December 6, 2021

Eric Metaxas, "Martin Luther"

Already in 1513, Luther was convinced that the church of Christ was in an advanced state of decrepitude that had been prophesied in the Bible, one in which the Antichrist would reveal himself and do battle with the saints of God. Luther had picked up much of his thinking along these lines from Saint Augustine, but Bernard of Clairvaux had also been an influence. 
Bernard had been canonized only twenty years after his 1153 death and while alive held that there were three ages of the church. The first had been the epoch of martyrs in which Christians were persecuted and killed for their faith; the second had been the era of heretics, in which Christians perverted church teaching; and the third and most terrible would be the third epoch, the Last Days, in which the church itself would be so corrupt that the Antichrist himself would arise from within it.  Luther believed the church had entered this third and final stage.