Martin Luther

Martin Luther ( or ; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk Luther consistently referred to himself as a former monk. For example: „Thus formerly, when I was a monk, I used to hope that I would be able to pacify my conscience with the fastings, the praying, and the vigils with which I used to afflict my body in a way to excite pity. But the more I sweat, the less quiet and peace I felt; for the true light had been removed from my eyes. ” Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 45-50, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 8 Luther’s Works. (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 5:326. and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Late Medieval Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He proposed an academic discussion of the power and usefulness of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517. His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor. Luther taught that salvation and subsequently eternal life is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. Those who identify with these, and all of Luther’s wider teachings, are called Lutherans even though Luther insisted on Christian or Evangelical as the only acceptable names for individuals who professed Christ. His translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, which had a tremendous impact on the church and German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible. His hymns influenced the development of singing in churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant clergy to marry.

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