Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Luther's Revolution

Many will dress up in Halloween costume today. One in three adult Americans, and the majority of children and teens.  Take a minute between rings of your door bell and consider one of the greatest revolutions of all time.  Not ours from British rule, not the French overthrow of the monarchy, not those in the recent Arab spring.  Today, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Luther's act began the Protestant revolution, leading Christians away from the moral and intellectual domination of the Pope and the Catholic Church.  Luther's proposition was that absolution from sin was not achieved by buying a pardon, called "indulgence" from the church, but rather by acts of love and submission to the will of God.  His act was as life-threatening as the capital crime committed by our Founding Fathers when they signed the Declaration of Independence.  Luther was excommunicated, giving anyone permission to kill him without consequence. 

Luther did not mince words.  He took his case directly to the Papacy. Here are some of my favorite from the 95.  Read an excellent presentation of them all at this site.

  • It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty. 24
  • There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest. 27
  • No one is sure of the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness. 30
  • Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence 36
  • Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties. 44
  • Again: since the pope's income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers? 86
  • These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy. 90
  • And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace. 95

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