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The Birthplace of Religious Pluralism

October 31, 2012   ·   By   ·   0 Comments

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Martin Luther

Martin Luther

OCTOBER 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 debate questions on the door of Wittenberg Church, which began a movement referred to as ‘the Reformation.’

Summoned to stand trial in 1521 before 21-year-old Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Martin Luther was declared an outlaw. Frederick of Saxony hid Luther in Wartburg Castle, where he translated the New Testament into German.

Charles V later sacked Rome, imprisoned Pope Clement VII, oversaw the Spanish colonization of the Americas, began the Counter-Reformation, and defended Europe against the Muslim invasion of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent had 100,000 Muslim Turks surround Vienna, Austria.

Martin Luther wrote:

“The Turk is the rod of the wrath of the Lord our God…

“If the Turk’s god, the devil, is not beaten first, there is reason to fear that the Turk will not be so easy to beat…Christian weapons and power must do it…

“(The fight against the Turks) must begin with repentance, and we must reform our lives, or we shall fight in vain.

“(The Church should) drive men to repentance by showing our great and numberless sins and our ingratitude, by which we have earned God’s wrath and disfavor, so that He justly gives us into the hands of the devil and the Turk.”

Eric W. Gritisch wrote in Martin-God’s Court Jester: Luther in Retrospect (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983, p. 69-70):

“Afraid of losing the much-needed support of the German princes for the struggle against the Turkish threat from the south, Emperor Charles V agreed to a truce between Protestant and Catholic territories in Nuremberg in 1532…

“Thus the Lutheran movement was, for the first time, officially tolerated and could enjoy a place in the political sun of the Holy Roman Empire.”

In 1543, reformer John Calvin wrote to Philip Melanthon (Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts & Letters, I: 373):

“I hear of the sad condition of your Germany!…The Turk again prepares to wage war with a larger force. Who will stand up to oppose his marching throughout the length and breadth of the land, at his mere will and pleasure?”

Followers of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers who “protested” certain doctrines, were generally referred to as “Protestants.”

New York University Professor Emeritus Patricia Bonomi, in her article “The Middle Colonies as the Birthplace of American Religious Pluralism” wrote:

“The colonists were about 98 percent Protestant.”

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, most were Protestant, with the notable exception of Catholic Charles Carroll of Maryland.

British Statesman Edmund Burke addressed Parliament, 1775:

“All Protestantism…is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our Northern Colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the Protestant religion.”

Samuel Adams stated when he signed the Declaration of Independence:

“This day, I trust, the reign of political protestantism will commence.”

Martin Luther later wrote:

“I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth.”


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William J. Federer is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and president of Amerisearch, Inc, which is dedicated to researching our American heritage. The American Minute radio feature looks back at events in American history on the dates they occurred, is broadcast daily across the country and read by thousands on the internet.
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