The Diet of Worms, Germany, in 1521, where Martin Luther was excommunicated

Luther's Own Statements
by Fr. Henry O' Connor, S.J., 1884

This pamphlet does not pretend to be a Life of Luther. My only and sole purpose is to inquire into the question, whether, in any sense of the word, Luther can be looked upon as a Reformer commissioned by Almighty God.

Now, God is a Being of Infinite Dignity, Truth, and Holiness. Whenever, therefore, we read in the Bible that either Prophets or Apostles act as the chosen instruments of Heaven, we also find --

a. That the manner in which they teach is in accordance with the supreme Dignity of Him who sends them;

b. That the doctrines which they inculcate are worthy of the God of all Truth; and,

c. That the results of their teaching are such as to entitle them to be revered as the messengers of a God of Infinite Holiness.

If, therefore, Luther's character as a Reformer can stand this three-fold test, we must look upon him as a vessel of election chosen by God to do a great work in His Church. If, however, Luther's teaching is not in accordance with this three-fold standard, we cannot reasonably admit his claims.

Now, as to the manner in which Luther taught :

a. We find him rejecting the authority of the Pope with an amount of diplomacy and coarseness, utterly inconsistent with the sublime Dignity of Him, whose messenger he purposes to be.

b. Luther assures us that Satan argued in favour of some of the principal doctrines of his new Creed. Now, it is beneath the dignity of God to allow His chosen legate to appeal to the testimony of Satan in support of his teaching.

As to the doctrines of the Reformer :

a. Luther claims an amount of authority, and a degree of infallibility, which Protestants are, as a rule, unwilling to admit in anybody since the days of the Apostles.

b. He rejects the Epistle of St. James, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelations, although, according to the Thirty-nine Articles, these are "Canonical Books . . . . . . . of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church." (Art. 6.)

c. Whatever may be said about matters of minor importance, every fair-minded person will agree with me that the teaching of a Reformer, who has the sanction of Heaven, cannot possibly be in direct opposition to any of the most fundamental doctrines of Christian morality, such as the unity of Christian marriage, and the unlawfulness of adultery.

d. Luther condemns, not only all the Jews and Roman Catholics, but even all Protestants differing from himself, to Hell. Now, scarcely any Christian of the present day believes this important article in the full extent as insisted on by Luther.

As to the political results: Neither Christ, nor the Prophets, nor the Apostles excited the passions of the people till the outbreak of a rebellion was almost unavoidable. As to the moral results: Luther informs us, in numberless passages, that his followers became worse than they had been under the Pope. It is idle to say that such must necessarily have been the case since the people were in the throes of a religious revolution. For the greatest religious revolution which the world has ever witnessed was that brought forth by the teaching of Christ and His Apostles. Now, the followers of Christ and of His Apostles did not lead worse lives than before; on the contrary, the innocence, purity and holiness of their lives made them the admiration of the world.

The careful reader will find that I do not condemn Luther for anything that is not unjustifiable in the eyes of the great bulk of English or American Protestants. Every fair-minded man will admit that, if I succeed in proving the facts mentioned in these introductory remarks, Luther cannot be considered a Reformer sent by Almighty God, whatever bright spots his friends may admire, either in his character or in his teaching.

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