October 31, 2005
This is the date that, in 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. Or maybe he didn't. The first known account of the actual nailing of the Theses didn't appear until after Luther's death, and there is some discussion among historians over whether it actually happened or not. It is in keeping with the practice of the day -- theses were traditionally nailed up when they were to be presented for debate, and Luther could have done just that, hoping for a debate that would spark reform within the Catholic church. At the very least, Luther's concerns as expressed in the Theses were made known to his superiors -- his opposition to Papal indulgences and many of the other problems in the church resulted in his condemnation and the beginning of the Lutheran church and Protestant Christianity.
I think it's interesting that one of the web sites that you find when searching for "Reformation Day" includes the question "Why is Reformation Day such an important Christian festival?" I would say that it is an ignored Christian festival. Ask the average Christian in the street what Reformation Day is, and they probably won't have much of a clue. Most churches are more concerned with organizing their Hell House and having hayrides for their Fall Festival than they are in teaching the historic origins of Protestant Christianity, or teaching what they were protesting to begin with.
It's a perfect opportunity to remember the Reformation slogan -- Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda -- The church reformed and always to be reformed. We need to always be careful that our beliefs and practices are based firmly on Scripture, and not on traditions, and we need to be willing to make changes when we are out of line. That, if nothing else, is what we must learn from the Reformation.
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