Martin Luther: The Man Who Sparked a Religious Revolt By: Hailey Jennato

Martin Luther

Martin Luther's radical ideas and beliefs started the Protestant Reformation in Europe. But did he come to save the people, or condemn them?

Luther Nails his 95 Theses to the Church Door

95 Theses

Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses in 1517, and according to some stories, he nailed them on the door of All Saint's Church. Luther's Theses were arguments he made on ways to improve the Church. During the Renaissance, the Church became hungry for power and wealth. Luther was a saint because he wanted to expose the corruption and bring the Church back to it's full potential. Luther hoped his critical Theses would start a discussion among scholars on the things in the Church that he believed had to be fixed. Luther wanted to make the Church a more holy place that stayed on the path of the Word of God. Luther never wanted to start a reformation, he only wanted to help more people become holy, receive salvation, and learn about Christ.

The Selling of Indulgences


Pope Leo X spent lots of money on luxurious parties and elaborate banquets. The Church soon became bankrupt after all its funds were spent. The Church needed a way to increase their wealth, and the solution was indulgences. Indulgences were pardons a sinner would have to purchase so they could be forgiven for their wrong deeds and become exempt from the priest's punishments. In his 95 Theses, Martin Luther argued heavily against indulgences. He knew that the indulgences were just a scam so the Church could get more money. Luther was a saint because he didn't want the people to spend their little money on fake forgiveness. He also didn't want the commoners feeding into the corruption of the Church. Luther believed the only way to reach God was by faith alone, not by buying worthless indulgences. He wanted to help the most amount of people get salvation.

Luther Translating the Bible into German

Bible Translation

After being excommunicated for the beliefs he wrote in the 95 Theses, Martin Luther decided to translate the New Testament of the Bible into his vernacular language. The Bible was traditionally written in Latin, but not a lot of people could read and understand Latin. Luther was the first to write the Bible in German. Luther was a saint because he made the teachings of Christ available to many more people. This also helped spread the importance of literature. Luther helped spread the Word of God. By translating the Bible, he allowed everyone who knew German to be able to interpret the Bible themselves and create their own beliefs about the religion. Luther caused many more people to be able to think independently about Christ, and not just blindly follow the teachings of the Church.

Pope Leo X

Leo vs. Luther

While Martin Luther did many great things, he also committed many sins during his life. Although the Church was losing power during the Renaissance, the Pope was still the most powerful and important person in the society. The Pope was the leader who was in charge of almost everything. Luther was a sinner because he spoke vilely against Pope Leo and made bold accusations against the Church. In his 48 thesis, Luther said that Leo desired money over holy prayer. In his 82 thesis, Luther asked, "Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love...This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money." Luther accused Leo of only saving people's souls so he could get more wealth and power. In the 91 thesis, Luther said Leo was not doing his job correctly and blamed him for the corruption of indulgences, saying "If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist." Luther's words made him a traitor. He had no right to criticize the Pope in such a way. He basically committed treason and betrayed his country by writing such nasty, harsh, and false words against his leaders.

Luther Burns the Decree

Burning the Pope's Decree

After Martin Luther's 95 Theses became public, thanks to the printing press, the Pope was furious. The Pope wrote a papal bull, or a decree, to Luther, threatening to excommunicate him if he didn't take back his statements. The decree said that Luther was a heretic, a person who did not agree with the common belief. Luther was a sinner because he publicly burned the Pope's decree instead of taking back his statements. This action was a direct attack on the papacy, and showed that Luther had no respect for authority. Again, the Pope was the leader of the Catholic Church and the most powerful man during the Renaissance. When Luther burned the decree, he disobeyed his leader and committed a sin against God himself.

Diet of Worms

Diet of Worms

In 1521, after Martin Luther was excommunicated, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who was also Catholic, called him to the city of Worms. Luther appeared on trial in front of the Diet of Worms. The Diet of Worms consisted of the princes of the Holy Roman Empire. Luther was ordered to recant, or take back, his statements. Luther was a sinner because he refused to do so, and said that he believed in scripture over popes. Again, Luther was disobeying those who held power. His inability to respect and please Catholic authority proved that Luther was an unholy traitor.

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