Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 06, 2012

Setting the Scene: The 95 Theses

What was going through Martin Luther’s head when he resorted to nail and hammer and fastened the 95 Theses to the Castle Church door? It has been theorized that, since the Theses were written in Latin, he believed that only the scholars would be able to read his incendiary and heartfelt words and provide the catalyst for a proper debate. It is unlikely he expected to change the world or eventually create an entirely new doctrine that differed from what the Catholic Church had been teaching for over a thousand years.

So what was his goal? He wanted to get people to think. To think about indulgences and their practicality --- or lack thereof. To think about the pope’s dominion over Holy Roman Empire-owned Germany. To think about their faith, their conscience, and their future. Martin Luther was deeply offended by contemporary practices and wanted to give the people an alternative to the only Church they had ever known. 

He wanted to teach these valuable words: “The just shall live by faith.” It was a concept few had ever considered. I like to imagine that scene, October 31, 1517. Preparations for All Saints’ Day would have been underway. Perhaps Luther was thinking of that observance. October in Germany was most likely chilly, and I can picture his heavy black robes blowing out in all directions in that certain autumn-scented breeze that we hayride-loving, pumpkin-picking Americans know so well. Few people would have noted his presence. It was commonplace to nail all sorts of notices on the door for the people of Wittenberg to see, and this monk probably interested them very little.

Any scholars might have noted his presence with passing interest, seeing that there would be something new for them to read and perhaps argue about. But once men began to read the 95 Theses, they set to work translating it into German. They put the printing presses to good use. Soon, what began as an invitation to scholarly debate began a revolution of Reformation thought and doctrine that the world had never before seen. Was this Martin Luther’s goal? Most assuredly not. But the result was the freedom of heart, mind, soul, and spirit --- and that was a reaction of which he could be very proud.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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