TO ANDREAS VON CARLSTADT
Carlstadt had never seen a Bible when he became Doctor of Theology in Wittenberg in 1510. Later he destroyed the images in churches.
October 14, 1518.
May you have all good for time and blessedness hereafter, esteemed Herr Doctor! I am pressed for time, but shall write more again. My cause has assumed a very dismal aspect these three days, so that I have lost hope of returning to you, fully expecting to come under the ban. For the Legate is determined I shall not hold a public disputation, refusing to argue with me alone, and declares he will not be my judge, but will treat me as a father. Nevertheless, the only words he will listen to from me are, “I recant, and confess I have erred,” and I was unwilling to say those words. But the keenest discussion has been over these two articles: First, that I have said that the Indulgence is not the treasure (Schatz) of the merits of our dear Lord and Saviour Christ; and the next, that the man who desires to approach the Lord’s holy table must believe. After the Legate had dealt with these matters with a high hand, I have, through the intercession of many, got permission to answer in writing.
And if harshly dealt with by the Legate I purpose publishing my answer to the two propositions, to let all see his ignorance and tactlessness. For many heretical and extraordinary ideas proceed from his standpoint regarding the two articles. Although he may be a so-called Thomist, he is a muddle- headed, obscure, and incapable theologian, or Christian, and as incapable as an ass of judging this matter. So, seeing my affairs are in such jeopardy through having judges who are not only full of enmity and deceit, but unable to understand my cause, I may well tremble. Be this as it may, God the Lord lives and reigns, to whom I commit all, and have no doubt that help will come through the prayers of God-fearing people. On these I rely as firmly as if they were offered for me alone.
Therefore, I shall either return to you uninjured, or seek refuge elsewhere; so farewell. Continue steadfast, and exalt Christ with all confidence. I enjoy the favour of all men, except those who cleave to the Cardinal, who calls me his dear son, and tells my vicar that I have no better friend than he, and I know he would be highly pleased with me if I would only say, “I recant,” but I shall not become a heretic, through the change of opinion by which I became a Christian. I shall sooner die, be burned, banished, and persecuted.
Farewell, dearest sir, and show my letter to our divines, Amsdorf, Philip, etc., so that they may pray for me, also for you. For your cause too is being discussed here, viz. faith in our Lord Jesus and in the grace of God. Martin Luther, Augustinian.