Martin Luther-31st October 2016

Martin Luther and other saints of the reformation

Martin Luther was at the centre of the tumultuous changes that shook the church in Europe in the sixteenth century and led eventually to the emergence of the broad stream of Protestantism. He was born at Eisleben in Germany in 1483. He studied law at Leipzig, but in 1505 joined the Augustinian Hermits in Erfurt, following a vow made during a terrifying thunderstorm. He was ordained in 1507. His order sent him to Wittenberg to teach Scripture and moral theology. In the wake of the Renaissance, the Scriptures were being studied anew.

During all this period, Luther had been searching for assurance of forgiveness of sin. The medieval age lived very much under a sense of divine judgement. While God’s mercy was not in doubt, that mercy could be assured only after due correction. The church’s system of sacraments and penances were important components in that assurance.

The church was deeply enmeshed in the political life of Europe. Ecclesiastical positions and the sacraments of the church became entangled with political and financial considerations. Indulgences were also part of that. Indulgences were the remission by the church’s authority of part of the temporal penalties expected to follow sins that had been forgiven. The whole system was wide open to abuse. Many wanted reform, but the structures of the church proved resistant to change. Luther was then teaching about Paul’s letter to the Romans. Reflection on Romans 1:17, “the just shall live by faith”, finally brought him peace when all external disciplines had failed. When therefore in 1517 a monk came to Wittenberg selling indulgences to raise money for the building of St Peter’s in Rome, Luther initiated a debate by putting up on the church door ninety-five propositions for discussion.[ more]

Source: Martin Luther-31st October 2016

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