October 31, 1517:  Martin Luther and The Day That Changed the World by Martin E. Marty

Five Hundred Years ago Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to a Chapel Door in Wittenberg, Germany.  The Catholic Church and Lutheran church have Reconciled a battle that ignited the reformation, divided the Catholic Church including the 30 years war between Protestants and Catholics (1618-48), and contributed to fractures within the Catholic Church and a splintering of the Christian faith into many denominations.  

This little book is an easy quick read on the this day in history and the aftermath. Today we have the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.  My take is Martin Luther, a gregarious and loud fellow, possessed a charismatic personality and a wonderfully flawed character that led him to challenge the authority of the time on an issue that he was justifiably accurate with his position (abuse and questioning the theological basis of indulgences).  However, he lacked the power and influence to engage the church from within and had the zeal and arrogance to attack the faith from the outside.  The times were ready for change and he lit the match on the priestly culture of the period that left believers scorched by a spiritual drought that was ready to burn.  The church and the unity of the Christian faith was never the same again (for better or worse).  

I grossly over simplified the 95 Thesis – but the heart of the matter is to what extent can man atone for his sins and God’s grace and mercy is primary.  The ecumenical healing and unification of Christianity, understanding our human limitations at defining divine absolute truths throughout history, calls for us to have rich dialogue, religious tolerance, and an abundance of compassion and mercy.

There is a legitimate question as to whether or not he ever literally nailed the 95 Thesis to the church door.  I have it fixed in my mind that he penned the Thesis in a tavern, marched to the chapel with the prodding of some mates and the disapproval of others, and nailed the Thesis with a hammer borrowed from the bartender who had listened to his fury on many a night.  No one thought much would come of it, just something that needed to be done and Luther was up to the challenge.  We all should have a little bit of Luther in us!

Recent News Story on Reconciliation:


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