Luther Didn’t Eat Worms, But The Diet Of Worms Feeds Us Today

If you use enough marinara sauce, a plate of worms might taste like spaghetti, but Martin Luther really didn’t eat the squiggly critters on April 16th through 18th of 1521. Nevertheless, his historic stand before the Diet of Worms on that date marked the return to the belief that Scripture is the final authority for Christian faith and practice.

According to

Throughout the Middle Ages in the Holy Roman Empire, a “diet” was an assembly of governmental and/or religious leaders called together to settle a political or religious matter. The Diet of Worms was held in 1521 in Worms (pronounced “Vermz”), Germany, to discuss the teachings of Martin Luther. In 1517, Martin Luther had posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was essentially the start of the Protestant Reformation. Between the posting of the 95 Theses and the Diet of Worms, four years later, the Protestant Reformation became a significant movement.

In 1520, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull against Martin Luther, declaring him to be a heretic. As a result, Emperor Charles V called the Diet of Worms as a court of inquisition and ordered Luther to appear and either affirm or renounce his teachings. Johann Eck, who was representing the Emperor, asked Martin Luther if he was ready to recant his heresies. After a one-day recess, Martin Luther responded, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”

What was the Diet of Worms? |

But all that happened 500 years ago. Why should we blog about it now?

Indeed. most 21st Century evangelism dismiss church history as a whole, preferring to concentrate on the present-day issues facing the Church. And I must agree that plenty of aberrant teachings and practices infiltrate our ranks, demanding time and attention as we beg each other to exercise Biblical discernment. We’re inundated with false teachers who twist Scripture and lead us into unbiblical expressions of “worship.” With such high stakes, who cares about a mediaeval German council that assembled just to prosecute a simple Augustinian monk who thought the Bible argued against the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church?

Yet Luther’s determination to accept the Bible’s authority over that of the papacy marks a pivotal point in church history. This pivotal point directs Christians (whether Roman Catholic or involved in other spiritual systems that add to the Bible’s authority) to depend on God’s Word as our ultimate authority. The Diet of Worms gives us encouragement to stand firmly on Scripture when others pressure us to compromise with prevailing philosophies and customs in our society.

Luther’s pronouncement at the Diet of Worms resulted in a decision to execute him as a heretic. By God’s providence his friends rescued him from the people who would have put him to death, allowing him to translate the Bible from Greek into German so that Christians could read it without dependence on Roman Catholic interpretation. Years later, his courage to produce this translation would embolden Tyndale to translate the Bible from Greek into English. Soon, other brave men would make translations into their languages, liberating Christians all over the world to read and understand the Word of God for themselves.

And, thanks to the Diet of Worms, 21st Century Christians can stand against the forces that attempt to pull us into error. Martin Luther set the example of finding spiritual nourishment in nothing other than Scripture. The Diet of Worms feeds us the courage to depend on God’s Word alone.

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