Martin Luther: Understanding the Bible


The room in Warburg Castle where Luther translated the Bible into German
Ralf, via Flickr

Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma tell the story of Martin Luther. He believed that reading a book could change people's lives.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It was May of 1521. A man was secretly travelling home. He was riding in a horse pulled wagon. He was deep in the forests of Germany. The man in the wagon was afraid. He knew that people wanted to kill him. As he rode through the forest, he prayed. He asked God to protect him. Suddenly, he heard something loud. It was the noise of horses. He looked around. He tried to find a way to escape. But he could not! Five men on horses surrounded him. The men pulled him out of the wagon. And they took him away. This man was Martin Luther. He had been kidnapped!

Voice 2 

Martin Luther was born in Germany in 1483. He was an intelligent boy. His father wanted him to go to law school and become a lawyer. So when Luther was 19 years old, he attended the University of Erfurt. He earned his degree. Then, he began law school.

Voice 1 

One day, Luther was returning to law school from his home. He was in the middle of a large field, when it began to storm. There was lightning and thunder all around him. A bolt of lightning struck the ground near him. Luther was very afraid. He thought he was going to die. He began praying and he made a promise to God. He told God that if he survived this storm, he would become a Christian monk. He would separate himself from the world. And he would devote his life to serving God.

Voice 2 

Luther did survive the storm. And, he kept his promise to God. He left law school. This decision made his father angry. But Luther wanted to become a monk. Luther joined a monastery. There he lived with other Christian monks. Together, they served God and tried to live holy lives. Luther also began studying to be a Christian religious leader.

Voice 1 

In 1507, Martin Luther became a Christian priest. As a gift, someone gave Luther a Latin Bible. At this time in Europe, Christian Bibles cost a lot of money. They were only found in churches. And they were only printed in the Latin language. Luther was excited. He had learned Latin in his studies. And he began reading the Bible often.

Voice 2 

Through reading the Bible, Martin Luther gained new understanding about God. He read things that seemed different than what Christian church leaders had taught him. Church leaders had taught Luther that he had to earn or pay for God’s love and forgiveness. The church sold expensive letters of forgiveness. They also encouraged people to visit and touch relics. A relic is a part of a holy person’s body or something he owned. People believed that by touching relics, they would receive God’s love and forgiveness.

Voice 1 

However, when Luther read the Bible himself, he found a different message. He believed the Bible said that God offered his love and forgiveness freely. He read about how God offered this salvation through Jesus Christ. Luther thought the Bible was clear – people only needed to have faith in God and his message. If they had faith, they would receive God’s love and forgiveness.

Voice 2 

This new understanding of the Bible brought Luther great joy. He felt free. He no longer had to fear that he would not do enough to earn God’s love and forgiveness. He believed he had salvation through faith alone. And he wanted other people to know this truth.

Voice 1 

Luther decided to write a paper about his new understanding of the Bible’s message. It was called “The 95 Theses.” Luther brought it to the city of Wittenberg in Germany. He nailed the paper onto the church doors. Many people read Martin Luther’s paper. And many people agreed with it.

Voice 2 

However, Church leaders were not happy with Luther for doing this. They called him a heretic – a person who taught wrong belief. The leaders of the church decided that they must stop Luther from spreading his message.

Voice 1 

So, the highest leaders of the Church invited Luther to meet with them in Germany. They told Luther that he had to apologize for writing the paper. But Luther refused. They told him they would punish him if he did not remove particular parts of the document. Luther still refused.

Voice 2 

After the meeting, Church leaders declared Martin Luther a criminal. They warned people all over Germany not to give him food or shelter. Martin Luther was in danger. He had to travel in secret. He had to avoid government and church leaders, and all other enemies.

Voice 1 

This is where our story began. Luther was secretly travelling through the forest. Suddenly, a group of men stopped him. They surrounded him and kidnapped him. However, these men were not Luther’s enemies. They were allies. They worked for a man that agreed with Luther’s teaching. They brought Luther to a safe place. It was Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany. There, Luther hid so no one could find or kill him.

Voice 2

Martin Luther stayed at Wartburg Castle for many months. He continued to write and study the Bible. He also continued to think about the German people. He wanted all Germans to be able to read the Bible like he did. However, very few people were able to read the Bible themselves.

Voice 1 

As young boy, Luther remembered going to church. Everyone that attended the church spoke the German language. But, when the Christian priest spoke – he spoke in Latin.  He also read from the Latin Bible. Most people could not understand the priest. They did not know Latin. Even as a young boy, Luther wondered,

Voice 3 

“How do those people know if the priest is telling the truth? They cannot read the Bible for themselves!”

Voice 2 

These memories caused Luther to act. He decided to translate the Latin Bible into German. After 11 weeks at Wartburg Castle, Luther finished translating a major part of the Christian Bible called the New Testament. Years after that, he finished translating the rest of Bible or the Old Testament. This was a major achievement!  Luther translated the whole Christian Bible into German.

Voice 1 

After this, printing presses printed many German Bibles. People all over Germany were now able to buy and read the Bible in their own language! Like Luther, Germans could now read and interpret the Bible for themselves! Reading the Bible helped many people to understand God better - just like Luther. This created many big changes in the Christian church. And it took one man’s courage and devotion to make this possible.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was David Phelps. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Martin Luther: Understanding the Bible.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Have you ever experienced a moment that changed your life?

Comments


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Quan Van Ngo
said on May 03, 2012

Wonderful!
Bravo Martin Luther…Your courage and your devote to make people understand the Bible,
Thanks Spotlight,

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Salgado
said on May 03, 2012

Great history.
Big hug to ever one.

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mylove_200988
said on May 08, 2012

Thanks Spotlight.
God arranges everything. I believe He

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Narath
said on May 20, 2012

I ever saw a Bible book but I have never read it before . I find that all religions are good because they educate people to do the right and good things .

From Cambodia

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Honneur
said on August 07, 2018

Yes. When I faced for the first time a classroom with a lot of pupils, everyone looking at me with attention and wonder, I understood that my life will change for ever. Since this time I have had a responsibility to taught young men how to use Portuguese language in different places, times and situations.

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kenhieuloilam
said on August 09, 2018

We live our faith life and learn about God. We live our faith life and we learn the bible. God is source of life. God is source of love. The law of God is the law of love. Living loving God and one another is fulfilling the law of God. Keeping the commandments of God brings life and each of us peace. We get peace in soul when we keep the commandments of God. We live our faith life and we learn about God. We live our faith life and we learn the bible. We live our faith life in favourable conditions. We live our faith life in difficult conditions.