Over the years, different historians have viewed Martin Luther very differently. Some have seen him as a spiritual think, concerned mainly with understanding God and reading the Bible. Others have seen him as a political or social revolutionary, eager to overturn an unjust system.
Professor Huston Smith (formerly of M.I.T., now at the University of California Berkeley) has his own interpretation of Luther. We should note that Professor Smith is, himself, a radical, having experimented with the famous Professor Timothy Leary in the use of hallucinogenic drugs to attempt to induce religious experiences. Anyway, Huston Smith writes that Martin Luther
allows expression to spiritual propensities that Christianity had insufficiently provided for, ones which (to pursue the matter of ethnic types) the Germanic temperament probably houses disproportionately. Centering in an extreme consciousness of human limitations, one so acute that it totally despairs of man's power to meliorate them, Luther turned directly to God. Faith in God's power to effect a change is the human access to that change, so faith, and faith alone - solo fide - is the key to the kingdom.
Professor Smith is saying that Luther was more likely, because he was German, to understand that human beings are essentially limited, and unable to help themselves. Humans need help from something beyond themselves, something they can't reach or grasp, something which must reach out to them, because they can reach out to it. That something is God.
This interpretation is radical because Smith is relying on the fact that Martin Luther is German to explain the unique and powerful impact of the Reformation. It is true that others before Luther had moved in the direction of a Reformations - Italians, Englishmen, Bohemians and Czechs - but can we say that Luther succeeded because he was German? Others will say that Luther succeeded because he had access to new technology (the printing press). Suffice it to say that there are many ways to understand the powerful impact of the Lutheran Reformation.