Martin Luther {2/31 Niches}


“Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul.”

– Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty, 1520.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther sent a letter (later known as the 95 Theses) to his archbishop setting into motion a string of events that changed the face of Christianity. At the time, Luther wasn’t trying to confront the church, he was simply questioning practices. Buying indulgences flew in the face of Luther’s conviction concerning what was necessary for forgiveness from sin. He advocated for faith in the word of God as the only necessity in receiving forgiveness. He decried the practice of buying indulgences and was eventually excommunicated because of his heresy for the remainder of his life.

“The Word is the gospel of God concerning his Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies. To preach Christ means to feed the soul, make it righteous, set it free, and save it, provided it believes the preaching.”
– Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty, 1520.

In Luther’s day the idea that the word of God was all that was necessary for forgiveness was heresy. Authority figures did not like what he had to offer. Popular opinion was against him. He was simply a friar in a monastery suddenly deciding to run up against the system with only the Word of God as his weapon.

Even though Luther’s ideas went against the flow of his contemporaries’ ideas about God and salvation, Luther’s commitment to the Word of God (his niche) resulted in the bible’s translation, our ability to read God’s word in languages besides Latin, and access to the bible as we have need instead of as the pope/bishop/priest/latin speaking person saw fit. God chose to work through Luther’s discontentment to make His word available and accessible to more people.

And if Luther had listened to almost anyone else instead of God, that wouldn’t have happened.

God is bigger than the label of ‘heretic’ and might even be using them to further his kingdom.

Who are we to say?
And of course this is only one small piece of what Luther did for the church in his lifetime, but in my opinion it is one of the main events that we can, most of us, agree was good for Christianity as a whole.
What do you think about Luther?

Do you think you would have had the guts to do what he did if it meant confronting your church?

How can we stay firmly rooted in the word of God so our niches reflect His glory and not our own?
For Further Reading:
The wikipedia article on Martin Luther is well-written and informative.
On Christian Liberty by Martin Luther (available on Scribd, first two months are free.)


6 thoughts on “Martin Luther {2/31 Niches}

    1. Thank you so much for caring enough and bothering to respond here. In my head I am trying to blame my lack of knowledge about Luther’s part in the holocaust on growing up lutheran and only hearing the good stuff loud and clear, but really I shouldn’t be looking to excuse it and I’m sorry. I wish I had a fuller picture of who he was. I’m sorry that I didn’t look into or mention his beliefs about Jewish people in the post. I had only just heard about them (vaguely) while researching and decided it was too much information for the length of post I was looking for.

      I will have to research a bit (thank you for sharing the link, btw) to familiarize myself with his part in the holocaust. I have no doubt what you say is true and am not interested in defending any of his actions. Martin Luther messed up. On many points. I don’t agree with his teachings on women either.

      But – and this goes for any Christian who I happen to disagree with on some things said or done – I still would argue that God used Luther to in spite of some of his horrible beliefs. Because God is so big, he does that. And God will use us in spite of our own sinfulness.

      I also wonder if, instead of thinking about it in terms of the good side outweighing the bad side or vice versa, we might think about it in terms of grace. Sort of like, “oh, he did this bad thing, but God forgave him. And he did this good thing, but it doesn’t matter because God doesn’t treat people or judge people based on their own merit.”

      I would say he was a christian. He did something that worked out pretty well. And something that was absolutely terrible. The good doesn’t excuse the bad of course. It’s still reprehensible. Hmm. So I guess that is where we get stuck again. Huh. I thought I had a conclusion there. But I guess that’s the point. We can’t really know what to think of someone based on the whole of their actions. I couldn’t tell you which was worse or better.

      It’s ok if you think Martin Luther was a terrible person. I can see that side of him, too.

      And I’m honestly uncertain of my own opinion about grace and Christians who have done horrible things. i’m trying to think of this problem as similar to the Gothard/ATI homeschool abuse cases… And I’m cringing and feeling very unforgiving.. and unwilling to consider possible good things he may have accomplished in his ministry…so maybe when the pain feels personal and the wrongs were against your own community it is harder to do these things I’m trying to talk about. Does that make sense to you?

      This is such a tricky topic, but you for bringing it up.

      PS — sorry for this essay of a comment! Thank you again for participating and sharing your experience of Luther. I’d love to keep this conversation going if you want. Not to convince you one way or another. Just to hear how you think about this grace stuff :)


  1. On a much smaller scale, like one on one smaller, I feel my life does this. God put the biggest love in me for folks who grew up in the same ideology as me. He drops them off at my doorstep, literally as I have a hair studio in my home, with greater and greater frequency. I’ve had to learn to live without apology for my convictions, or lack of convictions and let their assumptions or judgments about me roll off while I work toward building trust. It comes with tears sometimes, but it’s worth it when they begin to realize that there is more freedom in Christ than they knew possible.

    Did I mention I’m excited about your 31 day topic :)


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