Before 1515, Karlstadt was a proponent of a modified scholasticism. He was a "secular" cleric with no official ties to any monastic order. His beliefs were challenged during his stay in Rome, where he saw large-scale corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, and on a document dated September 16, 1516 he wrote a series of 151 theses. (These should not be confused with Luther's 95 theses (1517) that attacked indulgences.)
In 1519, Johann Eck challenged Karlstadt to the Leipzig Debate. There, Eck debated with Luther as well as Karlstadt.
On June 15, 1520, Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Exsurge Domine that threatened Luther and Karlstadt with excommunication, and condemned several of their theses. Both reformers remained steadfast, and excommunication followed in 1521 in the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem.
After the Diet of Worms (January–May, 1521), and while Luther was hiding at Wartburg Castle, Karlstadt worked toward reform in Wittenberg. On Christmas Day 1521, he performed the first reformed communion service. He did not elevate the elements of communion, wore secular clothing during the service, and purged all references to sacrifice from the traditional mass. He shouted rather than whispered the words of institution ("This is my body....", etc.) in German instead of Latin, rejected confession as a prerequisite for communion, and let the communicants take both bread and wine on their own during the Communion.
In early January 1522, the Wittenberg city council authorized the removal of imagery from churches and affirmed the changes introduced by Karlstadt on Christmas. On January 19, Karlstadt married Anna von Mochau, the fifteen-year-old daughter of a poor nobleman. On January 20, the imperial government and the Pope ordered Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony to undo the changes. Frederick let most of the mass revert to its Catholic form, but in a letter to the Wittenberg Council, he noted his personal compassion for Karlstadt.
Read more about this topic: Andreas Karlstadt
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