Martin Luther Essay

Martin Luther Essay

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Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a German theologian and religious reformer, who started the
Protestant Reformation, and whose vast influence during his time period made him
one of the crucial figures in modern European history. Luther was born in
Eisleben on November 10, 1483 and was descended from the peasantry, a fact that
he often stressed. Hans Luther, his father, was a copper miner. Luther received
a sound primary and secondary education at Mansfeld, Magdeburg, and Eisenach. In
1501, at the age of 17, he enrolled at the University of Erfurt, receiving a
bachelor's degree in 1502 and a master's degree in 1505 . He then intended to
study law, as his father had wished. In the summer of 1505, he abandoned his
studies and his law plans, sold his books, and entered the Augustinian monastery
in Erfurt. The decision surprised his friends and appalled his father. Later in
his life, Luther explained his suprising decision by recollecting several
brushes with death that had occurred at the time, making him aware of the
fleeting character of life. In the monastery he observed the rules imposed on a
novice but did not find the peace in God he had expected. Nevertheless, Luther
made his profession as a monk in the fall of 1506, and his superiors selected
him for the priesthood. Ordained in 1507, he approached his first celebration of
the mass with awe. After his ordination, Luther was asked to study theology in
order to become a professor at one of the many new German universities staffed
by monks. In 1508 he was assigned by Johann von Staupitz, vicar-general of the
Augustinians and a friend and counselor, to the new University of Wittenberg
(founded in 1502) to give introductory lectures in moral philosophy. He received
his bachelor's degree in theology in 1509 and returned to Erfurt, where he
taught and studied.
In November 1510, on behalf of seven Augustinian monasteries, he made a visit
to Rome, where he performed the religious duties customary for a pious visitor
and was shocked by the worldliness of the Roman clergy. Soon after resuming his
duties in Erfurt, he was reassigned to Wittenberg and asked to study for the
degree of doctor of theology. In 1512, after receiving his doctorate, he took
over the chair of biblical theology which he held till his death.
Although still uncertain of God's love and his own salvation, Luther was
active as a preacher, teacher...

... middle of paper ...

...ependence of
rulers from papal supervision won him the support of many princes. His fame made
Wittenberg an intellectual center.
By 1537, Luther's health had begun to deteriorate, and he felt burdened by
the resurgence of the papacy and by what he perceived as an attempt by Jews to
take advantage of the confusion among Christians and reopen the question of
Jesus' messiahship. Apprehensive about his own responsibility for this situation,
he wrote a violent polemic against the Jews, as well as polemics against the
papacy and the radical wing of the reformers, the Anabaptists. In the winter of
1546, Luther was asked to settle a controversy between two young counts who
ruled the area of Mansfeld, where he had been born. Old and sick, he went there,
resolved the conflict, and died on February 18, 1546, in Eisleben. Luther left
behind a movement that quickly spread throughout the Western world. His
doctrines, especially justification by faith and the final authority of the
Bible, were adopted by other reformers and are shared by many Protestant
denominations today. As the founder of the 16th-century Reformation, he is one
of the major figures of Christianity and of Western civilization.

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