Martin Luther (1483-1546) initiated the Protestant Reformation in 1517, changing the course of the Western civilization. Priest and theology professor, he opposed to the indulgence system with his 95 Theses, claiming that pardon from God's castigation of sin could not be purchased with money. Upon his refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the demand of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms meeting in 1521, Luther was excommunicated by the pope and condemned as an outlaw by the emperor.
Luther preached the salvation as a free gift of God, received only by grace through faith in Jesus as redeemer from sin, not from good works. The challenge to the authority of the pope of the Roman Catholic Church, assuming the Bible as the only source of divine knowledge, in opposition to sacerdotal doctrine, considered all baptized Christians to be holy priests. The followers Luther's teachings started to be called Lutherans.
Luther made the Bible more accessible with its first translation into a popular language (instead of Latin). This changed forever the church and the German culture. It promoted the development of a standard version of the German language and influenced the translation of the King James Bible. His hymns inspired the development of singing in churches and his marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model future Lutheran priests’ marriage.
Luther's writings and declarations about the Jews – preaching the destruction of the Jews, the burning of their synagogues, the confiscation of their money and imprisonment were revived during the Nazis, tarnishing part of Luther’s legacy.