plain reason - I do not accept the authority
of the popes and councils, for they have
contradicted each other - my conscience
is captive to the Word of God. I cannot
and I will not recant anything for to go
against conscience is neither right nor
safe. God help me. Amen."
from the hall of church history:
Martin Luther dealt the symbolic blow that began the
Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses
to the door of the Wittenberg Church. That document
contained an attack on papal abuses and the sale of
indulgences by church officials. But Luther himself
saw the Reformation as something far more important
than a revolt against ecclesiastical abuses. He believed it
was a fight for the gospel.
Luther even stated that he would have happily yielded every
point of dispute to the Pope, if only the Pope had affirmed the
gospel. And at the heart of the gospel, in Luther's estimation,
was the doctrine of justification by faith—the teaching that
Christ's own righteousness is imputed to those who believe,
and on that ground alone, they are accepted by God.
That doctrine, often called the Material Principle of the
Reformation, is what the apostle Paul taught as well:
"To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that
justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for
righteousness" (Rom. 4:5).
martin luther is probably my favorite of all of the men in history after the time of christ.
if you do not know his story, then i encourage you to. if you are a christian you *should* know his story. if you are not catholic, you *need* to know his story.
martin luther did not intend to alter the state of history or religion, but alter it he did.
convinced that many deeds done in the name of christ by the pope and the catholic church were
actually contrary to scripture, he did what, in his day, was unthinkable. he challenged the word of the religious authorities, and his actions sent shock waves throughout the religious, social, and political world.
i do not have the time or space to go into as much detail as i would like, but i will implore you to, if nothing else, spend two hours of your time watching this movie, which does a marvelous job of putting luther's life into a movie. you can purchase or rent it most anywhere.
luther's sermons and writings continue to have profound influences. his most popular work,"the bondage of the will" is widely known as one of the great works of the reformation, and is a standard recommendation even today. his hymn "a mighty fortress is our god" is sung each week by churches all over the world.
luther's bravery is what i appreciate about him the most. his actions resulted in his being kicked out of the church, though while corrupt had great social ramifications, and even his life being called for by religious and political leaders.
there are several aspects of luther's theology where i disagree, but for his love of the gospel, his love for scripture, and his honest intent of purity in the church, i regard him as a hero.
i recommend these resources to familiarize yourself with martin luther:
1.) the 2003 film, "luther"
i saw this in the theatre and bought it as soon as it came out on dvd. very historically
accurate and an entertaining and well done film. (aside from the "attractiveness"
of the actor portraying luther"!)
2.) martin luther: a guided tour of his life and thought- stephen j. nichols
an excellent introduction to luther and a very easy read.
3.) the bondage of the will
Acknowledged by theologians as one of the great masterpieces
of the Reformation, Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will was also
Luther’s favorite work. Luther responds to Desiderius Erasmus’
Diatribe on Free Will with the bluntness, genius, sarcasm, and
spirituality that were as much a part of his writing as they were
of his colorful personality. Luther writes lucidly on the themes of
man’s inability and God’s ability, man’s depravity and God’s
sovereignty. The crucial issue for Luther concerned what ability
free will has, and to what degree it is subject to God’s sovereignty.
Luther’s doctrine of salvation pivoted on this key issue. Is man able
to save himself, or is his salvation completely a work of divine grace?
This work will long remain among the great theological classics of
Christian history. Bondage of the Will was first published in 1525,
eight years after Luther penned his Ninety-Five Theses
4.) martin luther's basic theological writings (2nd ed.)
product description from c.b.d.:
Now in a new edition, with additional texts and a companion CD-ROM,
Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings provides a rich and judicious
selection of signal texts from, arguably, the most influential reformer of the
Christian tradition. With his most important writings represented here, this
volume takes the reader straight to Luther the man, to his controversial
insights, to his strongest convictions about God and Scripture and the life
of the church, and most valuably to his theology, which still offers an exciting
encounter with the meaning of Jesus Christ for each age. The second edition
also includes a CD-ROM with the fully searchable texts, links to other resources,
a short biography of Luther, a research paper guide, and a glossary.