As we approach the end of October, the date of the 31st of this month stands out because for some, it is an opportunity to mark Halloween. This is a time that some choose to have a dress up party or for the children to gain access to more sweets than they would normally enjoy. Halloween appears to be gaining a greater profile in the Australian calendar over the years with much encouragement from our retailers.
An Important Anniversary
The 31st of October 2017 is also a day of significance for another reason. This date is the 500th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther, a stubborn monk and towering thinker, published his 95 theses, or complaints, against the Catholic Church of the time. This action in 1517 launched the Protestant Reformation in Europe. The Reformation led to great upheaval and transformed millions of peoples understanding of the relationship they can have with God.
As a monk, Luther wrestled with essential questions that all of us ask: Why do I experience feelings of guilt? Is God about rules or a relationship? What is grace? How does this actually work in my life? Through studying the Bible, Luther came to believe that people were justified, or made right before God, not through doing good works or by religious ceremonies, but solely through God’s grace and faith in Christ.
The 95 Theses
Luther was disturbed by what he saw in the Church at that time. In response, he wrote his famous 95 theses against what he saw as inconsistency between Church practice and the scriptures. History tells us that he nailed these papers to the door of the church in his town. This sounds like an odd thing to do. However, this was the accepted process at the time to show the person wanted a public debate on an issue and it allowed towns people to read the issues raised.
The Bible Becomes Accessible to the Common Folk
Luther continued to speak to this theological position and, as a result, the Church declared him a convicted heretic in 1521. However, his writings spread throughout Europe. The invention of printing machines resulted in everyday people being able to read and think about his ideas but more importantly, read the Bible for themselves in their own language. Up to this point, the Bible was in Latin, the same language spoken in all church services. Latin was the language of the ancient Roman Empire and understood only by scholars during Luther’s time.
Luther’s ideas and those of other reformers led to the divide in the church and the establishment of Protestant (or protesting) denominations. The many different Protestant denominations have their origins in the different countries in which they formed. For example, the Anglican Church has origins in England while the Presbyterian Church grew out of the Scottish reformation movement. The different places and times for the start of different denominations reflect how some details of the Bible are understood and the organisation of the churches.
Sadly, the history of the reformation was also a political and violent movement and often views were put forward in extremely harsh language by both sides of the theological debate.
Luther’s 5 Solas Accepted by WCCS
The 500th anniversary is significant for our school because our Statement of Faith is based on the reformed position. Luther summarised this position based on the five ‘solas’ (meaning ‘alone’). I have listed these below. I would like to encourage you to read our Statement of Faith and the Bible, and like Luther, consider what they say about the essential questions in all our lives.
The Five Solas are:
Read further on the Five Solas at http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/the-five-solas-of-the-protestant-reformation.html