Martin Luther Taught Many Doctrines That Disagree with Modern Protestants

Martin Luther


Today, the Los Angeles Times reported:

On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace church, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.,0,1190292.story

Today is a day that many honor Martin Luther.  And those that do are normally Protestant.

But many do not realize that Martin Luther had a variety of teachings that many Protestants no longer hold to.

Ten Commandments

Many modern Protestant leaders claim that the Ten Commandments are done away and were “nailed to the cross”

Yet, regarding the Ten Commandments, Martin Luther claimed that:

God threatens to punish all who break these commandments…Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.12).

The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments…we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit (Luther Martin. The Smallclad Papers. 1537. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau Published in: _Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church_. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), pp. 453-529).

…teach them first of all these articles, namely the ten commandments…But as for those that will not learn, let them be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians…(Luther M.  The Short Catechism, 1529.  Cited in  Bettenson H, ed., Documents of the Christian Church. London: Oxford University Press, 1943, p. 225).

Furthermore the Christian Questions and Their Answers section of that book states (it is unclear he Martin Luther actually wrote that section, though it is ascribed to him),

“1. Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes, I believe it, I am a sinner. 2. How do you know this? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept…The Ten Commandments are the law of God” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986. pp.39-40,53).

Martin Luther wrote:

…whoever wishes to know and to do good works needs nothing else than to know God’s commandments. Thus Christ says, Matthew xix, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” And when the young man asks Him, Matthew xix, what he shall do that he may inherit eternal life, Christ sets before him naught else but the Ten Commandments (Luther M. Treatise on Good Works, March 29, 1520).

For even if a Moses had never appeared and Abraham had never been born, the Ten Commandments would have had to rule in all men from the very beginning, as they indeed did and still do (Luther, M. Against the Sabbatarians:Letter to a Good Friend, Part II, 1538).

An article of related interest may be The Ten Commandments and the Early Church.

State of the Dead

Most Protestants tend to feel that the dead have immortal souls and go directly to heaven or punishment upon death, yet Martin Luther taught something more consistent with COG teachings on this matter:

The immediate cause of Luther’s stand on the sleep of the soul was the issue of purgatory, with its postulate of the conscious torment of anguished souls. While Luther is not always consistent, the predominant note running all through his writings is that souls sleep in peace, without consciousness or pain. The Christian dead are not aware of anything—see not, feel not, understand not, and are not conscious of passing events. Luther held and periodically stated that in the sleep of death, as in normal physical sleep, there is complete unconsciousness and unawareness of the condition of death or the passage of time.† Death is a deep, sound, sweet sleep.‡ And the dead will remain asleep until the day of resurrection (Martin Luther and William Tyndale on the State of the Dead pp. 571-572).

Martin Luther specifically taught:

It is probable, in my opinion, that, with very few exceptions indeed, the dead sleep in utter insensibility till the day of judgment… On what authority can it be said that the souls of the dead may not sleep out the interval between earth and heaven… (Luther M. Translated by W. Hazlitt. The life of Luther written by himself. M. Michelet, ed. Bohn’s Standard Library. G. Bell, 1904, p. 133).

While some criticize this teaching and call it “soul sleep”, it was held by the earliest Christians. Please check out the article Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?

Becoming God

Martin Luther taught a form of deification, which many Protestant leaders would have trouble with today.

Notice the following from a Martin Luther sermon:

“For the Word became flesh in order that the flesh might become Word. That is, God becomes man in order that man might become God (On the Word Became Flesh Martin Luther, 1483-1546 From: Sermo Lutheri in natali Christi, [December 25, 1514]) _D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesammtausgabe_ (Weimar: Hermann Boehlau, 1883) Vol. 1, p. 28).

The idea that man can become God was a view of the earliest Christians. For details, please check out the article Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?

Catholic Church

Martin Luther taught against the concept that the Roman Catholic Church was the one true church.   And while most modern Protestant leaders would agree on that point, Martin Luther took this much further.

Specifically, Martin Luther taught that the Roman Catholic Church was the “great harlot of the Apocalypse” (O’Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, originally 1916, 1987 ed., p.9).   Martin Luther also claimed that the Pope was the “Antichrist” (Ibid).

With all the ecumenical discussions going on these days, not many Protestant leaders that call themselves Lutherans seem to be willing to be insistent on those points.

For the record, I agree with certain Catholic leaders who have claimed that the final Antichrist will be some type of antipope (see Catholic Prophecies: Do They Mirror, Highlight, or Contradict Biblical Prophecies?).  As I have written before, I do not believe that the current pope is any more of an antichrist than Martin Luther was.

And while I do not believe that Martin Luther was a truly faithful leader, I do believe that he had a few doctrines that were consistent with the teachings of the early church.

Those interested in learning more should consider studying the following articles:

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the Living Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example?
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth?
Hope of Salvation: How the Living Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.

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