Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day

Happy Reformation Day, the day that celebrates the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Yes, I know that in American culture October 31 is dominated by the celebration of Halloween and “trick or treating”. But on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther posted a proposal to the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the Catholic doctrine and practice of indulgences.

The proposal is more popularly known as the 95 theses. Initially it was not so much an act of protest since the door (pictured) was something of a community bulletin board where others also posted information. Nevertheless, the proposal created a controversy with Luther and the Pope and ultimately Protestantism was birthed.

Luther and others believed that the theology of indulgences was not biblical and worse, corrupt clergy were selling indulgences. Basically an indulgence was a paper declaring that a deceased person for whom the indulgence had been purchased had received total forgiveness of sins and therefore a release from Purgatory. The selling of indulgences was financing the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Today I give thanks for the reformation. Because of it there was a chain reaction, if you will, that brought about a renewed emphasis that salvation is by faith in Christ; biblical literacy for the common man (previously only priests read the scriptures); and priesthood of the believer (where every believer has direct access to God without a human mediator).

Reformation Day also reminds me that the church is regularly in need of reforming. Today’s church is distracted from the mission of Christ, self-centered with a consumerist mindset, improperly focused on buildings and insufficiently engaged in biblical issues regarding poverty and injustice.

I love the church and I’ve committed my life to serving Christ and His church so I’m not just being critical. I’m identifying what we, current day reformers, must be about. May we have a great, powerful and pervasive Reformation Day!

1 comment:

Lisau said...

AMEN! Amen, to the fact that the reformation, which undoubtably took much courage....AND AMEN to the fact that the church as an "institution" must continually look within to discern if any reform is needed! Sometimes we believe that institutions bring about more efficent means to bring about change, but more efficency doesn't always mean that it's God's will. Lisa U.