In this text, political scientist J. M. Porter, presents revealing selections from nine of Luther’s important writings. Porter compiles excerpts from Luther’s writings which shaped the Reformation and continue to influence the course of events in our time. They illustrate Luther’s innovative ideas about the nature of temporal authority, political obligation and its limits, church-state relations, and political resistance. These selections reveal the complexity of the reformer’s thinking, its theological base, and the situational focus of his political utterances. Porter also provides a helpful introduction in which he clarifies the meaning and implications of Luther’s famous “two kingdoms” theory, whereby the state is freed both from domination by the church, and from the temptation to dominate the conscience of its citizens.
Martin Luther (1483–1546), one of the most significant figures in Western history, was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation. Over the course of his life, Luther was a monk, a priest, a professor of biblical literature, a Reformer, a husband, and a father.
Luther is most noted for his Ninety-Five Theses (1517), in which he argued that indulgences were not acts of penance which could replace true repentance. His refusal to retract all his writings, demanded by Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521, resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor.
Luther has been both praised and vilified for what he preached and wrote. Luther’s translation of the Christian Bible into the vernacular greatly influenced the church. His works continue to impact all Christians and animate the movement that bears his name. Luther’s Works (55 vols.) contains many of Luther’s writings, including commentaries, sermons, and lectures.