Anniversary: Martin Luther writings banned 490 years ago

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THURSDAY, MAY 26: The Catholic Church declared Martin Luther a heretic and officially banned him 490 years ago in the Edict of Worms. After years of conflict between the Church and the outspoken Luther, the Edict forbade anyone from either defending or helping Martin Luther and from reading, printing or possessing any of his writings. (Wikipedia has details on the Edict, and on events leading up to it.)

The decree was signed by Emperor Charles V, although because of Charles’ distractions and military concerns, the Edict of Worms was never strictly enforced. (Get exerpts of the Edict at Ashland.edu.) Luther remained secluded at Wartburg Castle for several years, where he continued to write and translate the Bible into German. Of course, we all know the outcome of all that work: the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church on many levels: He argued against the authority of the Pope and the doctrine of indulgences; he opposed the idea that salvation depended on anything other than faith; he questioned the authority of any doctrine or dogmata supported by the Church that was not found in Scripture. (Check out PBS’ site dedicated to Martin Luther.)

Protestantism today circles the globe and in many countries, Protestants still staunchly defend their independence. Protestant Christians in South Korea have been making headlines after they sent $100,000 worth of food to the North—without authorization by the government of Seoul. Despite military conflict with the North, the Protestants say they want to help the innocent people of North Korea. (Spero News has an article.) The Korean National Council of Churches attests that it is “not bound by politics” and is considering sending additional shipments.

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