Martin Luther was an exceptional man in the history of the church. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he was schooled in the traditions of Roman Catholicism and entered the monastery when he was only 22 years old. On his return visit from home, he had been knocked off his horse by lightening, and fearing for his life, vowed to be a monk. Upon entering the monastic life, Martin’s view of the Papacy was severely challenged. The sale of indulgences with the full support of the papacy had become such a burden to the common people that Martin Luther felt he must cry out against this practice, which was unsupported by Scripture. The worldly extravagances of the priesthood in Rome and elsewhere was blatantly flaunted in the eyes of the Catholic people as well, who could do nothing it seemed to stop their ungodly immoralities. These things along with the false worship of relics, for which the church was paid to view, were just too much for martin not to put his pen to paper any longer. In Table Talk, he wrote, “Rome is a Harlot. I would not take a thousand gulden not to have seen it, for I never would have believed the true state of affairs from what other people told me had I not seen it myself…. So great and bold is Roman impiety that neither God nor man, neither sin nor shame, is feared.”
On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin posted his 95 thesis on the doors of the Cathedral Church at Wittenberg. These 95 protestations of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church became the rally cry for the oppressed people and later the Protestant Revolution. Martin Luther was probably the first person to identify the system of the papacy with the Antichrist of Revelation. On Dec. 10, 1520, Martin wrote, “Let whosoever adheres to the truth of the gospel be present at nine o’clock at the church of the Holy Cross outside the wall, where impious books of papal decrees and scholastic theology will be burnt according to ancient and apostolic usage, inasmuch as the boldness of the enemies of the gospel has waxed so great that they daily burn the evangelic books of Luther. Come pious and zealous youth, to this pious and religious spectacle, for perchance now is the time when the Antichrist will be revealed!” Luther later prepared a bonfire in which he burned the books of canon law, an expression of his refusal to be bound by their statutes. Luther’s protest was against the Roman See and the Papacy, not against the Church itself.
Luther wrote again, “I have raised my horns with confidence against the Roman idol, and the true Antichrist.” Luther clearly identified Rome as the Babylon of Revelation when he wrote further, “…daily those songs are sung which delight not in Babylon.” Upon his appearance at the Diet of Worms in 1521, in defense of his writings, Luther stated, “The second class of my works inveighs against the papacy as against that which both by precept and example has laid waste all Christendom, body and soul. No one can deny or dissemble this fact, since the general complaints witness that the consciences of all believers are snared, harassed, and tormented by the laws of the pope, and the doctrines of men, and especially that the goods of this famous German nation have been and are devoured innumerous and ignoble ways. Yet canon law provides that the laws and doctrines of the pope contrary to the gospel and the fathers are to be held erroneous and rejected.” Upon closing his defense Luther’s famous words still echo today, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture or by right reason- for I trust neither in Popes nor in councils, since they have often erred and contradicted themselves- unless I am convinced, I am bound by the texts of the Bible; my conscience is captive to the word of God.”
Luther’s voice of passion and persuasion taught all of Christendom that our hope lies not in words of mere men, but in the Word of God. His conviction that the papacy was in fact the revealed antichrist of Scripture has been lost to most of Christendom due to modern influences and interpretations. But we would do well to listen to the voice of the Protestant Revolution and consider the truths that were once recognized by the majority of Protestants.
Luther, in writing to his father tells us of the strength of his faith saying, “My conscience is free and redeemed; therefore I am still a monk but not a monk, a new creature not of the Pope, but of Christ, for the Pope also has creatures and is a creator of puppets and idols and masks and straw men, of which I was formerly one, but now have escaped, by the Word…The Pope may strangle me and condemn me and bid me go to Hell, but he will not be able to rouse me after death to strangle me again. To be banned and damned is according to my own heart and will.” Luther’s readiness to face even death for the cause of his convictions is evidence enough for his theology against the Papacy.
Luther’s heroics in Christian faith and doctrinal leadership led him to write the Word of God in the language of the people, which was a blatant defiance of the papal powers, which had declared the Bible to be too difficult for the common people to understand. Luther, steadfast in his faith, declared God’s Word more authoritative than the powers of the Papacy. His determined resistance of the powerful system of the antichrist Papacy was the downfall of the wounded head that will be resurrected in power once again in the last days of the end times.
- The Bible and Martin Luther (rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com)
- What were Martin Luthers ideas that lead to the Protestant Reformation (wiki.answers.com)
- Class: Martin Luther – Lesson 1 (tampareformed.wordpress.com)