In 1520 Martin Luther addressed the Christian nobility in Germany to give them encouragement in their role as supporters of the gospel. Martin Luther attacked three walls the pope had erected around Scripture. These walls were designed to intimidate the secular people from speaking up. If these walls could be torn down, then the Word of God would be more clearly shared in Germany.
The first wall is the notion that the spiritual power of the pope is above the temporal power of magistrates. This would prevent the magistrates, or local leaders, from instituting reform. This wall also established that the moral authority of the church silences the temporal leaders from having a voice.
When Luther knocks down this wall, he places a voice in the church in the hands of people other than the professionals. Giving a moral voice to people other than the clergy is possible because we all have the same standing before God by virtue of our baptism. Luther wrote, “For whoever comes out of the water of baptism can boast that he is already consecrated priest, bishop, and pope, although of course it is not seems that just anybody should exercise such office.”
This episode largely deals with introducing this letter from Luther and discussing the implications of knocking down the first wall. In episode 16, we will discuss the other two walls of the letter. The second wall was that interpretation of Scripture belongs to the pope and the professionals. The third wall was that only the pope can call a council that would deal with possible reforms in the church.
Luther knocked down these walls as artificial barriers to the priesthood of believers participating in the promises of God.
Where does the Roman Catholic Church stand today? The catholic church is full of very fine distinctions. It is important here to note that Rome has moved very close to Luther on the equality of all Christians. The catholic catechism, starting at section 897, states that the laity are, “the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World.”
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- Thanks to Josh
- Thanks to St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg MI
Recognition of source materials
- Elsie Singmaster, Martin Luther – the story of his life
- Hannah S. Bowers – Coffeeshopthinking.wordpress.com
- Vatican website where they have the official Roman Catholic teaching on the role of the laity and the role of the priesthood.
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