Martin Luther was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk and seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. He came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church and he strongly disputed the Catholic view on indulgences. Take a look below for 26 more fun and interesting facts about Martin Luther.
1. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517.
2. His refusal to renounce all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor.
3. Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin.
4. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood.
5. His translation of the Bible into the German vernacular made it more accessible to the laity, an event that had a massive impact on both the church and German culture.
6. Luther’s hymns influenced the development of singing in Protestant churches.
7. His marriage to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant clergy to marry.
8. In two of his later works, Luther expressed antagonistic views towards Jews, writing that Jewish homes and synagogues should be destroyed, their money confiscated and liberty curtailed.
9. Condemned by virtually every Lutheran denomination, these statements and their influence n antisemitism have contributed to his controversial statues.
10. His vicious rhetoric wasn’t just directed at Jews, but also towards Roman Catholics, Anabaptists and nontrinitarian Christians.
11. Luther went to study in Rome. There, he discovered that many of the leaders of the Catholic Church were dishonest and corrupt. People would pay them money to get into heaven, which Luther thought was wrong.
12. Luther was born in November 10, 1483, in Germany to Hans and Margarette Luder.
13. He was born Martin Luder but it’s rumored that he opted to change his name to something that sounded more academic.
14. His father was a successful miner and ore smelter, however, Luther’s upbringing was humble.
15. Luther wanted to pursue lawschool but then forego that route to begin a spiritual journey that he could never have planned for.
16. At one point, Luther oversaw 10 monasteries and worked as a district vicar. He was the administrative lead for 10 Augustinian monasteries.
17. Luther was very academically inclined, having earned both a bachelors and masters degree quickly in hopes to attend lawschool.
18. He had several brothers and sisters, and is known to have been close to one of them, Jacob. Hans Luther was ambitious for himself and his family, and he was determined to see Martin, his eldest son, become a lawyer.
19. In 1501, at the age of 17, Luther entered the University of Erfurt, which he later described as a beerhouse and whorehouse. He was woken up at four every morning for what has been described as, “a day of rote learning and often wearying spiritual exercises.”
20. Luther dedicated himself to the Augustinian order, devoting himself to fasting, long hours in prayer, pilgrimage and frequent confession. Luther described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair.
21. In contrast to views of John Calvin and Philipp Melanchthon, throughout his life Luther maintained that it was not false doctrine to believe that a Christian’s soul sleeps after it’s separated from the body in death.
22. In 1536, he began to suffer from kidney and bladder stones, arthritis, and an ear infection ruptured an ear drum. In December 1544, he began to feel the effects of angina.
23. His poor physical health made him short-tempered and even harsher in his writings and comments.
24. His last sermon was delivered at Eisleben, his place of birth, on February 15, 1546, three days before his death.
25. Luther made effective use of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press to spread his views. He even switched from Latin to German in his writing to appear to a broader audience.
26. Luther is honored on February 18 with a commemoration in the Lutheran Calendar of Saints and in the Episcopal Calendar of Saints.