A thousand years is a long time. So how do you pick the most influential person of the last thousand years? Its practically impossible to do. But almost everyone will agree that one of the most influential characters in the millennium was Martin Luther, father of the protestant church.
Luther was born November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Thuringia (a province noted for its many musical talents, including Johann Sebastian Bach). Luther was brought up in the strict religious atmosphere of the roman catholic church. After attending the Latin Schools at Mansfeld, Magdeburg, and Eisenach, he entered the university at Erfurt in 1501. From this institution he received a bachelors degree in 1502 and a masters degree in 1505. During his student years, Luther was terrified by thoughts of the wrath of G-D. He continually sought a means of finding inward peace.
To achieve this goal, he entered an Augustinian Monastery on July 17, 1505 to become a monk. Two years later, he was ordained a priest. In 1508 Luther was appointed professor of philosophy at Wittenburg university, and he also studies there to get the doctor of theology degree in 1512. In 1515 Luther was appointed Augustinian Vical for Meissen and Thuringia. During the period of his appointment as vicar, Luther underwent a modification in his views and beliefs. He was still devoted to the church, but in his continued quest for inner peace, he turned from religious philosophy to the bible for the basis of his belief. These conclusions ultimately led Luther to combat some practices of the church.
Luther verus the church. A classic case of David and Goliath. There were many reasons Luther went against the church. But the sale of indulgences by Johann Tetzel in 1517 at a church near Wittenberg enticed Luther into action in the first place. Tetzel preached that buying indulgences would grant you a better place in heaven. On October 31, 1517, at the age of 33, Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses (1)to the castle church door at Wittenberg. This was not intended as a decisive attack on the church, and he did not want this to be circulated.
However, the new spread quickly through Germany withing the next two weeks.Later in 1518 Luther boldly denied the absolute power of the church. On March 3rd , 1519, Luther wrote a letter to Pope Leo X. In the letter he stated that it was not his intention to undermine the authority of the pope or the church. He did not want a war. On June 27th Luther had a debate with Johann Eck in Leipzig. At the heart of the debate is the issue of indulgences and the authority of the pope and the Roman Church.
This debate ended on July 14, and Luther was convinced Eck won. As a result of the debate, the impact of the Luther-Rome dispute began to grow. Luther and his ideas become unignorable. Luther became more popular. On June 11th, 1520, one hundred knights who were in favor of Luther offered him protection. He accepted the offer, fearing assassination. But along with people starting to favor him, people started to hate him.
On November 12th, Luther’s books were burned in Wittenburg. Burning of his books in others cities follow shortly thereafter. On November 20th, Luther writes Freedom of the Christian Man, and publishes it along with an open letter to Pope Leo X. In the letter Luther apologizes to the pope personally, but continued to denounce what he sees as false doctrine and corruption. On December 10th, Luther burnt Exsurge Domine and other documents of the pope. He also burnt books of church law and books written by his enemies. On March 6, 1521, the Emperor Charles V summoned Luther to appear the diet of Worms.
Luther traveled to the city of Worms of April 6th, and stopped along the way to preach in Erfurt, Gotha, and Frankfurt. On April 15th Luther entered Worms in triumphal precession. A crowd had gathered to cheer him. On April 17th the first hearing of the Diet of Worms began. An official pointed to a table of books and asked if Luther was willing to take back the things he said. Luther asked for a recess. The next day Luther made a statement, “Unless I am convinced by scripture and plain reasonI do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each othermy conscience is captive to the word of G-D. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.
G-D help me!” The emperor sided with Rome and wanted Luther condemned immediately. But some members of the Diet wanted to give Luther a few more days to recant. On April 25th the Diet of Worms was dismissed. Luther left Worms as quickly as possible. On May 10th Luther arrived at the Wartburg castle, near Eisenach.
He hid there for nearly ten months, from may 5th to February 29th 1522. During that time, Luther grew his hair and a beard and called himself Junker Jorg (knight George). During that time, on May 26th, the edict of Worms was signed by the Emperor and issued. It formally condemned Luther’s teaching, and placed him under the ban of the empire. In February in the year 1522, then ban on Luther and his followers was lifted. The next few months he went around preaching his beliefs. Then on September 21st a major eventLuther published the New Testament in German.
This gave him many more followers because people started reading the New Testament, and they realized a lot of what Luther preached is true. This also increased literacy greatly. The church did not like this. They order Luther and his followers to stop printing it. But by this time Luther is so powerful the church can not do anything to him. Luther stopped wearing a religious habit (2), showing disobedience to the church.
In 1524 the peasants in southwest Germany rose up under Luther’s example. They were ready to over throw the authorities if necessary. But on May 13th, 1525, at the battle of Frankenhausen, 50,000 peasants are killed. 1000 castles and monasteries are destroyed. On May 15th Protestant ministers are hanged by catholic princes.
The peasants believed they were betrayed by Luther. So the question standswhat affect does Luther have on today’s life? Now for me, since im Jewish, the effect is not much. But for the protestant citizens of America and the world, he is there father. He is to them almost what Moses or Abraham is to me. Now since religion is such a major part of life, the person who founded your specific religion is pretty influential on your life. Luther was also very influential on music, which also carries over to today’s church.Bibliography: