Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany. He is one of only a very few whose life would mark a turning point in the religious and political history of Europe, and eventually the entire world. He was a spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation.
After obtaining a master’s degree at the University of Erfurt in 1505, Luther was accepted into the St. Augustine monastic order in 1506, and was ordained a priest a year later at age 24. He was assigned a teaching post at the University of Wittenberg beginning in 1508, and received a doctorate in theology in 1512.
Luther’s disillusionment with the Roman Catholic Church began after he visited Rome in 1510, where he was appalled by the inappropriate behavior of certain high-ranking church officials of that time, as well by the sale of indulgences. Luther returned home with many questions – but this time, he sought the answers in God’s Word, The Holy Bible.
In 1517, Luther wrote his now-famous 95 Theses, and on October 31 of that year he nailed them to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg. As expected, his bold act landed him in serious trouble with his superiors. He was summoned to Rome, but he did not go. Instead, he greatly increased his vocal opposition to other church doctrines, including the institution of the papacy itself. When a papal bull was issued against him, he publicly burned it.
In 1521, Luther was formally excommunicated, an order was issued for the destruction of his books, and he was put under the ban of the empire. He was summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms, but when an order was issued for his arrest, he was given refuge at the Wartburg castle by the elector of Saxony. There, Luther translated the New Testament into German, and began a translation of the entire Bible which became a milestone of German literature.
Luther became highly respected by the general public, a popularity that eventually allowed him to safely return to Wittenberg. In 1525, he and a former nun, Katharina von Bora, were married. They had six children.
Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546, at age 63.
Fact Finder: Does God’s Truth set people free? John 8:32
by Wayne Blank
Luther and the Reformation
The Importance of the Reformation
PBS – Martin Luther – Complete documentary. (Parts 1 & 2)