Ever since I was a small child, I have loved to fish. As I grew up, I had opportunity to fish from the shores of small lakes and ponds. In my college years, I found myself in western New York State where I was able to fish for trout in small rushing streams. It was during that time that I became an avid fly fisherman.
Although fly fisherman are usually very helpful in instructing novice fisherman, many are snobs when it comes to other types of fishing. Somewhere along online, I decided that if I was going to develop as even a mediocre fly fisherman, I would have to devote myself to it. Practically, this meant I would have to abandon most other kinds of freshwater fishing.
So, in addition to much hands-on advice from fellow fly fisherman, I developed a sort of snobbery towards “bait fishing” also known as “drowning worms.” I learned to follow the well-known flyfishing tradition of disdaining “dunking worms.”
So it might surprise you to know that I have a great fondness for Worms. In fact, I will go as far as saying that I am very thankful for a Diet of Worms. No, I don’t enjoy eating them, but I thank God for the counsel of world leaders called by The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1621.
Here is why. At the Diet of Worms in 1621, Martin Luther declared his “conscience captive to the word of God.” This declaration did not mark his decisive theological break with the church of Rome. This occurred two years earlier in July 1519 at Leipzig. Luther was involved in a theological debate with a distinguished professor, John Eck, who had boxed him into a corner. He forced Luther to admit that The Popes and church councils could err. Luther asserted that the Bible alone could be trusted as an infallible source of the Christian faith and teaching.
Under duress, Luther articulated what would become the formal principle of the Reformation: all church teaching must be based upon the Bible. However, Luther did not reject tradition altogether. He respected the writings of the early church fathers, especially those of Augustine and that the universal statements of faith, such as the Nicene and Athanasian creeds, binding on the church in his day. But all creeds, sayings of the fathers and decisions of church councils must be judged by – never sit in judgment upon – the sure rule of God’s Word. This was the cry of the Reformation: Sola scriptura.
Basically, this asserts that Scripture is the only source of all knowledge of supernatural theology. The Creator has not left his creatures to hazard guesses at the truth concerning his person and will. He has revealed data concerning himself. Scripture is the written record of what God has spoken and still speaks to his people. It is my conviction that, the Bible ‘is a record and explanation of divine revelation which is both complete (sufficient) and comprehensible (perspicuous); that is to say, it contains all that the church needs to know in this world for its guidance in the way of salvation and service …’ (J. I. Packer). The Bible is the inspired word of God; it is a true record of what God has to say to people.
Many Reformed churches join other services and orthodox Christians to maintain a high view of the Bible. The words inerrant (without errors or mistakes), infallible (having no fallacies, that is, it is completely reliable) and authoritative (having the right to expect and enforce conformity) are often used to describe the Bible.
The Holy Spirit, the divine agent who superintended the writing and compilation of sacred Scripture, is the instrumental cause who enables believers to acknowledge it as the divine word and interpret it correctly. In the process of interpretation, the place and function of other criteria such as tradition and reason are of vital importance.
But when all such qualifications are made, Scripture remains for biblical and evangelical Christianity the supreme teacher and arbiter in belief and practice. Scripture alone is the judge of all claims advanced by any other authority. Bible alone is our only rule of faith and practice.
So I guess you could say that I appreciate the Diet of Worms because it helps me to understand wondrous truths about God’s Word, the Bible.