Essay on The Religious Ideas Of Martin Luther

Essay on The Religious Ideas Of Martin Luther

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Martin Luther is considered one of the most instrumental individuals in Christian history for his role in the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation that severed the powerful religious, political, and social grip the Catholic Church had upon European society (1). Luther did not set out to be a revolutionary, but simply questioned the church 's marketing of indulgences that offered the buyer or their deceased loved one absolution from the penalty of sin (2). Luther’s famous “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” or “95 Theses” argued against the sale of indulgences, but Luther also ultimately disagreed with many of the fundamental religious philosophies of the medieval Catholic Church. The religious ideas of Martin Luther differed from late medieval Catholicism on key elements of theology: spiritual authority, justification of sin, free will, and the sacraments.


First of all, the Catholic Church taught that spiritual authority originated from the Pope; however Luther maintained that the word of God as recorded in the Bible was a higher power that overruled the authority of Rome (3). Luther declared: “The ungodly papists prefer the authority of the church far above God’s Word; a blasphemy abominable and not to be endured; wherewith, void of all shame and piety, they spit in God’s face” (4). Catholic priests served as special intermediators and the church served as a “halfway house” between the people and God (5). In contrast, Luther believed in the concept of a universal priesthood of believers and challenged the barriers between God and the people put in place by the system of the church, the priesthood, and the sacraments (6). Although Luther admitted that it was necessary to have some preachers and church of...


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...y that the blood is given to all those for whose sins it was shed. But who will dare to say it was not shed for the laity…Doesn 't He give it to all? Doesn 't He say that it is shed for all?" (23). In other words, Luther believed that both priests and the laity should be permitted to receive both parts of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Despite his disagreements with the religious theology of the medieval Catholic Church, Luther did not set out to create a movement that would result in the Protestant Reformation (24). Luther simply wanted the Catholic Church to return to the basic beliefs of the first century New Testament church (25). At the heart of Luther’s religious differences with Catholicism was his personal journey to understand his relationship with God and his belief that the word of God was the supreme and final authority for living the Christian life.

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