and grant to the Christianity of the Germany nation in particular true spiritual courage to do the best they can for the poor church. Amen. Wittenberg, in the year 1520.

(Note: the “little song” Luther refers to is his other treatise, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church).

Martin Luther, Three Treatises, p. 111-112.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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