Primary Source Essay: Luther’s Ideas
The ideas that Luther suggests are not completely contradictory to those expressed by the clergy, but they have a bit different angle because some of them are more progressive as the one about understanding of the essence of faith by people. He states that the one who has come across some kind of tribulation gets a better understanding of faith than a person who writes about it without experiencing it in real life when dealing with toughness (Luther). Nevertheless, a person that understands can never describe, think or even hear about the essence of faith sufficiently.
Moreover, Luther claims that he has got a “little drop of faith” that allows him to reflect on the subject with more solidity in his words than in words of those who speak about faith without feeling it and understanding what they are saying. These statements without doubt undermined the authority of the Catholic Church and did not match dogmas and strict rules it imposed, thus, caused religious discontent at that time. With the help of other examples, Luther proves that Catholic clergy consists of hypocrites who tell people what to do. Another reason that brought up religious discontent in the 15th century is very strict rules imposed by the Catholic Church. Luther’s interpretation gave people an option, while the Churc restricted their freedom by all means possible. At the end of the reflection, Luther blames the Catholic Church for control over everything and imposing of absurd rules.
Luther’s reflections on the faith and people, who really have it, evolve to a more serious practical issue such as belonging to the Catholic Church. First, he claims that the faith can be the only justification for a person to achieve salvation. By this he states that the Church takes money from people, but God does not need that. Then Luther quotes the Bible “There is none righteous, no, not one” (as quoted in Luther) to express the idea that Catholic clergy misinterprets the Book insisting on the sanctity and righteousness of the Pope, bishops and other clergymen.
Another idea is a real break with the Church because Luther says that the faith rules the inward man only; the outer work cannot justify the soul. The medieval Christendom could accept such statements as blasphemy. Talking about different precepts in the Bible, Luther mentions that they show how to act, but do not provide men with power to do that. Afterwards, Luther provides a direct claim that it is a doctrine that misleads true Christians from salvation as they are told what to do, but not to believe (Luther). The clergy says that righteousness is inn works, when Luther insists it is in the faith. The idea is further developed when Luther states that Christ communicates his dignities to every believer and, therefore, all who do believe in Jesus are “kings and priests in Christ.” Thought it was not meant literally, the Catholic Church could not stand the claim. As it puts people in a hierarchy, they were not able to truly enjoy faith and were dissatisfied. Furthermore, Luther speaks about a sinful distinction made by ecclesiastics.
Luther claims that the faith alone can be a justification and says that by doing something else one cannot find the salvation. Kissing the priest’s hand can be a more sin as it might be compared to idolatry. Clearly, this idea did not correspond to Catholic teachings. Luther gives an example from the Bible that states that all that did good have gone. Therefore, he thinks that salvation can come if a person changes his or her soul and merits of others (even Christ) will justify the one who truly has faith (Luther). Prayer is a food for spirit, only it can preach Christ and save the soul. This statement absolutely overturns the requirements of the Catholic Church. Luther’s progressive claims abolished the necessity to buy indulgences and do the things that are beneficial for the Church, not for God.