Did Luther really say all these words, as he defended himself at the Diet of Worms, which concluded 500 years ago yesterday?
Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.
These are famous words indeed, but there is some question as to whether he actually said the boldfaced part. Some transcripts have them, others do not, and one theory is that they were added afterwards to burnish Luther’s image as a courageous dissenter from the Papal party line. But another way of looking at it is that Luther really did say them, because
When Luther finished his main response, the room erupted into noisy cheers or jeers, depending on whose side the people were on. Luther quickly was hustled out of the room, with people yelling things such as, “To the fire with him!” I think the room remained quiet enough for the official notetakers to hear his main comments, but at the conclusion it was too noisy for anyone besides those closest to him to hear him say, “Here I stand.” This, too, is the conclusion of other scholars. Others, however, choose to suggest the words were added by friends to his statement. I find it difficult to imagine that on such a momentous occasion these key words would be merely a result of pious afterthought.
Yes, the original blog post is from Concordia Publishing House, and thus not entirely unbiased – but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. The next step: proving that Luther really did nail the 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg!
P.S. Apologies for my absence of late. I shall try to resume blogging at a more regular pace.