What were Luther's key ideas and writings?

  • Created by: Kate H
  • Created on: 13-04-15 21:57
  • Laid out his ideas in a huge number of pamphlets, e.g:
    • He fully published ideas on justification by faith alone (The Freedom of  a Christian Man, 1520).
    • Although 'good works' did nothing to earn you forgivness from God it was a sign of a saved person that they tried to live in a godly way and do good works (On Good Works, 1520).
    • He said the Pope and Chuch had mislead the faithful for generations by their false teachings(they had enslaved Christianity-taken it into captivity). In particular they had misused the sacraments to make the laypeople dependant on the clergy(The Babylonish Captivity, 1520). 
  • In 1520 Luther said there were only three sacraments(penance, baptism, the Eucharist) not seven- there was no evidence in the Bible that the other four ceremonies were sacraments. In 1522 he said that penance was also not one. So a priest was no longer a person in reciept of some special grace from God (by ordination), and a priest's help was not needed to gain forgiveness (by penance). Instead all the faithful were equal in recieving God's grace by sharing in baptism and the Eucharist. He said all believers should take both the bread and wine, and was in favour of this being regular, not just once a year.
  • In 1523 and 1529 he explained his thinking on what actually happened during the Eucharist. He said that transubstantiation was wrong- but Jesus was really physically present; the bread and wine remained bread and wine but Jesus' body entered it and occupied every part (consubstantiation). So Luther rejected the ideas of some other reformers, who said there was only a spiritual presence (Calvin's position), or no special presence, with the service a symbolic representation of the Last Supper and Jesus's death (Zwingli's position).
  • He called on the secular princes of the Empire ro reform the church in their lands. He said they had the authority to do this from God. By contrast the Pope did not have rightful authority over the church, nor did he have the right to state what its true beliefs should be (Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation 1520). In the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms of 1524 Luther said that there were two realms: the spiritual and the earthly/secular. It…


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