By the last 10 years of Martin Luther's life (1536 to 1546), the Roman Catholic Church was taking the Reformation challenge very seriously. With a new pope (Paul III) in 1534, the church was planning to convene a general council. Earlier the reformers wanted this, hoping their complaints spoke for most Christians. Now they knew a council would likely try to crush their movement.
In the Smalcald Articles (1537), Luther wrote an account of the evangelical position. Stressing non-negotiable points, he reviewed their complaints about the mass, monastic orders and the papacy. He also powerfully articulated Lutheran convictions. His description of the gospel points to the diverse ways the good news comes to us:
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