Brandon's Notepad

October 24, 2011


Filed under: Christianity,Protestantism — Brandon @ 6:13 pm
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Home > My Research > Religion/Philosophy > Lutheranism

At the time of this writing, only a few years remain before the Quincentennial celebration of the Lutheran Reformation, demarcated by the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg in 1517. Being a former Lutheran, this is a bittersweet time for me. I defended this glorious “victory” over the tyrannical reign of the Papacy through the formative years of my life; however, that was before I looked deeper – much deeper – and discovered that this reformed theology lacked a certain substance, leaving many questions unanswered, for which the only viable answers could be found in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

This page represents a long-term research project for me. I want to better understand Luther and his contemporaries, but from the ground up. This means revisiting the man’s history, reading his words in the context of his life and the world around him, examining how his beliefs evolved over the years. Also, I want to see Luther through Catholic eyes, in comparison with the Popes and other churchmen with whom he disagreed, in light of his priesthood in the Augustinian order, in contrast with Trent and Aquinas, etc. This will take time. Indeed, I realize that I may never actually finish this project, but that’s no excuse for not getting started…

The Church Before Luther

What led Luther to challenge the Church? The short answer is the sale of indulgences, but that could just as well have ended in a failed crusade of one. What pre-existing conditions helped to make Luther so successful in his campaign?

  • Inquisition
  • Albigenses, Cathari, & Waldenses
  • Bohemia: Wyclif & Hus
  • Councils of Constance and Basle
  • Gravamina nationis Germanicae

Martin Luther

Part of this research is necessarily biographical. Some treatment of Luther’s life prior to 1517 should be made before attempting to disassemble his writings in the order of composition. Likewise, it should prove interesting to see how age and experience affected his views as the Reformation Age began to unfold.

Luther Summarized

Having studied his life and the world in which he lived, the next step is to digest his writings. It seems most appropriate to read them in chronological order. I am limited here in reading the English translations.

  • How to Read Luther
  • Comprehensive List of Luther’s Writings

The Church After Luther

What did Luther actually accomplish, if anything, in the way of Church reform?

  • The Counter Reformation
  • The Council of Trent
  • The Next Ten Popes (or 15? or 20?)

Lutheranism After Luther

I know from experience that the teachings of the Lutheran Church(es), in its various synods, are not bound by the teachings of Luther himself. To what degree have Lutherans through the ages departed from the monk’s vision?

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