January 20, 2022
Martin Luther (born November 10, 1483 in Eisleben in the German-Roman Empire, died February 18, 1546 in Eisleben) was a German Reformer and theologian who was one of the most central figures during the Reformation and an influential person in the history of Christianity. He originally became a Catholic priest in the Order of the Augustinian hermits. He received a thorough education of his order and became a professor at the University of Wittenberg. In his early 30s, he developed theological views on the authority of the church, the sacraments, man and his relationship with God which - together with his distancing from ecclesiastical evils, for example in the way indulgences were practiced - gave impetus to the Reformation and led to the founding of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches. The starting point for the Reformation is traditionally stated as All Saints' Eve on Saturday 31 October 1517, the day he sent out his discussion theses against aspects of indulgences, which he nailed to the church door in Wittenberg, according to a much-publicized but somewhat historically obscure event. But in itself this incident did not represent a landmark breach. On the other hand, it was the way in which the conflict between Luther and his opponents developed, both in its ever-escalating form and in its gravity toward theologically more central issues than just aspects of ecclesiastical penance, that produced an irreversible rupture within a few years. In 1521, Luther became outlawed, and he took refuge with a benevolent and powerful prince. His movement suffered some setbacks in connection with the German Peasant War and when it failed to keep the church-critical factions together due to divergent theological views. Luther's translations of the Bible were of great importance for the development of the German language. His hymn poetry inspired the flourishing of Christian congregational singing also in other denominations. His marriage to the nun Katharina von Bora gave the priesthood legitimacy in several Christian traditions. Luther's Reformation blew up ecclesiastical unity in continental Western Europe and Northern Europe and also had major and lasting political and cultural change consequences.