Martin Luther: the Reformer

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Commonly referred to as, “The Father of Protestantism” (Funk and Wagnalls 337), “Martin Luther was born into a world dominated by the Catholic Church” ( “Luther had no intention of opposing the authority of Rome” (Funk and Wagnalls 336) but God had other plans.

Martin Luther, who “was named after St Martin” ( was born on November 10th, 1483 (Thulin 11). Mansfeld was his hometown, although he was born in Eisleben (Thulin 11). His parents moved to Mansfeld, to improve his father's job prospect, in 1484 right after Luther's birth (Thulin 12). After moving to Mansfeld, Luther's father, Hans, became a miner (Thulin 11). “By 1491 the Luthers were one of the most respected families in Mansfeld” ( Luther himself stayed in Mansfeld until 1496 (Thulin 12).

Luther came from a family of peasants, (Thulin 11) his “parents were simple folk” (Erikson 54) and are described as “a pair of hardworking and pious Germans” ( Martin's father was the son of a farmer and “ruled his son with an iron fist” ( In fact, Luther said “My father once whipped me so hard I ran away – I hated him until he finally managed to win me back” ( His mother, Margaret Luther, (Thulin 11) “came from a small but very well-off family” ( Margaret is also described as “a harsh disciplinarian” ( Luther said on the subject of parents, “When God wants to speak with us, he does not avail himself of an angel but of parents” (

Luther's parents had high hopes for their first son ( They wanted him to become a lawyer because his father thought that “a man of Martin's gifts trained in the law would rise even higher in the social scale” (Green 34). Luther “resented his father's attempt to dominate his life and to push him into a career which he had selected for him” (Green 35), but he complied with his parents' wishes ( When Luther, out of terror, made a vow to become a monk his father was completely devastated (Bainton 21, In fact, “He did not tell his father of his final decision until he was behind the friary walls” (Green 35).

Luther was educated in the schools of Eisenach and Magdeburg and in 1501, at the age of 17, he entered the University of Erfurt (Funk and Wagnalls 335, Erikson 24). Luther received his master's degree at 21, in 1505 (Erikson 24). Years later in 1512, at 28, he “became a doctor of theology” (Erikson 24). That same year he was made professor of Biblical Literature and the year after he became a priest he became “a lecturer at the University of Wittenberg” (Funk and Wagnalls 335).

On July 2nd of 1505 Luther experienced an event that would change his life forever (Thulin 16). “...caught in a thunderstorm, terrified by the possibility of imminent death...” ( he cried out to St. Anne for help and vowed to become a monk (Bainton 21). Later that same year, at the age of 23, he entered the monastery (Erikson 24).

Luther, in the summer of 1506, “became a fully-professed friar” (Green 37) and he celebrated his first mass in the Augustinian monastery in 1507 (Thulin 17). Although his Father did not approve of him becoming a monk, Hans went to great expense to make this occasion a festive day (Thulin 17).

Luther was a devout monk for 20 years (Thulin 17, Simon 3). “As young monk Luther was obsessed with atoning for his sins” ( He lived a holy life in the monastery, embracing “the rules of his order with unstinted zeal” (Green 37).

“From 1512 to 1513 Luther, spiritually uneasy, moved theologically away from orthodox teaching” (Green 45). He became “increasingly doubtful that the Church can actually offer him salvation at all” this is when he discovers that only “his own individual faith will guarantee his salvation” ( Luther “turns on the Church, attacking its practice of selling indulgences” ( “It was his...
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