Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Martin Luther lived from 1483-1546. Luther
was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben in the province of Saxony. His
protestant view of Christianity started what was called the Protestant

Reformation in Germany. Luther's intentions were to reform the medieval

Roman Catholic Church. But firm resistance from the church towards Luther's
challenge made way to a permanent division in the structure of Western


Luther lived in Mansfield and was the son
of a miner. He later went on to study at Eisenbach and Magdeburg. After
studying at these institutions he moved on to study at the University of

Erfurt. Luther started out studying law, but then went on to enter the
religious life. He went into the religious life due to the fact that he
felt that he would never earn his eternal salvation. He didn't feel that
all of the prayer, studying and sacraments were enough. Therefore, Luther
felt that he would never be able to satisfy such a judging God. Not being
able to satisfy this God meant eternal damnation. After entering the religious
life he later became an Augustinian monk and entered the Augustinian monastery
at Erfurt in July of 1505. While in this monastery Luther became a well
known theologian and Biblical scholar. In 1512 Luther earned his doctorate
in theology and became a professor of Biblical literature at Wittenberg


Luther took his religious vocation very
serious. This led him into a severe crisis in dealing with his religion.

He wondered, "is it possible to reconcile the demands of God's law with
human inability to live up to the law." Luther then turned to the New Testament
book of Romans for answers. He had found, "God had, in the obedience of

Jesus Christ, reconciled humanity to himself." "What was required of mankind,
therefore, was not strict adherence to law or the fulfillment of religious
obligations, but a response of faith that accepted what God had done."

In other words he realized that religion is based on love and not fear.

Basically, he realized that everyone is burdened by sin because it happens
as a result of our weaknesses. He concluded that man could never earn his
salvation by leading a blameless life or by performing holy acts. Instead,
man's salvation was a divine gift from God resulting from faith in Jesus,
especially the saving power of his death and resurrection. This was known
as the protestant doctrine of "justification by faith alone." The fact
that Luther believed this, lead him into his first confrontation with the

Catholic Church in 1517. All of this influenced Luther to write his Ninety-Five

Theses in 1517.

The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope

Leo X, was trying to raise money in order to build St. Peter's Basilica
in Rome. To raise money the Pope offered the sale of indulgences. Basically,
these were donations of money that would give partial forgiveness for people's
sins. So, on October 31, 1517, Luther posted these Ninety-Five Theses or
propositions on the door of the Wittenberg Catholic Church. These Ninety-Five

Theses denied the right of the Pope to sell indulgences for the forgiveness
of sins, among other challenges. His authorship of the Ninety-Five Theses
would make Luther the leader of the religious movement or reformation towards


Pope Leo X forced Luther to appear before

Cardinal Cajetan in Augsburg. Here the Cardinal demanded Luther to take
back everything that he said in his Ninety-Five Theses. Luther said that
he would if his Theses could be proved wrong by use of the Bible. Later
in 1521, Pope Leo X issued a "Bull of Excommunication" towards Luther.

Emperor Charles V was expected to enforce the Excommunication. Charles

V formed a "diet" in the town of Worms and asked Luther to attend this
meeting so that he could be examined. Once again Luther was asked to take
back everything that he had said in his Ninety-Five Theses. Luther refused
again and was outlawed. Anyone could kill Luther and they would not have
been held accountable to the law for punishment. Luther decided that it
would be best to relocate under these circumstances. He had a friend that
was an elector of Saxony that helped him escape. So, Luther disguised himself
and went off to hide in the castle of Wartburg. While he was in Wartburg
he began translating the New Testament into German. At that time the emperor
was occupied with a war waging in France. This distraction helped Luther
return to his work with aid of his followers in Wittenberg. Some of his
followers went too far carrying out the reform. Luther tried to correct
his follower's mistakes and was unsuccessful. In 1524,