Friday, November 4, 2011

A Brief History of Martin Luther, Part 11

The Augsburg Diet:

By 1530, the state of Protestantism was critical. The Diet of Speier had forbidden any further progress of the Reformation. The edict of Worms was still in effect and the Emperor had made peace with the Pope. On top of this, the Protestants were dividing. At the same time, thee empire was under threat of attack by the Turks. The Turks under Suleiman, who called himself “Lord of all rulers and the shadow of God over the earth,” approached Vienna in September of 1529. It was under such circumstances that the Diet of Augsburg convened on April 8, 1530. Its object was to settle the religious question and to prepare for war against the Turks. The invitation expressed a hope for the restoration of the unity of the holy empire of the German nation in one true church.

There was no hope, however, for such cooperation. The Catholics saw this as a declaration of war against the Protestants as well as the Turks. To the Protestants, it meant a defense against the Papists and the Turks. In Luther’s estimation, the Pope was at least as bad as Mohammed. Their motto was: Erhalt uns Herr bei Deinem Wort Und steur’ des Papsts und Türken Mord."

During the Diet of Augsburg, Luther was a prisoner in the castle of Coburg. With him were his amanuensis, Veit Dietrich and his nephew Cyriac Kaufmann. He was well cared for and enjoyed the time as best as he could with the heavy load of work and care on his mind. He frequently complained of dizziness and buzzing in his head, and a tendency to faint. Nevertheless, he accomplished a great amount of work. When his box of books arrived, he resumed his translation of the Bible. For recreation, he translated thirteen of Aesop’s fables in simlpe language and gave the morals in German proverbs.

With the Augsburg Confession, his work was basically completed. His followers were now an organized church, no longer dependant upon his personal efforts. He lived for another 15 years preaching, teaching and writing. Some of his later acts, like his furious attacks against the Papists and the Sacramentarians, obscured his fame. This only reminds us of the imperfections that adhere to the greatest of men. However, before he died, having read a short book by Calvin on Communion, he said to Melanchthon, “in this matter of the Lord’s Table we have gone too far. Do something about after I die.” Tragically, it was too late.

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