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The Lutheran Confessions



      






       

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Johann Eck's 404 Theses, 1530

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Eck's Cover Letter addressed to Charles V

Most Revered Emperor:

By all Catholics, thou art esteemed as one who has been appointed, elected, and consecrated of God to come to the aid of the wavering catholic faith, to help the afflicted Church and oppressed churchmen, to maintain the Christian State against the sanguinary Turkish tyrant, the Sultan, and, in a word, to save the Christian world.

But since Martin Luther, a domestic enemy of the Church, has not been improved by the former admonition of Thy Imperial Majesty, but having fallen into every Scylla and Charybdis of impiety, calls the Pope of Rome Antichrist; the Church a harlot ; bishops, masques and idols ; universities, synagogues of Satan; cloisters, brothels; theologians, bats; secular princes, fools, drunkards, insane, and worse than Turks; and meanwhile does not withhold himself from attacks also upon Thy Holy Majesty, but teaches the lordship of Christ and maligns and ridicules Thy Imperial mandates with the most obscene interpretations.

And since, also, he has reached such an extremity of desperation, as a blasphemer of God, impious towards the saints and sacraments, irreverent, reproachful, and rebellious towards all superiors, ecclesiastical as well as secular, an enemy of all good men, that he praises none but heretics, extols schismatics, excites seditions in Germany, prepares for shedding a flood of Christian blood, and is collecting bands of Germans to bathe themselves in the blood of the Pope and his Cardinals, and is producing a generation of vipers still worse than himself - for to Luther we owe as his children the iconoclasts, sacramentarians, Capernaites, new Hussites and their progeny the Anabaptists, the new Epicureans who deny the immortality of the soul, and the spiritualists as well as the new Corinthians who deny the divinity of Christ.

Since also they are rending Germany with these monstrosities and portents, demolishing churches, overthrowing altars, treading under foot the most holy Eucharist, burning the images of Christ and the saints, abolishing divine worship, casting the images of saints into the rubbish heaps, raging against the gold and silver treasures of the Church, despoiling the revenues of churches and monasteries, voiding the last wills and testaments of the deceased, and, in short, attacking all things pertaining to the Christian religion even worse than Turks, so as by their persecutions and threats to induce virgins consecrated to God to abandon the cloisters; very many of them, amidst crimes so execrable, even dare to announce their readiness to defend themselves according to the Recess of the Diet of Spires, and to respond concerning these things to God and thy Most August Majesty, as though thou art a patron of their impieties, blasphemies, thefts, sacrileges, and seditions, pretending that the most holy Imperial Head of the world, and hoping that the supreme justice of the divine Emperor, would defend their supreme injustice.

Notwithstanding the unlawfulness of agitating and discussing anew the things rightly judged and arranged by a Council, they excite ancient heresies condemned more than a thousand years ago, follow teachers who have been burned, and men of accursed memory, seducing simple people with the plea that they follow the Gospel, the Bible, the Word of God.

I offer myself, therefore, to Thy Imperial Majesty, prepared, as at Leipzig against Luther, and at Baden against Oecolampadius, to repel their mendacious boasts, to defend all the institutions, practices, doctrines, and observances of the Catholic faith, and to attack their assailants.

Let the Church's enemies, the ministers of ungodliness, the patrons of heresies, the vessels of iniquity, come forth and fulfill that whereof they so insolently boast to the people; let them answer concerning the faith before the Power which is of God, the Member of God, the Church's Advocate, the faith's Protector.

Farewell, Father of the country, Most August and Victorious Emperor. God protect and guide thee; grant thee victory over the Turk, and mercifully extend thy rule still farther. "

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