Martin Luther and Leo X were certainly a study of contrasts. And to think that the reformation was catalyzed by a grubby dispute over taxes to build St. Peters and a rather dubious scheme on the part of Church and its collaborators on the stretching of canon law on the marketing and monetizing of indulgences: remissions granted by the church of the temporal penalties of sin. This dangerously commercialized practice to get St. Peter to open the gate on a VIP basis were regarded as a form of spiritual investment by the purchaser and a practical source of revenue by the Church. But it all came to head on October 31, 1517, All Saints Day when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the Church door in Wittenberg…
Luther was no child of the Renaissance. He had visited Rome only three years before Leo became Pope and had found the Eternal City disgusting. Luther’s father, an unpretentious mine owner one generation removed from the soil, had just hauled himself and his eight children into the petty bourgeoise. Martin Luther dashed his father’s hope of him becoming a lawyer by joining the Augustinian friars. This monastic life almost destroyed him in his struggle to make peace with god. As leo was taking up his pontifical burdens and pleasures, Luther, appointed to the faculty at Wittenberg began to move slowly out of the darkness of despair into the light of new hope.
Man, Luther discovered, is saved by his faith alone; he need not struggle to be worthy of god’s forgiveness, for he can never deserve salvation; he cannot earn paradise or make a deal to attain it. Instead, God, through Christ’s atonement, extends his mercies to all men irrespective of merit.
If Leo was what William James called the “healthy minded man” , Luther was the perfect image of William James’s “sick soul” calling out for aid in his terror and finding it in a direct and intensely personal relationship between god and man that had nothing to do with indulgences, tithes, church’s built of stone, or the entire edifice of the church militant. The formula- justification by faith alone- was innocent enough, but in the hands of a generation already dismayed by a church in which it was impossible to isolate the corruption, the phrase became the prescription for sweeping away all the frustrations of the past and calling in the golden age of the Apostles.
The situation is somewhat akin to the university demonstrations of the counter-culture. The university president is is skilled at handling his trustees and spends his days raising money for various needs and is responsible for running a complex organization whose existence depends on a tactful balancing of the principle of freedom of thought with the needs and wishes of society as a whole, and the activist or nihiistic students who dismisses the entire structure as an obsolete social system and demands the total rejuvenation of all aspects of life.
The language of protest is different, but the gulf that divides the idealist form the realist remains similar. Its simply a definition of reality from different perspectives. In the case of Leo and Luther, each man sought the welfare of the church according to his own principles, and together they succeeded in bringing a thousand year old institution crashing down.
81. Such impudent sermons concerning indulgences make it difficult even for learned men to protect the Pope’s honor and dignity against the calumnies, or at all events against the searching questions, of the laymen.
82. As for instance: – Why does not the Pope deliver all souls at the same time out of Purgatory for the sake of most holy love and on account of the bitterest distress of those souls – this being the most imperative of all motives, – while he saves an infinite number of souls for the sake of that most miserable thing money, to be spent on St. Peter’s Minster: – this being the very slightest of motives? Read More:http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/martin-luther-95-theses.html
Respect stood at the core of ecclesiastical discipline and obedience, and once respect was destroyed, the whole impressive structure, of which the pope was the apex, collapsed. If, as Luther was suggesting, indulgences were unnecessary, then what about the usefulness of all good works; if good works were questioned, then what about the doctrine of man’s free-will and his ability to choose or reject god; if the pope could not call upon the church’s reservoir of grace to remit the penalties of sin in purgatory, then what were the pope’s powers if any? Dis purgatory really exist? So, the questions and doubts spread steadily outward, first to challenge obedience to Rome and finally to engulf the entire codex of Catholic theology.
Very possibly nothing could have stopped the spread. The rot in the old church had gone too far, hatred of Rome in the minds of the laity was too intense, the financial and political interests of the German princes were to strong, the spiritual anguish of Christians had been ignored too long in favor of extracting florins, and the generation gap was too great. And, Leo’s handling of the crisis did not help. History was to prove Luther triumphant. The worm at the core of the old church had indeed gone too deep for the edifice to be repaired without major demolition and rebuilding. Leo’s only remedy had been to apply fresh paint and cover the cracks in what was essentially, a political facade.
…Leo died mysteriously and suddenly at midnight on December 1, 1521, aged forty-six, ostensibly from malaria.
The authors of the Rosicrucian works generally favoured Lutheranism as opposed to Catholicism. However, the relationship between Lutheranism and the Rosicrucians is ambiguous. Some suggestions have been made of a possible connection due to several reasons: the Rosicrucian documents denounce the hypocrisy in the Catholic Church of those times; the symbol of Martin Luther is a cross inside an open rose; and, from May 1521 until March 1522, Luther stayed at the Wartburg Castle situated to the southwest in the Thuringian forest. This same forest, and a castle, is associated in local oral tradition, later published by Maurice Magre (see above), as being the birth place, in the 13th century, of Christian Rosenkreuz. Read More:http://www.thelivingmoon.com/42stargate/03files/Christian_Wings.html