Volume 3 of The Annotated Luther series features Luther’s focus on the church and his understanding of the meaning of the sacraments. This volume focuses on Luther’s teaching concerning proper understanding and reception of the sacraments, his insights regarding worship, and his understanding of the church.
“Afterwards, thanks to Sylvester,10 and aided by those friars who so strenuously defended indulgences, I saw that they were nothing but impostures of the Roman flatterers, by which they rob people of their money and their faith in God.” (Page 13)
“Luther’s positive aim was to set forth a reconsideration of the sacramental Christian life that centered on the Word. His thesis is that the papacy had distorted the sacraments with its own traditions and regulations, transforming them into a system of control and coercion. The evangelical liberty of the sacramental promises had been replaced by a papal absolutism that, like a feudal lordship, claimed its own jurisdictional liberties and privileges over the totality of Christian life through a sacramental system that spanned birth to death.” (Page 9)
“But in the end, the Babylonian Captivity had the effect of galvanizing both opponents and supporters. It became the central work for which Luther had to answer at the Diet of Worms in 1521.” (Page 11)
“Now, here stands the text, stating clearly and lucidly that Christ gives his body to eat when he distributes the bread. On this we take our stand, and we also believe and teach that in the Supper we eat and take to ourselves Christ’s body truly and physically. But how this takes place or how he is in the bread, we do not know and are not meant to know. We should believe God’s Word without setting bounds or measure to it. The bread we see with our eyes, but we hear with our ears that Christ’s body is present.” (Page 183)
“To begin with, I must deny that there are seven sacraments, and for the present maintain that there are but three: baptism, penance, and the bread.” (Page 21)