During the sixteenth century the Catholic churches had become caught up in worldly affairs and church reform became an urgent public issue. The protests were heard mostly in Germany. The sale of indulgences (pardons from temporal penalties for sins committed by lay Christians) (Pg.176),to benefit the church of Rome. This provoked harsh criticism. As with most religious reform movement, it fell to one man to inspire popular sentiment.
In 1505 Martin Luther abandoned his legal studies to become an Augustinian Monk. From that time forward, as a doctor of theology at the University of Wittenberg he spoke out against the church.(Pg.215) His provocative sermons and esseys offered basic solutions to what he called “the misery and wretchedness of Christendom”. (pg 215)
Luther was convinced of the deep rooted sinfulness of humankind, but he argued the traditional medieval view As announced, for instance, in everyman- that salvation was earned through the performance of good works and its grace meditated by the church and its priesthood. (Pg 215) Encouraged by the words of Saint Paul “the just shall live by faith”’ (Romans 1:17)(Pg215) Luther maintained that salvation could be had only by faith in the genuineness of Christ’s sacrifice. People were saved by the unearned gift of God’s grace not by their good works on earth. (Pg215) the purchase of induldgences, the admoration of relics, making journies to seek intervention of the saints was of no use because only the grace of God could save the Christian soul. Justified by faith alone Christians should assume full responsibility for their own actions and intentions. (pg215)
To call attention to church abuse Luther posted on the door of the cathedral of Wittenberg, a list of ninety-five issues he planned to argue with the leader of the Church of Rome. The ninety-five theses were put to press and were handed out throughout Europe. Luther only wished to reform Catholicism nothing more. He slowly extended his criticism to the...