Luther was born in Eislebin, Germany on November 10,
1483 into a religiously conservative peasant family.
His father was a minor, but by the time Martin was a
teenager he had acquired several smelting furnaces
and they had become part of the town's elite.
Apparently the relationships in the family were
rather cold. Luther attended the university in Erfurt
where he showed much promise as a debater and public
speaker. His father expected him to become a jurist,
make a prosperous marriage, and support his parents
in their old age. But that just was not to be.
In July of 1505 Luther was traveling down a parched
road when suddenly a thunderstorm came up and a bolt
of lightening struck him and knocked him to the
ground. He was terrified and cried out to St. Anne,
"If you help me, I will become a monk."
Well he lived to tell about it and later that year he
entered the monastery of the Augustinian Hermits at
Erfurt. His father was horrified.
Luther applied his brilliant mind to the study of
theology and by 1509 was lecturing to new monks.
On a mission to Rome in 1510, he was appalled by the
corruption, in particular the sale of
indulgences—sins 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
In 1511, Luther was appointed professor of theology
and philosophy at the University at Wittenberg.
While lecturing in 1512 on Paul's 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.
On October 31, 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.
In 1525 Luther married Katharina von Bora, a nun who
had left her convent. Their home was always open to
visitors--a place of affection and godliness, unlike
the home of his youth.
Martin Luther went to be with the Lord in 1546,
having done the work of five men as they
say...meaning Luther left behind a legacy in his
translation of the Bible, a prayer book, the
catechism, his style of preaching and even the many
hymns that he wrote. In England, Bible translation
was the work of Tyndale, the prayer book of Cranmer,
the catechism of the Westminster divines, the sermon
style came from Latimer and the hymnbook was the work
The man who called upon a saint was later to
repudiate saints. Vowing to become a monk, he would
later to renounce monasticism. Loyal to the Catholic
Church, he would shatter the structure of medieval
Catholicism. A devoted servant of the pope, he would
identify the popes with the antichrist. And he would
go on to become the father of the Reformation.
This year, forget Halloween - celebrate Reformation
Day instead! And what better way than by getting to
know Martin Luther.
Background music: Our Father, Thou In Heaven
Lyrics by Martin Luther. Score by Luther, too,
well--okay it's been jazzed up a little bit...