Martin Luther, a scholar and a professor in a university was stimulated to action by the then campaign of allowing people to indulge in unbiblical doctrines. The campaign was spearheaded in Germany by Johann Tetzel. Due to this, Martin Luther started protesting against the new fanaticism. Fanaticism is faith or actions involving a naive zeal for an extremepolitical or religious cause. At this time, fanaticism took hold of many followers and as a result, they turned violent. They considered the Holy Scriptures as dead and they started consulting other spirits. Martin Luther realized they were being led by Thomas Munzer who had declared that people possessing the spirit, had the true faith. This aggravated martin Luther and led him to write the letter the Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Martin’s actions cannot be considered as revolt, but a movement to reform the church.
The letter is significant to many Christians because as they deal with it, the more it becomes precious and attaches more value with time. In this letter, martin explains the regulation of work that must not be done or must be done. Martin exclaims that Paul refers to all Jews as sinners and only those who obey the law are justified in God’s presence. Paul in this letter continues to condemn the Jews for their hypocrisy. They outwardly kept the law for their gain and did everything, not willingly but out application of force. Therefore, it was evident that they maintained the law, but in essence, they were the real enemies of the law. Within this context, martin addresses his followers and urges them not to teach against stealing yet they do steal. Luther’s maintains that as long as one does not do according to the law, he is simply an enemy to the law.
Luther strongly condemned the work done by the churches and government. He warned them not to get comfortable with the idea that doing the works of law was the same as fulfilling it. He described the works of law as every thing that a person does out of his own free will and by his own obedience of the law and powers. Therefore, according to Luther, obeying the law out of coercion was useless. Luther questions why scholars are seducers since they teach that it is possible to get Grace from God by doing work. However, this is not true as scholars put it since from the letter, it is clear that one who does work out of coercion does not please God. Therefore, Martin urges his followers to be true in spirit and to remain true to their work and always have a willing heart to work as this pleases God. According to Martin, fulfilling the law means to work freely, eagerly, lovingly, and in a manner pleasing to God.
Sin in the Holy Scriptures is described as movements that are within us that divert the power of hearts to external forces. Luther is quick to state that all men are sinners and considers himself as no special. The scriptures according to him see into the depth of the heart and can see all the source of all evil in the heart. Thus, as one claims to have faith, the unbelief is what makes sin exalt in peoples hearts. Martin warns his followers not to fall into the trap of believing that faith is that human dream and illusion that the church believes it is. He gives an example of people who always talk about faith and yet experience no improvement in their lives. He explains that the lack of improvement in people’s lives, is due to fabrication of concepts about their faith in their hearts hence end up accomplishing nothing. The new definition that Luther brings out in commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is that faith is the work of God in us, which transforms us and brings us close to God for our cleansing.
Luther observed the level of injustice in the country and felt the urge to address it. According to him, justice is the same as faith. He highly claims that only God’s justice is best and refutes the government ways and means of maintaining justice. Paul describes both secret and public sinners as one in the presence of God. Therefore, he questions the means by which people are claimed guilty yet those claiming they are guilty are sinners themselves. He goes ahead to prove from the Holy Scripture that all people are sinners and that no one becomes or gets considered just through the works of the law. From this, it becomes clear that God gave the law so that sin might be perceived.
Luther addresses issues according to the level at which it affects the society. At this point, it appears that there are a myriad of thinkers, scholars, philosophers, and people whom Luther knows personally, who are responsible for shaping his way of thinking. Apart from addressing the church about the role of faith and Christianity, he also delves into the political issues. His early influences include; his parents, Henry David Thoreau, Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Hobbes, Bentham, Mill, Locke, Paul Ramsey and Mahtma Gandhi.
Luther deviates from his parents by joining the political arena and starts to address issues in this area. His parents were devoted to church, so they expected Luther to continue with the same devotion, but instead, Luther decided to embrace both political and Christian issues. Thoreau’s article inspires Luther to address issues concerning violence and resistance . He holds onto this theory as he finds it very important as it forms his first intellectual challenge. Luther associated himself with critical thinkers like Paul Ramsey. Ramsey was famed for the slogan of ‘’enemy neighbor’’. In this context, the enemy is a neighbor. Through the influence of Ramsey, Luther attests that one can only love an enemy neighbor expecting nothing short of persecution and hostility. Therefore, Luther strongly advocates for non violence. Luther, however, deviates from the Gandhian movement that advocates for violence and yet Gandhi is a great influence to him. The Gandhian non violence was viewed as a form of coercion. Due to this, Luther noted that Black Americans were outnumbered; therefore, it was futile and hopeless to attempt violence as a solution. He made a decision thereafter to devote himself to a campaign for non violence.
Amid his achievements, it raises questions; whether Luther was the final authority? Or rather, to what extent was Luther’s letter obeyed? Although Luther made incredible progress under the most adverse and difficult situations, he did not get the whole truth that he always searched for. It is clear that Luther does not abolish God’s law but strongly condemns the outward righteousness and hypocrisy without inward renewal. Therefore, he advocated for pure and true righteousness.
Luther’s action of non violence helped him save his reputation as well as that of the church. Luther was of a strong character and stood against all acts of fanaticism and unbiblical doctrines. He is remembered for standing for the rights of the black Americans as well as fighting for the end of slavery of the blacks. Luther also encouraged Christians to accept communion ordinance as this would reflect their obedience and respect for God. However, he is seen to have differences with the then pope on issues concerning the Holy Communion.
Though Luther made remarkable achievements, he had his own weaknesses. He was punishing himself for his sins, and it seemed as if the peace of God had departed from him. He dedicated himself in fasting and long hours of prayers and this made him realize how sinful he was. One of his writings discredit him as being the final authority since it says that disregard of God’s commandments is fine. Hence reliance on Luther’s work is subject to the conditions under which he wrote them. A careful reading of his work portray a true longing of God and still his work upheld God's law as binding on the behaviors and actions of mankind.