Martin Luther Martin Luther was a German theologian and religious reformer that had a great impact on not only religion but also on politics, economics, education and language. Martin Luther was born in the town of Eisleben, Germany, on November 10, 1483, (Encarta 1). His father Hans Luther, was a worker in the copper mines in Mansfield. His mother was Margaret. Martin grew up in a home where parents prayed faithfully to the saints and taught their children to do the same. His father and mother loved their children dearly, but were also very strict with them.
Luther said, my father once whipped me so that I ran away and felt ugly toward him until he was at pains to win me back. My mother once beat me until the blood flowed, for having stolen a miserable nut. (Luther 31) When Martin was five years old, he went to school in Mansfeld, where his parents had moved about a year after he was born. The subjects taught at this school was the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, church music, together with some Latin and arithmetic. (Catholic Encyclopedia 1) The sad part of the instruction was that Martin and his fellow pupils learned little about the love of God.
They learned to know Jesus, not as the Friend of sinners, but as the Judge. They feared Jesus, but did not love him. The schoolmasters in my days were tyrants and executioners; the schools were jails and hells! And in spite of fear and misery, floggings and tremblings, nothing was learned, Luther said. (Luther 31) Despite the conditions at Mansfield, Martin learned rapidly, for he was a bright boy and studied diligently. At the age of twelve he was admitted to the Latin High School at Magdeburg, sixty miles from his home. Here, for the first time, Luther found a Bible. Most of his teachers at Magdeburg were members of the Brethren of the Common Life.
This is the first place where he feels his first desire to enter into the religious community. The next year his father transferred him to a school on Eisenach, wishing him to become a lawyer. Here a young woman, Mrs. Ursala Cotta, took a special liking to him. At one time, when a group of boys was singing before her house, she invited Martin in and offered him free lodging. He accepted.
He received free meals in another house where he taught a young child of the family. Luther was now free to devote more time to his studies. Since the Cotta family was a cultured family, Luther’s stay in this home taught him to appreciate such things as music and art and helped him to develop especially his remarkable talent for music. By the time Luther was far enough advanced to enter the university his father had become a prosperous man. He went from being a miner to being the owner of many small foundries. He could now afford to give Martin a college education.
Recognizing the gifts of his son, the father intended that his son should become a lawyer and therefore sent him to the University of Erfurt in 1501 at the age of seventeen. (Encarta 2) Here again the young student prayed and studied constantly. To increase his knowledge, Luther spent much time at the library. Discipline was as strict as it had been at Megdeberg and Eisenach. The students were awakened at 4:00 AM. Lectures began as the sun rose and continued until 5:00 PM. The first meal of the day was at 10:00 AM.
The students hurried from class to class, pausing only for the briefest of conversations before the next lecture commenced, whispering quietly to each other in the required Latin, (Luther 34). In 1505 at the age of twenty-one he was awarded the Master of Arts degree. (Encarta 2). He now had the right to teach and was able to register for a law course. To please his father, Martin remained on at the University to read law, but he soon lost interest in that subject.
More and more he studied religion and worried over his sinful condition. But no matter how hard he tried to please God, he couldn’t find peace of soul. One day a friend was torn from him by sudden death. Luther was so shaken that he became fearful and deeply disturbed. A little later, while returning to Erfurt from a visit to his parents, he was overtaken by a violent thunderstorm. Almost frantic with fear, young Luther then and there determined to become a monk and no longer wanted to follow his father’s wishes.
He said, St. Anne help me! I will become a monk, (Luther 35). Upon his return to the University, Martin sold his books, said farewell to his friends, and, deaf to their pleadings entered the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt. After spending a few weeks as a candidate to enter the Order of Augustinian Eremites and having the senior friars watch him to see if he would be a suitable person to enter the monastery, he was formally admitted to the trial period of one year. After that one year was up the superiors would make a decision to see if he should remain with the cloister.
Luther continued his study of the Bible. Dressed in the black robe and little cap, to be worn day and night, he faithfully engaged in the many daily religious exercises prescribed. He also spent much time in trudging though the streets of the city, carrying a sack on his back, as was the custom then, begging for bread, butter, eggs and whatever else he could get for the monastery. In addition, he swept the chapel, cleaned the rooms, rang the bells, and performed similar work. Back in his little cell, he constantly studied religion and philosophy and prayed to the saints, eagerly striving to earn his way to heaven through his own good works.
More than ever he was searching for peace of soul; he could not find rest. As time went on, however, and as he continued to study the Bible, and learn much of it by heart, he made the marvelous discovery that salvation is a free gift from God. In the summer of 1506 Luther made his full profession of vows and was admitted into the Augustinian community (Luther 41). He then began to prepare for the priesthood by learning every detail of the Mass and every word of the text needed to be recited during the Mass. In the spring of 1507, Luther, now twenty-three, was made a Catholic priest (Catholic Encyclopedia).
He celebrated his first Mass with his peers and family. This was the first time he saw his parents since the time he left the University. He was unable to say the entire Mass for he just about fainted after holding up the chalice. Luther’s first Mass was critical to his development as a truly revolutionary theologian. It represented his first uncertain but resounding step in a new direction, along a path of intellectual and religious inquiry that would lead him inexorably toward a new theological landscape, a landscape that was to be revealed by the transformation of belief, (Luther 42).
Luther then went back to studying theology in order to become a professor at one of the new German universities staffed by monks. In 1508, Johann von Staupitz who was the vicar-general of the Augustinians assigned Luther to the new University of Wittenburg (founded in 1502) to give introductory lectures in moral philosophy (Encarta 1). He soon became known as a great teacher of the Bible. Students came in great numbers to listen to his lectures. His work as a teacher was interrupted, however, by a request from his Father Superior, Dr.
Staupitz, to go to Rome in 1510, where the Pope lived (Martin 46). He and a compa …