Whose authority matters?
The reformation of 1517 started in Wittenberg Germany when a college theology lecturer and priest posted a list of 95 points of debate (the 95 theses). The introduction reads,
“Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.“
Posting the 95 theses was when the reformation went public. Reading through the 95 theses, it is quickly observed that those points of discussion challenged the authority of the Pope (Leo X) of the Christian Church in Rome. Scanning through all 95, it is also possible to get a glimpse of what Marin Luther considered a higher authority.
So, look at the original document (in translation) for yourself and come back for more on the question of authority.
Now Consider This:
- How many references to verses from the Bible can you count amongst the 95 points of debate?
It was the Bible that Martin Luther (and other reformers before and after him) took as a higher authority than any church leader or political leader of their time.
First Consequences of Elevating Biblical Authority
Martin Luther was asked to retract his 95 points of debate by those in authority over him.
- By university administrators soon after they were posted. Answer: No retraction of the 95 Theses.
- By Pope Leo X, leader of his church, in 1520. Answer: No retraction of the 95 Theses.
- By Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, ruler of his nation, in 1521. Answer: No retraction of the 95 Theses.
In 1521, Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Leo X and condemned as an outlaw by Emperor Charles V.
Like other reformers before him, Martin Luther was so convinced of the ultimate authority of the Bible he was willing to die for taking that position. More on this in future posts.