Martin Luther

The first of the Protestant reformers

Who is Martin Luther?

  • Born in Eisleben, Saxony in 1483.
  • Joined the Augustinian Friars in 1505.
  • His father was a strict disciplinarian.
  • Entered the monastery after surviving a violent thunderstorm
  • While he was in the monastery he had a problem with scrupulosity.
  • He began to see God as a lawgiver and administrator of justice.

Luther's teachings and influences

  • Emphasized the primacy of the Bible rather than Church officials as the ultimate religious authority.
  • Believed that humans could not reach salvation by their own act but that their only God could bestowed salvation by his dying grace.
  • Criticized the selling of indulgences.
  • William of Ockham influenced his teachings.
  • Influenced by the writings of the early Church philosopher, Augustine
  • His personal struggle with scrupulosity and his strict father also made him see God this way.

95 Theses

  • In October of 1570, he nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.
  • It was a list of questions and propositions for the debate about the teachings of the Catholic Church.
  • He strongly criticized the selling of indulgences.
  • Copies of this were spread quickly throughout Europe because of the printing press.
Click here to see 95 Theses

List of the 95 Theses

Comparison of Teachings

  • Taught that faith alone saves. But Christ says, "Faith without works is dead" -James 2:26.
  • Taught that there is no supreme teaching power of the Church. Jesus instituted that Christ gave Peter the authority of Pope.
  • Believed that each person can interpret Scripture in their own way. Because each person has different life experiences, people may have different ways to interpret Scripture without making stuff up.


  • Although Luther was right, there was corruptions in the Church (selling indulgence). Most of his teachings went against the teaching of the Church.