With regard to Luther’s judgment on images, we are not in the dark. In his report to his confidant Nikolaus Hausmann on the situation he found in Wittenberg, he was unambiguous: “Damno imagines.” The elimination of images, however, should be brought about by means of a consensus grounded in the faith. As far as the intended action goes, Luther’s posture was in 1522 appears no different from the position Erasmus had counseled six years earlier—images should be tolerated until they can be removed sine tumultu. On March 17, having just arrived from the Wartburg, he summarized his strategy on images this way: “They would fall of themselves if people were taught and knew that before God symbols are nothing.11
11 “Sponte sua caderent, si populus institutus scieret eas nihil esse coram deo.” To Nikolaus Hausmann, WABr 2 (No. 459), lines 23&ndashl24. Translation: LW 48, 401.
—Heiko A. Oberman, The Two Reformations: The Journey From the Last Days to the New World, ed. Donald Weinstein (New Haven: Yale University Press), 89.