Reformation Essay

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The Reformation is a broad term used to describe the period of time beginning around 1500 A. D. extending through the mid-seventeenth century, with roots dating back to around the fourteenth century. Society was in something of an upheaval at the time and the church was faced persistent heresy. A wave that would become known as the Protestant Reformation started in Germany in the early 1500’s and moved throughout the German speaking countries to Scandinavia to the French and finally to England and Scotland.

Differing from the Renaissance, the Reformation made an impact in most every European’s life and forced people to make the decision between the old way and the new. In the early stages of the Reformation there was a man, the pioneer of that Protestant Reformation that swept over Europe, a man who ventured into a new arena of thought in relation to how the Church, his name was Martin Luther. 1] The following writing will be a short biographical work of Martin Luther showing some of the events of his life and how through them, he changed the Church as well as contributed to the progress of the Reformation concluding with a look at his life in a way to show more of who Luther was as opposed to what he did. Martin Luther was born in Eisleben Germany on November 10, 1493 before moving to Mansfield in 1484 where he attended school before moving on to Magdeburg with the Brethren of the Common Life.

From there he entered the University of Erfurt in 1501 where he was introduced to nominalist philosophy which taught the inability of natural reason to establish articles of faith. It was here that he also furthered his linguistic skills in the classical tongues, and graduated with his B. A. in 1502 and his M. A. in 1505. The winds of the Reformation had already begun to whirl as Luther was growing up. He had been studying law, before being caught up in the religious revival that had been heading across Western Europe. 2] That July he was knocked to the ground by lightning and the combination of those events, the death of a friend and issues inside himself he entered the chapter house of the Hermits of St. Augustine[3] in Erfurt monastery of the Augustinian Eremites.

At this time he was given his very first Bible, which he studied relentlessly, studying carefully Romans and Galatians. He was also deeply into the works of Augustine as well as William of Occam and carried with himself the reputation of being a man of singular piety, devotion and monastic zeal. [4] To the objection of his father he took the vows in September 1506, was elected to study for the priesthood, and was made a deacon in February of 1507 and ordained a priest on April 4 of that same year. His father attended his first Mass where he rebuked Martin for disobeying his parents. [5] At the monastery, Luther practiced ascetic excesses to try to achieve some sense of inner peace. Johann von Staupitz helped him away from his life of standing fearfully in front of a Deity to responding in joy to the loving forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. In 1510 he went on a business trip to Rome to the Vatican where he was shaken and disturbed by the commercial, showy splendor of the Vatican.

In 1512, Luther began lecturing as a doctorate of theology at Wittenberg, a position he would hold for the rest of his life. For the following two years he lectured heavily on the Psalms before shifting to Romans, Galatians, Hebrews and Titus in 1516. It was after these studies that Luther became convinced that salvation is a new relationship with God, and that it was not a merit-based system but rather it came through placing trust in the promises of God. Humans would still sin, but would live life as a forgiven sinner as a result of their relationship with Jesus Christ.

It was also through these studies that Luther had his Gospel epiphany in 1516 while reading in Galatians 3 that “the just shall live by faith. ” At this time that Luther was released from his haunting sense of guilt and crossed over into the freedom that came from relying on God’s grace. During this time he was growing, discovering new convictions, and while he had not written them into an officially theology he did have the principles that would be instrumental in and would define the Reformation; man is justified by faith alone, every believer has direct access to God and the Bible is the sole source of authority for faith and life.

In 1517 Luther decided he needed to put these ideas into action. It was in that year that he came across a Dominican, Johann Tetzel, selling indulgences to Luther’s parishioners. Going against Tetzel’s methods, bad theology and the fact that the outflow of cash was for a new St. Peter’s for Leo X, Luther preached against buying pardons and for relying on God’s grace for salvation. He had grown tired of this theology that was lacking Scriptural truth about it.

On October 31, 1517, the day for which many remember Luther, he tacked Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg intending to have the questions bring about academic discussion, not a document written to insight a revolt against the pope of the Church of Rome. The Theses were translated and circulated bringing about attacks from Tetzel and the formidable Eck, labeling him a heretic. Luther was ordered by Leo X to appear at Rome in 1518 though it Frederck “the Wise” changed the hearing to Augsburg and it was through Frederick’s protection that Luther was able to survive.

At the time of the hearing, Leo was drafting a papal bull describing indulgences in the exact fashion that Luther had questioned. In 1519 Luther’s debate went publicly with Eck and he admitted that he rejected other authority of popes and councils when they were not congruent to the Scriptures. To combat the view that he was going against everything the church stood for, he published three works to clarify his views; “An Address to Christian Nobility of the German Nation,” “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” and the “Liberty of a Christian Man. On Dec. 10, 1520, he was presented with a papal bull threatening to excommunicate him. He publicly burned the document along with a copy of the canon law, an open defiance of the pope’s authority in refusal to renounce any of his viewpoints Due to factors beyond just Luther’s actions, the Wittenberg civil authorities looked on approvingly as their country was in a rebellious mood. Again he was summoned to appear before the pope, again refusing to budge from his position.

A group of German churchmen, princes and nobles approached him one day ordering him to recant to which he replied, “Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of Scripture or by clear arguments, my conscience is bound in the word of God: I cannot and will not recant anything. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. God help me, Amen. ” It was Frederick that again came to the rescue of Luther, saving him from almost certain martyrdom yet again, abducting him on his journey from Worms and holding him at the Wartburg Castle for ten months.

Some consider Luther’s time spent there in the castle his most valuable as, among other things, he translated the Greek Bible to German. Upon his return to Wittenberg in March of 1522 he set about organizing the reformation that had nearly crumbled under the enthusiastic, but unskilled leadership of such people as Carlstadt and Zwilling in Wittenberg. They had gotten a crowd together that started rampages, wrecking statuary and artwork, actions Luther quickly denounced and went about producing forms for instruction, worship and church government.

The Peasant’s War came about in 1524, but Luther continued undeterred, holding to the position of upholding authority, calling for social justice and urging the consideration for the economic welfare of the lower class. Luther’s language used in urging the princes to put down the revolt was intemperate and he ended up alienating some of the lower class. [6] During his time in the castle, Luther set out writing a children’s catechism as well as a catechism for the common people. It was also during this time that he composed what some consider the battle hymn for the reformation “Almighty Fortress Is Our God.

He went on teaching in his position, beginning to teach that priests could marry and soon met and married a former nun named Katharina von Bora who had followed him along with eight other nuns in fleeing from their convent in 1523 to take refuge in Wittenberg. [7] Together they produced six children of their own and opened their home to countless others as well as boarding students and other guests. [8] Luther continued to write, preach and teach and in 1530 he approved the Augsburg Confession and the Augsburg Apology as written by Philip Melanchthon.

In 1573 Luther restated his doctrines in the Schmalkald Articles and spent his remaining years spent in inactive and productive service, such as writing “On Bondage of Will. ” Luther died in his home town of Eisleben after mediating a meeting between two princes and experiences mild chest pains[9] in 1546. [10] The life of Martin Luther is something that one could marvel at, but there is more to this man’s story than a whole lot of scholarly achievements and raising questions that ended up causing Christianity to divide. He was a man of great passion and was extremely focused on God, realizing that it was about God and not about himself.

When Christ drove the people out of the church saying they made it a den of theives he is angry because he knows that things are not what they should be, and sees what they could become, Martin Luther is another man with the same sort of view. He saw things the way that they could be. This anger was not exclusive to just Luther and Christ, it happens within many men and comes from different places, but what is common is that they are angry at the denial–not to themselves alone, but to their fellowmen as well–of all they have seen of head in their solitude that has been proven in their own personal life.

Luther, slated by some as the last angry man of the Reformation, was once quoted saying, “I never work better, than when I am inspired of anger when I am angry, I can write, pray and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened and my mundane vexations and temptations depart. ” His life was tumultuous and deep melancholy assaulted him, leaving him weak and desperately ill. Upon tasting the grace of God he was driven with great compassion to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and publish the Word of God in the native tongue of his countrymen.

His passion and resolute faith was so great that it was said that upon hearing him pray people would exclaim: “How great a spirit, how great a faith, was in his very words! ” As a monk he vowed to crucify the flesh through fasting, mortifications, and watchings struggling against deceitful thoughts and the evil inclinations of his heart. Nothing was too great a sacrifice if it would enable him to become a saint of acquired heaven. He was sold out on his quest for attaining holiness.

He even claimed himself to be a pious monk stating that, “If a monk could obtain heaven by his good works, I should, certainly those who have known me can testify. ” As he was carrying out this torture on himself he was confronted by John Staupitz, who asked him why he tormented himself the way that he did telling the young Martin, to “look at the wounds of Christ, to the blood that he has shed for you. ” Luther was so wrapped up in literally beating himself up over his sins, he forgot a key element.

Staupitz went on to tell him, “Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw you self in the Redeemer’s arms. Trust in Him–in the righteousness of His life–in the atonement of His death. ” Not long after his conversations with Staupitz, Luther was done being an imitator, keeping to the rules of the religious order, but rather he was a new creation entirely, walking in the full assurance of faith confident that the God that began the good work in him, would perfect His work.

For Luther Christ was no longer an option, Christ was the option, or as he said in his Commentary on Galatians, “Christ is no lawgiver. He is the Lifegiver. ” [11] For Luther it was about knowing God, not having a knowledge of God, he was a man full of passion for his Savior, completely sold out on his Master’s plan. It was so much so that he thanked God that he knew enough to believe that God knew more than he did and was able to rest in knowing that that would never change.

Knowing that God was greater and surrendering to that knowledge was an undercurrent to Luther’s life, he clung to the word of God for his confidence and promises, not to the tradition of men. [12] The Reformation is a broad term used to describe the period of time beginning around 1500 A. D. extending through the mid-seventeenth century, with roots dating back to around the fourteenth century. Society was in something of an upheaval and the church was faced persistent heresy.

In the early stages of the Reformation Martin Luther was the pioneer of that Protestant Reformation that swept over Europe, and who ventured into a new arena of thought in relation to how the Church. [13] The previous writing was a short biographical work of Martin Luther showing some of the events of his life and how through them, he changed the Church as well as contributed to the progress of the Reformation concluding with a look at his life in a way to show more of who Luther was as opposed to what he did.

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