How to graciously refuse help

Luther's principles

Martin Luther started the Reformation through his writings. He wanted to reform the church of that time and eliminate grievances. For example, many bishops used their office solely to amass wealth. Luther wanted the church and believers to orientate themselves more towards the scriptures of the Bible. However, he and other reformers such as Huldrych Zwingli did not succeed in reforming the existing church. A separate denomination developed from the Reformation movement. The resulting Protestant faith had new foundations:

Trust in the grace of God

The church of that time promised a sinner that he would save himself from purgatory by buying letters of indulgence and doing good deeds. Martin Luther thought nothing of this idea. He took the view that God is primarily not a punishing God, but rather meets people with love. Forgiveness and grace cannot be bought. God gives them by grace alone.

Good works out of love

According to the medieval view, good deeds helped to make God merciful. The reformers, on the other hand, taught: Donations for poor people or help for neighbors are good. But you cannot secure God's goodwill with that. In Luther's view, it is natural to help others, since man passes on the love he has experienced through God to others.

Bible instead of Pope

In the Middle Ages, many Christians believed what a priest or the Pope proclaimed. Most did not have the opportunity to check what the Bible said. The Bible was very expensive at the time and was only written in Latin. The Church of the time could interpret the Scriptures as it saw fit. As a monk, Luther read the Bible carefully. He found that the Bible does not say that a pope is the head of the church. For Luther, the Bible and Christ alone are the guidelines by which the believers should orient themselves. As a result, he rejected the Pope's authority and his ecclesiastical instructions and laws. “As long as my conscience is captured by the words of God, I cannot and will not revoke anything,” Luther said in 1521 at the Diet in Worms. What matters is not what a pope or a council says, but what is in the Bible.

Priesthood of all believers

According to Martin Luther, the Holy Spirit enables every baptized Christian to understand the Bible. For this reason, Luther translated the Old and New Testaments into German and demanded that everyone learn to read and write. He believed that anyone who can read the Bible for themselves is also involved in church reform.

Two sacraments

The Catholic Church knows seven sacraments, i.e. acts that only an ordained priest may perform: baptism, communion, confession, confirmation, marriage, anointing of the sick, ordination. For the Protestant Church there are only two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper. In this point too, Luther orientated himself to the Bible, in which he only saw baptism and the Lord's Supper as “holy acts”. For Luther there is a sacrament: Jesus himself established it in the Bible. And it has an outward sign, that is, the water at baptism, bread and wine at the Lord's Supper.

Freedom of a Christian

Martin Luther wrote a little book about the freedom of the Christian that begins with two contradicting sentences. “A Christian is a free person and is not subject to anyone,” is the first sentence. Then follows: “A Christian is a servant and everyone is subject to.” In the tension between these two sentences, Luther's personal freedom unfolds. Luther wanted to free people from self-appointed masterminds and encourage them to sharpen their conscience on the basis of biblical texts. But it also means that your own freedom always affects the freedom of others and leaves no room for pure egoism. So Luther ends his book with the principle: "The Christian does not live in himself, but in Christ and his neighbor, in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love."

Marriage instead of celibacy

Due to the principle of equality of the “priesthood of all believers”, a special way of life for clergy is no longer necessary: ​​Pastors are allowed to marry.

Divine service in German

The pastors who profess Protestant doctrine no longer hold the service in Latin, but in German. The course of the divine service is different: While Luther largely left the old divine order, large parts of the liturgy were omitted in areas that Huldrych Zwingli reformed. For Zwingli, what counted was what the Bible said. He considered many liturgical chants, but also Christian images, to be unnecessary.

Last Supper: Remembering Jesus or Presence of Christ?

Every Protestant Christian drinks wine from the chalice during the Lord's Supper, not just the pastor anymore. However, the Protestants disagree on what bread and wine mean: For the followers of Luther (Lutherans), Christ is present in bread and wine through the spoken promise of the sacrament. The followers of Zwingli (Reformed), on the other hand, are of the opinion that the Lord's Supper reminds of Jesus and thus makes him present. For centuries, therefore, Lutheran and Reformed Christians could not celebrate communion together. They only agreed on a common understanding in 1973 in the so-called “Leuenberg Agreement”: Both assume that Christ is present at the Lord's Supper - “with bread and wine”. The "with" leaves open how that happens.

The relationship between the Catholic and Protestant Church has since developed further.

Rita Deschner