The Reformation of the sixteenth century was a vast and complicated movement. It involved kings and peasants, cardinals and country priests, monks and merchants. It spread from one end of Europe to the other, and manifested itself in widely differing forms. Yet in spite of its diverse and complex character, to start to understand the Reformation you need know only one name: Martin Luther. Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther remains the definitive introduction to the great Reformer and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand this towering historical figure.
A vivid portrait of Martin Luther, the man of unshakable faith in God who helped bring about the Protestant Reformation.
“But if he could not, others might. The Church, while taking an individualistic view of sin, takes a corporate view of goodness. Sins must be accounted for one by one, but goodness can be pooled; and there is something to pool because the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and the Son of God were better than they needed to be for their own salvation. Christ in particular, being both sinless and God, is possessed of an unbounded store. These superfluous merits of the righteous constitute a treasury which is transferable to those whose accounts are in arrears. The transfer is effected through the Church and, particularly, through the pope, to whom as the successor of St. Peter have been committed the keys to bind and loose. Such a transfer of credit was called an indulgence.” (source)
“There were three main points: an objection to the avowed object of the expenditure, a denial of the powers of the pope over purgatory, and a consideration of the welfare of the sinner.” (source)
“There is just one respect in which Luther appears to have been different from other youths of his time, namely, in that he was extraordinarily sensitive and subject to recurrent periods of exaltation and depression of spirit.” (source)
“Some of the Italian clergy, however, were flippantly unbelieving and would address the sacrament saying, ‘Bread art thou and bread thou wilt remain, and wine art thou and wine thou wilt remain.’” (source)
“The man who was later to revolt against monasticism became a monk for exactly the same reason as thousands of others, namely, in order to save his soul.” (source)