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"FAITH ONLY" TEXTS IN CONTEXT - Part 1

Martin Luther was a Catholic monk in Germany at the beginning of the 16th century. When John Tetzel came into Germany selling indulgences, Luther raised his voice in protest. The controversy gained heat as the days went by, and Luther finally nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Catholic church in Wittenberg, and challenged any Catholic anywhere to meet him in an open discussion of the same. Naturally, this brought down on his head the wrath of the Roman hierarchy. He was called before the dignitaries of the church, both civil and religious, and given his choice of recanting or being excommunicated.

Confronted with this choice, Luther made reply, "It is evident that the pope and the councils have frequently erred; and unless I can be persuaded by the text of the scripture, or by the clearest reasoning therefrom, I cannot, I will not, recant." He stood firmly by his convictions, and was ultimately excommunicated from the Roman Church.

"Faith Only" Doctrine Begun
So intense was Luther's hatred for Catholicism and everything connected with it that when he was excommunicated, he swung to the other extreme, and began to emphasize the doctrine of salvation "by faith alone." This was in rebellion against the Catholic doctrine, of salvation by works. Determined to oppose and overthrow this doctrine, Luther let his prejudice blind him to the actual teaching of the scripture. He even went so far as to insert the word "alone" in his translation of Rom. 3:28, making it read, "We know that a man is justified without the works of the law, by faith alone." That word "alone" is simply not in the original, Luther added it himself.

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Franklin T. Puckett
Reprinted from The Gospel Guardian


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