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Disputation of Leipzig

1519. A debate arranged by Johann Eck,* pro-chancellor of Ingoldstadt and Luther's former friend but later chief adversary, in an attempt to discredit Luther's and Carlstadt's recently discovered Augustinian theology and force them into dangerous antipapal admissions. The choice of Leipzig was Eck's, as here Wittenbergers were known to be unpopular. The first and third phases of the debate between Eck and Carlstadt were arid affairs, with the Reformer, anxious to plead for the open Bible and the witness of the Fathers, forced by his opponent to retreat into tortuous Scholasticism. The second phase, however, when Luther debated with Eck, came to life as the former was led to affirm that church councils may not only err, but have in fact erred; that the “power of the keys” had been given to the church (i.e., the congregation of the faithful) rather than to the pope; and that belief in the preeminence of the Roman Church was not necessary to salvation. Luther left the disputation depressed by the levity and insincerity of the proceedings and the hostility of the Leipzigers, while Eck boasted that he had triumphed over the heretic. The debate had in fact cleared the air, furnished Luther's enemies with a case against him, and prepared the way for his condemnation by the Diet of Worms* the following year.