Meet Martin Luther
Luther was born in Eislebin, Germany, in 1483. His was a religiously conservative peasant family, and the brilliant Martin was expected to become a jurist, make a prosperous marriage, and support his parents in their old age. When he entered the monastery of the Augustinian Hermits at Erfurt in 1505, his father was enraged.
On a mission to Rome in 1510, he was appalled by the corruption, in particular the sale of indulgencesósins washed away by money rather than by the blood of Christ. Buyers were assured that "as soon as the coin the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs." (Bainton) In 1511, Luther was appointed to the university at Wittenberg as a professor of theology and philosophy. While lecturing in 1512 on Paulís letter to the Romans, he came to a new understanding of the righteousness of God. Man can be justified only through faith, by the merit and work of Christ alone. In 1517, he posted his treatise, Ninety-Five Theses, on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church, condemning indulgences, questioning the authority of the pope, and putting himself in direct opposition to the Catholic Church. He was excommunicated in 1520.
Luther called himself "the German prophet." Bainton observes the following: "If no Englishman occupies a similar place in the religious life of his people, it is because no Englishman had anything like Lutherís range. The Bible translation in England was the work of Tyndale, the prayer book of Cranmer, the catechism of the Westminster divines. The sermonic style stemmed from Latimer; the hymnbook came from Watts. And not all these lived in one century. Luther did the work of more than five men. And for sheer richness and exuberance of vocabulary and mastery of style he is to be compared only with Shakespeare . . . and what he did for his own people, he did also for others."
In 1525 Luther married Katharina von Bora, a nun who had left her convent. Their home was a place of affection and godliness, always open to visitors. Martin Luther died in 1546.