Examine How Luther’s Personal Experiences Affected His Ideas for Reform of the Church

Examine How Luther’s Personal Experiences Affected His Ideas for Reform of the Church

Martin Luther was born in 1483 in the town of Eisleben. He was born to a middle class family and he wanted to be a lawyer and so he studied law at the University of Erfurt. However, he gets caught in a thunderstorm and he is so terrified that he promised that if he survives the thunderstorm, he would give his life to God. This is because he was terrified, at the time, of God’s wrath and judgement. He then completed his holy orders a year later and became an Augustinian monk.
In 1510, he went on pilgrimage to Rome as many people did at the time. However, whilst he was there, he saw the Pope dressed in golden armour on his way to a battle. He was amazed by this as in his mind, the Pope was not supposed to be as worldly as that. He was also disgusted by the obvious corruption he saw there, especially the business of selling indulgences that he saw thriving there. He returned back to his monastery disillusioned with the Church. During this time, he was in deep spiritual torture and despair and he said: “I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailor and hangman of my poor soul”. He began to see God as an angry judge whose only purpose was to condemn sinners.
However, he then had his ‘tower experience’ in which he finally started to identify the real God who was not, he said, a vengeful judge and he discovered that the way to salvation was through scripture and faith. His strong, new beliefs were expressed when Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar began selling indulgences in Wittenberg. He was angered by this and wrote to his local bishop, the Archbishop of Mainz and enclosed a copy of his 95 theses protesting the sale of indulgences. The Church at the time preached that scripture and faith alone were not enough for salvation. Roman Catholic theology stated that faith alone, cannot justify man; justification rather depends only on such faith as is active in charity and good works can justify man. The benefits of good works could be obtained...

View Full Essay