Who is Martin Luther? Reform Movements
Dear visitor, in this article we will talk about Martin Luther. Our primary source is the Bible, the word of God.
The Life and Service of Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a monk who lived in Europe in the 16th century and took the first steps in the formation of the sect that we call Protestantism today, opposing the wrong practices of the Catholic Church. He is a very important character in terms of both humanity and the history of Christianity.
Martin Luther’s Youth
Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Germany. Shortly after Luther’s birth, his family moved to the small town of Mansfeld, about 16 km to the northwest from Eisleben. Successful in the local copper refining business, his father, Hans Luther, became a Mansfeld alderman in 1492.
Luther began his education at a Latin school in Mansfeld in the spring of 1488. There he received a comprehensive education in Latin. He learned the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Confession, morning and evening prayers. In 1497, Luther was sent to nearby Magdeburg to attend a school run by the Brothers of Common Life, a school that had a lasting influence on him, with an emphasis on personal piety. In 1501, he studied at the University of Erfurt, which was then one of the most distinguished universities in Germany. He continued his education without the need for any indirect scholarship from his father’s financial success. Luther received his bachelor’s degree in 1502. Three years later he received a master’s degree.
Training and Beginning to Monkhood:
After graduating from art school, Luther began pursuing graduate studies in one of the three “higher” disciplines (law, medicine, or theology). He started his legal studies in line with his father’s wishes. However, less than six weeks later, on July 17, 1505, Luther abandoned the study of law. He entered the monastery of the Monk Order of St Augustine in Erfurt. A violent storm near the village of Stotternheim had frightened him enough to swear unintentionally to become a monk if he survived. Honoring this oath, Luther quit his law studies and applied to the monastery to become a monk. Luther’s father was angry with him for abandoning the law, which was respectable and lucrative for the monastery.
In 1505, the monastery where Martin Luther was located sent itself to the Vatican for a meeting. Arriving at the Vatican, Luther was not very pleased with what he saw there. According to Luther, the church and its surroundings were corrupt and he was very uncomfortable with this situation. The Church had become a political and economic power rather than a spiritual authority.
On the return of this visit, the monastery he belonged to sent Martin Luther to the monastery in Wittenberg to continue his education and studies. After the education there, he received the title of professor and continued both teaching and working.
During these studies, especially the emphasis on faith of St. Paul and St. Augustine became a turning point for him. The Bible specifically states in the Gospel that “God justified man. Justification is by faith alone. As it is written, “He who is justified by faith shall live.” (Romans 1:17), “Clearly no one is justified before God by the Law. For he who is justified by faith will live.” (Galatians 3:11), “My righteous man will live by faith. But if he backs out, I won’t be happy with him.” The emphasis on the concepts of salvation by faith or justification by faith in verses such as (Hebrews 10:38) began to fundamentally change Martin Luther’s view of the practices of the church.
Salvation comes by faith, not by good works, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, icons, charity, sacraments, or any act. We cannot deserve salvation by our actions or thoughts, we cannot be that good. We can only believe. Therefore, he used the following motto in Latin: “Sola Fide”, that is, “Faith Alone”.
Martin Luther – The Problem of Purgatory and Indulgence
In 1517, when Johann Tetzel, a missionary priest sent by the Vatican, came to Wittenburg and sold Indulgences, discussions began between Martin Luther and the Catholic Church. Martin Luther was particularly opposed to two teachings of the church: Purgatory and Indulgence. Let’s examine these two terms:
Purgatory: A place in the Catholic church believed to be a temporary place of purification where believers pay for their sins after death before they go to heaven. In fact, although the first church did not have a very clear doctrine on Purgatory, it became an important part of Catholic doctrine, especially in the 12th century.
Indulgence: Indulgence is the giving of a certificate of mitigation of these purification punishments with the authority of the Pope, that is, the church. Believers could buy this document for money. In this way, they gave their best to the church to shorten the time of their loved ones in Purgatory. Although there was no such practice in the first church, the practice of indulgence emerged in the Middle Ages. In particular, Popes in the 11th and 12th centuries began to give soldiers to fight in the Crusades in return for their services. Subsequent popes expanded the framework of this practice and continued.
Martin Luther and the Reformation Movements
Here, in 1517, priest Johann Tetzel came to Wittenberg to sell Indulgences for 3 Marks on the mission given by the Pope. This price meant a worker’s 6-month savings. At this point, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther prepared a 95-item thesis. Nails to the door of Wittenberg Church. He strongly opposes these practices of the Catholic Church. This expands the impact of the discussions and many people get involved in these discussions. This is how Martin Luther became famous. The point that Luther wanted to emphasize is that salvation comes from faith alone. It was that the church had no authority on this issue, especially with the indulgences. Jesus Christ and the cross were enough for salvation. It was unnecessary for any priest to have any intermediary in this matter. Martin Luther called it “the priesthood of all believers.”
While these discussions were heating up, they wanted Martin Luther to defend this thesis in the presence of the Holy Roman – Germanic Emperor in 1521. He does not accept his thesis, saying that Charles Luther 5, the emperor of that time, was wrong. In fact, there were those who opposed these practices of the church before Luther; However, the development of printing technology at that time allowed Luther’s ideas to spread first to all of Germany and then to all of Europe. Between 1517 and 1526, the 95-item thesis was printed in thousands of copies and reached people.
But something else Martin Luther did has enabled these small events to become more influential. Luther translated the Bible from Latin into German. This helped ordinary people who could not speak Latin be able to read the Bible. He made it possible for each individual to access the Word of God. With the help of the printing press, thousands of copies began to spread.
Worldwide Effects of the Reformation
In fact, among the good things about the Bible being so accessible, some difficulties began to arise. Different interpretations of certain points in the Bible began to emerge. This situation pushed Europe into a kind of chaos.
In 1520, the Pope excommunicated Martin Luther. In 1521, Martin Luther invites them to a meeting. They want him to recognize the books he has written and then reject them. Martin Luther admits that he wrote the books and asks for some time to think. The next day, Martin Luther admitted that the language he used in some of his books might be inappropriate, but declared that he would not reject the content of his books. He stated that he would stand by what he said if it did not contradict the Bible or logic, and said:
“I do not accept the authority of popes and councils unless convinced by Scripture or logical reason, because they contradict each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not accept anything that goes against conscience, because that is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amine.”
Another quote attributed to him is as follows: “Here I stand. I can’t do anything else. God help me! Amine.”
In this way, the Reformation movements later turned into the Protestant movement with protests. It also caused socio-economic turmoil in Europe for a while. Different views arose within this movement itself.
Martin Luther married and started a family in 1525. He died of kidney failure in 1545. Martin Luther had a fundamental impact on world and church history when he started the Reformation.