Five hundred years after Martin Luther was born, german theologians and historians are still wrestling with his legacy.
JULY 3, 1983: RHEINBOLLEN; GV & GV PAN DOWN EXTERIOR Church with bells ringing for Sunday service; people entering church (2 shots)
JULY 5: WORMS: GVs People and coach outside St Andrew's convent (Andreasstift): young man leaves his bicycle outside entrance; courtyard; sign for exhibition (4 shots)
GVs INTERIOR People looking at exhibition in Luther Museum; sign above exhibit "Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott" PAN DOWN TO people looking at book (2 shots)
(MUTE) CUs Bust of Martin Luther in the exhibition in the belfry (2 shots)
CU AND SVs Luther Bible in protective case; view of Luther Room with mural on the wall (2 shots)
CUs Painting and etching with religious themes (2 shots)
CUs Label for painting; painting "Luther auf dem Weg nach Worms" (Luther's Arrival at Worms); label for painting; painting of "Luther vor Kaiser Karl V" (Luther with Kaiser Karl V) (4 shots)
CU PAN DOWN The Edict of Worms, banning Luther's writings
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Five hundred years after Martin Luther was born, german theologians and historians are still wrestling with his legacy. The post-war division of Germany has enriched the debate over the founder of Protestantism. In East Germany, on whose soil Luther was born and lived most of his life, the government and the Protestant Church, already co-existing uneasily, have made clear that their approaches to this year's 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's birth, will be markedly different. The Protestant Church, which is Lutheran, is East Germany's dominant faith, with some eight million followers from a population of 17 million. The State once dismissed Luther as a "servant of princes" and "traitor to the peasants" for his opposition to the Peasants' Revolt in 1524. But the revised view of the Reformer is that "the progressive achievement of Luther has its firm place in the cultural tradition of the German Democratic Republic", according to a series of theses which forms part of the State's commemoration of the anniversary. In West Germany, the anniversary will also be celebrated but the approach may differ from the East Germans. During World War Two, the Nazis used Luther's anti-Jewish writings -- he saw any non-Christian faith as the work of the devil -- and nineteenth century authoritarian regimes also glorified Luther's more nationalistic works.
SYNOPSIS: The founder of the sixteenth century Reformation and Protestantism, Martin Luther is one of the pivotal figures of Christianity. By his actions, and writings, he forged a movement that was to yield not only one of the three main theological units of Christianity (with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) but one that was to be a seedbed for social, economic an political thought.
The West German city of Worms has organised a special commemorative exhibition at the Andreasstift (St Andrew's Convent). The city has emphasised its special link to Luther, for it was in Worms that he appeared before the Imperial Diet in 1521 and defended his doctrines to Kaiser Karl the Fifth. Here, Luther refused to recant, with the words, "Here I stand, I can no other". The Diet formally dismissed him but despite his moral triumph, the Edict of Worms was issued, saying of Luther, "His books are to be eradicated from human memory".
The Gothic-style belfry of the Andreasstift is devoted to Luther. He was born on November 10, 1943, at Eisleben, now in East Germany. He graduated from the University of Erfurt and in 1506, joined the monastic Order of Augustine. A year later, he was ordained into the priesthood. After teaching at the University of Wittenberg, Luther received a doctorate of the theology.
Luther's "95 Theses" against the Roman Catholic Church's sale of indulgences, which he pinned to a church door in Wittenberg, precipitated the Reformation, which soon spread throughout northern Europe and later, over much of the world, through Protestant missions. Soon after posting his "Thesis", Luther was relieved of his duties as district vicar by the Augustinian authorities.
Luther was a prolific writer and skilled linguist. Many of his commentaries and practical devotional works are on display at the Luther Museum. They have become a hallmark of reformation writings and his translation of the bible into vernacular German strongly influenced German language and literature. This work enabled many people to read Scriptures for the first time. Luther translated the New Testament from the original Greek and in 1543, his translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew, appeared. Luther's Small and Large Catechism -- manuals of religious instruction published in 1529 -- became standard texts for Lutheran clergy and worshippers. The Small Cathechism has been considered as possibly the most influential book produced by any of the Reformers.
Two paintings in the Luther exhibition illustrate major events in Luther's life....his triumphant arrival at Worms to appear before the Imperial Diet and his meeting there with Kaiser Karl the Fifth. Martin Luther founded his church initially as a movement for doctrinal reform within the medieval latin church. His teachings spread throughout the sixteenth century and today, there are 75 million Lutherans all over the world, eighty per cent of them in Europe. Five centuries after his birth, Martin Luther's teachings still provide a life-guide for millions of Christians. And for both Germanies, the man is a part of their history -- however differently his life and writings are interpreted by East and West.