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A Lutheran pastor lent me his copy of a biography of Martin Luther. It was instrumental in my journey back to the Church.
I agree with Jon: I don’t believe he originally intended to break away from the Church.
The Reformation seemed to take a life of it’s own. There were different cultural, political forces that contributed to this:
1) Rising German nationalism. Political forces were anxious to free the bonds of the Papacy. One of the results of the Reformation was state control of the church.
2) The Gutenberg press. Luther’s 98 thesis was easily distributed to the masses. Nationalism and economic forces harnessed people groups to action.
3) Luther found himself in the middle of it. He became the focal point whether he liked it or not.
4) Luther began to like it. The movement began and there was no turning back. I think it came down to try to stay with the Church and get swept away or lead the movement.
While reading his story I saw a servant of the Church become an enemy of the Church. He used Sola Scriptura to wrestle control away from the Pope and became the new Pope of the new church, controlling the very Scripture he stood for. He deleted books from the OT (can’t have praying for the dead) and also denigrated NT books (calling James an epistle of straw. You know that v, 2:24 problem).
But Luther still had Catholic truth residing in him, hence startling admissions to that truth. I guess you do have to live with yourself,
I apologize for being overly simplistic.