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52 in 52 Week 31: Babylonian Captivity of the Church/The Small Catechism by Martin Luther


These two are on my Invitation to the Classics Book List. I am combining them today. The "Small Catechism" (1529) is really short (13 pages).  "The Babylonian Captivity of the Church" (1520) is much longer.

Luther said, "unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason -- I do not accept the authority of popes and councils. . . . My conscience is captive to the Word of God."  

With this he wrote the "Captivity":
"laid down a fearsome gauntlet. Its these was that the Catholic Church used it seven sacraments to enslave the conscience of Christians. There were, Luther argued, only three true sacraments, that is, rites to which Christ himself had attached promises with a visible sign: baptism, the Lord's Supper, and confession." Protestants later reduced the number even further to include only baptism and the Lord's Supper" (Invitation to the Classics, p. 123). 
The writing is very bold and gutsy, and I am sure he made some people really, really mad. "The Babylonian Captivity" also "demonstrated a revolutionary willingness of individual conscience to question the authority of the church" (ibid., p. 123). 

Print from Original Catechism Book
"The Small Catechism" is much milder. :) 
Luther wrote this for churches and household to be used in the education of children in the basics of the faith. It is sweet. I wished I could have had it when I was raising my children. It is Luther's teachings on the Ten Commandments, Apostles' Creed, and Lord's Prayer. In addition there is teaching on the sacraments of Baptism and Communion. I have a different view of baptism than Luther, but it was good to read. 

Addition: I wrote this in July and now it is November, and I found my mother's copy of The Smaller Catechism from 1939. She would have been 12 years old. So cool!
Print from German Small Catechism of 5th Commandment: "You shall not kill."
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