Monday, 4 February 2013

Martin Luther's idea of recanting

When Pope Leo X issued his Papal Bull against Martin Luther on 15th June 1520 he left him no room for manoeuvre. There was no offer of a discussion on the issues of difference, Luther was not given the opportunity of explaining from scripture why he held the views that he did, but was given the ultimatum of recant or be excommunicated. Luther response was to publicly burn the Bull at Wittenburg and respond to it in a tract entitled 'Assertation of all the Articles Wrongly Condemned in the Roman Bull. The tone of his response gives an indication of what he thought of recanting his views, and of of the Pope's demands.

Proposition 18 of the Bull condemned Luther's view that 'indulgences are the pious defrauding of the faithful'. In responding to this Papal condemnation Luther's words would not have been to the Pope's liking;
'I was wrong, I admit it, when I said that indulgences were the pious defrauding of the faithful. I recant and I say, Indulgences are the most impious frauds and imposters of the most rascally pontiffs, by which they deceive the souls and destroy the good of the faithful'.
Proposition 29 of the Bull condemned Luther's statement that 'certain articles of John Hus condemned at the Council of Constance are most Christian, true, and evangelical, which the universal Church cannot condemn'. Once again Luther's idea of recanting was not quite what the Pope had envisaged; 
'I was wrong. I retract the statement that certain articles of John Hus are evangelical. I now say not some but all the articles of John Hus were condemned by Antichrist and his apostles in the synagogue of Satan. And to your face most holy Vicar of God, I say freely that all the condemned articles of John Hus are evangelical and Christian, and yours are downright impious and diabolical'.
If only more today would display the same attitude of the face of papish error. When Rome protested against Luther's declaration of the true gospel and his repudiation of their falsehood Luther did not water down his views but became stronger in his opposition to error. He declared the gospel louder than before and gave notice to the system of Antichrist that he would stand ever more firmly against their error. What a contrast with many of today's Protestant church leaders who would sooner apologise for the actions of the reformers than carry on their cause. May God give us more Luthers, Calvins and Knox's.

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