Martin Luther’s uncomfortable position between worlds, and the unrelenting pressures on him from opposite directions, shaped his theology, guided his life and birthed the Protestant Reformation. As a young monk in Erfurt and a rising professor in Wittenberg, he found himself caught awkwardly and uncomfortably between the monastery and the university, as a theologian between the via antiqua (old way) and the via moderna (new way), and as a Christian between God and the Devil. That is where he found the gospel that changed his life. For taking the gospel to both town and gown (city and university), the bishops in Rome excommunicated him from the church as a heretic while the princes in Worms banned him from the empire for the same reason. He hid himself away in the Wartburg castle, long enough, though in record time, to translate the New Testament into the vernacular, helping to bridge learned Latin culture and common German people. Luther’s most important legacy to the “continuing reformation” – the one he did not expect but the one that separates him from us – belongs in large part to his middle position theologically between Catholics and Calvinists. Luther was a man caught between worlds.
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