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Christian Living

The Early Years of Martin Luther

Martin Luther went to school and studied to become a lawyer to please his father

Hans Luther, a German peasant, and his bride, Margaret, who came from the middle class, committed their lives to each other. Though having different social backgrounds, Hans pledged to work his way up in life. He promised to provide for Margaret and their future family in the way she grew up.

Devout Catholics, Hans and Margaret welcomed their firstborn into the world on November 10, 1483. The couple baptized their baby the next day on St. Martin’s Day. It seemed fitting to give their son the name Martin.

As Hans worked in the mines, Margaret, a stern disciplinarian, taught little Martin the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed. The Luthers celebrated Mass each week. They instilled in Martin a love for singing, both in the church choir and at home with family.

Consistent with the Church’s teaching of the day, young Martin learned of a Jesus who not only came to save but who also judged, demanding holy living and exacting a dreadful wrath over those who fell short. This tough teaching gripped Martin and caused him great agony for the first part of his life.

At eight years old, Martin started school. He learned Latin from strict teachers who governed with harsh discipline. Despite the school’s rigid setting, he performed well.

At age thirteen and showing promise, Martin continued his education. He progressed through a series of schools, as was the practice of the day for students with potential.

Luther’s Career Dilemma

This prepared him for a professional job, possibly in law, which his father desired for his son. For the most part, Martin accepted his dad’s career preference. A highly respected occupation, a career in law would provide Martin with a good income.

But Hans could afford to pay for only part of Martin’s schooling. As the accepted practice of the day, the lad would try to make up the difference through begging and street singing.

Despite this, Martin relished learning. He desired to honor his dad by becoming a lawyer, even though young Martin felt occasional pulls to serve God and the Church, a profession that lacked both the pay and the prestige of law.

Martin Luther struggled to balance spiritual concerns with his father’s push to pursue law. Click To Tweet

At eighteen, Martin began the final phase of his education, which his dad could now fully cover. An excellent student, Martin soon earned his bachelor’s degree and then his masters two years later.

Yet he continued to struggle to balance his personal worries about spiritual issues of sin and punishment, as taught by the church, with his father’s push for him to pursue law.

Martin vacillated between honoring the wishes of his dad—a man he both loved and feared—and responding to God’s call. Despite not liking the legal profession, Martin chose to follow the wishes of his father.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Attending Mass (Visiting Church #5)

When I tell people we’re visiting Christian churches, they often assume Protestant and are surprised our plan includes Catholic gatherings. That’s where we head today, to our first Mass.

The most noticeable difference is an ornate crucifix in the sanctuary. I’m pleased to see many lay people helping lead the service. There’s a nice range of ages present, including children who remain with us the entire time.

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

I struggle to follow along. There’s many times for the congregation to respond, but we don’t know what to say. Their service is not friendly to the uninitiated.

Music

The lone musical instrument is a keyboard and the keyboardist leads the singing. There’s also a choir. Both the singers and musician are behind us. Removing our focus from them, makes it less like a performance and more worshipful.

The priest leads us in the Apostle’s Creed. I thought this was a Protestant proclamation, but obviously not. We also pray the Lord’s Prayer. I’m aware Catholics don’t say the final line that Protestants do, but I almost say it anyway.

Message

The priest begins his Mother’s Day message with a series of anecdotes about moms, segueing into love: reciprocal love, romantic love, and love-your-enemies as exemplified by Jesus. I wonder how a priest can address the complexities of romantic love, but he does a great job at it.

I also appreciate him mentioning Jesus’s death as a love-your-enemies example.

The message is short, followed by communion, what many refer to as the celebration of the Eucharist. The priest calls it “a memorial service” for Jesus. We don’t partake, and I attempt to spend this time in quiet contemplation of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, I’m too distracted to do so.

The priest announces Mass is over. The service lasted one hour, and we head home with much to contemplate.

[Read about Church #4 and Church #6, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #5.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.