Finding Guidance in Genesis and Galatians to Serve the Household of God
4. The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel in the Civil Realm
From October 12–14, 1518, just about one year after Luther posted the Ninety Five Theses, the German reformer was summoned to Augsburg to be interviewed by Cardinal Cajetan. The desired outcome of that meeting, at least from the medieval Catholic side, was to calm the storm that Luther had stirred up. Part of Cajetan’s mode of persuasion involved exposing Luther to the growing threat from a feisty heathendom—the Turkish army was quickly progressing toward the West and testing every European Christian’s nerve. Cardinal Cajetan claimed that the religious divisions caused by Luther’s Theses had weakened the political strength of the Holy Roman Empire. Consequently Cajetan demanded that Luther should retract his theological teachings in order to safeguard ecclesiastical as well as political unity in the face of that crisis. Already in that unique historical circumstance, religious and political matters were inextricably mixed.
If Cardinal Cajetan’s warnings were largely rhetorical in 1518, then eleven years later the situation had become an extremely disturbing reality. In 1529, the armies of the Ottoman Empire had reached the gates of Vienna. The name of Suleiman the Magnificent (1494–1566) truly was the very present fear for every Christian in Western Europe. To respond to this imminent crisis, Charles V summoned the German princes together once again to Augsburg in order to form a unified counter force to defend his empire and Christendom. Reaching an agreement between the medieval Catholic and Evangelical groups was the...
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