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Martin Luther Essay

Martin Luther was born in 1483 in Germany. Although he was brought up in a catholic faith, he changed his faith by starting a new Christian movement that was against the teachings of Catholicism, which was consequently named as Lutheran. He taught as a theology lecturer, hence a professional in theology and he was a preacher as well. His parents Hans Luder mother Margarethe were catholic believers, therefore as soon as he was born; he got baptism on the following day which was St. Martin of Tours day of feast. He had brothers and sisters; however, two of his brothers passed way as a result of a plague.

Jacob who had tight bonds with Martin lived on to old age. Martin’s father rented copper mines and smelters and he also worked as a spokesperson in the local council. Besides he wanted the best for his son; he aspired that Martin would be a lawyer . Martin began his early school life in 1497 at Mansfield, Magdeburg and Eisenach in that order; where he learnt Latin. When he was seventeen years of age he was a student at the University of Erfurt and by the year 1505, he had completed his postgraduate studies and was awarded a masters degree.

Since his father wanted him to be a lawyer, he went ahead and registered for the law school however, he never pursued the course to completion since according to him law was ambiguous. Instead he preferred to study more on theology and philosophy and was fascinated by former philosophers like William of Ockham, Aristotle and Gabriel Biel. Nonetheless, he was more drawn to lecturers who taught on not laying trust on anyone including the philosophers unless the claims they state could be approved through familiarity.

Because of this reason, Martin concluded that knowledge in philosophy could not help people get close to God because it merely emphasized on reasoning; which is valid when applied to people and organizations but not God. According to Luther, people could only acknowledge who God is by understanding the scriptures. From here, his quest for scripture understanding began. Later in 1505, Martin Luther abandoned his studies and joined the catholic monastery. Luther’s life as a monk was constituted by refraining from food, pilgrimage, declaration of his sins before a priest for forgiveness and praying for lengthy periods.

The life at the monastery wasn’t easy at all; the monks spent less time in bed and they had to work hard in order to sustain community members. He confesses that his commitment to the church as a monk was not delighting to God; rather it made him aware of how sinful he was. Furthermore, the period within which he served as a monk gave a different perception of Jesus Christ in his life; the Christian life at the monastery was like a detention center that harassed innocent people, yet Jesus is “a Savior and a comforter”. Nevertheless, the monastery hardship transformed Luther as he found more time to know the Bible.

Afterward, it was contemplated by Johann von Staupitz that Luther required to do something else so that his quest for the scripture could be disrupted. Accordingly, after his priestly ordination, he proceeded as a theology lecturer of Wittenberg University. By 1509, Luther had received two degrees; one in Biblical studies and the other in sentences. After three years, he graduated as a doctor in theology thereby becoming a member of the senate in the faculty of theology in the University of Wittenberg . The controversial issues regarding Catholicism began in 1517 when Martin Luther wrote the 95 theses.

The theses focused on the indulgences that were sold in the church. Since the pope wanted funds to put up the St. Peter’s church in Rome, pardoning of sins was granted on condition that the sinner paid money. In other instances, one could purchase pardon for sins that he or she expects to commit. This spurred concern in Martin Luther because as he had read in the scripture, deliverance is freely given; whereas in Rome, salvation was an article of trade that could be traded between two partners- a sinner and the priest. Besides, more indulgences were sold so that those souls that were in purgatory could be released.

Moreover, according to the Roman Catholic Theology it was believed that faith is not enough to justify a human being unless it is accompanied by deeds, for instance participating in works of charity and giving the church financial contributions . Luther objected the issue of indulgences that were being sold; consequently, he drafted a note to the archbishops of Magdeburg and Mainz; this note is what was later referred to as the 95 theses. A copy of the note he wrote to the archbishop was put on the door of Castle Church. According to Luther, the absolution and forgiveness of sins based on indulgences was wrong and deceptive.

Within a short time the theses were converted to German, because they were written in Latin; after which they were printed and reproduced to make many copies. Accordingly, the reprinted theses were extensively distributed to various parts within Germany. Between 1510 and 1520, he spent his time in teaching the New Testament books including the Psalms. Even as he studied the Holy Scriptures, he came to realize that justification was a very significant aspect in salvation. That God acknowledges a sinner and makes him righteous when he believes the scripture; also God saves sinners because of grace.

Luther proceeded to preach about justification, how it came from God’s only and faith as a present for humanity from God. The Roman papal authority took a period of three years to act in response to Luther’s writings despite the fact that the theses had been distributed at a faster rate. The Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg whom the letter was addressed to preferred not to answer Luther, but rather identified heretical phrases then sent the letter to Rome. Pope Leo X overlooked the letter believing that it was not a grievous issue; to him Luther was only drunk and after sometime he would get back to his senses.

However, the perception was wrong: Country’s such as England, Italy and France were reading the theses by 1519. Furthermore, he wrote and published commentaries Psalms and Galatians, even though he had to work under protection. By 1520, he had published three books that are considered to be the most excellent among his works- “On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, On the Freedom of A Christian and To the Nobility of the German Nation. The Pope came to rethink of Luther’s thesis in 1519 and ordered him to give details of his theses which he did in a synopsis.

As a result, Luther was called to meet the Pope in Rome so that he could give a detailed justification to his writings. Nonetheless, Luther went to Rome but as it was arranged by Frederick the Wise, he met Cardinal Thomas Cajetan who was a legate to the pope Nevertheless, the pope went ahead and wrote to Luther in a writing termed as “papal bull Exsurge Domine” cautioning him to denounce the theses he had written as well as subsections within the books that he had written, in a period of sixty days; failure of which would result in him getting suspended from the catholic community.

Conversely, Luther burnt the papal bull and the other manuscripts, an action he later justified in his writings- Assertions Concerning All Articles as well as Why the Pope and His Recent Book Are Burned. Following this, Luther was suspended out of the Roman Catholic community in 1521 by the Pope. Later in April, 1521, Luther was presented before the Diet of Worms, a gathering of the Roman Empire authorities in Worms, Rhine. It was required of him to confirm if he was the author of the theses and the other books he had written, an issue he readily confirmed.

However, in answering whether he supported the writings, he agreed after one day having discussed with friends and prayed. Accordingly, in May 1521, Luther was declared a heretic and his writings were banned. In addition, no one was permitted to provide neither shelter nor food as this would amount to punishment. Luther by the help of the Elector of Saxony, Fredrick III, stayed separate away from people in the Castle of Wartburg for about eleven months under the name Junker Jorg. It is during this period that he interpreted the New Testament, initially in Greek to German .

When he went back to Wittenberg in March 1522, Luther continued to preach and many people were drawn to his sermons. He revised the church doctrines and assisted in reinstating peace and unity within the nation. The new church doctrines were based on faith, grace and scripture alone. Instead of the seven sacraments that exist in the Roman Catholic, only two sacraments were recognized- baptism and the Holy Communion. Lutheranism did not advocate for celibacy, however, no one was forced to marry.

The first Lutheran declaration of faith, otherwise referred to as the Augsburg Confession, was read before the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V in 1530. The reformed church decided to name the new church as Lutheran in honor of Luther. Luther married Katharina who was initially a nun but defected. He passed away in 1546, in Eisleben after having been ill .

Bibliography Collinson, P. (2004): The Reformation: a history, ISBN 0679643230, 9780679643234, Modern Library. Doak, R. S. (2006): Pope Leo X: Opponent of the Reformation, ISBN 0756515947, 9780756515942, Compass Point Books.

Edwards, M. U. (March, 2000): Martin Luther: Exploring His Life and Times, 1483-1546. The Christian Century, Vol. 117. Fairchild, M. (2009): Martin Luther Bibliography. Retrieved on 13th April, 2009, from: http://christianity. about. com/od/lutherandenomination/a/martinlutherbio_2. htm Marius, R. (1999): Martin Luther: the Christian between God and death, 3rd Edition, ISBN 0674550900, 9780674550902, Harvard University Press. The Columbia Encyclopedia (2007): Luther, Martin, Sixth Edition, 2007.


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