Pope Leo X was incensed that Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) had refused to face an excommunication trial in Rome. Luther had, instead, appealed his case to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The emperor agreed to accept the case, but then, in the winter of 1520-21, he wavered under threats from Rome. Luther’s protector, Frederick the Wise, was determined that Charles take the case, but he wanted to double-check with Luther before urging the emperor to defy the Pope. Luther’s response was unequivocal, a model to all compelled to perilously stand in the dock on behalf of biblical truth.
You ask me what I shall do if I am called by the emperor. I will go even if I am too sick to stand on my feet. If Caesar calls me, God calls me. If violence is used, as well it may be, I commend my cause to God. He lives and reigns who saved the three youths from the fiery furnace of the king of Babylon, and if He will not save me, my head is worth nothing compared with Christ. This is no time to think of safety. I must take care that the gospel is not brought into contempt by our fear to confess and seal our teaching with blood.1
1 Roland H Bainton, Here I Stand (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1978), p.135. Quoting Martin Luther, Briefwechsel (Correspondence) inWeimar Ausgabe (Weimar Edition), 365.