On All Hallows Eve (Oct. 31), one of my professors at Bible college came dressed in the traditional garb of a Lutheran minister. This struck me as unusual, but he explained he was doing so in honor of Martin Luther, who posted his 95 Theses hundreds of years earlier on October 31, 1517, in Wittenberg, Germany.
He had written, “If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty” (theses 23 & 24).
Luther “published” his 95 Theses, nailing them to the door of a Wittenberg church, to announce his opposition to papal decrees on indulgences and other matters of faith. (Nailing notices to the church door was a common practice.) Luther had undergone an extensive personal “reformation,” drawing nearer to Jesus through the revelation of scripture, having studied St. Paul’s letter to the Romans for some years. He concluded that salvation was by faith only.
The net effect is that hundreds of years later, the Church is reformed. The Catholic Church does not sell indulgences, and while some other practices and beliefs remain, the gospel of faith is preached. Protestants continue to influence the movement of faith in the Church Universal.
My own church, Mountain Bible Church, and the local Catholic church, Christ Child, sponsor a sunrise service on Easter. That the practice of our religion and even some of the tenets of our faith are different is no matter. We each confess Jesus as savior; we each hold to the ancient creeds. At the service, a member from each congregation speaks, relating his or her personal experience with Christ. I often hear people comment afterward how similar our stories are. That is the legacy of the Reformation — not simply as a Protestant achievement, but as a work of God in the life of the church.
Read about Martin Luther in Glimpses, “October 31, 1517 • Luther Posted His 95 Theses.”
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