Martin Luther: On Christian Liberty

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Born in 1483, and subsequently a German monk and a scholarly theologian, Martin Luther contributed significantly to the meaning of Christianity and to the Reformation. Though his seminal work was addressed to Pope Leo X, Luther's purpose was to harmonize Christian values by making them accessible to people equally and by attacking religious hierarchies that corrupted what he viewed as the essential nature of Christianity.


In this way, by removing the Pope as the sole arbiter on matters of faith and salvation, Luther liberalized and made Christianity more accessible to the masses.
As an initial matter, Luther began with the premise that all people were equal in God's eyes. Each person, whether Pope or peasant, was at the same time a sinner and a saint. These people were either saved or lost, they were free to choose their fate, and certain beliefs turned a person towards the path of Christianity and salvation. The break that Luther made from established theological doctrine, as noted by Wriedt, was the assertion that beliefs and fates rested exclusively within the province of the individual (2003). Belief, in this way, was severed from physical manifestations of faith such as worship in a church, public proclamations of piety, and ceremonial displays of religious conformity. A Christian, in Luther's view, needed simply to believe himself in the Word of God. More significantly, the individual was designated the sole arbiter rather than a Pope or other religious figure in the institutionalized hierarchy. ...
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