4 Books That Made a Priest Leave the Church

It took Luther about eight years (1513-1521) to hammer out an understanding of the gospel. What Martin Luther was reading during this crucial time in his life?

The last book that turned a medieval priest into a true Reformer was the letter to the Hebrews. Luther began to embrace an entirely different understanding of how the Old and New Testaments relate to one another. He realized that the law is not simply the Old Testament and the gospel is the New Testament, but that the gospel of God can be seen as preached throughout both Old and New Testaments.


The year 2017 is the year of Martin Luther—or at least it should be. Nearly 500 years ago on October 31, 1517, Luther nailed (or “mailed,” for some historians debate this point) his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church.

Even so, Luther didn’t become a full-fledged protestor of the church in that single moment. It took him about eight years (1513-1521) to challenge and hammer out a more robust understanding of the gospel.

Have you ever wondered what Martin Luther was reading during this crucial time in his life? Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I thought at least someone else might be interested in what Luther was reading during his slow, but steady, transition out of the medieval church and into the world of reformation.

Remember, Luther’s goal wasn’t to invent or start an entirely new church. His goal was toreform the church and call her to repentance and faith in the abiding Word of God.

Here are four books Martin Luther read that made him question everything:

  1. The Psalms

Luther spent time studying and lecturing through the Psalms in the Bible. He began to realize that the Bible teaches we are not generally sinful, we are totally sinful. Here, Luther had the beginnings of what theologians later would refer to as “total depravity,” meaning that we are sinful in our thoughts, words, and deeds.

  1. Romans

After that, Luther lectured through Paul’s letter to the Romans. He came across Romans 1:17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” The last part of this verse is a direct quotation from Habakkuk 2:4.

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