Martin Luther

Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a German monk, Catholic priest, professor of theology and key figure in Protestant Reformation, a 16th century Christian movement. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased by money. He confronted Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and seller of indulgences (pieces of holy relics or items that would shorten one’s time in purgatory), with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. Luther’s refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 resulted in his excommunication. Subsequently, he was condemned as an outlaw by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521.

Luther taught that salvation and subsequently eternity in heaven is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin and subsequently eternity in Hell. His theology taught that only The Bible was the source of revealed divine knowledge, and not the authority of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He considered all baptized Christians as members of a holy priesthood. People believing these concepts and other teachings call themselves Lutherans, even though he taught that the term Christian was the proper name for those who professed the teachings and divinity of Jesus Christ.

His translation of the Bible into German (instead of Latin) made it more accessible to his countrymen. This had a huge impact on the church and on German culture in general. It helped standardize the the German language and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible (which was heavily referenced in creating the English King James Version). His hymns influenced the development of singing in churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant priests to marry added several principles to the art of translation,

Luther died in his birth city of Eisleben, Saxony, Holy Roman Empire on 18 February 1546 at the age of aged 62. He was still convinced of the correctness of his Reformation theology, and the excommunication decree from Pope Leo X was still in effect. On his deathbed, Luther was asked, ‘Are you ready to die trusting in your Lord Jesus Christ and to confess the doctrine which you have taught in his name?’. He answered, ‘Yes’ before taking his final breath.


More information about Martin Luther

Hymns written by Martin Luther

Luther’s 95 Theses