“I shall never be a heretic; I may err in dispute, but I do not wish to decide anything finally; on the other hand, I am not bound by the opinions of men” (Luther). Not bound by the opinions of generations of Christian witnesses, the monk Martin Luther believed he had found answers to problems in the Church. In 1517, he nailed his ideas to the door of castle church of Wittenberg. In protest of attending the Council of Trent, which Luther claimed had no ultimate authority, he burned the bull that the pope issued requesting Luther to return to the Church. When the Council at Trent denied many of his ideas, Luther did not take the answer lightly and persisted in his errors. Luther then was protected by the Duke of Saxony while he developed his teachings. The main teachings that led to the Lutheran schism were Luther’s theories of sola Scriptura, sola fide, and sola Chisto. These teachings led Luther to corrupt the Catholic Church and open the doors to heresies all over the world.
Luther proposed the teaching of sola Scriptura which says that a Christian’s only authority is Scripture. As Luther proposed this teaching, he removed books from the Bible and changed wording in the Gospels to corroborate his theories. He believed everyone should interpret the Bible on their own. When Luther suggested this, everyone came to believe that their understanding was the correct one. This teaching was one of many that led to the “dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men” (Revised Standard Version 1 Timothy 6:4-5). Also, because of his belief in sola Scriptura, he disregarded councils of the Church. The purpose of a council is to resolve issues that arise, but because Luther believed all answers were in Scripture, he also disregarded the problem solving that occurs in a council with central authority. One of the problems addressed was the intercessions of Mary and the saints. Because it was never stated in Scripture explicitly, Luther and his followers did not believe in intercessory prayers to the saints. This lead the protestants to many speculations of established doctrine. It can be seen that Luther’s logic of sola Scriptura is flawed from the question former Presbyterian Minister Scott Hahn wrestled with: “‘where does the Bible teach that ‘Scripture alone’ is our sole authority?’” (Hahn 51).
Another one of Luther’s heretical teachings, was that through faith alone, without works, we could attain salvation. St. James clearly states in his epistle, “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). In his Ninety-five Theses, Luther rejected indulgences and good works. He reasoned that by faith alone one could attain salvation. The council acknowledged these proposals and rid the Church of indulgences. Despite this, the council concluded that good works were in fact an integral part of enriching faith. “Christianity is a religion of action. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ demanded good works from His followers” (Laux 156). This theory also eliminated the sacrament of anointing of the sick because it absolves you of sins when there is a possibility of the loss of heaven upon death. Since Luther taught that all one needed to attain salvation was faith, the sacrament of confession was also disregarded. Luther claimed that the doctrine of good works made God our debtor. The Church made it seem as if one could "force" God to let him into Heaven by purchasing indulgences and performing good works. Luther was correct, one can't earn Heaven, it is a free gift of God. However, Luther and the poorly catechized priest of the time, misunderstood that the Church has never taught that someone "earns" heaven. Paul's letter to the Romans, which condemns "works of the law" as useless for salvation, became Luther’s point of reference. Luther didn't understand that "works of the law" meant the Jewish laws. In the end, it