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Martin Luther, the 95 Theses and the Birth of the Protestant Reformation

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When you ask a christian, what is your religion? their answer probably will not be, I'm a christian they are much more likely to say "I'm a baptist" or "Im a presbyterian" or "'I'm a unitarian" In general most christians identify themselves with a certain denomination or sect of their religion this variety is not unique to christianity there are several denominations at islam, judaism, buddhism and all the other religions out there. however, none can match christianity for sheer numbers there are approximately 41000 different denominations of christianity some of these denominations differ on fundamental notions the greek non-orthodox church does not try to convert non believers whereas evangelicals do little else other denominations differ in terms of practice compare the staid ceremony of anglicans to the tongue speaking spectacle of the charismatics others are so similar only iniciates can discern one from the other the only real difference between the Christian Church and the Church of Christ is that the former uses musical instruments on their worship while the latter prefers to sing a capela and yet with all of these differences these denominations coexist peacefully churches of various denominations can be found within walking distance of one another with all these varieties living together in peace it is easy to forget that a thousand years ago there was just one sort of Christianity allowed in Western Europe an that was the Roman Catholic Church following the great east-west schism of 1050 which divided the orthodox east from the catholic west the Roman Catholic Church held unchallenged sway over the hearts and minds of western Europe although they might have spats from time to time and other country might elect its own Pope but by naming a Pope, even those usurpers were still operating within the constraints of the Roman Catholic faith they were just fighting over who would be at its head no one who challenged the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church was allowed to draw breath for long anyone who wanted to start their own church or come up with their own take on Christianity was labeled a heretic their property was seized and they and their followers died in the most horrible manner available at the time the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church remained unchalleged for nearly 500 years then in 1517 shook the Catholic Church to its very foundations his name was Martin Luther Luther was not a rebel he wasn't trying to destroy the Catholic Church or even start his own religion all Luther was trying to do was stop the Church from engaging in some practices that he considered unchristian Luther's problem was with the Church's practices of selling indulgences an indulgence is a remission of punishment for sins you can think of an indulgence as a "get out of hell free card" the Church has been in the practice of granting indulgences in exchange for good work and acts of piety for centuries ever since Pope Urban II offered indulgences to crusaders in 1095 Luther questioned whether the Church had the authority to grant such indulgences he believed that the only true path to salvation laid in fail laid in faithfulness to Christ and his teaching not through adherence to the ideologies and dogmas of the Catholic Church yet Luther would probably have not made a fuss it there weren't for the fact that these "get out of hell free cards" weren't actually free earlier that year, in 1517 Pope Leo X had made an unconventional move Leo wanted to rebuild St Peter's basilica in Rome but he didn't want to spend his own considerable wealth to do so this is not surprising as Leo was a member of the wealthy Medicci banking family which dominated Florence the man was more of a banker than a priest Leo solution was to begin offering indulgences in exchange of donations for the Basilica's renovation while these donations technically counted as pious works, Luther saw them as a simple payment To Luther's eyes, the Church was essentially selling salvation he witnessed poor peasants giving up their life savings to buy an indulgence for a dead relative in the hope of saving their love ones from the tortures of the purgatory all the while the Church grew ever richer this was too much for Luther Luther had read the Bible, something most people of his age could not do since the only available translations of the Bible were in Latin and Greek Luther saw nothing in the Bible that gave the church the right to charge people for their salvation the church is supposed to be a spiritual sanctuary, not a marketplace Luther said about writing 95 complaints with the Church's greedy behaviour these complaints are now called the 95 theses on october 31st 1517 Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg and sent copies to the higher authorities of the Catholic Church the posting of the 95 theses is considered by many the beginning of the Protestant Reformation however, it is important to remember that Luther was not trying to undermine the Church he was just trying to making them stop making money of the business of salvation Luther's 95 theses spread across Europe like wildfire within two months they were being read in cities across the continent the next year they were translated into german and printed on a massive scale further fueling the controversy Luther suddenly found himself at the center of the greates conflict of his age the Pope was not happy, and having his scam with the indulgences exposed he had Luther accused of heresy a couple of years later, in 1520 the Pope wrote a letter to Luther in which he banned any further distribution of Luther's 95 theses and demanded that Luther recant his heresy or face excommunication or being cut off of the Church and its sacraments this threat of excommunication was a big deal since pretty much everyone believed that the only way to get to heaven was to receive the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church since Luther did not think he needed the papacy to achieve salvation, he did not care if he was excommunicated Luther publicly burned the Pope's letter and thereby broke all ties with the Roman Catholic Church yet the Church was not done with Luther the church decided to hand Luther over to the greatest secular authority in Germany the holy Roman Empire in 1521, Martin Luther was summoned to the Diet of Worms a conference of both religious and secular leaders held in Worms, Germany once again, Luther was commanded to recant his heresy he refused the upshot was that Luther was condemned the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V published the Edict of Worms calling for Luther's immediate arrest yet Luther's supporters would not let him be imprisoned instead, they inspirited him away and hid him in Wartburg castle not content to hide on the sidelines Luther made good use of his exile he spent his year at Wartburg writing various letters and treatises attacking the Catholic Church his greatest achievement of the time was his translation of the bible into german Luther held the bible as the highest authority, higher even than the papacy he realized that so long as people could not read the bible they will continue to fall for the lies and deceptions of Catholic ideology Luther supporters smuggled his translation out and soon printing presses across Germany were cranking copies of Luther's Bible the publication had the desired effect all across Germany people started reading the bible and began challenging the authority of the Church in fact things started getting a little out of hand when Luther returned to Wartburg in 1522 he found the populace in nearly full scale revolt the mob was being whipped up by a set of radical zealots known as the Zwickau Prophets Luther draw these Zwickau out of Wartburg and settled down to reestablish law and order he founded his own Lutheran Church in Wittenberg in 1526 meanwhile Zwickau spread across Germany burning churches, monasteries, bishop palaces and libraries often in Luther's name The Zwickau were determined to use Luther's treatmen by the Church and state as a rallying point for their revolution regardless of Luther's feelings on the matter this uprising which became known as the Peasant's Revolt was but the beginning of about 5 centuries of nearly unending bloodshed the Protestant Reformation swept across Europe spreading first to the Netherlands, then to France and England and soon all northern Europe was in the throes of religious warfare as protestants spot catholics for the soul of Europe to review in 1517 Martin Luther published his 95 theses in an attempt to stop the Roman Catholic Chruch to stop selling indulgences or "get out of hell free cards" Luther did not think the church had the authority to grant such indulgences specially not for money Luther believed that salvation could be achieve through faith alone the church responded by labeling Luther a heretic, forbidding the reading or publication of his 95 theses and threatening Luther with excommunication Luther refused to recant his beliefs the next year in 1521, Luther was summoned to appear at the Diet of Worms, where the leaders of the Holy Roman Empire would decide his fate when Luther once again refused to recant his positions, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V ordered his arrest Luther supporters hid Luther in Wartburg castle where he completed the translation of the bible into German as well as publishing a variety of treatises against the Church by the time Luther returned from his exile Germany was in the grip of a peasant revolt as peasants burned and destroy all things catholic Luther calmed the revolt in his hometown of Wittenberg and established his own Lutheran Church in 1526

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Duration: 11 minutes and 43 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: totiberal on May 12, 2016

Martin Luther, the 95 Theses and the Birth of the Protestant Reformation

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