For Luther, if one would lose the proclamation of the Law, one would also lose the sweet gospel which sets sinners free from condemnation. He said, “Yet it is safest to turn to a middle road, to turn too much neither to the right nor to the left. For both are dangerous, and, as I said already, for this reason also, the office of the word was instituted, that we might teach both, that is, the Law and the Gospel.”
Luther simply would not delve into philosophical argument with Zwingli on the possibility of the real presence of Jesus’ body in the Sacrament. When Zwingli said to Luther, “Prove, I pray, that the body of Christ can be in many places,” Luther tersely replied, “This is my body.”
Luther didn’t care about attacking the pope or any other ecclesial authority capriciously. His concern was for God’s Word and the doctrine.
Luther’s father confessor and superior in the Augustinian order, Johann Staupitz, provided Luther the opportunity to defend and discuss his views at the April 1518 meeting of the general chapter of the Augustinians of Germany in Heidelberg. In masterful fashion, Luther explored the assigned topics of free will, grace, and works, with one conclusion: we must trust in Christ, not ourselves.
The burning of the bull was not something Luther did lightly, or with great pomp necessarily. He later told his friend and superior Johann von Staupitz that he did this while “trembling and praying.”
Located on the banks of the Elbe River, Hartenfels is not only an impressive Renaissance castle on the outside, but inside contains a jewel of the Reformation: the first newly constructed Lutheran church in the world!
Regarding the truth taught in the Catechism, Luther says, “For this reason alone you ought gladly to read, speak, think, and use these things, even if you had no other profit and fruit from them than driving away the devil and evil thoughts by doing so. For he cannot hear or endure God’s Word… Yes indeed, it is the power of God that gives the devil burning pain and strengthens, comforts, and helps us beyond measure.”
Although most historians would probably date the beginning of the Protestant Reformation to Luther’s publication of the 95 Theses in 1517, it has long been recognized that the Reformers of the 16th century did not appear out of thin air.
Hymnody has always been a great teaching tool, and this was certainly the case during the time of the Reformation. Luther and the Reformers wrote dozens of hymns for use in the church and home as a way to teach the faith. Over the course of his life, Luther wrote hymns on all six chief parts of the catechism.
We not only confess the Christian faith to God and with His Church, but we also confess it against the lies of the devil and for the sake of the world that needs to hear it. The Christian’s fight begins with repentance, faith, and prayer. Likewise, the fight continues, not with force of arms, but with words, studied, written, and spoken.