Protestantism and Martin Luther (Part 3)
Summons From Rome
This widespread interest aroused still further the fears of the papal authorities. Luther received a summons to appear at Rome to answer to the charge of heresy. The command filled his friends with terror. They knew full well the danger that threatened him in that corrupt city, already drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. They protested against his going to Rome and requested that he receive his examination in Germany.
The Great Controversy, p. 133
Rome finally agreed to send an official emissary to Augsburg. However, before this trial convened, the pope had already pronounced Luther a heretic—demonstrating the true spirit of popery.
Luther’s efforts on this occasion were not without good results. The large assembly present had opportunity to compare the two men, and to judge for themselves of the spirit manifested by them, as well as of the strength and truthfulness of their positions. How marked the contrast! The Reformer, simple, humble, firm, stood up in the strength of God, having truth on his side; the pope’s representative, self-important, overbearing, haughty, and unreasonable, was without a single argument from the Scriptures, yet vehemently crying: “Retract, or be sent to Rome for punishment.”
The Great Controversy, p. 137
Thus Martin Luther stood on the Protestant principle that the Scriptures have the highest authority. He maintained this position at the Diet (general assembly) of Worms as well.
After Luther responded at length to the question whether or not he would retract his writings,
. . . the spokesman of the Diet said angrily: “You have not answered the question put to you. . . . You are required to give a clear and precise answer. . . . Will you, or will you not, retract?”
The Reformer answered: “Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.” —J. H. Merle D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b. 7, ch. 8.
The Great Controversy, p. 160
Had the Reformer yielded a single point, Satan and his hosts would have gained the victory. But his unwavering firmness was the means of emancipating the church, and beginning a new and better era. The influence of this one man, who dared to think and act for himself in religious matters, was to affect the church and the world, not only in his own time, but in all future generations. His firmness and fidelity would strengthen all, to the close of time, who should pass through a similar experience. The power and majesty of God stood forth above the counsel of men, above the mighty power of Satan.
The Great Controversy, pp. 166
God had his hand over Martin Luther, and as he made his way back to his home, some of his friends seized him and secretly whisked him off the castle of Wartburg. From there, he continued to provide much needed encouragement and light in the form of tracts and, eventually, German translations of large portions of the Bible.
The next major advance in the Protestant Reformation was made by a number of German princes at the Diet of Spires.