The Reformation at 499

Yes, today is All Hallow's Eve, as tomorrow is All Saints Day, but let's not talk about what that's turned into. October 31st is also -- and more importantly -- Reformation Day. On this day in 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. That single act changed the course of history.

Luther leveled many complaints against the Roman Catholic Church over the following years, primarily focusing on papal bulls (edicts issued by the pope which then had the force of civil law), indulgences (essentially buying your way out of purgatory and into heaven), transubstantiation (the belief the bread and wine of Communion literally becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, only we can't physically tell the difference), and, most importantly, reclaiming the doctrine of justification by faith alone. More issues involved the translation of the Bible, clerical celibacy, and the failing moral life of the church. Put on trial, Luther held his ground; as a result, he was forced into hiding, although he never stopped his calls to reform. In short order he was joined by other reformers, most notably John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Menno Simons, and Thomas Cranmer.

Today marks 499 years since Luther took his stand and birthed the Protestant church. The things he protested are still largely in place, sadly, but we now face additional challenges from within our own ranks as well as from those outside the Church. New issues arise practically daily, ranging from pastoral scandals to a rejection of biblical authority and beyond. How will we meet those challenges? Will we cave in, allow the heretics to win and change the face of Christianity forever? Or we will continue to root out problems as they pop up like the reformers did? Let us rise beside Luther and say with him, "Here I stand; I can do no other."

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