I don't usually write about religion, and in a certain sense I'm not writing about religion today. I'm writing about a brave man.
I'm writing about a man, Martin Luther, whose spiritual and courageous life is one we can all admire. Even though he lived 500 years ago.
It is true that Martin Luther was a -- or "the" -- leader of the Protestant Reformation, but it's also true that some Roman Catholics, the religious group against whom Luther spoke and wrote, were true Christians.
I used to listen on the radio to a Roman Catholic Priest from New York, who spoke the "gospel," good news, of Christianity as well as anyone I ever heard, and I knew a Roman Catholic Priest in Norway, Maine, who was also true to the Christian faith.
I'm not writing against Roman Catholicism but of true Christianity, no matter the denominational label of a group.
Martin Luther, 10 November 1483 -- 18 February 1546, was "a German friar, priest and professor of theology who was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Initially an Augustinian friar, Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar, with his (Luther's) Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. His refusal to retract 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 (a formal deliberative assembly of the Roman Catholic Church) in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor," from Wikipedia.
"Luther taught that salvation and subsequently eternity in heaven is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin and subsequently eternity in Hell. 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 (acts of spiritual things only being conducted by professional religious priests) by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood.* Those who identify with these, and all of Luther's wider teachings, are called Lutherans even though Luther insisted on Christian as the only acceptable name for individuals who professed Christ. Today, Lutheranism constitutes a major branch of Protestantism and overall Christianity with some 80 million adherents.
"His translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, which had a tremendous impact on the church and on German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible. His hymns influenced the development of singing in churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant priests to marry," from Wikipedia.
Luther's life was controversial, expressing deep antagonism toward Jews, also from Wikipedia.
The point is that Luther, dspite his shortcomings, demonstrated spirituality and courage in his life. For that reason, no matter what our religious affiliation, I think Luther is to be admired.
* I don't personally believe that Christians need to be baptized to be priests. I understand the Bible to teach that any true believers in Jesus Christ are priests. Nor does that word, as far as I understand the Bible, refer to professional church leaders.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014