Updated: a way cool excerpt from the movie "Luther" where Luther gives his final answer at the Diet of Worms.
I had to yoohoo out loud this morning as I drove to work listening to NPR. First I was surprised that NPR knew about a certain event in history and was more impressed they would comment on it. But in the middle of the story about the Pope's visit to the DC area was a mention that 487 years ago today the monk Martin Luther would be on trial in a German city named Worms (pronounced Verms) for heresy. On the 16th of April of 1521 Luther entered Worms to be tried for his teachings that would lay the stage for the split between what is now known as the Protestant church and the Roman Catholic church. Tomorrow, the 18th of April, some 487 years ago, after being ordered to recant upon pain of death, Luther would refuse to recant his writings critical of the pope and church leadership including the selling of indulgences (a sort of get out of jail free if you pay money card). and refusing to submit to papal authority, he would say, "Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe." His address concluded with these words: "Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen." ("Here, I stand. I can do nothing else. God help me. Amen.")
So were laid the seeds of a movement toward religious freedom where a person's right to have Scripture placed in his or her own hand to examine for oneself, and to believe according to their conscience was to gain momentum. In many ways, the seeds of religious freedom that form such a crucial part of American culture and even the military chaplaincy, were laid during these three days when Luther, upon pain of death, was willing to die to remain true to conscience and religiously free. There he stood. One could argue that religious freedom was born or at least re-awakened at Worms.