October 5, 2017

What started the Protestant Reformation?

We have such a rich history as United Methodists and I believe it is so important for us to learn and understand more about that history so that we might have a deeper appreciation for the church, which will help us evolve throughout our time. Over the next few weeks, leading up to Reformation Sunday on October 29, 2017, I will be sharing some history about the Protestant Reformation to help you build a basic understanding of the events. Here are 3 quick things you need to know to better understand how it all got started!

#1: Igniting the Reformation
It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther made a very bold and public disagreement with the church when he created a list of 95 questions for debate (also known as “95 Theses”). He nailed the list to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in a move that would go down in history as the act that ignited the Protestant Reformation.

#2: The disagreement
Second, the document was written in a humble and academic tone and was questioning rather than accusing, but was controversial, nonetheless! While he expressed 95 individual issues, primarily the entire document focused on two major issues. The first issue was Luther’s commitment to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and secondly, he objected the practice of selling indulgences. An indulgence was a payment to the Church for an exemption from punishment (penance) for some types of sins.

#3: Standing by his words
Luther would eventually be declared a heretic and excommunicated from the church and yet, he refused to back down from his beliefs, saying, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God,” Luther declared. “I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

You can read more about Martin Luther in my post, “Am I Good Enough”

Marsha and I standing in front of the doors at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the place where Luther posted 95 things he wanted to discuss with the church that began the Protestant Reformation and changed the world!