Travel from Gotha to Eisenach (approximately 35 minutes).
Eisenach is home to a few key Luther sites and home also to points of interest for Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Diet of Worms was held in 1521. At this diet, or meeting, Luther was expected to recant (take back) his teachings on Scripture and against the church. Luther refused to do so and declared:
Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of the Scriptures or by evident reason (for I believe neither the pope nor the councils alone, since it is evident that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I have been conquered by the scriptures that I cited, and my conscience has been taken captive in the words of God. I cannot and will not revoke anything, since it is neither safe nor healthy to do anything against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. God help me! Amen. (Negotiations with Dr. Martin Luther at the Diet [i.e. Congress] of Worms, 1521, WA 7:838; trans. Ben Mayes; copyright © Concordia Publishing House.)
After this meeting, Luther was officially declared an outlaw of the kingdom of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. It would now have been legal to kill Luther without punishment. On his way home to Wittenberg, Luther was kidnapped, but not by enemies. The Saxon ruler, Frederick the Wise, secretly authorized Luther’s kidnapping, and Luther was removed to Wartburg castle for safekeeping.
While at the Wartburg, Luther called himself Junker Jörg (Knight George) and disguised himself with longer hair and a beard, as we saw in the Cranach portrait. Safe from attacks during his exile from Wittenberg, Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German. The Reformation continued without Luther’s presence. Monasteries closed, priests married, and Philip Melanchthon wrote Loci communes, which organized the scriptural and doctrinal teachings of the Reformation movement. In 1522, Luther returned to Wittenberg in order to contain and control some of the more radical positions being adopted at the time, including destruction of church icons and the emergence of other theological leaders who had different, and nonscriptural, teachings about Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. By returning to Wittenberg, Luther again risked his life, but he was preserved by God and able to continue to keep the Reformation movement focused on scriptural teachings. For the rest of his life, Luther would write, preach, and teach, filling volumes of books with his words.
In 1685, J. S. Bach was born and baptized in Eisenach. He lived here until he was ten years old. The Bach House has a museum featuring Bach and his musical contributions. Here you can learn more about Bach, hear his music, view seventeenth-century instruments, and learn more about Bach’s service to Lutheran Christian music and liturgy.
In Eisenach, the fifteen-year-old Luther resided at the home of Alderman Cotta while attending the local Latin school. A few rooms within the home provide a glimpse of what sixteenth-century homes might have been like.
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