Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Reformation Day!

Who is this dashing man to the left? Why, it's Martin Luther! And even though it looks like he's wearing a French beret, he was German. And it's to this German that we can trace our Protestant roots.

On this day in history, back in 1517, Martin Luther posted a document on the doors of a church in Wittenburg. Back in the day, there was no email (I know, this will take some imagination), so nailing letters on church doors was not quite as revolutionary (or liable to property damage) as it would be today. It was simply a way to get a message out and start a discussion.

Well, Martin's message was radical. He addressed the issue of indulgences, which is a fancy way of saying in order to get your sins forgiven, you pay the church money, fulfill your acts of penance, and the priest will reduce your time in purgatory. Thanks to these indulgences, we now have beautiful buildings like St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. (I've been there and she's a beaut. I name-drop when I can. It's a terrible vice). But while our boy Marty talked about indulgences, what really got him into trouble and started this whole Reformation that we celebrate today was the issue of papal authority. In other words, who is the ultimate authority? Who gets to decide about the forgiveness of sins? The church, represented by the Pope (the Latin word is papal) or the Holy Scriptures?

Stay tuned for the rest of the story.....


Sheldon Kotyk said...

I don't think it's a beret. I think it is one of those tacky bible covers that lets you carry your bible and a years worth of bulletins (you never know when you may need that sermon note right?)

michael said...

Huh. I hate to admit it, but seeing his portrait is kind of a disappointment. For a while now I have been picturing him looking like Joseph Fiennes in Luther.

drh said...

I was going to go out and watch Luther.

Spoiler alert!