Clinical and Pastoral Implications of the Ministry of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation


grace, legalism, antinomianism, Martin Luther, scrupulosity, mental health


While acknowledging that many theological beliefs and religious practices facilitate mental health and emotional stability, the major purpose of this paper is to identify and demonstrate that some of these same beliefs and practices can also contribute to mental instability if understood incorrectly and practiced unwisely. The unique content of this paper is a pastoral, clinical, and historical narrative concerning the relationships of religious belief and practice with the mental health of 16th century priest, pastor, professor, and Protestant reformer Martin Luther. Specifically, this paper discusses Luther’s personal experiences with mental and emotional instability, including depression and scrupulosity, and explores ways that discovering and embracing the principle of grace assisted him in dealing with his own mental and emotional crises. This paper also treats ways that both psychological and theological understanding of the relationship between the doctrinal principles of grace and human volition can assist both health care professionals and clergy to provide effective care to those they serve.

Original Publication Citation

Judd, D. K. (2016). Clinical and Pastoral Implications of the Ministry of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Open Theology, 2(1), 324-337.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



De Gruyter




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor