Luther's Challenge to the Conscience of the West

By: Joseph Loconte

The papal bull of 1520 excommunicating Martin Luther from the Catholic Church accused him of promoting forty-one heresies and “pestiferous errors.” One of the alleged errors was his view that “the burning of heretics is against the will of the Holy Spirit.” The point must not be missed: Luther’s challenge to the Church involved not only a disagreement about the gospel and the authority of the Bible. It instigated a profound debate in the West about the rights of conscience in matters of faith. 

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