Theme: Freedom in Christ vs Tyranny of Religion
The film, Luther, is more than a historical presentation of the life of Martin Luther and his role in the Reformation. This film vividly portrays the spiritual growth of an individual. As the Spirit of Christ grows within Luther, he comes into increasing conflict with the religious hierarchy of his day. This is no less true for him than it was for Jesus Christ. Religion vs. Relationship is at the heart of this movie.
There are many metaphors used in the Scriptures to describe the relationship between God and His children; such as, Potter/Clay, Shepherd/Sheep, Master/Servant, Father/Child, Friend/Friend, Bridegroom/Bride. It is interesting to note that in an ascending order, these metaphors are pictures of spiritual growth. Seen in the film, Luther passes through each stage, growing in the freedom that is found in Christ. As he does, it is the religious system that seeks to destroy the Christ in him
Luther: The opening scene - The Potter making a vessel of clay out of water, earth, wind, and fire.
Religion: Ordination - Luther's response to his encounter with God is, "I'll become a monk."
Luther: Fear - a Shepherd tells him to bind himself to Christ. "I am yours, save me." (Psalm 23)
Religion: Indoctrination - The steps in Rome; sheep with no Shepherd.
Luther: Sermons and teaching in Wittenberg - The servant boldly proclaims the Gospel and the God he has come to know.
Religion: Confrontation - Johan Tetzel and the selling of indulgences - The people are sold into slavery to a harsh master.
Luther: Childlike innocence - He cannot deny the Gospel for the word of man; he gives grace to his own father and to the fatherless child. He is becoming more like his Father in Heaven.
Religion: Accusation - The meeting with Cardinal Cajetan - They want only one word from the naughty child - "recant".
Luther: Excommunicated - He is led into Worms with the people cheering, "Did you think there would be no cost"? He is willing to lay his life down (John 15:12-16).
Religion: Trial -The doctrines of men vs. the Scriptures and conscience.
Luther: Destiny and release - He becomes a bridegroom and gives the gift of the New Testament in German. He knows the God of Compassion and Truth (Luke 15:11-32).
Religion: Reformation - The confession of faith triumphs. The "religious system" is bankrupt and dead.
It would be unwise to view this movie as an indictment against Roman Catholicism. It is, however, an indictment against worldly corrupt religion and the pride of men, which is always the true enemy of Christendom and the Spirit of Christ.
Scripture: Psalm 40:2-4