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
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
"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
Find links to some of his key documents under the What is a Lutheran? link