Lutheran reformation: Luther's background, education and context

  • Early life
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Wittenburg
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Early life

  • Luther's father ran small business
  • Luther brought up in religious orthodoxy.
  • Showed interest in relgion at school.
  • Luther sent to university of Erfert in 1501 to study lliberal art.


  • dissatisfied with course: attracted to religious life.
  • 1505 L. underwent profound psycholgical experience: promised St. Anne he would devote life to servic of God.
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Shifting ideas

Obsession with sin

  • Entered house of Augustinian friars to become a priest.
  • developed fixation with sin.
  • refused to believe his religious position would guarentee salvation- constantly confessing sins.
  • Obsession undermined foundations of tradional faith assocaited with good faith.

Transference to Wittenberg

  • When visting Rome (1510) L. shocked by what he saw- dissolusioned with the lax piety of administration of indulgences and commercialism of operation.
  • L.'s superior Johanned Von Staupitz sent luther to university of Wittenburg for a better suited position.
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period of transition

  • 1512 Luther appointed preacher in the town Church of Wittenburg.
  • Began to lecture in university- lectures on Galations distinguished between law and the gospel as expression of revelation.
  • Luther's views became dependent on biblical texts- took them literally.

Theology of humility

  • Luther developed belief that only by confessing absolute helplessness before God could man reach salvation---> supported by writings of St. Augustine.
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