Saturday, July 27, 2013

Diets and Worms and Protestors


I think it is time for a little history lesson about Protestantism. I am not doing this post just so I can show this photo but it is a cool one, don't you think? I took it awhile back of a Lutheran Church in Melville, Montana. I would like to take credit for capturing the cool shadow on the roof but truthfully, I was not even aware of it until later. My sister-in-law, Sue, noticed it when I was showing her some of my photos.


Anyway...

In the beginning of the 1500's Christians were all of one flavor. They were all Catholics. Today, a Christian is either a Catholic or a Protestant. Martin Luther is kind of like the Father of Protestants. He didn't mean to be that but he is. He was a Catholic Priest at a time when some leaders within the Catholic Church were doing things that he thought were outside God's will for us. The Catholic Church and the political leaders of that time were wrapped up together with pretty strong control over the lives of the people.

Enter Martin Luther. He wanted to make some changes in the church. There were others who didn't want those changes to happen. That led to a lot of drama! Luther had death threats and narrow escapes. There were princes and knights involved in the story. In the midst of all that, Luther had some strong supporters.

Eventually it became important to write down what this new group of Christians really believed. Remember that the Catholic Church and the Government were kind of one and the same and they didn't take kindly to these people that wanted the changes, people referred to as Lutherans.

There was a diet of Worms involved. OK, maybe that wasn't quite right the way I said that. A diet meant a meeting or a conference and one happened with the Holy Roman Emperor in the town of Worms, Germany. It was a VERY big deal.

The following is something my husband, Pastor Mike, wrote in a recent church newsletter.

Last month I wrote about the reading of the Augsburg Confession before the Holy Roman Emperor in 1530. The Augsburg Confession is “the” foundational document of the Lutheran church. The first German ruler to sign the Augsburg Confession was a prince who would be known as John “the Steadfast.”

John was born in 1468. His family was part of the aristocracy and so John received a formal education and training as a knight. He was involved in battles against the Ottoman Turks who were trying to overthrow Europe.

John read the writings of a German monk called Martin Luther. He became a supporter of Luther and encouraged his brother Fredrick “the Wise,” elector of Saxony, to defend and protect Luther when he made his famous stand before the Holy Roman Emperor in Worms, Germany in 1521.

In 1525, Fredrick “the Wise” died, and his brother John “the Steadfast” became the next elector of Saxony. This was the second most powerful position in the Holy Roman Empire behind the Emperor. In 1529, at the 2nd Diet of Speyer, Lutheranism was outlawed. John “the Steadfast”, along with other German princes, “protested” against this decision and so they became known as the first “Protestants.”

John “the Steadfast” was a brave ruler who insisted that the Gospel should be preached in its purity without human additions. John was a layperson, not a theologian, but he defended the truth of the Gospel. He is a reminder to all Lutherans that the Christian church will not survive without faithful laypeople who are willing to confess and defend the Christian faith.

That was kind of interesting, don't you think? Although I've been a Protestant my entire life, I don't know that I ever knew from where that name came. No I know and so do you.

Now, I'm thinking what my name would be.  Susan the ________?  I really like steadfast but I don't want to be a copycat.  I think I will go with Susan the Faithful? Susan the Loyal? What about you? What would your name be?