Church History: Martin Luther Part 1
God hated him and he hated God back.
He could not be good enough, long enough, often enough to please Him…and God knows he tried to be.
While studying and teaching the book of Romans at the seminary between 1515-1517, the Holy Spirit illuminated the text and showed Luther a long lost doctrine.
Solace and grace became his possession through this text.
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:17 ESV)
Justification by faith.
This was the first spark of the coming revolution, but the revolution was yet to come.
Concurrently, the pope had sent a man named Tetzel to sell indulgences in Germany to finance the building of St. Peters basilica.
This enraged Luther, not so much on theological grounds, but because it exploited the working poor of the region.
Luther nailed the legendary 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg on Oct 31, 1517…these were not intended to be the first shots of a revolution, but an invitation to debate.
It is vitally important to understand that Luther wanted reform from within Catholicism, not to start a new movement.
The papacy was enraged by Luther’s theses and tried numerous times to bring him back in line…to them, the matter was more about papal authority than indulgences and avarice.
The matter come to a head in July of 1519 in the town of Leipzig in a debate between Luther and Johann Eck.
Here, Luther affirmed that the “power of the Keys” had not been given to the papacy only, but to the whole church.
This was a direct assault on papal authority.
He further stated that it was not necessary to believe in the preeminence of the Roman church to be saved.
He affirmed that even after taking the sacraments, sin still continues.
That was a shot at the sacramental system.
The biggest shot was when Luther said that popes and councils can and have made mistakes.
The revolution had now begun.
Debates were decided by who had displayed the greatest knowledge of the church fathers…and on that basis, Eck won.
Luther proclaimed himself the victor…because he knew the Scriptures better.
In 1520, Luther took the gloves completely off.
In the first he states that the church can longer reform itself and the secular powers must step in.
He also pleads for participation of the laity, and rejects the church having the exclusive right to call a council.
The two bombshells he throws are a rejection of the churches exclusive authority to interpret Scripture and he affirms the priesthood of all believers.
In the same book, he rejects clerical celibacy, masses for dead, mandatory fasts, and says that begging by monks should be forbidden.
The revolution was in full swing.
Next, Luther, Part 2