Episode 20 – Decet Romanum Pontificem – The Excommunication of Luther

In the summer of 1520, Pope Leo X released Exsurge Domine, a papal bull outlining the errors and heresies of the impudent German monk, Martin Luther. Luther responded by burning the bull. The pope had had enough. It was time for action, so he instructed his theologians to write a new papal bull that would excommunicate Luther By choosing force over dialogue, the pope overestimated his strength in Germany, a fatal mistake for Christian unity in the west. This episode is about the papal bull released on January 3, 1521 that declared Martin Luther excommunicated from the catholic church.

Text of the papal bull at papalencyclicals.netDecet Romanum Pontificem

Decet Romanum was a much better written document than Exsurge Domine, simply because it remains in the very comfortable domain for the 16th century Roman Catholic church. Where Exsurge Domine clumsily tries to explain the specific errors of Luther…Decet Romanum simply declares judgment. “Thou art a heretic!”

Decet Romanum Pontificem

Beer Break

Beautiful Disaster by Odd Side Ales. This is a Blended IPA aged in Red Wine barrels and dry hopped with Citra hops. Odd Side Alles is located in downtown Grand Haven, Michigan. Very mellow beer that spends time in wine barrels.

Recognition of Source Materials

The next episodes will be about the Diet of Worms. The drama of the Reformation was never just about what was on the paper of the documents. Come back and listen for a discussion about the real people and real events of the 16th century.


Freedom of a Christian – Episode 19

Karl von Miltitz wasn’t somebody who would easily give up. As the pope’s ambassador in the Lutheran controversy, he felt had the authority to make a difference in the ongoing theological issues stirring up Germany.

Miltitz was a little more humble about his capabilities in 1520, compared to when he first became enmeshed in the Lutheran dispute a year before. Back in the beginning, he thought he could tamp down all the issues by simply encouraging everybody to calm down. Now he realized that the theological differences were deeper than he first believed.

Now that he had an improved understanding, Miltitz adjusted his goals. He knew he was going to need to get a dialogue started between the pope and Luther. He knew there was no way the pope was going to extend an olive branch to Luther, but maybe he could get Luther to reach out to the pope. It was a long shot, but it was the only way out.

Karl von Miltitz had no way of knowing that he was initiating the writing of one of the greatest summaries of Evangelical theology, the Freedom of a Christian.

Freedom of a Christian was Luther’s response to his critics that his doctrine of freedom would create chaos. It’s built around two seemingly contradictory propositions from St. Paul:

  •  A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
  •  A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.

Beer Break

Bam Biere by Jolly Pumpkin. It is named after Bam, the tenacious brewery dog.

This delicious farmhouse ale is named for their Jack Russell, who struck by a car, bounced back in fine tenacious Jack Russell fashion. This farmhouse ale is brewed for those of us who knocked down, have picked up, dusted off, and carried on undaunted.

Golden naturally cloudy, bottle conditioned and dry hopped for a perfectly refreshing balance of spicy malts, hops, and yeast.

Resources and Recognitions

A blog post by by Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mumme,

Thanks to Josh

Thanks to St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg MI

James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer

Luther’s Works – volumes 31

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