Essential Luther - Lesson 2

Road to the Reformation

Some of the historical milestones that took place in Luther's life as he began to develop his reformational theology.

Gordon Isaac
Essential Luther
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Road to the Reformation

I. Introduction
    A. Describing Luther's theology based on contemporary historical realities.
    B. Describing Luther's theology is challenging because he was such a prolific writer.
II. Historical events
    A. Meeting with Martin Luther and his vicar general, John Staupitz. 1512
    B. Luther became an Augustinian monk.  1505
    C. Luther went to Rome. 1510
    D. Luther's doubts
    E. Luther's search for a gracious God through penance.
    F. Luther was particularly interested in understanding St. Paul.
    G. Luther's tower experience
    H. Luther's pastoral response

All Lessons
  • The joy and promise of reading Luther. Luther has keen theological insights and expresses them using wit and lively word pictures. Luther's innovative thoughts are a result, not only of profound wrestling with theological ideas, but with Scripture itself. Luther uses polemic language, which was common in his time.

  • Some of the historical milestones that took place in the life of Martin Luther.

  • Luther has an unusual presentation of the nature of the theological task and a unique way of going about it. When discussing sin, Luther says that our problem is not just a moral lapse, but it's our spiritual presumption that is our greatest and worst of sins. Theology for Luther is our being grasped by the Word of God, not just a speculative academic pursuit.

  • Justification by faith is the central, foundational doctrine of Christianity and is unique compared to other religions. It is the manner in which we continue to walk with the living God. To Luther, it is more than just a doctrine, it is a death and a resurrection joining us to the living Christ. 

  • Luther presents his view of the atonement in the form and shape of the theology of the cross. In the cross and resurrection, God is bringing about something new. Christ did not come to give us a new law. Christ came into the closed circle of law and death by being born under the law, then dying and being raised from the dead to redeem those who were under the law. We get what Jesus has to offer by going through the cross ourselves, not just accepting theories about the cross.

  • Luther's treatise on Christ's Passion was used by common people to focus their meditation on the significance of this period of Christ's ministry. Luther urges people to be sensitive to what the Spirit might speak to them as they pray through Scripture passages. Luther's writings are sprinkled with short dialogues that help us deal with everyday matters according to the gospel.

Martin Luther used wit and lively word pictures to communicate his keen theological insights. His innovative thoughts are a result of his wrestling with Scripture as well as thoughtfully considering current theological teachings.