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Martin Luther (04:16)


In 1521, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V called for Martin Luther to be executed. Luther's highly popular religious writings were centered around the idea of human goodness.

Luther's Early Life (03:52)

Luther's father wanted him to become a lawyer to help the family cooper business. Luther left law school and made a promise to God that he would become a monk if he survived a sudden storm that he was caught in.

Luther as a Monastic Student (04:16)

A few days after the storm, Luther was admitted as a student at an Augustinian monastery. He had long-standing guilt about his sinfulness and used self-punishment to feel closer to God. He did not feel that his actions as a monk were lifting his burdens or giving him peace.

Luther as a Monk (05:14)

Luther was ordained in 1507, still fearing that he was not good enough for God's acceptance. He was sent to Rome and was shocked by the unholiness of the city, which served as the churches home. He was given intellectual roles by his superiors to distract him from his fears about his unworthiness.

Luther and Indulgences (06:00)

In 1517, a travelling priest began selling indulgences in Wittenberg, where Luther was posted. Luther saw the practice, which were being used to fund St. Peter's Basilica, as a symbol of the church's corruption. He wrote his 95 Theses to spark an academic debate about the indulgences.

Luther and the Printing Press (04:18)

Few in Wittenberg were interested in Luther's 95 Theses, but the newly invented printing press allowed it to reach more people. The printers began publishing it without Luther's knowledge, for he had written it for academic circles not the public. The 95 Theses called out the sale of indulgences and said the pope had too much power.

Luther as a Heretic (07:09)

Luther believed his 95 theses were helping to fix problems within the church. Pope Leo X, a Medici, was more concerned with politics than religious doctrine. He called for Luther to be questioned about his heresy, but he refused to take back what he said.

Luther's Declaration (03:02)

Despite the inquiry from the church, Luther agreed to a public debate in Leipzig. He criticized the pope and said indulgences violated scripture. He stated that The Bible had higher authority than the pope or the church.

Luther's Writing (06:50)

Pope Leo was angered by Luther's dismissal of his authority but did not want to anger his ally and protector Prince Frederick of Saxony, who would have a say in picking the next Holy Roman Emperor. Luther wrote many of his most popular pieces in 1520 that spoke to what many common people in the church were feeling. He wrote that everyone's work regardless of what it was served God, which dismissed the hierarchy of the church.

Luther's Righteousness (06:12)

Luther continued to struggle with this sense of unworthiness before God. In 1520, he realized righteousness comes from living by faith alone instead of doing certain deeds to win God's favor. Saying faith alone was enough angered the Catholic Church.

Luther and the Pope (04:32)

Pope Leo issued Luther a papal bull that required him to disavow his writings, which Luther burned, saying only God could judge him. He was called to Rome for a hearing, which his supporters feared would lead to his execution. They called for Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to help and he had the hearing moved to Worms, Germany.

Luther's Hearing (05:28)

Many believed Luther's hearing in Worms would end with him being burned at the stake, the common punishment for heretics. Luther was called to denounce his writing and accept the authority of the pope, but he refused. The emperor charged him with high treason, but he fled amid the crowd of supporters.

Luther in Hiding (03:51)

Most people assumed he was dead, but Luther's supporters helped him hid at Wartburg Castle. While there, he translated The Bible into German, so everyone could read it for themselves. Like many other of Luther's writings, it became one of the most popular books in Europe.

Luther's Movement (03:28)

Luther's followers began to take his message off course and anti-Catholic mobs committed vandalism in Wittenberg. He returned to the city in 1522 to hinder the unrest and preached civility and nonviolence. The movement grew and prominent Protestant reforms came to Wittenberg.

Luther's Marriage (05:18)

Luther had written against the vows of celibacy for the clergy. He married Katharina von Bora, one of nine nuns he helped escape from a German convent, and they had six children. Luther treated von Bora as an equal and viewed marriage and children as a gift from God.

Luther and Peasants' War (04:29)

Luther's writing had inspired people to question the authority of divine leadership in Germany. Luther mismanaged his response and ended up encouraging the nobility to react violently, killing more than 50,000 peasants. He fell into a depression in 1527, which was broken by him and von Bora assisting plague victims in Wittenberg.

Luther and Worship (03:14)

Luther wrote hymns and structured worship services to have more music. He encouraged mass to be given in German and for the sermon to be an opportunity for religious education. He visited local churches to help them grow their congregations.

Luther and Education (02:30)

Luther wrote "Catechism" as a textbook of basic religious principles. He worked with a woodcutter to illustrate the book so it could be easily understood by everyone.

Luther and the Sacrament (03:48)

In 1529, Protestant leaders met to build solidarity in their beliefs, fearing threats from Charles V. They disagreed on if the sacrament was a symbol of the body and blood of Christ or if it truly was, with Luther defending the latter. It marked the split between Reform Protestants and Lutherans.

New Religious Sects (04:59)

In 1530, Charles V threatened war against the Protestants if they did not rejoin the Catholic Church. King Henry VIII of England split from the Catholics and created the Church of England. Following Luther's influence, numerous other sects formed, and some fled to the New World to escape persecution in Europe.

Luther's Influence (09:17)

Churches that followed Luther's teachings began calling themselves Lutherans. He wrote a book attacking Judaism, which the Nazis used to legitimize their arguments. Martin Luther King Jr. used Luther's method of nonviolent protest to lead to American Civil Rights Movement.

Luther's Death (09:05)

Luther died in 1546 and Charles V saw it as an opening to reunite the Holy Roman Empire under Catholicism. After his military failed, Charles resigned as emperor and became a Catholic monk. Protestantism spread throughout the world with Luther as its primary leaders.

Credits: Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World (00:38)

Credits: Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World

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Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World

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Follow the dramatic story of Martin Luther's life: the massive lightning storm that nearly killed him, the bleak self-punishment of his time in the monastery, the corruption that unleashed his anger, his trial before the most powerful man in Europe, and the staged kidnapping that helped him escape the death penalty.

Length: 114 minutes

Item#: FPT191958

Copyright date: ©2017

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