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The Impact of Martin Luther and the Reformation on Modern Revivalism

When Luther heard what was happening, he put his life at risk and returned to Wittenberg. He preached eight sermons for eight days in succession in which he challenged with Scripture the visions and dreams of the prophets from Zwickau. Schaff says, “In plain, clear, strong, scriptural language, he refuted the errors without naming the errorists.”2 It soon became obvious to the populace that the two men were in error. The prophets, realizing they had lost the day, departed Wittenberg and never returned. One of Luther’s colleagues wrote to the Elector of that region,

Oh what joy has Dr. Martin’s return spread among us. His words, through divine mercy, are bringing back every day misguided people into the way of truth. It is as clear as the sun, that the Spirit of God is in him, and that he returned to Wittenberg by His special providence.3

Luther was open to supernatural, mystical experiences, but he subjugated his experiences to Scripture. For example, while in intense prayer one day, Luther suddenly saw a bright vision on the wall of Jesus, with the wounds of His passion, looking upon him. At first he thought it was a heavenly revelation but changed his mind because the person in the vision was not compatible with the Christ he knew from Scripture. He said,

Therefore I spoke to the vision thus: “Avoid you, confounded devil. I know no other Christ than He who was crucified, and who in His Word is presented unto me.” Whereupon the image vanished, clearly demonstrating from whom it came.4


Opposing Miracle Claims for Monetary Gain

Luther also challenged the Roman Church hierarchy for using miracle claims within monasticism and mysticism for monetary gain. Luther believed in miracles, but miracles must be in line with Scripture. In his estimation, many of the miracle claims within monasticism and mysticism did not meet the test of Biblical truth.

For example, in his book, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Luther blasted church leaders for exaggerating the truth and promoting extra-Biblical miracles, such as certain hosts (communion wafers) bleeding and the miraculous creation of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Great crowds flocked to the places where these miracles supposedly occurred and much money was collected in offerings, in fees for masses, and from the sale of amulets and indulgences. Luther was incensed and thundered his rebuke,

Oh, what a terrible and heavy reckoning those bishops will have to give who permit this devilish deceit and profit by it. They should be the first to prevent it and yet they regard it all as a godly and holy thing. If they had read the Scripture as well as the damnable canon law, they would know how to deal with this matter! The miracles that happen in these places prove nothing, for the evil spirit can also work miracles, as Christ has told us in Matt. 24:24.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2009

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century.

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