Link to Stained Glass Panel of Luther at Zion


Lutheran Christians look to Martin Luther not as the founder of a new church, but as a reformer and teacher whose work may help to serve Christ’s whole church.

Luther was of German Saxon peasant stock, destined to become a lawyer, but converted to be a monk, priest and teacher. He was a model of medieval spirituality, doing exceedingly well what the church required, ranging from  private confession to tough spiritual and academic formation as a biblical theologian.

Luther began teaching in 1513 at the small University of Wittenberg, southeast from Berlin in the Saxon country-side. It was through his study and teaching of the Bible a decisive insight came: Faith in Christ, not one’s own ambitious moral or devotional efforts, promised salvation from sin and life with God. Luther felt born again when he read “the righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17).

This insight changed Luther’s attitude to the church which stressed human merit rather than trust in God. This was vividly illustrated by the sale of “indulgences” –printed permits or coupons listing the monetary value of a personal confession of sin. Pope and bishop s had authorized the sale of indulgences in order to assist in building St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. Luther issued a call for a public debate on the sake of indulgences by publishing ninety-five theses on October 31, 1517. Soon his opponents called his reform movement “Lutheran”.

Luther was condemned in 1521 by pope and emperor as a dangerous heretic. But the reform movement continued. Powerful political supporters of the movement summarized their faith in The Augsburg Confession of 1530, drafted by Luther’s friend Philip Melanchthon . The Confession was based on the traditional creeds of the church (like the Apostles’ Creed), Bible and the early Christian teachings. Luther directed everyone to the gospel, the good news of salvation through Christ. This gospel becomes alive as the Word of God, encountered in oral and visible communication, baptism and Holy Communion.

Luther wrote more than 30 hymns, enjoyed married life and six children, and was known for his good humor. His basic teachings were published in about 450 treatises, 3000 sermons, 2600 letters and 5000 “table talks”. His works have been collected in more than 100 oversized volumes since 1883 in the Weimar Edition. His translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into German was so popular that the basic structure of the modern German language is derived from it.

Luther has been rehabilitated by the Roman Catholic Church which no longer calls him a heretic. His legacy is well established around the world through more than 60 million “Lutherans” on all continents, but especially in Germany and Scandinavia. Zion Church is one among many congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America whose more than 5 million members represent a part of this legacy.

Written by Rev. Dr. Eric W. Gritsch (a church member), for Zion's Web Site.

Zion Martin Luther Event in November 2003

Luther At Worms in Stained Glass


Zion's Memorable Annual Lutherfest Celebration


Martin Luther: The Reformer Exhibition


Text and Audio of Martin Luther's Hymns in English & German


A Link to the Printed Works of Martin Luther