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HALLOWEEN 1517

On Halloween this year, many of us Protestants will be celebrating a watershed event in the history of Christianity. On October 31, 1517, an obscure, German monk, posted his grievances on the door of Castle Church on the campus of the University of Wittenberg. The door of this chapel served as a sort of bulletin board of announcements for the campus and the church. And this German Monk, Martin Luther, was announcing to the Catholic Church and to the world that he’d had enough! 
The document that Martin Luther nailed to the chapel door contained 95 theses outlining his grievances against certain practices of the Catholic Church of Rome. Without going into great detail, Luther was offended by the use of indulgences, or the ability for the Pope to grant penance for sin in exchange for monetary gifts and/or good works. Little did he realize that his discontent with Rome would launch a movement that would propel Christianity into a broader acceptance outside of the bounds of Catholicism for the next half of a millenia! 
Martin Luther was a young monk who was eagerly pursuing religious enlightenment but was unsatisfied. So, in an effort to help guide this young monk, his “District Superintendent” sent him to Rome for a church conference. Sound familiar pastors? Well, this proved to discourage him further as he witnessed the corruption of priests first hand. Is it eerie yet? Thus, when he returned to Germany he pursued the academic side of religion. 
As an academic, Martin Luther found enlightenment through the study of Scriptures. One day, as he was preparing a lecture, he read in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome “the just will live by faith.” As he pondered this passage and the current state of religious dogma, he became convicted that the path to salvation was only through faith in God and not works driven by a “fear” of God. This proclamation of salvation by faith driven by his belief in the central authority of the Bible, created two of the foundational tenets of the Protestant Reformation. 
I am most certainly not a Lutheran scholar, and most who know me would scoff at even insinuating my scholarship in anything. But, what I am, is eternally grateful to a German Monk who was courageous enough to heed the call of the Spirit to stand up against the religious authority that was in the wrong. I believe the religious experiment into a new dogma of belief, worship, and discipleship has weathered the test of time. But I also believe that we are facing a new culture where young pastors will again seek new ways to live into God’s truth. And like Martin Luther, courageous men and women of faith will be required to challenge religious institutions to continue to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” 

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