THE TRIAL OF LUTHER by James Atkinson


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This study of Luther focuses on the Trial at Worms, in 1521, and the stages of debate and struggle between Luther and the Roman Catholic authorities that preceded it. The last half gives verbatim most of the speeches made against Luther and his replies. The whole progress of these events is put in historial perspective, supported by considerable scholarship; but the author seems bent on lauding Luther and he claims too much for his contribution to the Reformation and related historical developments. This leads to foreshortening movements and oversimplifying Luther's contribution -- e.g., ""He secured for posterity both academic and spiritual liberty""; or, ""The old medieval world died and our modern era was born when Luther burnt the papal bull at Wittenberg."" Luther's part in the suppression of the peasant uprisings that followed his attack on the authority of the church is excused on the ground that ""he was engaged in another battle, the battle for theological truth, and would not be led aside."" Especially in the light of current reassessments, the tone here, and many of the statements made, are too partisan and too sweeping. A mote judicious estimate would have served Luther's cause better.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1971
Publisher: Stein & Day