Martin Luther

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“Martin Luther was born at Eisleben in 1483. He was the son of a poor miner, had entered the Augustinian order, and had become professor of theology at Wittenberg. In the course of his studies he had come to question the practice of the Church in regard to the whole system of penance. Up to this time, however, he had made no open protest, but Tetzel’s course in Germany impelled him to public opposition. In 1517 he nailed to the church door at Wittenberg ninety-five theses or propositions, appealing to men’s consciences against the practice of ‘selling forgiveness.’ The widespread discontent in Germany gave to these theses an instant publicity. They were printed and scattered broadcast throughout the country. In them Luther showed no intention to break with the authority of the Roman Catholic Churrch. They were merely propositions for dispute, and he nailed them on the Church door as a challenge to any disuputant who might be willing to argue against them. disputants soon appeared, and the first thing they did was to appeal to the authority of the Church. This led Luther, at first, to question and finally to deny the authority of the Church, as resting not on a divine but on a human basis. He said that the Church was not the source of divine truth, and that the Bible was the sole source. The Reformation now entered on its first phase."—Colby, 1899


Frank Moore Colby, Outlines of General History, (New York: American Book Company, 1899) 352


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