There He Stood: Luther at Worms
On April 18, 1521, Martin Luther stood for the second day before Emperor Charles V at the diet being held in Worms. The diet anticipated hearing his answers to the two questions that had been put to him the day before: First, was he the author of the twenty-five works that had been gathered there, and second, would he now recant of the false teachings in them? Luther readily acknowledged the authorship of the works and then tried to engage in a discussion of what were the false teachings in his works. This ploy did not work, and he was informed that he was the theologian and knew full well the heresies that he had taught.
Luther then delivered one of the most important speeches in the history of the church. We have no full text of the speech, but we do have several accounts from various observers and so have quite a detailed record of what he said. But ironically, we are not certain about one of the most-quoted and well-known statements in the address: “Here I stand; I can do no other.” Not all the accounts include this declaration, and many historians doubt that Luther actually said it. But we do know that he stood there before the powers of the world and the church with remarkable courage and commitment.