Martin Luther and the Start of the Protestant Reformation
Martin Luder was born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany to Hans Luder. He later changed his name from Luder to Luther, as did his parents, because Luder as an old German word has a negative meaning. Martin Luther’s father was determined to see him a lawyer, and he went along with it for a while. But when he started law school in the University of Erfurt, he dropped out almost immediately. He decided to become a monk, later attributing this decision to an experience during a thunderstorm on July 17, 1505.
During that thunderstorm, it is said that he was on his way back to the university after a visit with his parents, when a bolt of lightening struck so close to him that he was thrown to the ground. He was so terrified that he cried out to Saint Anne for help and said, “I will become a monk!” Though his father was very unhappy, Luther felt he must honor his promise, and he entered the Black Monastery in Erfurt a couple of days later.
A monk’s duties included fasting, long hours of prayer, pilgrimage, frequent confession, and work (and it all started at 3 am every day!). Martin Luther tried to please God by all these acts of dedication, but all it did was increase his awareness of his sin. Of course, it is good to pray and confess our sins, but our salvation is ‘not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy,’ (Titus 3:5a NKJV).
In 1516-1517 Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences, was sent by the Roman Catholic Church to Germany to raise money for the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by selling indulgences. Indulgences are pardons granted and sold by the Catholic Church, and the abuse of these indulgences was a major point of disagreement with Luther. On October 31, 1517, Luther wrote to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg against the sale of indulgences and included a copy of his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” which became known as the 95 Theses.
He also decided to nail a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg for others to see and discuss (church doors acted as bulletin boards at the time). Luther’s simple act of nailing his theses on a church door is now seen as the event that sparked the Protestant Reformation and is celebrated every October 31st.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Alyssa is required to write one page of something every day for writing. Earlier in the week she asked me for ideas for her writing assignment. Since October is upon us, I suggested that she write a short biography on Martin Luther. To sweeten the deal, I told her I would post it on my blog (bribery will get you everywhere!). You probably know all of this information already, but with Reformation Day coming up on October 31st, I thought it was an appropriate thing to post. So, without further adieu, here is Alyssa's essay on Martin Luther.
Posted by Jennifer at 11:28 AM