“Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of the Holy Scriptures or evident reason (for I believe neither in the Pope nor councils alone, since it has been established that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures adduced by me, and my conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God, and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience. God help me. Amen.” Luther’s Response in Worms (1521)
According to a recent multidenominational and national survey, Protestant Reformer Martin Luther is the most “influential” Christian of all time (since the Apostolic era). The survey asked numerous Protestant and Catholic pastors, teachers, theologians, and other Church leaders.
The survey was open-ended, and included a large list of potential names to consider, as well as write-in lines. The survey conductors did not ask for who was the “best” or the “most holy”, but asked for the person who helped form Christianity the most.
The following excerpt from the book associated with the survey says this about Luther:
“As Luther continued to study the Scriptures in preparation for his university lectures, he became aware of the biblical teaching that “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). This teaching of God’s redeeming grace—a grace which offered Christ’s righteousness to the sinner rather than demanding righteousness from the sinner—transformed Luther’s personal relationship with God. His university lectures on the Scriptures became both powerful and popular, emphasizing the truth that man is saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone.
In 1520 Luther wrote three important tracts, which laid the basis for the coming Reformation: The Address to the Nobility of the German Nation which proclaimed the priesthood of all believers; The Babylonian Captivity of the Church which condemned the sacramental system of the Roman Catholic Church while upholding the validity of both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and The Freedom of the Christian Man which defined justification by faith alone—a treatise dedicated to Pope Leo X in a last attempt by Luther to become reconciled to the church. The response of the church, however, was to excommunicate Luther—an act roundly condemned by most Germans.
Martin Luther is one of the most revered, yet most reviled men in Christian history. He is viewed by most Protestants as a champion of biblical faith, while still considered a heretical and divisive figure by many Catholics. Although representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican signed a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification on October 31, 1999—an action heralded as a resolution of a nearly five hundred year dispute over this crucial biblical teaching, confessional Lutherans do not believe agreement in doctrine was actually reached, and Luther himself remains among those excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.”
Luther was followed by Saint Augustine, Emperor Constantine, Saint Athanasius, and John Calvin in the rankings of the most influential Christians in the post-Biblical era.
The above-mentioned survey was part of the recent Christian nonfiction book Top Ten Most Influential Christians- Since the Apostles, written by Abby Matzke and Ken Lambert. (NOTE: Rev. Paul Nolting contributed to the Luther chapter of the book.)