Martin Luther vs. Henry Viii

Martin Luther vs. Henry VIII
Martin Luther and England’s King Henry VIII lived at the same time, yet lived very different lives and had very different goals. In many ways, their lives show some interesting parallels and had everything to do with their motives in changing the church. Luther’s motivation appears to be the need for acceptance by God and his urge to see things made right. Henry’s motives seem to be driven by his very real need for an heir.

Luther didn’t want a fight with the church; he was in a battle for the church. His original approach was one of academia; he didn’t start out wanting to be a revolutionary. It is reasonable to assume that Luther didn't want to overthrow the Church, but to introduce reasoned debate or reformation of the Roman Catholic Church when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the University of Wittenberg in 1517. Meanwhile, Henry had married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon. Catherine, bearing only one surviving child Mary, was no longer able to conceive. At that time, Henry fell in love with Anne Boleyn, the sister of one of his mistresses. Henry didn’t need just any child, he needed a son and so he didn’t count Mary, his only daughter by Catherine, as a child. With this mindset, he petitioned the pope for an annulment. By contrast, things of this earth did not concern Luther as much as things eternal did. He had entered the monastery searching for peace, but didn’t find it. Fear of a righteous and holy God, impossible to please, led him to works: fasts, constant confessions, prayers and pilgrimages. The more he tried to please God with his works, the more impossible it seemed. In 1508, Luther began teaching at the University of Wittenberg and in 1512 he achieved a Doctorate of Theology. Luther's new duties served to drive him deeper into Scripture. Before long, Luther became convinced that the Roman Catholic Church had fallen away from several key truths of the Bible and had perverted others. Johann...