Land on Luther: A flawed man realized the perfect Son
Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther challenged medieval Catholicism by nailing his “Ninety-Five Theses” to the Wittenberg Castle Church, ushering in the Protestant Reformation.
Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina, says the anniversary is worth remembering, even though the Augustan monk was not a perfect man by any means.
“But he was a great man,” says Land, “and I think we underestimate the sheer courage that it took to stand up to the colossus that was Rome.”
Luther, born in 1483, gave up his career as a lawyer and joined the Augustinian order in 1505. He preached against indulgences, and nailed the 95 Theses, in 1517. Excommunicated in 1521, he died in 1546 and was buried at the Castle Church at the age of 63.
Between that birth and death, historians have noted Luther’s world-changing understanding of justification by faith; his embarrassing record of anti-Semitism; and his courage to stand against the powerful and corrupt Catholic Church under Pope Leo X.
Luther, says Land, understood the central truth of the Christian faith, which is summarized in John 3:16.
“And that the only way to salvation is to accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, and that that sacrifice was done once and it was over,” Land says.
“There was no need for our re-crucifixion,” he continues, “and so Luther’s cross is empty, because the High Priest is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”