What is “Lutheran?”

​Martin Luther’s Contribution to the Christian Faith

  • Confirmed that believers are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of merit.
  • Translated the Bible into his common language, German, because he was confident everyone could read the Bible and be taught by the Holy Spirit.
  • Established the first Bible church.
  • Launched contemporary worship using popular music and using the language of the people.
  • Insisted every believer is a disciple and minister of the Gospel and God’s grace.

Who is Martin Luther?Image result for martin luther

How Luther got Started

Martin Luther was a pastor, an Old Testament scholar, a theologian, a reformer, a husband and a parent who lived from 1483 to 1536 in Germany.  His father wanted him to be a lawyer and sent him to law school.  One day on his way to the university he was caught in a thunder storm and afraid of death.  He promised to be a monk if his life was spared.  Then he got to the monastery he felt like God hated him.  His spiritual mentor, Father Staupitz, helped him through his troubles.  He read the Bible and found God was loving and forgiving.  He then earned a degree in theology at the University of Wartburg.  After this, his mentor sent him to Rome to represent his monastery.  Seeing how corrupt the city and priests were, he became more unsure.
Rejecting the Selling of Indulgences for Forgiveness
The Pope at that time needed money to build Saint Peter’s Basilica so he allowed indulgences to be sold.  An indulgence was a certificate of forgiveness from the Pope which could free you or a family member of any sin.  One of the most famous salesmen of these was John Tetzel.  Martin Luther saw how wrong this was and wrote the 95 Theses in Latin, nailing them on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg.  The 95 Theses explained how God’s forgiveness is free.  He intended for only his university friends to see theses, but it was translated to German and copies so that many people could read it.

Here I stand:  The Diet of Worms

The Diet of Worms is pronounced ‘Diet of Vorms.’  A diet is where meetings were held and where Luther was put on trial for his writing, which had highly offended Rome.  This is where he said his famous quote, “Here I stand.”  Rome said he was a heretic and his work was heresy.  Most heretics were killed when found quality.  After being asked to repent his writings, Luther said they were based on scripture and if they are proven wrong he would repent.  Because he would not repent, he was excommunicated.  On his way home, he was captured and sent to Wittenberg.  The people who captured him were actually saving him from the Pope by hiding him.  There he wrote the Bible in German.  Later at the Diet of Augsburg’s other reformers were called to recant because they were helping Luther reform the Catholic Church, but they too stood their ground on the basis of faith and the scriptures.

Luther’s Legacy

Martin Luther was one of the most productive writers in history.  His writing fills over 90 volumes in German.  Because of the printing press, his works were read throughout Germany.  The Bible he translated to German was in use for over 400 years.  He helped change Europe with political freedom.  No longer worried about the Pope’s political view, freedom of thought was expanded.  Martin Luther did not approve of all the changes that other reformers enacted.  In launching the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther established the key belief of the Reformation:

  • Christ alone
  • Grace alone
  • Faith alone
  • Scripture alone

Today Lutherans comprise the largest Protestant body in the world with more than 80 million Christians and is rapidly growing in Africa and Asia.  There are over 12 million Lutherans in North America alone.