Question Concerning Martin Luther


I don’t know if I am posting this question in the right section of the forum. If you think it is necessary to move it please do so. Here is my question. Does anyone know where I could find a book or article that explains why Martin Luther left the Catholic Church? I would like to read something that does not necessarily have a Luthern or Catholic point of view. I know the reasons he left are complicated, but there has to be something that is simple to understand.
God bless,


Hi try a book written by Martin E Marty " Martin Luther" I got mine at the library.


I don’t have a book to recommend on the specific subject, but just yesterday I happened to be reading Stephen Ray’s Crossing The Tiber, and was astonished to come across this quote from Luther, in a footnote (#64)

In writing to Pope Leo X, Luther said,

“I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity. . . . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. . . . Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. . . .There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body”
(letter of Martin Luther to Pope Leo X, Jan 6, 1519, more than a year after the 95 Theses.)


The best starting point is Roland Bainton, Here I stand. The best biography in my opinion is Heiko Oberman, *Luther: Man Between God and the Devil. *Both of these have a Protestant bias but not a confessional Lutheran one. The fullest biography, Martin Luther in 3 vols. by Martin Brecht, is heavily biased toward Lutheranism but is an excellent source for the facts of Luther’s life.

Louis Bouyer’s The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism gives a fairly sympathetic critique of Luther’s theology from a Catholic perspective (Bouyer was a Lutheran pastor originally). Jared Wicks has done good scholarly work on Luther from a Cathoilc perspective, I believe.

My doctoral advisor, David Steinmetz (a Methodist minister), put together a set of essays on various aspects of Luther’s thought called Luther in Context (focusing on his Biblical interpretation), which casts some light on why Luther did what he did. Steinmetz also wrote a book called Luther and Staupitz which compares Luther’s theology with that of his theological mentor and confessor (who remained Catholic). This may help you (though it’s not exactly simple) because it outlines the differences between Luther and a Catholic theologian who deeply influenced him and was about as close to Luther theologically as you could be and remain Catholic (indeed, I suppose we could argue over whether Staupitz was orthodox by the standards of Trent, though he was never condemned as a heretic).



I’d recommend the title, The Reformation (unabridged) by George L. Mosse


I have listened to a three part lecture series by Ken Hensley that I thought was very informative. He quotes heavily from Bainton, Oberman, and Luther himself. I bought the MP3s from Saint Jospeh Communications


The Catholic Encyclopedia has a lengthy article on Martin Luther.

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