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Martin Luther

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Martin Luther (1484-1546) was a German thinker and writer. He was a monk in the Catholic church and tought religion. Luther was unhappy with the way how the church was run and what it told the people. Above all, he was against the idea that a member of the church can first do something wrong (a sin) and then pay money to the church so that the church would say that god is fine with it.

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach der Ältere

In 1517, Luther made public a list of complains he had about the church, the so-called 95 theses. The church and the emperor, the ruler of Germany then, were mad at him. Luther had to live under cover, protected by a German local ruler, the Prince of Saxony.

In this time, Luther started to translate the Bible from Latin to German. The Bible is the holy book of the Christians, and educated people like Luther read it in Latin. There had been already German translations, but Luther thought that those translations are difficult to read. The way Luther wrote the Bible was more like the German that people really spoke at that time. The old translations tried to be very similar to the way Latin is written.

Luther wrote more and more about what church should be like. For example, in the traditional church we now call Catholic, they know seven so called sacraments. Sacraments are holy rules and ways you have to follow. Luther said that only two of those sacraments are mentioned in the Bible by Jesus Christ, name: bapt and the holy communion. Luther was also against praying to saints, and he allowed priests to get marry. He himself married a former nun, Katharina von Bora, and had children with her.

Many rulers in Germany and other countries followed Luther. They liked his ideas because Luther was against the Pope, the chef of the (Catholic) Church. Luther said that every Christ is baptizised, so a priest is only a servant of the church and not 'closer to god'. Those German princes were fond if this because they wanted to rule their countries without a Pope having a say in what they did. The princes also abolished monasteries and took the land and money the monasteries owned.

Martin Luther is now called the founder of Lutheranism, one of the many groups or churches that call themselves Christian. Within Christianity, Lutheranism and some other groups of this time are called Protestants, because they protested against the Catholic church.

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