Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
It is July 5, 1519, in old Leipzig. Martin Luther is debating the great Dr. Eck on papal authority, maintaining that the true Head of the church is Christ. Eck finds himself overwhelmed by Luther's superior learning and logic. Losing the argument, he resorts to an old trick: he insinuates that Luther is tainted by association with the doctrines of someone held in public contempt. "Your doctrines are the same as those of John Huss!" he charges.
Duke George, the Elector of Saxony, listens. He hated the memory of Huss and the surviving Hussites. So did almost everybody else in Saxony and in the council chamber; there had been interminable war over the martyrdom of John Huss in 1415 in Prague.
This "mudball" thrown at Luther aroused public horror. In the morning session of the debate Luther had expressed contempt for Huss--the popular thing to do. Then came lunch, but Luther couldn't eat. What had he done? He did some serious thinking and reviewed what Huss had actually believed. He became convinced that he had made a mistake in condemning the martyr; Huss had been right! Never did Luther stand higher or nobler than when at 2 p.m. as the session began again he publicly apologized for maligning Huss, and proceeded to defend the martyr. His honest bravery cost him dearly; Duke George turned against him from that moment.
But Luther had won a great victory over himself; never again would fear motivate him. His courage was strengthened to stand for unpopular truth, alone. When God's true messengers to whom He gave "heavenly credentials" are publicly and popularly maligned, someone needs to follow Luther's brave example, and defend them.
Luther fulfilled Revelation 6:9-11, which tells how the time came when "white robes were given to every one of" God's faithful martyrs of the Dark Ages, who were honored and vindicated for their loyalty to truth when the world (and the Church!) had despised and hated them. The Good News is that it's not too late for us to learn from Luther.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 4, 2000.
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