Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of New Georgia Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Martin Luther Biography, Part 10: Interview with Cardinal Cajetan


As Luther's 95 Theses gained increasing popularity, the pope felt he must respond. His first response was to instruct the Augustinian order to deal with the matter, for Luther was one of its members. Gonzales recounts:
The Reformer was called to the next chapter meeting of the order, in Heidelberg. He went in fear for his life, for he expected to be condemned and burned as a heretic. But he was surprised to find that many of his fellow friars favored his teaching, and that some of the younger ones were even enthusiastic about it. Others saw the dispute between Luther and Tetzel as one more instance of the ancient rivalry between the Dominicans and Augustinians, and therefore refused to abandon their champion. Eventually, Luther was able to return to Wittenberg, strengthened by the support of his order, and encouraged by those whom he had won for his cause. (23)

The pope then attempted to summon Luther to Rome, but Frederick the Wise "wrote a calming letter to the pope, pointing out that it was right for German citizens to be tried in their own country" (Robinson, 43).

Gonzales continues:
The pope then took a different route. The Diet of the Empire-- the assembly of princes and nobles-- was scheduled to meet in Augsburg, under the presidence of Emperor Maximilian. As his legate to that gathering, Leo [X] sent Cardinal Cajetan, a man of vast erudition... (23-24)

The pope then sent a letter of safe passage for Luther, summoning for Luther to appear before Cardinal Cajetan at the Diet of Augsburg. Cardinal Cajetan was tasked with getting Luther to recant; if he would not recant, Cajetan was to have Luther bound and sent to Rome (since the days of Jan Hus, it had been understood that letters of safe passage were not valid in the case of notorious heretics).

When Luther came before Cardinal Cajetan, he followed the protocol of prostrating himself before the Cardinal. Cajetan then warmly bade Luther to rise; it seems that the Cardinal fully expected to hear Luther utter a single word, "Recanto," meaning, "I recant," after which Cajetan could offer Luther forgiveness. Instead, Luther asked to be instructed concerning his errors.

Bainton reports:
The cardinal replied that the chief [error] was the denial of the Church's treasury of merit clearly enunciated in the bull Unigenitus of Pope Clement VI in the year 1343, "Here," said Cajetan, "you have a statement by the pope that the merits of Christ are a treasure of indulgences." Luther, who knew the text well, answered that he would recant if it said so. Cajetan chuckled, leafed through the page to the spot where it said Christ by his sacrifice acquired a treasure. "Oh, yes," said Luther, "but you said that the merits of Christ are a treasure. This says he acquired a treasure. To be and to acquire do not mean the same thing. You need not think we Germans are ignorant of grammar." (72)

..."My son," [Cajetan] snapped, "I did not come to wrangle with you. I am ready to reconcile you with the Roman Church." But since reconciliation was possible only through recantation, Luther protested that he ought not be condemned unheard and unrefuted. "I am not conscious," said he, "of going against Scripture, the fathers, the decretals, or right reason." (73)

Luther asked for a council to be convened in order to determine whether his teaching was in line with Scripture.

Cardinal Cajetan replied, "The pope is above a council, above everything in the Church" (Bainton, 73).

"His Holiness abuses Scripture," retorted Luther, "I deny that he is above Scripture" (Bainton, 73)

Cajetan then angrily had Luther thrown out of his meeting-place, warning Luther not to come back until he was ready to recant.

That night, Luther's mentor-- Staupitz-- released Luther from his Augustinian vows. Staupitz apparently took this action both to protect the Augustinians from any reprisals by Rome and to guard Luther's conscience from the guilt of vow-breaking. Fearing that he would be bound and sent to Rome in order to be burned as a heretic (as he certainly would have been), Luther escaped from Augsburg in the middle of the night.

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