Today, October 31, 2019, is the 502nd anniversary of when Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-five Theses” on the door of Castle Church* in Wittenberg, Germany. Little did he know that on October 31, 1517, he was making such a historical impact on the world. Because from here, different denominations were born as they broke away from the Roman Catholic Church.
The celebration of Halloween seems to have overshadowed this holiday. I didn’t even know it existed until 2017 when by chance I heard it was the 500th anniversary. Having studied a little history of the Protestant Reformation, learning there was an official holiday intrigued me. Did you know about this holiday?
Luther’s history is interesting. Although his parents were peasants, they sacrificed to give Martin an education. He started to study law, but after a frightful experience in the woods, he joined the monastery. He was ordained a priest in May 1507. Still fears of God’s judgement tormented him. While teaching at the University of Wittenberg, he studied the Holy Scriptures.
From his study, he concluded that a person’s salvation depends on grace from God through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During this time, a monk named Tetzel was selling indulgences which people could purchase. The indulgences promised forgiveness without repentance, essentially saying you could buy your way to heaven. Luther objected to the sale of indulgences and to many other abuses. He sent a copy to the Archbishop Albrecht, who sent the copy on to Pope Leo.
A huge debate (or I call fight) started and Luther was denounced as a heretic. Luther stood on what the Bible said throughout his trial.
Results of Reformation
He was very brave to stand up against the unbiblical teachings of the time. From his actions, a new order of church was born. Other reformers followed such as Zwingli in Switzerland and John Calvin in France.
The Reformation caused problems within Christianity including wars because of disagreements over religious practices. This is sad. However, the Reformation brought to light “power-hungry church leaders and re-established the supremacy of both Christ and Holy Scriptures” (p. 110, Story of the Middle Ages, Michael J. McHugh and John Southworth).
Today, we can list many Protestant churches, all born after the breaking away from or protesting of the Roman Catholic Church. While doctrines differ, all are founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Today, some Roman Catholic Churches also celebrate Reformation Day. Jesus wants us to be unified not divided. The important point is that all church leaders whatever their denomination should teach the truth in what the Bible says without distorting it.
It is because of the actions of Luther that we have come to where we are today, able to study the Bible for ourselves and to choose from a variety of translations which came about from brave people like William Tyndale who translated the Bible into English when it was illegal.
Happy Reformation Day!
So, Happy Reformation Day 2019!
If anyone tells you that one person can’t make a difference, tell them about Martin Luther. Each of us may be only one person, but we make a difference in what we do. Our lives affect others. Our lives matter.
In remembrance, what will you do today to stand up to an injustice and change the world? Remember even the simplest gestures of kindness make a difference in making the world a better place.
*Collier’s Encyclopedia says Castle Church, but Wikipedia says All Saints’ Church.
For more information about the importance of reading Scripture, check out these blogs: https://www.michellekaderlywelsh.com/transform-your-thought-life-through-meditation/ or https://www.michellekaderlywelsh.com/how-to-break-away-from-negative-thinking/