Martin Luther and Katrina Vonbora

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There are numerous biographies of Martin Luther’s life and several in depth analysis of his ideas, but very few focus on his life after the Reformation. After the leading the German Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther continued to work on his ideas, but he then took those beliefs and applied them to his own life. Martin Luther spent a number of years “defining the faith” and then the remainder of his life “living the faith.” Katherine von Bora and Martin Luther both deserted their life of obedience, poverty and celibacy to “live the faith” together.

On November 10, 1483, Martin Luther was born to Hans and Margarethe Luther in Isleben, Germany.1 At this time Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire. Hans Luther had high ambitions of his son becoming a lawyer, but was disappointed when Martin dropped out of law school and entered an Augustinian friary in Erfurt.2 Martin believed that a career in law offered uncertainty and many of his later works prove this theology.

Martin Luther was very dedicated to his life in the monastery. He devoted his life to long hours of prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and confession.3 Luther even said: “if ever a monk got to Heaven by his monastic discipline, I shall be he.”4 Martin Luther believed that he was the idealistic monk. He was very obedient and lived his life for God every day. He continued his work as a monk until he became sick.5 The more obsessive Luther became with living life of discipline, chastity, and obedience, the further his relationship with God ventured. At this point in time, he was leading a life of “deep spiritual despair.”6 He said, “I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made him the jailor and hangman of my poor soul.”7 These ideas helped him formulate his idea of salvation through faith alone.

Martin Luther saw how living in a monastery affected his health and relationship with God, which ultimately helped him realize errors in the Catholic ideology. At first Luther focused on the Roman Catholic Church’s idea of salvation reached through good works and faith in God.8 Martin Luther believed that faith alone could ensure salvation. Later he began to notice other corruptions with Catholic theology. For example, the selling of indulgences, for many years the Roman Catholic Church had been selling indulgences.9 The Catholic Church used the money they made from these indulgences to rebuild the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.10 Martin Luther continued to find corruptions with the Catholic Church. He put these ideas together and came up with ninety-five theses, in which he nailed the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.11 Martin Luther did not want to reform the Church, but correct the corruptions within. However, this did not happen, when Luther nailed the ninety-five theses, he began the Protestant Reformation.

Shortly after this event, Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.12 He took exile in the Wartburg Castle. During his stay at Wartburg, he spent eleven months studying the Scripture and translating the New Testament from Greek into German.13 He also concentrated on his own theology. He wrote about the special treatment of clergy people and marriage.14 Martin Luther had very strong beliefs about each of these aspects of religion. He did not believe that clergy people should be treated different than lay people. In his work, “To the Christian Nobility,” Martin Luther says, “all Christians are truly of the spiritual estate and there is no difference among them except that of office.”15 This idea was much different than that of the Roman Catholic Church which believed that the spiritual estate was the elite people called by God to serve the church, but Lutheran theology says that no one person is above another in the eyes of God.

Luther had much different ideas from the Roman Catholic Church when it came to marriage as well. Marriage was a common...
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