Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German monk, an Augustinian priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer. He was born and died in Eisleben, Germany. His attack on ecclesiastical abuses, the Ninety-five Theses, signaled the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther's father wanted him to be a lawyer and sent him to the University of Erfut, where he received a B.A. degree in 1502 and an M.A. in 1505. Luther joined the Augustinian order in 1506 and was ordained a priest a year later. He taught at the new University of Wittenberg from 1508 to 1546 and received a doctorate of theology in 1512.

From 1510 to 1520, Luther lectured on the Psalms, the books of Hebrews, Romans and Galatians. As he studied these portions of the Bible, he became anguished by self-doubt and the uncertainty of his own salvation. His reading of the Gospels convinced him that God demanded more than outward obedience (conformity to the law); he also wanted love and inner purity, all this under pain of divine justice. Luther was tormented with self-doubt about his own ability to fulfill God's expectations. His participation in the rituals of the Catholic church did nothing to alleviate his anguish, and he came to believe that something was fundamentally wrong with the church as governed by Rome. He came to understand terms such as penance and righteousness in new ways. Luther began to teach that salvation is a gift of God's grace through Christ received by faith alone. Luther wrote, "Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification… therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us." The essence of Luther's rebellion lay in his doctrine of justification by faith. Other reforms such as the number and significance of the sacraments and the role of the clergy sprang from Luther's interpretation of the Bible.

Luther's teachings and reflections became public and touched off the Reformation when he posted his famous Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. The Theses were Luther's reaction to such corrupt church practices as selling indulgences, and to such questionable practices as the veneration of relics and saints. During the religious and political fight that followed the publication of the Theses, Luther was excommunicated (1521), his views condemned, and a new order independent of the Papacy was born. The widespread publication of the Theses (made possible by the recently invented printing press) transformed what might once have been a mere local issue into a controversy that consumed Europe. The Protestant Reformation triggered by this controversy soon spread over northern Europe, sparking a war that lasted thirty years and a religious movement that had a global influence.




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Books by Martin Luther

53429: The Bondage of the WillThe Bondage of the Will
By Martin Luther

Martin Luther's The Bondage of the Will is fundamental to an understanding of the primary doctrines of the Reformation. In these pages, Luther gives extensive treatment to what he saw as the heart of the gospel. Free will was not merely an academic question for Luther. Rather, he believed that the whole gospel of the grace of God was bound up with it and stood or fell according to how one understands the human will in relation to salvation. Luther affirms our total inability to save ourselves and the sovereignty of divine grace in salvation. He upholds the doctrine of justification by faith and defends predestination as determined by the foreknowledge of God. Luther considered this refutation of Erasmus to be his finest theological work and it has remained a classic in the history of Christian thought.


525571: Martin Luthers 95 ThesesMartin Luthers 95 Theses
By Martin Luther

To combat abuses in the church of his day, the young German monk drafted nearly one hundred propositions for public debate. Martin Luther posted these "theses" on the church door in Wittenberg, an action that helped to give birth to the Protestant Reformation. Although most people have heard of the Ninety-Five Theses, very few have actually read these propositions.


0616391: Three TreatisesThree Treatises
By Martin Luther

Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the church door at Wittenburg in 1517. In the three years that followed, Luther clarified and defended his position in numerous writings. Chief among these are the Three Treatises written in 1520. In these writings Luther tried to frame his ideas in terms that would be comprehensible not only to the clergy but to people from a wide range of backrounds.


36070: On Christian LibertyOn Christian Liberty
By Martin Luther

Relying heavily on Paul's epistles, this is a classic statement about the Christian life. We should not fall back into legalism, says Luther, but conduct ourselves in ways which are becoming of a disciple, taking every opportunity we can to love and serve our neighbor.


70818X: Martin Luther's Table TalkTable Talk
By Martin Luther

Martin Luther's Table Talk is a compendium of excerpts taken from conversations with his students and colleagues, who furiously scribbled notes as he spoke. Reading them, it's easy to imagine all of them sitting around the table, eating, drinking and discussing issues of great concern to reformists. These excerpts are frequently anecdotal, highly opinionated, sometimes sublime, sometimes unsophisticated, occasionally brutal... and always unequivocating. Right or wrong, Luther has his say.


222730: A Simple Way to PrayA Simple Way to Pray
By Martin Luther

Asked for guidance on how to pray by his friend and barber Peter Beskendorf, Luther wrote this devotional gem in which he urged Peter to begin with the Lord's Prayer, then proceed by way of the Ten Commandments and the Apostle's Creed. Luther's advice is peppered with actual sample prayers.


0331X: Career of the Reformer I, Works of Luther #31Career of the Reformer I, Works of Luther #31
By Martin Luther

The young Luther emerges in this volume in his role of reformer. We follow him through his early years of clarifying his evangelical doctrines and relive with him the stirring events that were to influence the fate of Germany, all of Europe, and eventually the whole world. The writings of these first critical years provide the best possible introduction to the study of the great reformer.


0322X: Career of the Reformer II, Works of Luther #32Career of the Reformer II, Works of Luther #32
By Martin Luther

Luther stands out as the defender of his understanding of the Christian faith in this volume. What he had said and written was attacked by leaders of the Roman Church and the Holy Roman Empire. The more his enemies attacked him, the more he was convinced of the truth he defended. This volume contains his "Defense and Explanation of All the Articles", "The Accounts at the Diet of Worms", "Against Latomus", and "The Burning of Brother Henry".


03338: Career of the Reformer III, Works of Luther #33Career of the Reformer III, Works of Luther #33
By Martin Luther

The bulk of this volume is taken up with Luther's great treatis "On the Bondage of the Will". This was considered by Luther to be one of his best writings. This work was a reply to Erasmus' work "On the Freedom of the Will". Students of the Reformation will welcome the helpful footnotes and many excerpts from Erasmus' writings that accompany this important reply by Luther.


03346: Career of the Reformer IV, Works of Luther #34Career of the Reformer IV, Works of Luther #34
By Martin Luther

The writings from 1530 and succeeding years are often considered as coming from the pen of the "old Luther." Yet the treatises from this period in the present volume give no hint of a decrease in Luther's firm grasp of the meaning of the Gospel for his age. Thirteen of the fourteen treatises appear in their entirety in an English translation for the first time with publication of this volume including several of his debates held at the University of Wittenberg between 1535 and 1542.


03354: Word and Sacrament I, Works of Luther #35Word and Sacrament I, Works of Luther #35
By Martin Luther

This volume contains all Luther's prefaces to the books of the Bible and therefore is a great reference to have. These entries are readable and reader-friendly to even the beginning student of the Bible.


03362: Word and Sacrament II, Works of Luther II #36Word and Sacrament II, Works of Luther II #36
By Martin Luther

Luther's understanding of the sacraments, deriving from his concept of salvation through faith in God's Word of promise, had in it the seeds of destruction for the whole ecclesiastical structure of the Roman church. The opponents who rightly perceived this goaded him into making a forthright statement of his views, which took the form of a little "prelude." In it Luther struck the clear note which was to be elaborated immediately into a major theme. Six major movements of the resultant symphony are included in this volume, all dealing with the doctrine of the Lord's Supper.


03370: Word and Sacrament III, Works of Luther #37Word and Sacrament III, Works of Luther #37
By Martin Luther

This volume contains Luther's most extensive expostion of his understanding of the Lord's Supper. Directed against the more radical representatives of the sixteenth century reformation movement, this expostion is contained in the two major treatises appearing in an English translation in this volume.


03389: Word and Sacrament IV, Works of Luther #38Word and Sacrament IV, Works of Luther #38
By Martin Luther

The final volume in the section entitled "Word and Sacrament" traces the development of Luther's concept of the Lord's Supper from the time of the Marburg Colloquy in 1529 down to 1544, two years before his death. Editor Martin Lehmann sees Luther's orientation around the gospel of God's grace in Christ as a unifying theme in this volume.


03397: Church and Ministry I, Works of Luther #39Church and Ministry I, Works of Luther #39
By Martin Luther

This volume includes two writings dealing with the plight of the common person who Luther felt had become a victim of the ecclesiastical establishment. These are followed by treatises taken from Luther's literary feud with three staunch supporters of Rome: Augustine Alveld, Jerome Emser (the "Leipzig goat"), and Albrecht of Mainz. The final treatise contains Luther's argument for congregational authority.


03400: Church and Ministry II, Works of Luther #40Church and Ministry II, Works of Luther #40
By Martin Luther

This treatise throws an interesting light on how a valid ministry of the Word can be established under adverse circumstances. This volume contains Luther's thoughts on a variety of subjects related to church and ministry, including--"Concerning Rebaptism", "The Keys" (forgiveness), "Concerning the ministry", "Letter to the Prices of Saxony Concerning the Rebelious Spirit", "Letter to the Christians at Strassburg in Opposition to the Fanatic Spirit", and "Infiltrating and Clandestine Preachers."


03419: Church and Ministry III, Works of Luther #41Church and Ministry III, Works of Luther #41
By Martin Luther

Conflict between the church of Rome and the reformers reached its most violent peak in the five years before the Council of Trent in 1545, a council the pope had been delaying for years. Luther had not only given up hope for a "free, Christian council," but had also come to the conclusion that the authority of such a council was limited to reaffirming the ancient faith of the apostles. This radical departure from Rome; interpretation of its own authority forms the basis of Luther's new doctrine of the church --- and also of his advice to Protestant princes on the problems of ecclesiastical property. It is this doctrine of the church which is the theme of the three treatises written during this period and included in this volume.


03427: Devotional Writings I, Works of Luther #42Devotional Writings I, Works of Luther #42
By Martin Luther

The seven pastoral writings presented in this volume are notable for their lack of polemis. Although his very life was literally at stake, Luther does not allude to his own situation, but subdues himself to the message with which he was entrusted and to which he was committed. While still employing the terminology and imagery of the system he rejected, Luther does this without compromising the gospel.


03435: Devotional Writings II, Works of Luther #43Devotional Writings II, Works of Luther #43
By Martin Luther

These are not devotional writings in the sense of being edifying discourses or daily meditations for the cultivation of general spiritual sensitivity. Rather they are concrete expressions of evangelical faith and piety written by Luther the Pastor to deal with specific and burning life situations. In a very real sense they are "letters of spiritual counsel." The contents of this volume cover the years between 1522 (the year after the Diet of Worms) and 1545 (the year before Luther's death).


03443: Christian in Society I, Works of Luther #44Christian in Society I, Works of Luther #44
By Martin Luther

In the six documents contained in this volume, Luther defends, expounds, and clarifies his views on what the Christian life is at rock bottom. As he treats the problems of marriage and parenthood, works and faith, the responsibilities of Church and State, vows and monasticism, confession and conscience, and the kind of life that is really good, the same fundamental theme emerges: the Christian life is a life of service, love, and involvement, not of isolation and withdrawal.


03451: Christian in Society II, Works of Luther #45Christian in Society II, Works of Luther #45
By Martin Luther

In the eleven treatises comprising this volume, it is of extraordinary interest to note how Luther, the foremost exponent of evangelical ethics, interprets the dictates of love in the concrete circumstances of his time. A Christian's behavior is determined more by the situation in which he finds himself then by any fixed and final ethical formulations or codes of moral conduct.


0346X: Christian in Society III, Works of Luther #46Christian in Society III, Works of Luther #46
By Martin Luther

This volume contains 8 signifigant works by Luther--"Admontion to Peace", "Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants", "An Open Letter Concerning the Harsh Book Against the Peasants", "Whether Soldiers, Too, Can BE Saved", "An Answer to Several Questions Concerning Monastic Vows", "On War Against the Turk", "A Sermon on Keeping Children in School", and "On Marriage Matters."


03478: Christian and Society IV, Works of Luther #47Christian and Society IV, Works of Luther #47
By Martin Luther

In these four treatises, written between 1530 and 1542, we see Luther wrestling with volatile aspects of the Christian's ethical attitude toward the governing authorities, toward other Christians who appeared to be preaching incorrect doctrines, and toward Jews. Include: 1. Dr. Martin Luther's Warning to His Dear German People (1531), 2. Against the Sabbatarians: Letter to a Good Friend (1538), 3. Against the Antinomians (1539), and 4. On the Jews and Their Lies (1543).


03494: Letters II, Works of Luther #49Letters II, Works of Luther #49
By Martin Luther

This volume covers the period stretching from March of 1522 to October of 1530 which marked a time of tremendous change --- ecclesasiastical, political, and personal. Through the 117 letters presented here, the reader is given a well-rounded look at the shaping forces and milieu of Luther's life and the entire Reformation.


03508: Letters III, Works of Luther #50Letters III, Works of Luther #50
By Martin Luther

Letters written by Luther in the period from January 1531, to February 14, 1546, a date four days prior to Luther's death.


0353X: Liturgy and Hymns, Works of Luther #53Liturgy and Hymns, Works of Luther #53
By Martin Luther

This volume includes all of Luther's chants and hymns are available here with their music in modern notation. Contributing in this way to our growth in understanding of Luther's continuing impact on worship, this volume also contains all with the basic works in which Luther developed some general practical suggestions for their realization. This volume includes orders for the occasional services, such as baptism, private confession, marriage, collects and other prayers, prefaced to hymnals and a brief motet Luther composed.

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