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Historical Documents

This page includes a data base of documents by the major religious leaders of the Sixteenth Century, and news articles from the 400th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 1917.

Martin Luther and the Reformation

The 95 Theses

Luther's Explanations of the 95 Theses

Luther's 95 Theses (Educational Video - 11 minutes)

The Heidelberg Disputation - Thesis Only

Luther's presentation to the Augustinian Monks on indulgences and the pope in 1518

The Heidelberg Disputation - with Proof

Luther at Worms - 400th Anniversary (1921)

Diet of Worms Papers (1520-21)

Excerpts from the personal letters of Martin Luther before, during, and after the historic meeting before the Emperor and Electors at Worms in April 1521.

Account of a Christian Woman

Letter to Albert of Mainz on Indulgences from Martin Luther

Luther's letter to the new archbishop of Saxony on the relationship of the sale of indulgences to the purchase of his office.

Image of a Letter of Indulgence

Johann Tetzel's Sermon on Indulgences

Selected Sermons by Pastor Martin Luther

Luther's Christmas Sermon, 1521
Pentecost Sermon, 1523
Walk as Christians
The Power of Christ's Resurrection
Paul's Praise of Christian Love
Luther on Confession and the Lord's Supper
Two Kinds of Righteousness  (March 9, 1519) (Lent)

The righteousness of God and the righteousness which is a result of our faith.  When we believe in Jesus Christ we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we consciously try to live our lives with these gifts: love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, patience, self-control, and gentleness.,

Eight Sermons in the First Week of Lent, March 1522

These are Luther's first instructional sermons after his excommunication in 1521.  They are extremely powerful in that they develop reflective thinking on the part of the believer.

First Sermon  (The importance of faith, love, trust, and patience in life)
Second Sermon  (The power of God's Word in our life)
Third Sermon  (How faith leads us to a life of good works)
Fourth Sermon  (God's love in our hearts and lives is what matters. The outward expression of worshiping images isnot an example of faith)
Fifth Sermon  (The Sacrament of the Altar - Holy Communion)
Sixth Sermon  (The Sacrament of the Altar - How our faith is related to Holy Communion with Jesus Christ)
Seventh Sermon  (The Sacrament of the Altar - How our lives are changed when we receive the sacrament of Holy Communion)
Eighth Sermon  (The importance of confession and absolution - especially regarding our sins against each other)
Good Friday Sermon   (April 1519)  (The three parts of this sermon are: A)False Views of Christ's Suffering, B)True Views of Christ's Suffering, and C)Comfort in Christ's Suffering)

The Christmas Archives (History of the Christmas Tree)

An explanation by Countess Maria Hubert von Staufer on the origins of the Christmas tree from the 5th century to the present.

Funeral Address for Martin Luther (1546)

Philip Melanchthon commemorates Luther's contributions and compares his direct way of speaking and writing to the way God spoke a divine message to the people of Israel through Jeremiah.

Sir Thomas More's Response to Luther

Thomas More was the Lord Chancellor in England and disagreed with Luther on marriage for priests, loyalty to the pope, and the importance of good works.

Luther's Position on the Threat of the Islamic Invasion into Europe  (1528) 

The events prior to Luther's statement on the territorial expansion of Sulemien the Magnificient and the Turks were the invasion into Hungary in 1526 and the sack of Rome in 1527. The pope and Roman Catholic Church in Italy was not in a position to stop them and the other European rulers appeared willing to negotiate because of their economic interests.  Luther arguments oppose the aggressiveness of the Turks regarding their culture, military power, treatment of the conquered, and denial of Jesus Christ as God. (20 pp)

Philip Melanchthon on Educational Reform (1524)

The Augsburg Confession (The presentation of the teachings of the Lutheran Church to Emperor Charles V on June 30, 1530) The selections below are excerpts taken from the Augsburg Confession with applications to today with discussion questions. For the original statements of the Confession, visit

Article 1
Article 2
Original Sin
Article 3
Article 4
Article 5
Article 6
Article 7
The Church
Article 8
The Church
Article 9
Article 10
Article 11
Article 12
Article 13
Use of
Article 14
Article 15
Article 16
Civil Affairs
Article 17
Last Day
Article 18
Free Will
Article 19
Article 20
Good Works
Article 21
Article 22
Article 23
Marriage of
Article 24
The Mass

Centennial Remembrances

400 Years in Music (1917)

The news report of the large celebration in New York on the 400th anniversary of the Reformation

Monument to Protestantism (Memorial Church in Germany, 1900)

The Birthday of Luther (1883)

The news report on the 400th birthday of Martin Luther on Nov. 10, 1883.

The Protestant Reformation at 400 Years

The Protestant Reformation at 426 Years

Luther's Hymns  Historical News Article (1917)

The History of the Christmas Carol, Away in a Manger 

Tradition and legend credits Luther's Crade Song with Away in a Manger. This analysis by Richard S. Hill, is a comprehensive essay on the origins of this popular Christmas carol.

John Calvin and the Reformation

Calvin is associated with the Reformed church.

Excerpts From the Institutes of the Christian Religion

Justification by Faith - Repentance

Justification by Faith - Repentance

Doctrine of the Election - Part 1 (The Danger of Curiosity)

Doctrine of the Election - Part 2 (Predestination in the Holy Bible)

Doctrine of the Election - Part 3 (Predestination and Heaven)

Doctrine of the Election - Part 4 (Divine Wisdom)

Doctrine of the Election - Part 5 (Examples in the Old Testament)

Doctrine of the Election - Part 6 (God's Love and Grace)

Ulrich Zwingli and the Reformation

Zwingli is associated with the Methodist church.

The 67 Articles

Zwingli's teachings on morality and Christian living are explained in this document.

Zwingli's Sermon The Shepherd: Who is the True Pastor, 1523

John Knox and the Reformation

Knox is associated with the Presbyterian church in Scotland and the Puritan beliefs in England.

Legacy of John Knox on the 400th Anniversary of His Death (Dr. Ernest T. Campbell at The Riverside Church in NYC)

The Global Spread of the Reformation

Elizabeth Fedde's Diary, 1883-1888