Gruber 153 An den Christlichen Adel deutscher Nation: von des Christlichen standes besserung. Wittenberg: Melchior Lotter the Younger, 1520 (Address to the Nobility, August 1520). Aland 7; Benzing 683; WA 6.381-469. Luther's Works 44:117-217. Click to enlarge thumbnail.
Luther wrote: "The Romanists have cleverly built three walls around themselves in such a way that no one has been able to reform them." Luther had in mind the Romanist claim to clerical and papal dominance. He calls on Christian civil authorities to take the lead in reforming the entire Christian estate if the clergy refuse to act. In this treatise we encounter Luther's first major presentation of his concept of the priesthood of all believers. He proposes specific ecclesiastical, political, social, and cultural reforms.
"All that Luther demanded of the magistrate as magistrate was that he should hale the clergy before the civil courts, protect citizens against ecclesiastical extortion, and vindicate the state in the exercise of civil functions from clerical interference." Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand. A Life of Martin Luther, 117.
The Gruber Collection was assembled by L. Franklin Gruber, President of Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, Maywood, Illinois.
Annotation prepared by Ralph W Klein