Martin Luther in Summary

See Heresy of Luther Reformation Undone

With Martin Luther, we profile the last of the great heretics of Christianity. Luther took his historic stand at Wittenburg - placing himself in opposition to the combined weight of more than a millennium of accreted Catholic dogma. His 95 theses unleashed the forces of people, faith and politics against papal authority and the economic hegemony of a single European church-state.

More so than the other heretics of the Christian faith, Martin Luther changed not only the church, he altered the state. The economic and social energies unleashed by the Reformation heralded the end of feudalism, the triumph of capitalism, the resurgence of education, and eventually the swelling tide of democracy.

If the 21st century still resonates in the freedom and dynamic energy released by of these tidal forces, we also remain imprisoned within the socio-religious fortress that Luther reinforced. Jesus remains a caricature of the Nicene Creed which continues supreme.

To the dominant church of the era, Martin Luther's heresy came in his challenge to papal authority. To those who value the divine, Luther's heresy was the claim of salvation through grace, not works. But these heresies were nothing new; Luther was merely rediscovering and again unleashing the power of a Pauline ministry 1,500 years earlier.

The reformation of protestants that Luther launched carries forward as the dominant event of Christianity for the subsequent 500 years to this 21st century. Unfortunately, this reformation is incomplete. The Christian revolution was aborted - by none other than Luther himself.

For those who have lived in the ensuing five centuries of Luther's legacy, the real heresy lies in Luther's failure to complete the Reformation he started. Luther failed to throw off the shackles of Nicaea, to accept and celebrate diverse interpretations of the Jesus message, and to center a revived church on the message of creative conflict rather than monolithic uniformity. That time, that fulfillment of reformation, has yet to come.

This passage is adapted from the chapter "The Heresy of Luther: Reformation Undone," further detailed in the approximately 360 page book 12 Heresies of Christianity. Visit for more information on the 12 Heresies of Christianity.

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