Diet of Worms

19 03 2011

It will come as a disappointment to some of you to learn that this Diet is not the ubiquitous counting of calories that the word usually denotes.  (Anyone know how many calories are in a worm?)  Rather, it is definition two (Collins English Dictionary) – a legislative assembly, and the Worms have a German accent!

Come back to the early 1500s with me and I’ll try to explain what all this has to do with Romans. 

Martin Luther was a German monk who by studying the Bible found himself in conflict with church tradition.  It was reading Paul’s tweet in Romans that changed everything for him –  “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”  He realised that it was faith alone that counted in making a person right with God and gave much of his life to making this understandable to ordinary people.  

No surprise then that the papal church officials got stressed about his challenge to their views, traditions, and power over the people, and so they called him to a public trial in the city of Worms.

The authorities tried to get Luther to recant but he would not give in, even although he expected to be killed for heresy. He uttered his now famous words, “Here I stand, I can do no other.  God help me. Amen.”  The prosecutors got cold feet and decided to outlaw him rather than kill him.  This left Luther free to translate the Bible into German so that everyone could read it, and find out for themselves that faith, not works, was the way to becoming right with God.

This was the start of the Reformation in Europe…and the rest, as they say, is history.

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