Luther and the Reformation

Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013 in Reformation

LutherMartin Luther fought steadfastly against the abuses in the Church that had gained a foothold in his day.  On the now infamous day October 31, 1517, Luther, Lecturer of Sacred Theology at the University of Wittenberg, nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  This was the normal way of posting announcements for university events; church doors functioned much like bulletin boards in public places today.  On that day, Luther was doing nothing more than announcing a discussion or debate that he would preside over concerning the content of the document.  All were invited and those that could not attend were even encouraged to participate by letter. The document summarized Luther’s disagreement with the Church and challenged its teachings on the nature of penance or forgiveness, the authority of the pope, and the use of indulgences.  In particular, Luther was concerned about the leadership of the Church, particularly as vested in the pope as being the final authority concerning doctrinal issues, and the resulting heresies that had come to the fore based on the traditions of the Church.  The consequence for the Church was that many had come to a false assurance of faith and salvation based upon the false doctrine of indulgences.  They had been taught that their sins were forgiven based upon their good works of mercy or, in the most abusive cases, by contributing financially to the work of rebuilding St. Peters and the payment of back taxes by Albert, bishop of Mainz.  Luther’s concern is summarized in #92 of the Ninety-five Theses:

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!

It was this false assurance attached to the abuse of indulgences that led Luther to write and distribute the Ninety-five Theses.  For Luther, and those who followed, the gospel was at stake.  These false teachers, with the abominable pope as their head, were holding the Church hostage by their wicked pride.  For Luther, the issue was simple: Are you going to follow prideful man and his traditions, or Christ and the Word of God.  Out of this came what is known as the solas of the Reformation and the birth of the Protestant Church from those who protested against the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church.

Ephesians 2:8-10 reflects these five solas that serve as the foundation of the right gospel, the only gospel that is not anathema.  Our salvation is according to Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (solo Christo) for the glory of God alone (soli deo gloria). The following posts this will be an exposition of the solas from the passage in Ephesians.


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