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Luther and the 95 Theses, Preaching and at the Diet of Worms

October 17th, 2007
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I found this on YouTube, an extended clip from the Luther movie. Some people questioned if the movie had taken liberties with how John Tetzel peddled indulgences. In fact, all the records from the time indicate that this is actually quite accurate, even down to the claims Tetzel makes about the power of the indulgence. It is hard for us today to imagine the dramatic impact such a spectacle would have had on people who were mostly illiterate and had only the most rare opportunities for any such "multimedia" presentation like this. We know banners were carried, drums were used, a performance of a depiction of hell was put on in the town squares wherever Tetzel went. Quite historically accurate, even the line about defiling the Mother of God.
And as for whether or not Luther actually posted the theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Dr. Kurt Aland prepared a well researched book on this and demonstrates that it is highly probably that in fact Luther did post his theses. Whether posted on the door or only by mail, Luther did post the theses, that’s to be sure.
You may purchase the Luther movie here. The clip showing Luther preaching was inaccurate in that it is highly unlikely Luther left the pulpit to stroll among the people. However to show the close interaction between Luther and people the producers took this liberty. The words he speaks are direct quotes from his sermons. The last clip here from the movie is of Luther at the Diet of Worms. Again, the dialogue is virtually verbatim from the transcripts kept of the events, though whether Luther actually said, "Here I stand. God help me. Amen" is, again, subject to debate. On a period woodcut created some years later Luther wrote the words, "Here I stand. God help me. Amen."

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Categories: Lutheranism
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