He knew only what had been passed down for generations through the tradition of Roman Catholicism and the myths of German paganism: God was angry and Jesus was a hard and impossible-to please Judge who delighted in sending men, women, and children to hell. Luther lay awake quivering many nights as a boy, afraid of the goblins and demons that religion taught lived in the woods.
Roberts Liardon tells us that the Dark Ages were what they were because there was no light of truth from the Gospel penetrating the hearts of the people. It was illegal for a common man to own a Bible. The only Bibles available were in Latin, for the exclusive use of the priests, many of whom had never read them. Spiritual darkness always ends up making entire territories, nations, and, in this case, continents dark in every walk of life. And for sensitive Luther, these wrong teachings about God brought unending torment. Convinced that the only answer for pleasing God was to become a monk, he joined the priesthood. Much to the devil’s dismay, Luther came into contact with the Bible. Educated in Latin as a boy, he dug through it with ease and even learned Greek to further examine the texts.
Roberts Liardon tells us that Luther was a man on a mission. His mission was not to expose the errors of religion but simply to make peace with God. Luther’s story is one that shows the power of what can happen to someone who gets into God’s Word and doesn’t come out. The light of revelation began to shine in Luther’s dark mind, leaving no shadows where the devil could torment him. He didn’t get into trouble until he wanted to share the Good News with his mentor and other leaders. He also got in trouble for having some questions that, if it weren’t for divine providence, could have gotten him burned at the stake. These ninety-five questions, known as the Ninety-Five Theses, are printed in their entirety at the end of this chapter. The revelations of most of the biblical truths we consider common today came from them.