The far, far lesser known holiday celebrated on October 31st is Reformation Day. It is the remembrance of the day when Martin Luther, then a monk in a Roman Catholic church, protested the sale of indulgences to be made righteous before God. His letter of complaint and essay of his position on man’s justification was nailed to the door of the Schlosskirche cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany which became known as the “95 Theses”. The year was 1517 and the Roman Catholic Church was moving throughout Europe selling indulgences to raise money to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Roman Catholic theology stated that man was not justified and made righteous by faith alone, but that faith must be active in charity and good works to be saving faith. So by extension, donating money to the church could contribute to one’s good works and thereby his salvation. Luther asserted that since forgiveness is God’s alone to grant, the Catholic church was in error claiming that indulgences had the power to forgive sins. Although Luther never intended to confront the church, the protest against Roman indulgences sparked a European shockwave that spread to all reached of the continent. The new movement called the Reformation was fueled by such people as Luther, William Tyndale, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox and quickly spread like wildfire. The Reformation liberated thousands of parishes from the chains of the Roman Catholic Theocracy and lead a restoration back to God’s Word as the only source of divine revelation. The key points of the Reformation were established as the Five Solas: Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, by grace alone, faith alone, Sola Scriptura, scripture alone, Solus Christus, in Christ alone, and Sola Deo Gloria, glory to God alone. These five “solas” became the battle cry of the reformation leaders and they were held dearly, even to the death.
From the Reformation sparked many new denominations of churches that we categorize as Protestantism. These denominations developed from various Reformation leader such as Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, John Calvin, and others. The Reformation forever changed the way the world views God and reads the Bible and we have so much to be thankful for from the brave men who stepped out of line to ask tough questions and challenge the daunting status quo. Today, while the rest of the world is celebrating Halloween and dressing up as zombies or whores, maybe spend the evening reflecting on God’s power to awake the dead from the bondage of slavery and give new life, both to the soul and to the Church. The Reformation was certainly one of the most important events in human history so let’s not easily forget it or take it for granted. Peace.