People who admire Luther have an issue that seems to pop up regularly in our life together today.  They love what Luther did but very often they didn’t like what he said.  He was mean and vicious, vulgar and nasty.  He was sometimes obscene.  It is always amazing that we can so often overlook real obscenity, like burning innocent people at the stake, or putting people to death for opinions, or ruining their business, or destroying their reputations, and then turn around and lambast folks for what they say.  There is real obscenity taking place all around us and we criticize the words people use to defend themselves or go on offense.  Politeness is a wonderful thing but it can be over run very quickly by those who believe that they are the only ones to define what is polite and what is truth.  Luther goes over board in his speech when he believes that the glory of God and the truth of the Gospel is at stake.

When Luther was kidnapped for his protection and taken to the Wartburg he heard of unrest in his home church and decided to go back and fix things.  His protector, Fredrick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony, thought it was a bad idea because he was not sure if he could protect him from the popes henchmen.  Luther wrote him a letter

“I would have you know that I come to Wittenberg with a higher protection than that of Your Grace. I do not ask you to protect me. I will protect you more than you will protect me. If I thought you would protect me, I would not come. This is not a case for the sword but for God, and since you are weak in the faith you cannot protect me. . . . [Y]ou should do nothing but leave it to God. You are excused if I am captured or killed. As a prince you should obey the emperor and offer no resistance. No one should use force except the one who is ordained to use it. Otherwise there is rebellion against God. But I hope you will not act as my accuser. If you leave the door open, that is enough. If they try to make you do more than that, I will then tell you what to do. If Your Grace had eyes, you would see the glory of God.[1]

[1] This letter is quoted by both Roland Bainton in his biography of Luther and in Eric Metaxas in his. Metaxas says that this sounds at least “somewhat arrogant”.  Isn’t it  interesting that a full confidence in God is considered somewhat arrogant.