Dreams and Prophecy During the Dark Ages: Martin Luther & John Huss
If righteous saints during the Dark Ages were blessed with significant gifts of the spirit, can we experience the same blessings?
When you typically think of the “Great Apostasy” or the “Dark Ages”, stories of dreams, miracles, prophecy and gifts of the spirit generally do not come to mind. Over the last month or so, I have been researching journals and first hand accounts, all of which attest to the fact that there were inspired prophets during the Reformation era.
One fascinating story emerges from the life of Martin Luther, at times called the “Father of the Protestant Reformation”. Martin Luther was numbered among those privileged spirits who appeared to President Wilford Woodruff in the St. George Temple.
The story of Martin Luther, however, truly begins nearly 100 years before his birth with another Reformation hero. Through his firm determination to hold to the word of God and reject the philosophies of men, John Huss is remembered as one of the first Reformers. Huss was imprisoned in the early 1400’s, betrayed by the broken word of his emperor and ultimately burned at the stake.
According to research done by Dr. John Pratt, the day of John Huss’ martyrdom, June 6th, was a significant holy day on sacred calendars. Additionally, a total solar eclipse during his trial should have alarmed those thirsting for his blood. Prior to his burning, the executioner mocked, “Now we will cook the goose.” (Huss in Bohemian means goose.) In response, Huss prophesied “Yes, but there will come an eagle in a hundred years that you will not reach.”
One hundred years later, two significant events occurred on October 31, 1517. Prince Frederick of Saxony was a ruler of the German territory in which Martin Luther resided. On the eve of All Saint’s Day, Prince Frederick dreamed that God sent him a “monk, who was a true son of the Apostle Paul. All the saints accompanied him by order of God, in order to bear testimony before me, and to declare that he did not come to contrive any plot, but that all that he did was according to the will of God.” In his own words, Frederick described seeing this monk write on the Church door in Wittenberg with a pen which reached as far as Rome.
This pen caused a crouching lion to roar and the crown of the pope to shake. In the midst of this great disturbance and uproar, the pope, cardinals, princes and people all attempted to break the pen. Their efforts only resulted in strengthening the pen until it became stiff like iron. At length, they finally gave up.
Prince Frederick continues:
“I then asked the monk (for I was sometimes at Rome, and sometimes at Wittenberg) where he got this pen, and why it was so strong. ‘The pen,’ replied he, ‘belonged to an old goose of Bohemia, a hundred years old. I got it from one of my old schoolmasters. As to its strength, it is owing to the impossibility of depriving it of its pith or marrow; and I am quite astonished at it myself.’ Suddenly I heard a loud noise — a large number of other pens had sprung out of the long pen of the monk. I awoke a third time: it was daylight.” ( From The History of Protestantism, I:263,265, quoted in Ogden Kraut, 95 Theses (Genola, UT: Pioneer Publishers, 1975 ), pp. 154-156.)
That day, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. This event has become a symbol for the beginning of the Reformation which ultimately gave us the English Bible, the U.S. Constitution and most importantly, the Restored Gospel.
Not surprisingly, the writings of John Huss made a particularly strong impression on Luther during the years in which he was struggling for truth. To Luther’s great surprise, he discovered in Huss’s writings the doctrines he had himself arrived at after searching the sacred scriptures. “I believed,” said he, “and, without knowing it, taught all the doctrines of John Huss.” The legacy of a past martyr had been passed to the next generation. The Lord used prophecy and dreams to bring about His purposes.
Have we forgotten that supernatural gifts can be administered to those who have faith and live worthy? Many of those who took up their cross and sacrificed their lives during the Dark Ages, were living testaments to the reality of divine revelation, even though they lived before the Restoration of priesthood authority. They had no Book of Mormon, no Joseph Smith and no living prophets and apostles with keys, and yet they enjoyed blessings many consider highly unique today.
If righteous saints during the Dark Ages were blessed with significant gifts of the spirit, can we not do so now?
What is hindering you?