Season 2 | Episode 9 | Reformation | TBN

Season 2 | Episode 9 | Reformation

Watch Season 2 | Episode 9 | Reformation
November 7, 2019
26:53

Reformation

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Season 2 | Episode 9 | Reformation

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  • He was probably the most influential human being in two thousand years of history, apart from Jesus.
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  • That was not his intention, but when you look at history, it's inescapable.
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  • This is the famous door on the Castle Church here in Wittenberg, Germany,
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  • where just over 500 years ago an Augustinian monk and academic,
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  • Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Theses.
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  • It was a simple act that changed the world.
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  • It's not that others hadn't challenged the church before.
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  • One hundred years before Luther, Jan Hus had done the same, and yet he was burned at the stake in 1415.
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  • But there were several factors that came together that made this situation unique.
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  • First, Luther was brilliant. He had a great mind, he had a strong character.
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  • He suffered from bad health all of his life, but he was a brilliant individual.
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  • Secondly, it was an idea whose time had come.
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  • There were people across the community, there were leaders within the community,
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  • and there were people in the church who were desperate to see change.
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  • Thirdly, and this is really crucial, Luther had the protection of Frederick the Wise.
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  • Now, he was the elector of Saxony, the politician in charge of this area and he saved Luther's life.
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  • And lastly, the invention of the Gutenberg Press.
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  • Now that meant that these 95 Theses and all of Luther's ideas were printed and distributed widely and quickly.
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  • You know, none of those things alone created the Reformation, but together they changed the world.
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  • He was a larger than life figure who was such a maniac, such a crazy, funny, entertaining figure.
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  • I thought it would be fun to write about him and it will be fun to read about him.
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  • This is not a dower story with a tragic ending.
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  • This is Luther Haus. It was built by Frederick the Wise in 1504.
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  • He built it as an Augustinian monastery.
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  • It was the home for Martin Luther for most of his adult life.
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  • After the Diet of Worms and his time at Wartburg Castle, where he was kept for two years
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  • to keep him safe, Luther returned here and lived here for the rest of his life.
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  • It was the heartbeat of the Reformation.
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  • Benjamin, tell us about the building that we're in.
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  • Originally, this was a monastery.
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  • It was built in Wittenberg in a growing, vibrant city where the prince elector, Frederick the Wise,
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  • had just moved his residence here and he founded a university here.
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  • And so, he wanted to build a cloister, a monastery,
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  • for the Augustinian monks who should become the professors in that university.
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  • And then Martin Luther came here as one of the professors?
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  • He came in 1508. And then he was a student of theology.
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  • He started to study theology and give lectures on philosophy.
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  • But the aim was that he would be a professor of the holy scriptures.
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  • And he was that, I think from 1511 on.
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  • The myth about Luther, that you hear over and over and over, and there's some truth to it,
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  • is that he was riding a horse home, for months, back to the university to study law.
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  • He had just begun his law studies and there was a thunderstorm and he was scared for his life.
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  • He jumps off the horse, hits the ground and cries out to St. Anna,
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  • who is the patron saint of miners, his father was in the mining business.
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  • And says, 'St. Anna save me. If you save me, I'll become a monk'.
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  • Right? And so, people say, 'Well, Bob's your uncle.
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  • He didn't die. He had to become a monk. So, he leaves law and he becomes a monk'.
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  • The reality which I discovered, and I write about in my book is that he'd been thinking about this for a long time.
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  • When he joined the monastery, it wasn't all smooth, he really struggled with confession didn't he?
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  • Well, he struggled less than his confessor struggled.
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  • He had this compulsive personality.
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  • And if you're in a monastery and someone tells you, 'Look, it's all very simple.
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  • If you commit a sin, the sin will drag you to hell for eternity.
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  • But we've got a quick fix. You go to confession.
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  • You have to confess to a properly ordained priest.
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  • And whatever you confess to him can be forgiven and everything's fine'.
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  • Now, imagine someone like Luther who has a mind that is so brilliant
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  • and so compulsive that he would go into confession and he would ferret out
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  • the most obscure thoughts that he'd had from the previous week.
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  • Let's say he prayed for five hours straight and then had a flicker of pride
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  • for having prayed five hours straight, and he thought, 'That pride will lead me to hell.
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  • I have to confess it'. So, he would drive his father confessor insane.
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  • He also struggled with the church at large, which was then, there was only one church, the Catholic Church.
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  • What were some of the things he struggled with? What was his issues with the church?
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  • They're spending crazy sums to build St. Peter's, the new St. Peter's in Rome, which is now 500 years old.
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  • It becomes a money stream and so it becomes something that they begin to push, 'Let's preach indulgences'.
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  • Somebody will set up a wagon, and a theologian, a preacher will stand on the wagon and he will get the people
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  • so fired up about their own sins and so on and so forth, that they'll run to throw money into the coffer.
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  • They'll get a piece of paper. And it's all legit, it's all sanctioned by the church,
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  • there are signs up and so on and so forth.
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  • This is not something that anyone can do, it's official.
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  • And you get a piece of paper telling you whatever it is that you've paid for.
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  • So, Luther began to see this and didn't know what to do about it.
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  • But he and many others knew that whatever it had begun as it was no longer that thing.
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  • What was the motivating factor for him to post the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church?
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  • Luther, at some point, being a very, very brilliant theologian, says,
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  • 'We need to have a proper debate. This is the way we deal with it'.
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  • So, in order to have a debate, you have to post an announcement of the debate in Latin,
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  • so nobody can read it, practically speaking, except for other theologians and some of the aristocrats.
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  • And he says, 'Let's have a debate on indulgences'.
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  • So, he writes the 95 debate points, which are meant to be a little bit provocative
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  • because we want to get a good debate going, in Latin, and posts it on the local bulletin board.
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  • Where's the bulletin board? Is it next to the laundry room?
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  • No. In those days, the bulletin board was the wooden door of the Castle Church.
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  • That's it. What happened to that notice and how it became a spark that lit a conflagration in the world
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  • was completely unanticipated by the man who wrote the theses.
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  • We're in the Gutenberg Museum and it tells the story about how Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press.
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  • While it was a remarkable technical invention, it wasn't very successful financially.
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  • Gutenberg went broke. And even printing itself took a while to take hold.
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  • Between 1502 and 1516, only 123 books were published and they were mostly small and all in Latin.
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  • When the Reformation occurred in 1517, the amount of books published and distributed exploded.
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  • That was all down to one man, Martin Luther.
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  • In Wittenberg alone, that small town, there were 2.921 books published.
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  • That represented an average of 91 a year and three million separate copies.
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  • Now, while it's true that the Reformation can thank the Gutenberg Press
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  • in making it more pervasive across the community, the printing industry can thank the Reformation for its success.
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  • Some people say without the printing press, there would have been no Reformation at all,
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  • because the printing press gave Martin Luther and his co-reformers the opportunity
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  • to distribute their writings, their positions, their beliefs in a way that was
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  • just impossible 100 years before that.
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  • Martin Luther's reformation begins when independent printers in Germany
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  • decide for themselves, they're going to print and sell German translations
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  • of the 95 Theses that were presented in 1517 in Latin.
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  • It was possible suddenly to get information out very inexpensively.
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  • So, some people, no one knows who, read these debate points
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  • and said, 'Huh, that's very provocative, and it seems to be saying things
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  • that everyone is thinking', all of the common people who go to church and go to confession.
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  • So, someone translates this Latin into German.
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  • Before you know what is happening, these 95 sharp debate points, which were meant for private eyes only in Latin
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  • in this local populace, are all over Germany, all over Europe.
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  • People are debating them, talking about them.
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  • I never dreamt that this would get out beyond this little town and beyond
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  • the theologians who are supposed to see it. This is a nightmare'.
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  • I think it takes a little while before the impact on worldwide Christianity is felt.
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  • There's an immediate impact in the Reformation era.
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  • Luther is very popular because the printers of Germany make him the most widely published person,
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  • probably ever proportionally, in the history of Germany.
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  • And to put this into context, 100 years before Jan Hus had said a similar thing. It cost him his life.
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  • This is what's so fascinating about history.
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  • Here you have a figure a hundred years before Luther, Jan Hus from Hungary.
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  • He basically was saying precisely what Luther said, and Luther was saying precisely what Jan Hus said.
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  • Now, what's amazing is that when Luther goes into the monastery, near him as he's praying
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  • are the bones of the man who sent Jan Hus to be burned alive at the stake.
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  • This, Jan Hus, is an enemy of the church, until Luther starts reading what Jan Hus wrote.
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  • And then he thought, 'Oh, my goodness.
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  • It seems that we all think like this, but nobody's talking about it'.
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  • He realizes that this man was squashed like a bug by the church a hundred years earlier.
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  • The only reason Luther was not squashed like a bug was because of the printing press.
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  • Luther lived in a day where, for the first time, the state was unable to control
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  • what ideas people were seeing, and they never were able again to have the power that they did.
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  • The motivation for Martin Luther to write and post his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church
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  • was not just his frustration and concern at the church.
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  • You see Luther's own thinking about what it meant to be a Christian
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  • was deeply impacted by his reflection on the words of Paul in Romans 1:17,
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  • where it says, 'For in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed'.
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  • The Catholic Church used a Latin version of the Bible
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  • and in the Latin translation, righteousness meant 'being made righteous'.
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  • Now to be made righteous fit with the Catholic approach at that time
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  • of confession and mass and sacraments and indulgences.
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  • But Luther was now reading the Greek version, and the word righteous had a completely different focus.
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  • Paul actually used a Greek word that means 'to be declared righteous', not made righteous.
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  • Luther grasped that Paul is talking about a righteousness that God gives freely.
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  • Any righteousness that we experience is not our work, but God's work in us.
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  • This was revolutionary. This was grace, this was God's unmerited favor.
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  • Luther would later write that, 'When I discovered this, I was born again of the Holy Ghost,
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  • and the doors of paradise swung open and I walked through'.
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  • It's a very long, complex story, but we'll jump to a pivotal point,
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  • the Diet of Worms, which is an odd phrase for us today. What was the Diet of Worms?
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  • Every year the, what was called, the Holy Roman Empire,
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  • which was headed up by the emperor would convene for an annual congress.
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  • They would all get together, all of the electors.
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  • So, it's kind of like a parliament or something.
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  • They would all get together from around the empire, in a city, and they would vote on things of importance.
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  • And so, Luther is sent to the city of Worms for the imperial diet.
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  • So, the papal legate, Cajetan, says to Luther, 'Did you write these books?
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  • Yes or no? Are you accountable for what's in them? Yes or no? Do you repent?
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  • Do you confess? Do you recant what you've written in these books? Yes or no?'.
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  • Luther, having a legal mind, having a brilliant mind says, 'Hang on a second.
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  • I can't answer these questions very simply. What you're asking me is so important.
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  • Can I have 24 hours to pray and to think about my answer?'
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  • So, he's given 24 hours. He comes back the next day.
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  • And again, it's the same thing, 'What have you decided? Will you recant?'
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  • They wanted him to sign a piece of paper that says 'revoko', 'I recant. I revoke everything'.
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  • And Luther says, 'Unless you are willing to tell me where I have erred, I fear going to hell, so if you're
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  • asking me based on what you've said, whether I recant, I cannot do that'.
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  • And he says, 'So here I stand. I can do no other, so help me God'.
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  • It's a humble plea that, 'I am stuck'.
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  • I want to jump forward in the story, Benjamin, I want to jump forward to,
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  • we've had the Diet of Worms, he's defending his position against the church,
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  • his life is in danger, he's taken to Wartburg Castle.
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  • Why do you think Frederick the Wise protected him?
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  • That is a good question, and I think nobody has found a really sufficient answer to that question,
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  • because Frederick the Wise stayed Catholic for his whole life, and there is
  • 00:16:57.280 --> 00:17:01.250
  • no evidence at all that he had any sympathy for the reformatory theology of Martin Luther.
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  • Some people say he was just fond of his famous professor, who made his city Wittenberg famous.
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  • Some people say he had several political reasons to do that.
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  • And I would say he just had the right counsellors.
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  • He'd been informed by his local prince, who was fond of him in a way, 'Here's what we're going to do, Luther.
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  • You're going to go home. We know what's going to happen, you're going go home,
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  • you're going to be arrested, you're going to be frog-marched to Rome and burned at the stake probably.
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  • So, here's what we're going to do, we're going to kidnap you.
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  • We're going to send two kidnappers. You don't know who they are.
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  • You don't need to know anything, nobody needs to know anything.
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  • But you will be kidnapped and taken to a safe place'.
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  • Luther is taken away and ridden miles and miles through the forest to a place,
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  • very famous now, you can go and visit it, called the Wartburg, a 12th century castle.
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  • So, they hide Luther away. He now disguises himself.
  • 00:18:17.110 --> 00:18:20.270
  • Martin Luther started to let his hair and beard grow, and to wear the clothes of a knight, and called himself Knight George.
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  • Which I think is no coincidence, because St. George is a very famous Christian dragon-slayer as well.
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  • So, Luther really felt like, 'I am a kind of dragon-slayer'.
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  • While he was in the castle, he used his time well.
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  • It's again another one of these entertaining things about Luther,
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  • he was so brilliant and so productive that in three months he translates the entire New Testament.
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  • From the beginning, Matthew, to Revelation, into a German
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  • that's not only modern German, but it's an invented German.
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  • But Martin Luther was intent on translating the Bible into the language of the ordinary people.
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  • His life passion was translating the Bible into German, and that's the foundation
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  • of German prose, German literature and German culture, you could say.
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  • So, for Martin Luther, putting the word of God into the words of the people was his life task.
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  • So successful was Luther at that, and then subsequently at translating the entire Bible,
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  • the Old Testament, that to this day, 500 years later, Germans use Luther's text.
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  • And Luther, when he wrote that translation, effectively created what we today know as the modern German language.
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  • The first Bible was the first real bestseller, the first real book that was sold out within two months.
  • 00:20:09.220 --> 00:20:14.140
  • And he started to write it, to translate the New Testament into German, at Wartburg Castle.
  • 00:20:19.270 --> 00:20:24.250
  • And then came back to the Wittenberg and finished it.
  • 00:20:27.170 --> 00:20:30.180
  • The Gutenberg press was really important because, what good is it to have the word of God in your own language
  • 00:20:30.200 --> 00:20:35.130
  • if you actually can't get a copy and you can't read it?
  • 00:20:37.060 --> 00:20:41.110
  • And if it takes scribes hand-copying the Bible, that's going to mean every Bible is worth thousands of dollars
  • 00:20:41.130 --> 00:20:46.060
  • or whatever, whatever your currency was, and only the elite could read it.
  • 00:20:51.060 --> 00:20:55.240
  • As soon as there's a printing press, and you could churn out the works of Martin Luther
  • 00:20:55.260 --> 00:21:00.230
  • and the Bible in the German language, and sell it to anyone who can afford it,
  • 00:21:02.280 --> 00:21:06.140
  • that launched a whole movement of self-discovery and spiritual and social renewal.
  • 00:21:08.180 --> 00:21:11.210
  • So, the press was essential to making the Bible accessible to people,
  • 00:21:14.200 --> 00:21:19.140
  • so that ordinary people could learn to read and then could have a copy of their own Bible.
  • 00:21:21.190 --> 00:21:25.190
  • And those bibles started going into the homes as well.
  • 00:21:27.030 --> 00:21:30.190
  • Over time, the Bible in the home becomes a core part of Protestant spirituality.
  • 00:21:30.210 --> 00:21:35.150
  • And in September 1522, the first edition came out and was, I think,
  • 00:21:39.000 --> 00:21:43.250
  • two thousand or three thousand copies of it, and they were sold out within two months.
  • 00:21:46.010 --> 00:21:50.180
  • And what's interesting about that, about the first edition, is that it has illustrations from Lucas Cranach.
  • 00:21:53.080 --> 00:21:55.280
  • And these illustrations are very polemical.
  • 00:21:58.180 --> 00:22:01.250
  • There are illustrations for the Book of Revelation showing the dragon of the Apocalypse, wearing the tiara of the Pope.
  • 00:22:01.270 --> 00:22:06.170
  • Wow, that's a strong statement, isn't it?
  • 00:22:09.010 --> 00:22:10.120
  • It is a very strong statement.
  • 00:22:10.140 --> 00:22:12.080
  • And the prince elector, Frederick the Wise, did not like that at all.
  • 00:22:12.100 --> 00:22:15.040
  • And he forbid it. So, in the second edition and in the second volume,
  • 00:22:15.060 --> 00:22:18.200
  • there is no evidence of that anymore. It's only in the first edition.
  • 00:22:18.220 --> 00:22:22.280
  • But I think it's very interesting if you want to get an image of
  • 00:22:23.000 --> 00:22:27.240
  • what Martin Luther's insights were at that time, he was in an apocalyptic mood.
  • 00:22:29.270 --> 00:22:33.140
  • And he really thought that the Pope was the antichrist.
  • 00:22:35.000 --> 00:22:37.210
  • The power of the church to crush him was so dramatic that Luther began to wonder, 'Who am I dealing with?
  • 00:22:37.230 --> 00:22:42.110
  • Am I dealing with good people whom I can trust to try to give me the benefit of the doubt
  • 00:22:47.190 --> 00:22:52.130
  • so that we can work together for the common good?
  • 00:22:53.260 --> 00:22:56.030
  • Or am I dealing with people that are power mad and that are, in fact, tools of Satan?
  • 00:22:56.050 --> 00:23:01.010
  • Am I dealing with the Antichrist in Rome?' So suddenly he goes from being a man humble,
  • 00:23:03.000 --> 00:23:07.110
  • to being a man wondering whether he is doing battle with the forces of evil in history.
  • 00:23:09.140 --> 00:23:14.120
  • Who then comes to join him?
  • 00:23:18.100 --> 00:23:20.150
  • Well, almost from the very beginning on, of his reformatory work,
  • 00:23:20.170 --> 00:23:24.230
  • he says that monks and nuns and priests should not stay celibate but should marry.
  • 00:23:24.250 --> 00:23:29.190
  • But he himself refused to marry for several years.
  • 00:23:31.060 --> 00:23:35.040
  • And then the monk got married.
  • 00:23:35.060 --> 00:23:37.200
  • And then the monk got married.
  • 00:23:37.220 --> 00:23:39.280
  • And not only did the monk get married, he thought, 'Look, if I'm going to cause trouble,
  • 00:23:40.000 --> 00:23:42.200
  • I want to cause as much trouble as possible. So, I will marry a nun'.
  • 00:23:42.220 --> 00:23:46.150
  • Katie von Bora was very headstrong, very intelligent, and she was not interested
  • 00:23:46.170 --> 00:23:51.110
  • in the men with whom they had set her up. And she was very clear about that.
  • 00:23:53.170 --> 00:23:56.100
  • And at one point, she says, 'Well, look, if you're going to force me to marry,
  • 00:23:56.120 --> 00:24:01.050
  • I would marry so-and-so or you, Dr. Luther'. She puts her cards on the table
  • 00:24:01.070 --> 00:24:05.290
  • snd Luther begins to wonder if this isn't exactly what I'm supposed to do.
  • 00:24:08.090 --> 00:24:13.030
  • And so, it was a tremendously symbolic thing that this man, this monk,
  • 00:24:15.010 --> 00:24:18.130
  • at age 40, 41, whatever it was, decides to marry as a symbol and as a sign to everyone
  • 00:24:20.160 --> 00:24:24.130
  • that the greatest thing a man can do is be a husband and a father.
  • 00:24:26.270 --> 00:24:31.210
  • Very dramatic theological statement to the whole world at that time.
  • 00:24:33.240 --> 00:24:38.060
  • We really don't know what plans God has for us because Luther, in really putting God first,
  • 00:24:43.010 --> 00:24:47.260
  • he said, 'I don't care what you', meaning the powers that be, 'do to me.
  • 00:24:51.170 --> 00:24:55.210
  • Kill me. Do as you like, God will be glorified'.
  • 00:24:55.230 --> 00:24:59.070
  • If you live that way and you die that way, you don't know what can happen.
  • 00:24:59.090 --> 00:25:03.200