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October 16, 1520: The Wild Boar [Rebroadcast]

Luther: In Real Time

Ligonier Ministries

Religion & Spirituality, Christianity, History

4.92K Ratings

🗓️ 15 October 2021

⏱️ 8 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


In the eyes of Pope Leo X, Martin Luther is a boar running wild in his vineyard, and this pest must be hunted down. Today, Leo turns to Luther's patron, Frederick, to help him take the rebel captive.

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It's October the 16th, 1520.


Nearly a week has passed since Martin Luther received an official letter from the Pope denouncing Luther and his teaching and giving him 60 days to recant.


The Pope had written, arise O Lord.


As he reads the letter again, Luther knows who the wild boar is supposed to be and he knows what it will mean if he doesn't recant.


Condemnation and excommunication and then execution and as far as the church is concerned, the fires of hell.


The Pope's letter lists 41 places in Luther's writings that the Pope deems to be


The Pope's reference to Luther as a wild boar is no accidental turn of phrase.


Four months earlier, Pope Leo had completed a draft of the letter while he was at his hunting lodge preparing to hunt wild boar.


It had previously been reported that the Pope was dismissive of Luther.


This Luther is a drunken gentleman. He will feel different when he is sober.


But by the fall of 1520, Luther has shown no sign of sobering up. His thinking has only become more developed, his writing more pointed in its criticism of the Pope.


Pope Leo decides he has no choice. He calls for the destruction of all Luther's writings. His books are piled up in the piazza Navona and Rome and set ablaze.


Even desiderious Erasmus, the great philosopher and scholar who is loyal to the Pope, feels the wording of the papal bull is too much.


The inclemency of this papal bull will compulse with the moderation of the Pope.


By burning Luther's books, you may writ your bookshelves of him, but you cannot read man's minds of him.


Pope Leo X sends a letter to Luther's patron and protector, Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony.


His was the church where Martin had nailed his 95 theses three years earlier.


Induce Luther to return to sanity. If he persists in his madness, take him captive.


Frederick responds meekly. But privately, he's more sympathetic toward Luther than he is to the Pope.


They were already burning Luther's books. How long before they burned him? It would not be the first time the church had dealt with heretics in that way.


Luther himself lending some credence to the Pope's description of him as a wild boar is defiant.


If the Romanists are so mad as to burn heretics, the only remedy remaining is for the emperor, the kings, and the princes to gird themselves with force of arms to attack these pests of all the world and fight them, not with words, but with steam.


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