In this essay, I have presented a biographical sketch of one of the major "players" in the Reformation i.e. Martin Luther. I have discussed his life starting from his birth till his death. In the conclusion, I have mentioned how important he was for the revolution in Europe and how Christians today can follow his footsteps and exemplary character.
At the same time as the Catholic Church made efforts for setting its base and went ahead as the most important and chief institute of religious conviction in the history of world, a lot of compromise were made so that the institution can build and advance further. Sorry to say, one of the sufferers of this Catholic flow was the true-connection-oriented Christianity. With the development and progress of the Catholic Church, the world witnessed the removal of the common man and the domination and unquestioned superiority of clergy in the church. The church of Jesus Christ was given the status of the protected church during Constantine's reign in the early 300 A.D. Christianity was made the Roman Empire's official religion with the issuance of the Edict of Milan. In the subsequent years, a number of people and groups tried to grab power but none of them become as prominent as the force that was getting together in Roman territory. As a consequence, the walls of Rome were a dwelling for the power of the Christian Church for the hundreds of years ahead (Atchley, 2010).
The Reformation can be recognized by 6 most important movements i.e. "The German Reformation (1517-1546), the German-Swiss Reformation (1525-1609), the Swiss Brethren (1527-1648), the French-Swiss Reformation (1534-1564), the English Reformation (1534) and the Catholic Counter Reformation (1563) and the Thirty Years' War." The one hundred and thirty-one years of Reformation introduced a number of leaders to the world including Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, Philip Melanchthon, John Knox, Henry VIII etc. (Atchley, 2010).
It is necessary for a movement to succeed that someone comes forward risking his personal life willingly. Martin Luther was such an individual who willfully set aside his personal safety and security and put everything he had at risk. Due to his unforgettable and relentless contributions, Martin Luther is acknowledged as the "Father of the Reformation." His determination and unbending enthusiasm to oppose the Catholic Church over the trading of extravagance was the earliest official Reformation act despite the fact that a lot of people before Luther were involved in standing against the Catholic Church (Atchley, 2010).
The Early Years
Luther was born on November 10, 1483 to Margaret Luther and Hans Luther and was the eldest of their seven children. As he was born on Saint Martin's Day, he was named Martin as a result of baptism. He was just one-day-old when he was baptized thus becoming an official member of the Roman Catholic Church. From an early age, Luther had a strong yearning for discovering and having religion as a main feature of his everyday life. The prayers and holy texts at home enthused and motivated Luther. It is an interesting fact that the pictorial representations of Christ made little Luther fearful. He was also afraid of the graphical representations of hell and the pain in that. His father wanted Luther to join civil services and live a life that was of quality. Both Luther's mother and father were particularly strict and rigorous. Even Luther mentioned later that the retribution was every so often unreasonable, unfair and too much. According to quite a lot of scholars, Luther's formative years were also a reason of depression he faced in his later life (Atchley, 2010).
When Luther was 18, he was sent to Erfurt University where he learnt the basics of becoming a civil servant. Towards the end of his studies in July 1505, he made the decision of joining a monastery for the reason that there was a horrible thunderstorm and frantic pleas were made. Thus, he became a member of the Augustinian Order in Erfurt without more ado. At the same time as he was a member of the Augustinian Order, he acquired the Doctor of Theology degree from the University of Wittenberg. At the age of twenty-eight in 1511, Luther also received a professorship as the professor of Scripture. As he has now achieved both education and respect in society, Luther committed himself as a teacher and as the administrator of the Catholic Church affairs. As a lecturer and teacher to juveniles, he taught them about life and faith as well as regarding the Holy Scriptures, liturgy and ascetic life. This was the same time when Luther himself became a passionate reader of the Scriptures himself. His struggle has been summarized by Baker in this manner, "How long Luther had been pondering these things cannot be determined. By the time he received his second degree at Erfurt, he had an overwhelming feeling that he must get right with God. He (Luther) had experienced several frightening incidents that caused him to think about eternal things" (Atchley, 2010).
In Search of God
At the age of twenty-six, Luther had become an important part of the monastery and fulfilled his duties in the best manner possible. For fulfilling his responsibility, young Luther was obliged to make a pilgrimage to Rome as his monastery's representative. A lot of people before him had taken advantage of this opportunity for their growth, development and to give a boost to their careers. However, Luther was completely different. Instead of gaining benefits, he spent most of his time in making tours to churches of Italy. It was astonishment for him seeing and observing the corrupt and luxurious lifestyles of the priests and monks. He was also struck by their wickedness, dishonesty, lack of knowledge and disrespect of the Roman priests. When he returned to Saxony, Luther was stunned and annoyed. Such an experience motivated Luther to do something for Christian cause (Atchley, 2010).
Irrespective of the fact that Luther prayed and read Scriptures for innumerable hours, he was not successful in finding peace and was failed to connect with God. However, Luther's life drastically changed due to the never-ending learning and confession that made him aware of his personal immorality and discontentment before God (Atchley, 2010). As he read the Romans' Book Scriptures, Luther dedicated his life and heart to Christ and made him the only source of escape by committing to faith. As a consequence of this realization, Luther started to be recognized "for sola fide or justification by faith, sola scriptura or Scripture alone, and sola sacerdos or the priesthood of the believer" (Atchley, 2010) that later turned out to be the three doctrines of Luther's mystical place and position.
It was at the same time that he started the close inspection of the church fathers' contributions. He also started deep analysis of the Scriptures. He concluded after thoroughly investigating the holy texts that "the notion of justification by faith, and faith alone had been lost somewhere in church history" (Atchley, 2010). This discovery made him to acknowledge and implement this notion in his personal life. He also started others to learn this new found faith. However, after some time passed, this resulted in obvious disagreements and opposition with those who were the authorized figures in theological establishment. He was opposed for the reason that his teachings contradicted the teachings of the conventional priests of the Catholic Church. Thus, he faced strong hostility with this new faith as both the Church and his peers disregarded his idea of a new faith (Atchley, 2010).
After the conversion to this newly-established faith based on the doctrine of sola fide, sola scriptura and sola sacerdos, Luther started teaching it. The people at Wittenberg witnessed the success of these new theological doctrines in the region as more and more people started to follow it (Atchley, 2010).
The 95 Theses
In 1517, the pope gave an individual named John Tetzel the power to put indulgences up for sale so that the money for the restoration of Roman buildings could be paid, particularly for the restoration of St. Peter's. However, Luther was completely sure that the selling of indulgences was an attempt to deceit the people of Wittenburg as they were made to believe that purchasing indulgences would result in the forgiveness of their sins. Therefore, Luther responded to Tetzel's erroneous actions and wrote a pamphlet known as "The 95 Theses." The aim behind writing this pamphlet was to crystal-clearly criticize the indulgences. It consisted of 95 points and Luther believed that they must be considered academically instead of discussed generally (Atchley, 2010).
It can be said that the publication of the 95 Theses was an open pronouncement from Luther regarding the impiety, badness and corruption of the Catholic Church. After a number of years, Luther decided to separate himself from the prevailing system in Rome as a step towards the reformation of the church. He aimed to transform the existing church into the type of church presented…