Commemorating the protestant reformation – Part 1
On October 31, 2017, Christians from different countries gathered in Germany to commemorate the Five hundred years of the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther (1483–1546) and the Protestant Reformation. For many, the history of the Reformation is obscure and far remote. Pentecostalism may never have been what it is today, but for the Protestant Reformation, which is why I am taking time to relive this account.
Some argue that the Reformation did not start with Martin Luther, but that he was the “Battle-axe of the Reformation.” Before him were others like, John Wycliffe and John Hus; and after him were others like John Calvin, John Knox and George Fox. Robert Liardon has described these collective as the “Roaring Reformers.”
In 1501, when Martin Luther was about attaining his goal to be a lawyer he was knocked down by a violent thunderstorm that threatened his life. As he later wrote, “I was besieged by the terror and agony of sudden death!” Following this experience, he vowed to be a monk if God spared his life.
Martin joined an Augustinian monastery and tried to observe all the Christian tenets he thought would bring him into a right relationship with God. Becoming a monk, he taught at the newly founded University of Wittenberg. By 1507 he was ordained a priest, and later he made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1510.
Stand for the Truth
Climbing the steps of the Basilica, he pondered the corruption he saw in the Roman Catholic Church, the unscrupulous spiritual leaders, the indulgences, and the manipulative fundraising tactics. (A practice we still find in some churches today). Unable to stand the grievous and widespread unscriptural practices, Martin Luther composed a “Disputation on the Power of Indulgences” (95 Theses) and nailed it to the door of All Saints Church. The date was Oct. 31, 1517.
Vendor of indulgences
In 1516, a Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel, came to Germany to sell indulgences of certificate issued by Pope Leo X. Tetzel persuasion ran like this:
“As soon as the money in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”Luther debunked Tetzel’s arguments as lacking any scriptural basis.
Martin Luther regularly engaged in public debates on religious reforms. He declared that: “(1) anyone who believed in Christ and has been baptized is a priest before God; (2) there is no special spiritual plan preferring and person over another; (3) there is no human mediator, namely, a priest, in a person’s relationship with God; and (4) any and every Christian can proclaim the Word of God.”
By 1521 a papal decree was issued which declared him a heretic and excommunicated him. He was called to recant his theses before an assembly (Imperial Diet); rather he withdrew for a night of prayer, then came out to boldly declare his stand based on Scripture and conscience: “Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open clear and distinct grounds and reasoning—and my conscience is captive to the Word of God—then I cannot and will not recant, …“Here I stand: I can do no other.”
The invention of the printing press helped spread his teachings like wildfire. And while he was branded an outlaw and his writings were burned, his friends took him to a sanctuary in a castle in Wartburg, where he translated the Scripture into the vernacular of the people.
May God give us courageous men like Martin Luther through whom the spirit of Reformation would return once more to the Church. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org
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