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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.36 n.2 Pretoria Oct. 2010


Luther's middle course: Balancing freedom and service in De Libertate Christiana (1520)



Neil R. Leroux

University of Minnesota, Morris, USA




Luther published De Libertate Christiana in 1520, but it was two years before the impact of the work was felt. When he returned from the Wartburg in early March 1522, he preached the Invocavit Sermons (9-16 March) thus, in effect, humiliating Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt; as a result, the "Wittenberg Movement" was halted. Contrary to charges that he had abandoned his previous platform for worship reforms, Luther's earlier writings - "Sincere admonition ... against insurrection and rebellion" (1521) and "On the freedom of a Christian" (1520) - show that he did not change his position and that he had,. in fact, argued against offending the weak in faith, urging the distinction between stubborn and simple folk. In De Libertate Christiana (1520), Luther's case for interacting with the stubborn and the weak is grounded in Paul, where Luther finds examples for treating both groups. His media via avoids improper motives and attitudes based on a misunderstanding of the Christian liberty one has through the righteousness of faith - a liberty enacted in Christian love.



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