Posted on October 26th, 2009
Another gem from Sasse, as we reflect this week on the Reformation:
Although in his book on the Babylonian captivity of the church and in the Smalcald Articles, [Luther] unmasked and condemned the idolatry which had crept into the Mass, he admitted that the Roman Mass was still a valid Eucharist. And so he did not, like Zwingli and Calvin, introduce a new liturgy. The Lutheran liturgy was merely a Mass without the invocation of the saints and [without] the Roman conception of sacrifice. To Luther it was unthinkable that the unity of the Western church might be forever destroyed. He wanted to recall this church to what he was convinced was the pure teaching of the Gospel and, at the same time, the ancient teaching of the church.
Only from this point of view can Luther’s actions be understood. He wanted neither to split the church nor to found a new church. Nor was it his ambition to become the reviver, the Reformer of the church. His conscience told him that he was merely carrying out the duties of his office in the church: the pure teaching of the Gospel. According to his own conception, his work consisted only in this: “to have reintroduced the Holy Gospel into the world.”
–Hermann Sasse, “Luther and the Teaching of the Reformation,” in The Lonely Way