A NAMED RELIGIOUS REFORMER AT THE TIME OF THE REFORMATION: MARTIN LUTHER
Martin Luther was born in 1483 in Saxony, Germany. His father was a wealthy and ambitious copper miner who wanted Martin Luther to study law. Martin, however, was a very religious man so instead he joined the Augustinian order and trained to be a priest. He became a teacher at the University Of Wittenberg. Luther was a deeply troubled man and saw himself as a sinner. He worried about going to hell and studied the bible to find a way for sinners to get to heaven. The answer he found was ‘Justification by Faith Alone.’ He believed the only way to get to heaven was to possess a genuine faith and belief in God. He believed that buying indulgences from the church could not make it easier to get into heaven. This opposition to the Church's teaching on the indulgences caused a clash with the Pope.
In 1517, Pope Leo X issued an indulgence to raise money for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Pope said that anyone who donated money to his collection would have their sins forgiven. A Dominican friar named John Tetzel was sent to Germany to sell the indulgence for the Pope. Martin Luther thought this was terrible as he believed the Pope was taking advantage of the fears and faith of the uneducated poor. Luther was appalled and was determined to protest against what he saw as a sinful act. He wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz.
This letter was ignored by the archbishop, so he wrote down 95 Theses and nailed them to the door of a church at Wittenberg Castle. They objected to the idea that money could buy salvation and objected to the building of churches like St. Peter’s in the first place. These ideas were then translated into German so the general people could read them.
Luther was told to recant his criticism of the pope. Luther refused to take back his criticism. In 1519 he debated with the pope’s representative, John Eck. In 1520, Leo X sent out an official papal bull called Exurge Domini, warning Luther to back down. Luther burned the letter and was then excommunicated from the Church.
In an attempt to solve the conflict and crisis, Charles V, the Emperor of Germany called a Diet of all German princes at a town called Worms. Luther was declared an outlaw by the Edict of the Worms. Frederick, Elector of Saxony brought Luther to his castle at Wartburg, where he was protected from his enemies.
During his time at this castle, Luther outlined his beliefs.
He kept his belief in Justification By Faith Alone
He believed priests should be allowed to marry
He thought the bible and all religious services should be in the vernacular tongue.
Luther rejected all sacraments except for Communion and Baptism, as they were the only ones mentioned in the bible
Indulgences were a sin and a lie
Luther believed in consubstantiation
After many years of tension and argument, Germany was eventually plunged into a War Of Religion in 1545. The war ended in 1555 with the Treaty Of Augsburg. This treaty agreed each prince had the right to choose the religion of his people. This treaty was a compromise.