Uneven matchups

Group 236


In 1521, as Pope Leo X was reviewing what to do about Luther’s 95 Theses, he issued a proclamation calling Henry VIII of England “Defender of the Faith” because the king had recently published a religious tract attacking Luther’s position on indulgences.

Looking back over the centuries, the scene is hard to imagine. The King of England, a man feared throughout his realm and Europe, is engaging a German-born monk-turned-professor over a religious matter. And who would one expect to win such an uneven match?

First, Luther simply dismissed the King’s claims as invalid. Then one year later, he stood before the Diet of Worms to declare: “I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.”

While initially remaining faithful to the Pope, Henry soon found himself challenging Leo, becoming head of the Church of England and allowing fundamental reforms similar to what Luther had pursued in Germany.

Martin Luther often confronted powerful forces arrayed against him. For this effort, he helped broaden the wider Protestant Reformation.

  • Bulletin insert – Week 19: Uneven matchups (pdf file)
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