Many Germans think Martin Luther to be a great rebel. He toppled the absolute power of the pope, made the Latin Bible available to all by translating it, and married a nun. Yet he immediately joined other vested interests. And the whole event is called “The Reformation.” Can you please speak on the difference between rebellion and reformation, and whether real rebellion can turn into reformation.
I have never spoken on Martin Luther for a particular reason. He was neither rebellious, nor religious; he was a pure politician. He toppled the power of the pope, not because he was against power – he wanted to have it himself, he was jealous of it. Because he could not get it, he created a split in Christianity between those who followed the pope and those who followed him.
His desire for power was so great that as soon as he had created the split in Christianity, he immediately joined hands with the vested interests. This is not possible for a rebel.
A rebel is always a rebel. It does not matter who has the power, he is always against people having power; his whole philosophy is decentralization of power. Power should not be centralized in a few hands, either political or economic or religious. It should be decentralized. It should be given to everybody – to every individual, his own power. Nobody should be in possession of somebody else’s power.
Martin Luther was a cunning politician. It was because of his cunningness and political acumen that he managed to create a rift in Christianity, pretending to be a great rebel. Jealousy finds a thousand and one ways to hide its face.
His whole mind was bent upon becoming the pope, but if it was not possible, then he would not allow anybody else to remain in absolute power. The people who followed him are not accidentally called Protestants. Basically, he was protesting against the power of the pope, not so that the power should be distributed, but so that he should be given the power. And just to show that he does not care about the pope, he married a nun and he translated the Bible into the living languages.
The pope was against both: a monk should be a celibate, and the pope was not willing to have the Bible translated into the ordinary languages which people use. The reasons are clear – it is not only the pope, all the religions in the world have resisted having their holy scriptures translated into the living languages which people speak. The fear is that if they can understand what is written in the holy scripture, they will pass through a great shock – because there is nothing much holy in it.