by Robert Booth
Born in 1486, Andreas von Karlstadt was at times the recipient of the Pope’s fury, as much as Martin Luther was. Though not opposed to indulgences at first, Karlstadt eventually came to the understanding that salvation and forgiveness could not be bought and sold.
He wrote 151 theses and nailed them to the door of Castle Church on April 26, 1517, six months before Luther did. But little came of the nailing of his theses.
Karlstadt and Luther had a complicated relationship. Karlstadt was the university professor who conferred Luther’s doctorate. He was almost excommunicated with Luther in 1520 in Pope Leo X’s papal bull, Exsurge Domine. Later in 1521, he was finally excommunicated with Luther.
There were a number of misunderstandings between Luther and Karlstadt who clashed repeatedly. In 1524, Luther started to campaign against Karlstadt, denying his right to publish and preach without Luther’s authorization. Luther later published the Letter to the Saxon Princes, in which he argued that Thomas Muntzer and Karlstadt agreed, and were both dangerous.
Later that same year, Luther preached in Jena, Germany. Karlstadt was in the crowd during Luther’s preaching, and wrote to Luther, asking to see him. This led to the confrontation at the Black Bear Inn. Luther was convinced that Karlstadt was in agreement with Thomas Muntzer (we will get to him at a later time) But the truth of the matter was, Karlstadt rejected Thomas Muntzer’s invitation to join the League of the Elect. Karlstadt didn’t believe in the violence that was coming from some of the radical reformers. Violence that eventually led to the German Peasants’ War.
Because of these reasons and others, Karlstadt eventually moved to Zurich and eventually Basel Switzerland, where he died in 1541 from the plague.
READ MORE FROM ROBERT BOOTH'S SERIES "PEOPLE OF THE REFORMATION"