In 1-2 double-spaced pages, describe some of the key problems identified by Martin Luther in the Roman Catholic Church which called for Reformation.
• The Roman Catholic Church in western Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries an all-pervasive influence.
• Clergy were dispensers of sacraments, managers of hospitals, in charge of
schools, and dispensers of services such as writing and literacy.
• The Pope was a major political force in his own right and a constant fixture in
strategic alliances of the west.
• Many see this period as truly a
time of reform and renewal for
western Christendom, which
only accidentally led to
• Religious enthusiasm
• Age of great religious art
• Pilgrimage and other forms of
• Free thought
• Humanism and the rediscovery of the
• 16th century Roman Catholic
priest and monk.
• Professor of theology.
• Plagued by anxiety about his
own sin and salvation.
• Deeply indebted to Augustinian
readings of Scripture.
MART I N L U T H E R
• In 1517, posts famous “95 Theses” on the
door of the Church in Wittenberg.
• Went on to compose numerous biblical
commentaries and other writings.
• Excommunicated by Roman Catholic
Church in 1520.
In the 95 Theses, what
was Luther’s primary
complaint against the
• Grants remitting penitential punishment.
• Could be seen as practical demonstration that God loved sinners, and that
God’s love was channeled through the power of the Church.
• Seen by many as corrupt means of raising funds for the Church.
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF LUTHER’S
THOUGHTS ON SALVATION
• Sola gratia
• Sola fide
• Sola Scriptura
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of
the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do
not trust either in the Pope or in Councils
alone, since it is well known that they have
often erred and contradicted themselves), I
am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted
and my conscience is captive to the Word
of God. I cannot and will not recant
anything, since it is neither safe nor right to
go against conscience. May God help me.
Amen.” (Martin Luther)
SOLA GRATIA/SOLA FIDE
• Revives Augustinian/Pelagian debate.
• This debate had revolved around whether one
could earn their salvation through good works (as
Pelagius was accused of teaching) or whether it
was only through God’s grace.
• Luther saw the Roman Catholic Church as being
in direct contradiction to the teachings of the
Apostle Paul by acting as a mediator between
human beings and God.
• Luther likened Paul’s “works of the Law”
(Galatians) to certain teachings and practices of
the Roman Catholic Church, such as confession.
• For Luther, salvation was solely by God’s grace
(sola gratia) and human beings’ faith (sola fide).
• “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith
alone apart from the works of the law.” (Romans
• “You see that a person is considered righteous by
what they do and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)
• Martin Luther came to argue more broadly
against church tradition and the church
hierarchy as sources of authority regarding
• For Luther, the sole authority in matters of
doctrine and practice is the Bible.
• Because of this, Luther comes to criticize
other practices of the Roman Catholic
Church which are not found in the
Scriptures, e.g. prayers to the saints.
• The translation of the Bible at this time
remained the Latin Vulgate.
• Only the most educated spoke and
• Therefore, one’s exposure to the Bible was
usually hearing it in Latin in the Mass, then
having the priest comment upon it in his
• Because of this, Luther saw the translation
of the Bible into German as a primary task.
L U T H E R WA S M O R E
“ C AT H O L I C ” T H A N
M A N Y R E A L I Z E
• Virgin Mary
• “Fr. Martin Luther”
• Other Reformers more radical
• Attacked the practice of fasting during Lent.
• Attacked use of images in worship.
• Promoted clerical marriage.
• Taught that the Eucharist was not the Body and
Blood of Christ, but merely symbols.
JOHN C ALVIN
• French theologian and pastor in
• Broke from the Roman
Catholic Church around 1530.
• Published Institutes of the
Christian Religion in 1536.
• Predestination and God’s
• Also heavily influenced by
T H E P ROT E S TA N T S H I F T I N
E C C L E S I O L O G I C A L T H I N K I N G
• Since the earliest days of Christianity, it had
been seen as essential that Christians
belong to the Church.
• Mutual excommunications.
• After the Protestant Reformation, over
time one’s individual salvation and
relationship with God seen by Protestants
as more important that belonging to a
NEXT CLASS: COUNTER-
How did the Roman Catholic Church respond to the
claims of the Reformers?