Summoned to the Diet to give an account of his writings and teachings. There will be no awards handed out, no “Priest of the Year” plaques hung. He will reaffirm what he has said or recant, a perilous decision either way. It will be like Heidelberg, but bigger and more dangerous. Yet, he has no choice, so he makes his way to Worms.
He is anxious. He tries to control his breathing and focus as sweat drips down his brow. He is standing before all the princes, before the Holy Roman Emperor himself. He will lose more than his job if he answers their question wrong. “He said his first night he was timid and terrified, and he couldn’t answer, and he asked for 24 hours, which they gave him.” (Rev. Ross Engel)
He finally stands before the Diet, and the appropriate answer is once again demanded of him. “There was a demand of unity. We need to be united, we need to stand together. We’ve got the Turks coming, we got all these other problems, and we can’t have the Holy Roman Empire fractured over a theological issues. So, recant, repent of what you’ve written. Heal the nation, if you will, so that we can all get back to normal.” (Rev. Paul Koch)
It is time to choose. But, there really isn’t a choice. It is clear what must come next, regardless of the consequences. “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason…I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
Here. Here is where Martin Luther makes his stand, on the Word of God alone. “It wasn’t the traditions, it wasn’t the councils, or the voters’ meetings, or the by-laws, or any of that stuff. It was, what does the Scripture say that we’re to be about, what does the Word of God say?” says Ross on this week’s episode of Ringside. “It was a defining moment for Luther. If he had shown up and wussed out, if he had caved into the pressure and just said ‘Okay, I’m just going to do what the government tells me to do,’ then the spark that is the gospel may have died out there, and who knows when it would have been revived again.”
But the gospel did not die out. Here, Martin Luther stood and fought for it, bet everything on it, and was willing to die for it. He stood not just before the church, but before the state, and changed everything. “He makes this stand against insane political pressure, and what flows right after, where his elector protects him and all that, that changes the course of history. This guy continues on, and then the Reformation really gets going with him,” Paul points out. “It is funny that the attempts to corral Luther in his regard really seem to be monumental failures. You first have the Heidelberg Disputation, where he’s called to Heidelberg to give an account of his teachings, for the purpose of silencing him, and he goes…and starts winning people over. And Worms kind of does the same thing. He doesn’t cave, and in fact, starts to win more people to the cause. So clearly, God is at work, and used a bumbling monk to fulfill his task.”
Here, in Worms in 1521, Martin Luther made his famous stand, and he would spend the rest of his life standing on the Scripture, calling for reform, and withstanding the arrest warrants, excommunication, and labels of heretic that would follow him throughout his life. God worked through Martin Luther to bring the gospel back into the forefront of the conversation, and now it is our job to make sure it remains there.
Where? Where will we make our stand? Will we stand against the state’s authority to dictate worship? Will we stand against our brothers and sisters when they start to allow tradition and preference to overshadow God’s grace? Will we stand with the weak and the downtrodden, holding them up when they can’t stand on their own? Will we do it all by the grace of God, standing on His Word and clinging to His promises? Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.
This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside Preachers. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, and Rev. Ross Engel as they duke it out over sending “thoughts and prayers,” whether American flags should be in churches, Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and more on the full Ringside Preachers episode, “Thoughts and Prayers and Other Cliches”
Ringside Community College is Here!
“THE NEW GODS OF OUR POST-COVID WORLD”
Join the Ringside Preachers in-person for our first Semester of community college in Ventura, CA! Drinks, discussion, music, and an education that you can’t get anywhere else.
- “The god of happiness” Rev. Joel Hess
- “The god of safety” Rev. Paul Koch
- “The god of social media” Rev. Ross Engel
- “The god of scarcity and abundance” Rev. David Rufner of 1517
May 5, 2021
Grace Lutheran Church, Ventura, CA
RSVP to reserve your spot
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