Martin Luther

1483-1546

Started the Protestant Reformation in 1517 when he disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church's understanding of salvation.  He preached that people are saved by grace through faith, not by the sacraments of the church.

The Catholic church of Luther's day said his teaching was heresy. Luther quoted the Bible to support his teachings. Catholic church leaders claimed to be the official interpreters of scripture. They told Luther his interpretation was mistaken and held him accountable to teach and preach according to the official Catholic tradition of biblical interpretation. Luther responded:

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason — I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other — my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

Luther claimed to be directly accountable to God for how he interpreted scripture. Then he translated the Bible from Latin into German so others could read the scriptures and decide for themselves what the Bible said.

When the scriptures were taken from the exclusive domain of church leaders and given to all Christians to read and interpret, the biblical doctrine that all believers are priests was reclaimed.

 

 

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