Celebrating 500 Years of Reformation

This year on October 31st marks the 500 anniversary of The Protestant Reformation and we wanted to celebrate with a little bit of a history lesson!
A Lutheran group rented the Roman Catholic cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri, for a meeting. The priest greeted them with this comment: “We are pleased to provide the cathedral. Please don’t nail anything to the doors this time.” The crowd roared.

Martin Luther & the 95 Theses

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his theses on the chapel door in Wittenberg. That time, no one laughed. At first, his theses upset only a few scholars. Pope Leo X muttered, “Luther is a drunk German. He’ll recant when he’s sober.”
Three years later, Leo X realized that, if Luther was still drunk, his intoxicated condition must be permanent and that some response was needed. The pope published a bull entitled, “Arise, O Lord”—remember a “bull” had nothing to do with beef; it was a notice written in the pope’s name.
“A wild pig,” Leo’s bull lamented, “has invaded the Lord’s vineyard!” The “wild pig” was Luther; the “vineyard” was the church. Martin Luther responded by broiling Leo’s bull in a bonfire.
Two months later, Luther received a letter from the Holy Roman Emperor. The letter read, “Come under safe conduct, to answer with regard to your books.”
The Latin word for an imperial meeting is diet, and the meeting would occur in the German city of Worms. So the meeting became known as the Diet of Worms. (And no, I’m not making that up.)
Martin expected to die at the Diet of Worms—which is probably how I would feel about a diet of worms too, though for very different reasons. Martin had good reason to fear the Diet: Remember what had happened a century earlier when an emperor had promised safe conduct to Jan Hus? Hus was burned at the stake. How could Luther possibly escape the same fate?
The diet began on April 15. A bishop pointed to a heap of books on the floor. He asked Martin, “Did you write these?” “They are all mine,” Martin answered. “Do you defend them?” the bishop demanded. This time, Martin did not reply with his typical boldness. Instead, he whispered, “Give me time to think it over.” The next day, the bishop posed the same question.
As sweat flowed from Martin’s face, he replied: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God, help me.”
Martin would have suffered the same fate as Hus, but the ruler of Saxony secretly sent soldiers to safeguard him. As Martin headed home, five men attacked his wagon. They blindfolded him and took him to an abandoned castle. Martin had been kidnapped to save his life.
Continue reading more about the colossal domino effect Martin Luther’s theses had on the rest of the world and about the more appetizing “diet of sausages” in Dr. Timothy Paul Jones’ Christian History Made Easy.

Learn More

The Reformation Time Line Pamphlet
Christian History Made Easy




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