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Martin Luther - The Leader of Protestant Reformation

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Martin Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546. He was German reformer and founder of the Lutheran church. Luther is the most famous of all the reformers, for he is credited with initiating the Protestant reformation on October 31, 1517 when he nailed his now famous ’95 Theses’ objecting to the Catholic indulgence doctrine to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Martin Luther was originally a Roman Catholic monk and scholar who soon found himself objecting not only to the abuses in his Church, but more crucially, to some of its doctrines, or teachings. After the publication of his ’95 Theses,’ Luther found himself in more and more trouble with Church authorities so that by 1519 he finally broke with the Church and went on to write and preach and through these activities, continue the work of the Reformation.

Luther’s Theological Premises

Luther finally came up with three main premises, which are also accepted by many other Protestant groups. Christians should believe in:

  1. Justification by faith (it is through faith only that Christians will be saved, not by Good Works as the Catholic Church maintained);
  2. The primacy of Scripture (the literal meaning of the Bible should be preferred to any traditional or learned readings, and anything not specifically grounded in Scripture was to be rejected);
  3. The ‘priest-hood of all believers’ (ordained priests were not the only ones who should be considered members of the ‘true spiritual estate,’ so here Luther did away with the priesthood, though many Protestant groups still use ministers or pastors to lead others).


Luther also explained the sacrament of the Eucharist in terms of consubstantiation. This is the conviction that Christ is truly present in the celebration of the Eucharist. This doctrine comes from the same Aristotelian philosophical assumptions as the doctrine of transubstantiation, but while believers in transubstantiation believe that during the celebration of the Eucharist the bread and wine literally change to the body and blood of Jesus, believers in consubstantiation believe that the bread and wine remain bread and wine which also includes Christ’s presence.

Lutheranism was formed out of the works of Luther. His Small Catechism, written in 1529, is a basic statement of faith for all Lutherans. One of Luther’s significant contributions to all of Christianity is his emphasis on singing hymns in worship, many of which he authored.


Overall many Germans followed Luther and his teachings, but this particular form of Protestantism didn’t prove very popular beyond its native Germany, though the majority of Scandanavian Protestants are Lutheran. There are also large numbers of Lutherans wherever Germans settled, especially in America and in some part in Australia.

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