Today is not only Halloween, but also the day a German monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, back in 1517. By doing so, Luther unwittingly started what became known as the Protestant Reformation.
Luther’s action was originally meant as a protest against the Catholic Church’s practice of selling “indulgences” or “get out of Hell…and spring a few relatives as well…free cards.” The practice by the Church was more of a fundraising scheme than an actual help for people. Luther objected on the grounds that God’s grace, given through faith in the death of Christ, and His resurrection, saves someone. You can’t buy your way to eternal life, in other words.
Now, there’s some dispute over whether or not Luther actually did nail his theses to the door of Castle Church. The story was first told by Phillip Melanchthon, a close friend of Luther’s and a fellow leader of the Reformation. The church door was a place to post public declarations after all. But regardless, Luther’s attack of the Church’s practice of selling indulgences was very real and led to the greatest shake-up of faith in history.
I was fortunate to travel to Wittenberg on business in 2017 for a story on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s defiant act. It was a great experience for a history buff like as myself to be able to walk where such an important historical figure also walked. It is amazing how what seems at the time to be simple things, menial in fact, can alter the course of humanity.
Happy Reformation Day!