Martin Luther

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Martin Luther and the Break With Rome

Martin Luther began as a simple Augustinian Friar in the Roman Catholic Church, the reigning power of Western Europe for hundreds of years, and he soon became the leader of the most important stand against the Catholic Church. I call Luther’s actions a stand rather than a revolt because he did not willingly mean to disrespect the entire church or even start a new denomination of Christianity, he was only trying to bring truth to it. Luther published writings such as The Ninety-five Theses, Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation and A Treatise on Christian Liberty, all which produced outrage in the Church for the fact that it blatantly accused the clerics, and especially the pope, of many wrong doings in their practice.

Luther belonged to a church in Wittenburg, Germany and here he was a scholar as well as a priest. He, like many others, came to notice the corruption in the Church. The Church had come to own a great deal of land all over Europe, collect a very considerable sum in mandatory taxes from the middle-class, and they had become very rich and very powerful. This led to an even greater hunger and they started the practice of selling indulgences, which is paying to be forgiven of one’s sins, and simony, which is paying to get into church office. These were just a few of the many un-Godly acts of the Catholic Church during the 1500’s.

Luther felt that these injustuces should be brought to light and dealt with and then the Church should reform. With this idea he wrote The Ninety-five Theses, which were a series of wrongs committed by the church and the things they needed to do to change. This was originally supposed to be simply ideas put up for discussion among his peers in the Church, but very quickly this document spread like a wild fire and set the church a flame.

The Ninety-five Theses included the ideas that, “The pope cannot remit any guilt...The dying are freed by death from all penalties...The pope (cannot) grant remission to souls in purgatory...” He basically concluded that the Church did not have all the powers they claimed to have. They lied and cheated for money. Of course Luther did not write this and then march into Rome with it demanding change, they were only...

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...d, I find that they have done nothing of special importance.”

It seems to me that at the point when Luther wrote Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, he knew that the Church was out to get him and he was, in a way, rallying for supporters. He was pointing out that the pope cannot do much harm if they come together and stand against him. But will this work? Can the Catholic Church be defeated?

Martin Luther was summoned to appear before Emperor Charles of the Holy Roman Empire as well as the clergy to defend himself against the charge of heresy in Worms in 1521. Here was his moment, he knew he could not reform the Church but he could tell the truth. His truth was that he only believed God was before him and the Word of God was the only truth or law he had before him. Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church although it is very surprising to me that he was not put to death. Maybe the church knew their power was waning. Luther had succeeded in gaining an admirable following, he was victorious over the Church because he held fast to what he believed and here is where the first branch split from the tree of Christianity and the world was forever changed.
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