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MartinLuther:

ExcerptsfromhisaccountoftheconfrontationattheDietofWorms
(1521)

[Dr.Ecken:]...Doyouwishtodefendthebookswhicharerecognizedas
yourwork?Ortoretractanythingcontainedinthem?...
[Luther:]MostSereneLordEmperor,MostIllustriousPrinces,Most
GraciousLords...Ibeseechyoutograntagracioushearingtomyplea,
which,Itrust,willbeapleaofjusticeandtruth;andifthroughmy
inexperienceIneglecttogivetoanytheirpropertitlesorinanywayoffend
againsttheetiquetteofthecourtinmymannersorbehavior,bekindenough
toforgiveme,Ibeg,sinceIamamanwhohasspenthislifenotincourts
butinthecellsofamonastery;amanwhocansayofhimselfonlythis,that
tothisdayIhavethoughtandwritteninsimplicityofheart,solelywitha
viewtothegloryofGodandthepureinstructionofChrist'sfaithfulpeople..
..
...YourImperialMajestyandYourLordships:Iaskyoutoobservethatmy
booksarenotallofthesamekind.
TherearesomeinwhichIhavedealtwithpietyinfaithandmoralswith
suchsimplicityandsoagreeablywiththeGospelsthatmyadversaries
themselvesarecompelledtoadmitthemuseful,harmless,andclearlyworth
readingbyaChristian.EventheBull,harshandcruelthoughitis,makes
someofmybooksharmless,althoughitcondemnsthemalso,byajudgment
downrightmonstrous.IfIshouldbegintorecanthere,what,Ibeseechyou,
wouldIbedoingbutcondemningaloneamongmortals,thattruthwhichis
admittedbyfriendsandfoesalike,inanunaidedstruggleagainstuniversal
consent?
Thesecondkindconsistsinthosewritingsleveledagainstthepapacyand
thedoctrineofthepapists,asagainstthosewhobytheirwickeddoctrines
andprecedentshavelaidwasteChristendombydoingharmtothesoulsand
thebodiesofmen.Noonecaneitherdenyorconcealthis,foruniversal
experienceandworldwidegrievancesarewitnessestothefactthatthrough
thePope'slawsandthroughmanmadeteachingstheconsciencesofthe
faithfulhavebeenmostpitifullyensnared,troubled,andrackedintorment,
andalsothattheirgoodsandpossessionshavebeendevoured(especially
amongstthisfamousGermannation)byunbelievabletyranny,andareto

thisdaybeingdevouredwithoutendinshamefulfashion;andthatthought
theythemselvesbytheirownlawstakecaretoprovidethatthePope'slaws
anddoctrineswhicharecontrarytotheGospelortheteachingsofthe
Fathersaretobeconsideredaserroneousandreprobate.IfthenIrecant
these,theonlyeffectwillbetoaddstrengthtosuchtyranny,toopennotthe
windowsbutthemaindoorstosuchblasphemy,whichwillthereuponstalk
fartherandmorewidelythanithashithertodared....
ThethirdkindconsistsofthosebookswhichIhavewrittenagainstprivate
individuals,socalled;againstthose,thatis,whohaveexertedthemselvesin
defenseoftheRomantyrannyandtotheoverthrowofthatpietywhichI
havetaught.IconfessthatIhavebeenmoreharshagainstthemthanbefits
myreligiousvowsandmyprofession.ForIdonotmakemyselfouttobe
anykindofsaint,noramInowcontendingaboutmyconductbutabout
Christiandoctrine.Butitisnotinmypowertorecantthem,becausethat
recantationwouldgivethattyrannyandblasphemyandoccasiontolordit
overthosewhomIdefendandtorageagainstGod'speoplemoreviolently
thanever.
However,sinceIamamanandnotGod,Icannotprovidemywritingswith
anyotherdefensethanthatwhichmyLordJesusChristprovidedforHis
teaching.WhenHehadbeeninterrogatedconcerningHisteachingbefore
Annasandhadreceivedabuffetfromaservant,Hesaid:"IfIhavespoken
evil,bearwitnessoftheevil."IftheLordHimself,whoknewthatHecould
noterr,didnotrefusetolistentowitnessagainstHisteaching,evenfroma
worthlessslave,howmuchmoreoughtI,scumthatIam,capableofnaught
buterror,toseekandtowaitforanywhomaywishtobearwitnessagainst
myteaching.
Andso,throughthemercyofGod,IaskYourImperialMajesty,andYour
IllustriousLordships,oranyoneofanydegree,todefeatthembythe
writingsoftheProphetsorbytheGospels;forIshallbemostready,ifIbe
betterinstructed,torecantanyerror,andIshallbethefirstincastingmy
writingsintothefire....
ThereupontheOratoroftheEmpire,inatoneofupbraiding,saidthathis
[Luther's]answerwasnottothepoint,andthatthereshouldbenocalling
intoquestionofmattersonwhichcondemnationsanddecisionshadbefore
beenpassedbyCouncils.Hewasbeingaskedforaplainreply,without
subtletyorsophistry,tothisquestion:Washepreparedtorecant,orno?
Lutherthenreplied:YourImperialMajestyandYourLordshipsdemanda
simpleanswer.Hereitis,plainandunvarnished.UnlessIamconvicted

[convinced]oferrorbythetestimonyofScriptureor(sinceIputnotrustin
theunsupportedauthorityofPopeorcouncils,sinceitisplainthattheyhave
oftenerredandoftencontradictedthemselves)bymanifestreasoning,Istand
convicted[convinced]bytheScripturestowhichIhaveappealed,andmy
conscienceistakencaptivebyGod'sword,Icannotandwillnotrecant
anything,fortoactagainstourconscienceisneithersafeforus,noropento
us.
OnthisItakemystand.Icandonoother.Godhelpme.
Amen.