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Luther's Critique of the Church Doctrines

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Introduction

According to Atkinson (1986), Martin Luther was the firstborn in a humble family. His parents were people of average economic wealth; hence, they were able to take him to school. His father strongly wanted Luther to become a lawyer and even got him a place at the university to study law. He, however, due to lack of interest in the human institution dropped out almost immediately to pursue philosophy and theology. This turn of events led him into criticizing the church doctrines in which he was born and raised. Luther held arguments against the Catholic Church on the basis of indulgence, scripture interpretation, and salvation.

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Arguments Held by Luther against the Catholic Church

Luther dropped out of law school and instead undertook philosophy and theology because he had more interest in the two disciplines than law. He believed that law was a representation of uncertainty, but he wanted to study a more assuring discipline that gave reasons for existence. He expressed a lot of interest in philosophers like Aristotle. His teachers at the time taught him never to believe things without testing and experimenting himself (Perry, 2012). Due to this aspect, it was clear that everything he believed in was supposed to have a reason. As a result, he developed a negative attitude towards reason-oriented philosophy and gained more passion in theology.  He found peace in theology and earned several undergraduate and graduate degrees in it. He taught theology at the University of Wittenberg. He later became a member of the senate in the faculty of theology in the university.

Perry (2012) asserts that it was at this time that Johann Tetzel was sent by the Roman Catholic Church to Germany to sell indulgence to people. Martin Luther was in great opposition of this gospel and argued that salvation was only gained through grace by faith and not monetary exchanges. He also strongly opposed many other practices that were being observed in the Catholic Church at the time. Some of thepractices that he broadly condemned and talked against include clerical abuses, nepotism, pluralism. Clergies sold property belonging to the church without being held accountable by anybody. Luther felt that they should answer for their crimes. Clergies were also often poorly educated or completely uneducated yet held several positions that they were not properly prepared for. Nepotism was also widespread, with jobs being given only to family members of clergies and popes. During the time of Martin Luther, all these were acceptable aspects of the society and no one questioned clergies. The church was also at a high secular level with popes such as Pope Alexander having several illegitimate children. He also gave property belonging to the church to his cousins and kids. One of the major ways through which Luther reacted to all these evils was by coming up with the ninety-five theses in the year 1517. The current emperor Charles and Pope Leo X commanded him to retract the writings, but he refused. He was, therefore, pronounced an outlaw by the emperor (Perry, 2012).

Criticism against Scripture Interpretation

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Martin Luther is widely known for disputing the fact that popes are always right when it comes to the interpretation of Scripture. The heads of the Roman Catholic Church had made their congregations believe that only the clergies and Pope had the divine understanding and proper interpretation of the Bible. These notions made many people feel like they did not have the permission to read and understand the Bible on their own. Therefore, they submitted to all the teachings, weather right or wrong, that came from the heads of clergy and popes. According to Luther, such actions were a misuse of the “word of God” and had to be stopped.

Criticism against Indulgence

The leaders of the Catholic faith were teaching their congregations on the need to give material possessions for sins forgiveness. They urged people to confess their sins and feel remorse for their wrongdoings. By doing this, people were thereaafter required to donate money to the church so as to be forgiven of all sins. Martin Luther argued strongly against such practice. He said that one could not simply buy salvation using money. He argued that people should earn it through grace by faith. Material donations do not take away sin or gain people salvation (Atkinson, 1986).

The Purpose of Luther's Arguments

According to Plass (2006), the purpose of the criticism outlined by Martin Luther was to stop the wickedness that was going on in the church. He aimed at stopping clergies and popes from their misuse of property belonging to the church so that they could serve their creator with one heart.  He also wanted to make the public aware of the transgressions happening in the church and raise masses that would help him to fight those evil doers. He wanted people learn the truth about salvation and forgiveness of sins. That is why he argued that salvation was not something people could buy with money or material possessions.

Evidence Provided by Luther to Support His Arguments

Martin Luther quotes several scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments. The scriptures say that people may gain salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and not works as argued by Catholic Church heads. One may find this information in Rom 10:41, Rom 3:10-12, 1 Pet: 10 (Baker, 1997).

Persuasiveness of Luther's Argument

Luther’s works contain strong arguments against the practices of Catholic leaders at the time. I believe that these proofs were enough to change the thinking of common Europeans of the 16th century. He provided evidences that were quantifiable and provable by anyone interested. He also was a strong believer in Jesus Christ, so people could not have doubted him as an enemy of Christ. Luther’s profound theological knowledge allowed him to provide citations from the Bible to back his arguments in any situation he may have found himself in (Baker, 1997).

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