Who is Martin Luther?

Martin Luther is not to be confused with the American Minister, named Martin Luther King, who was assassinated in his belief that one-day, all of God’s Children will come to the Promised Land.  Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) was a 16th century German Augustinian Monk who challenged the Roman Catholic Church against certain policies that it had.  The Church, at that time, led by Pope Leo X, preached that the only way people could attain Salvation was by: doing good works; punishing themselves physically (mortification of the flesh) and purchasing indulgences in which a person could put money toward his salvation.  For Leo, this last was very important since he needed a lot of money to pay for one of his churches.  Martin, in studying the Holy Scripture, discovered that a person can receive salvation through faith alone, God’s Divine gift of life, death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  A person’s sins are forgiven through the sheer mercy of God.    He wrote the 95 theses, which criticized the indulgences and nailed these for the people to read on the front door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg.  They contained three basic ideas: protest (Hence, our word protestant) against the abuse of papal authority; challenge the Pope to empty the souls condemned to purgatory for free; deny the “extra merit” theory supporting indulgences.  The Gospel is the only treasure of the Church since it proclaims God’s mercy.    Naturally, the Church could not permit this “heresy” and threw Martin Luther out – excommunicated him.  That didn’t stop the man.  He began to work on reforms (Hence, the term “Protestant Reformation”) that he felt needed to be carried out to return the church to its original path.    He worked on:

    • The Sacraments, reducing the number from seven to two – baptism and the Mass, Holy Communion;

    • The German Mass in which the laity and the clergy partook of the wine and bread together in the Mass;

    • Supremacy of the Scriptures in which the Word of God is received by Faith and revealed as the Holy Gospel;

    • The Church and State in which the papacy should be a spiritual institution allowing the finances to be run by to nation’s churches;

    • Universal priesthood of believers in which universal conscience is answerable only to the Word of God.

    • Christ is the only intermediary between humankind and God;

    • Augsburg Confession written by Philip Melanchthon in which Lutherans remain faithful to the true teachings of the Christian Church.

What is a Lutheran?

A Lutheran is a person who is one of over 90 million who believe that the Reformations initiated by Martin Luther, a 16th century German Augustinian monk, leads them toward salvation.

A Lutheran is a person who believes:

    • There is one God who is three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit;

    • All people are, by nature, sinful and in need of a new birth through Baptism;

    • Christ is truly Divine and truly human;

    • No one can become righteous but through faith alone;

    • God gives us faith through the Gospel and the Sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion);

    • Sinners may be absolved of sin upon honest repentance;

    • Christ will return on the last day of Judgment;

    • Humankind has the freedom of will to work for earthly righteousness, but cannot attain God’s righteousness without God’s help;

    • Priests are allowed to marry;

    • Holy Communion is to be celebrated reverently, not as a new sacrifice for sin, but for the strengthening of Faith.