The Life and Influence of Martin Luther
5 May 20
Thesis: Martin Luther was by far one of the most influential people in Church history. His doctrine on faith and works was instrumental in the success of the reformation and has since become a cornerstone of the church we know today.
Martin Luther was born on November 10th 1483. His father, Hans Luther, had made something out of himself and came to own a copper mine. Desiring to see his own son go even further he pushed him in school. By the time he was seventeen years old he was entering the university life. In four years he had obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Erfurt. From here his father pushed him into law school. This is not where Martin Luther would stay. While on the road, during a storm, Martin Luther had the fear of God put in him when lightning came crashing down near him. He called out to God to make a bargain. If God spared his life, he would become a monk. While ninety nine out of a hundred would probably shake it off and continue on after such an ordeal, he kept his word and joined a local Augustinian monastery. He found himself unsatisfied by the rituals of monastic life and began lecturing at the University of Wittenberg. He finally obtained his Doctorate Degree in 1512, but it was what he saw two years earlier on his trip to Rome that would change the direction of the Church forever.
Martin Luther’s witnessing of the sale of indulgences changed him. The idea that a piece of paper signed by the Pope could justify the sins of the living was enough to infuriate him. But the claim was that an indulgence could also free someone from purgatory. Martin Luther dug deeper than the original Augustinian view “impelled by the urgent problem of indulgences.” The Bible was not translated into the common tongue at this time so anything that the clergy said was more or less law to the Christians at this time. One of the many problems the people faced was ignorance. A common phrase used by the church during confessions was Ego te absolve or ‘I absolve you of your sins.’ The purpose behind this was to affirm something that had already taken place. Justification or salvation happened with an individual based on their relationship with God. This was merely a public affirmation similar to Baptism. The Church began to pray on the fact that the common people believed that through their (the church) words they (the people) were being justified. Lindberg states, “The word of absolution is rather a verbal act, which first creates a relationship 0 between God in whose name it is spoken, and the person to whom it is spoken and who believes the promise.” Running a church with the size and functionality of the Roman Catholic Church is expensive and people were willing to pay to see themselves and their love ones absolved of sin. The indulgence was the proverbial Get out of Jail Free card.
Martin Luther’s most dramatic and bold...