Larry asked:

Where did Fr. Martin Luther go wrong?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"Luther was right about a lot of stuff, but he did go wrong, not just in one thing but quite a number of things. If I had to say a single thing that kind of summed them all up I'd say Luther went wrong by breaking with the Chruch's teaching authority, the Church's Magisterium.

He had an appreciation for what's in scripture and that's obviously something that was very important to him ... The Church is the guardian and servant of scripture. He also had at least something of an appreciation for God's word as passed on through the Church fathers ... tradition ... he didn't have as much of an appreciation for that as he should but that's something that had been correctible if he had not also broken with the Church's Magisterium ... which function is to serve as a corrective ... not to give us new information that's not present in sacred scripture or sacred tradition. Its function is to make sure we're understanding that information correctly. So one of the ways that it helped us to do that was by identifying for example the canon of scripture ... It also helps us understand which items of sacred tradition are genuinely from Christ and the apostles ... that's its job ...

Unfortunately Luther felt very passionate about certain partifuclar ideas ... that were rejected by the Magesterium and he ended up rejecting the Mageisterium and to some extent rejecting sacred tradition. Even parts of sacred scripture. He rejected a number of books that are part of the Old Testament and even questioned or at times rejected books that are in the New Testament ...

... legend is that on October 31st Martin Luther nailed a document called the 95 Theses to the door of a chapel in Wittenberg, Germany. He did publish a document called the 95 Theses. They were proposals ... to be theologically debated and it appears though that the thing about him nailing it to a chapel door is a legend though ... Not everything in the 95 Theses is wrong. And the response of the Church to the 95 Theses, the Pope issued a papal bull called Exsurge Domine or Arise Lord. And in that he rejected about half of the propositions as incompatible with the Catholic faith. But he didn't [reject] the other half. So you know about half the 95 Theses are acutally understandable in an authentic way that's compatible with Catholic faith..."

Source material:

Exsurge Domine - Bull of Pope Leo X issued June 15, 1520


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum for Non-Catholics" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of the answer provided. For the complete response download the podcast.

Click icon for archived podcast answering this question in its entirety.

Show air date: October 30, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum for Non-Catholics

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 5:15

Social: Share:

This site is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

"...and upon this rock I will build My Church..." Matthew 16:18