At his second appearance before the Imperial Diet in the city of Worms, Germany, Martin Luther was confident and serene. The notes that he wrote in preparation for this day are still available to us.
Luther was again asked if he recanted his writings. He proceeded to make the his famous “Here I Stand” statement that I posted earlier.
Once Luther gave his answer, the room erupted in chaos. Above the din of the princes and noblemen the group of Spaniards that had accompanied the emperor was heard to say, “To the fire with him!”
Eight days later Luther left Worms and went into hiding for ten months for his safety. Then he returned to Wittenberg and continued preaching the Gospel for another 25 years.
Emperor Charles V, who was a very devout and devoted Roman Catholic from Spain, soon issued the Edict of Worms. The Edict declared Luther to be an outlaw.
Anyone who encountered Luther could either kill him or turn him in to the emperor. Anyone who was found to be supportive of Luther was also condemned. All his writings were banned.
In addition, any future books against the Roman faith, Roman church, pope or scholastic theology were prohibited.
As one historian put it, “The edict was meant to crush all claims to the right of individual liberty of thought and conscience, the very cornerstone of modern Protestantism and of democracy.”
Luther did survive the attempts of the pope and the emperor to crush him. His teachings live on today. In my next post I will examine why what Luther stood for at the Diet of Worms is still relevant to us today.