Monday, October 31, 2005

Celebrate the day!

Today is Reformation Day.

On October 31, 1517, (the generally accepted date) Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This has traditionally been considered the starting point of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther wrote the theses in reaction to abuses in the sale of plenary indulgence. (In Roman Catholic theology, an indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to God for sin; and “plenary” indulgence is total and complete forgiveness.)

The impression was given that it would not only remit the guilt and penalties of even the most serious sins, but that its benefits could be applied to the dead in purgatory. Luther challenged this teaching because it led people to believe that forgiveness could be bought, and to neglect true repentance. In addition, he denied the pope’s power over purgatory, and stated that the believer always has true forgiveness without indulgences. Luther also condemned the interest shown in money rather than lost souls.

The fact that he posted the “Theses” in and of itself, was not a big deal. The door of the Church was often used a “bulletin board” of sorts, posting topics for debate. However, in this case, the theses which were written in Latin, were translated into German, printed, and circulated throughout Germany, arousing a storm of protest against the sale of indulgences.

A Monk by the name of Johann Tetzel, was selling the indulgences on behalf of the Pope, and making a tidy income for the Roman Catholic Church. And we all know what happens when income starts to be affected! (See Acts 16:16-24 and Acts 19:23-28 for a couple of stories of lost income.) When the sale of indulgences was seriously impaired, the papacy sought to silence Luther.

The major tenets of Luther’s theology were:
1) Sola Scriptura - By Scripture alone
2) Sola Gratis - By Grace alone
3) Sola fide - By Faith alone

And I will have to say - I agree with him!

Oh, by the way - for the Methodists who read this - It was the reading of Luther’s preface to the book of Romans in 1738 that led John Wesley to his Aldersgate experience and the feeling of his heart “strangely warmed.” This experience began Wesley’s journey to the understanding of “justification by faith alone.”

And here you thought today was Halloween!

Father, sometimes we want to raise something simply for the sake of “debate” or “awareness.” However, You have other ideas.

If we are to be the instruments of change or must take the course of leadership - give us courage to stand in the face of opposition, knowing that we never stand alone.

In Jesus’ name - Amen.

Have a great day!

Betty

2 Comments:

Blogger SicSemperTyrannus said...

Oct 31, 2005 marks the beginning of a reformation in the UMC as well with the Judicial Council's decisions. Praise the Lord.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Betty Newman said...

I certainly hope you're right. But we both know, we've got a long way to go.

You know, I got to thinking, much has been said about Rosa Park's "stand" (maybe that is her "sit"!) but she, herself said, that she had no intention of sparking such a movement. She was just tired of it all.

I thought about that when I was writing the prayer for this devotion. Luther, it seems, did not intend to spark a "movement" either, but God did!

Perhaps this JC decision will spark the movement to bring us back to "Scriptural Holiness" as Wesley would have said.

Thanks for your comment.

Betty

12:20 PM  

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