Saint Ansgar's Lutheran Church
Montreal - Quebec - Canada

Who was Martin Luther?

Martin Luther was a simple Catholic monk who lived five hundred years ago. He became sorely troubled by the religious practices of his day and set out, by posting his 95 Theses on the door of his church in 1517, to open a debate on these issues in the hope of reforming the universal Church. The result is well-known. Instead of being open to reform, the Church of his day rejected him and his followers, leading to the painful and often bloody birth of the Protestant Movement. Western Christianity is still split along these lines, though many of the ills he saw in 1517 has since also been corrected in the Roman Catholic Church.

So, the actions of Martin Luther definitely still affect us today. Without him there would be no Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists and the whole gamut of other Protestant denominations. But what else can we learn from Martin Luther?

He was a great scholar who read the Bible and thought for himself, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to him through the words on the page and to open his eyes to the essential truth: No matter how hard we try, we cannot please God through our actions and our good works. All fall short of the expectations of God. It is only through God's grace, as delivered through Jesus Christ, that we are saved. This gift is free. The only requirement is that we have faith in God and in the reality of his promises.

He was a brave man who, when he saw things that didn't fit with the Bible, was not afraid to take action and challenge the entire Church of his day. In his day, this placed him in mortal peril. Many would-be reformers before him had been burned at the stake for speaking out.

He was a practical man, who was able organize an entirely new church structure. He translated the Bible and the Mass into German. He was a prolific writer, who wrote countless volumes to guide people's thoughts. We still sing today many of the numerous hymns that he wrote.

Lastly, he was a man to stand by his convictions. He stood before the whole weight of the religious and political forces of his day when he presented his works to the Holy Roman Emperor At Worms in 1521 and declared, "Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me."

"Luther asserted that his conscience was captive to the Word of God and that he could not go against conscience. This was not, however, a modern plea for the supremacy of the individual conscience or for religious freedom. Though already excommunicated by Rome, Luther saw himself as a sworn teacher of Scripture who must advocate the right of all Christians to hear and live by the gospel."

He reminds us that, as Christians, we all have a duty to share the Gospel with the world, to live by its principles and to preserve its integrity.

Find Out More about Martin Luther:

  • Martin Luther—Our Spiritual Guide
  • Martin Luther in Wikipedia
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  • Find links to some of his key documents under the What is a Lutheran? link

    Martin Luther by Cranach: 1533



    Web Page maintained by Roger Kenner and Jette Blair.
    St. Ansgar's Lutheran Church - Montreal: Last Updated: 2018/01/24