Martin Luther and the Reformation
In the 16
century, Martin Luther spearheaded a religious and political reform in
the Catholic Church when he posted his
95 Theses on the Power of Indulgences
door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. As a devout interpreter of the Bible,
Luther analyzed the content of the scripture, creating radical opinions that conflicted with
the accepted notion of sacred scripture. In posting his 95 Theses, Luther openly declared
his disagreement with the Church. Among his scholarly conclusions, Luther asserted that
selling indulgences was inappropriate and should be banned. He believed in ‘sola fide’,
meaning ‘by faith alone’.
The church at the time believed that faith and good deeds are needed to be happy
in heaven, yet Luther believed that only faith would bring his salvation: “"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… nothing of this article can be
yielded or surrendered, even though heaven, earth, and everything else falls."
Condemned as a heretic, the Church excommunicated Luther. During this time, Luther
continued to teach others, aided by the creation of the printing press. Luther
revolutionized the secular landscape, gaining loyal followers and creating the Lutheran
The Smalcald Articles
Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions
(Saint Louis: Concordia
Publishing House, 2005), 289, Part two, Article 1.