Reformation Day Matters

Many people ignore the past. I can’t stand studying history in general. I never was good at remembering dates and places. However, when it comes to theology, I think it is important to remember the ones of the past that laid the ground work on which we stand now. Many people don’t know names like John Hus, John Wycliffe, and John Colet but you should. I may post a few more articles on these great men of faith but for now we will focus on what Reformation Day stands for.

In the time of Martin Luther the Catholic Church was exceedingly corrupt. The teaching of indulgences was increasing because Pope Leo X wanted to build a new church dedicated to St. Peter. So, he used indulgences to raise the money to build his basilica. Just like any fund-raising endeavor, the Catholic Church had a spokesman named Johann Tetzel.

Tetzel had a catch phrase that most people know, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” This caused Martin Luther to fight against the Catholic Church. He fought for two reasons. One was theological and the other was for social justice.

The theological problem that Luther saw was that the Catholic Church turned the Gospel into a money grab. But even further than that they, in essence, were teaching that the sacrifice of Christ wasn’t enough to cleanse people from all sin. This theological reason drove Luther into nailing the 95 Thesis on the door of the Wittenburg Church (95 Thesis written on Oct. 31, 1517). Luther didn’t stop there. He had another reason beyond the theological problems indulgences introduced. Luther was concerned with an important social justice issue. And that was looking out for the poor.

Johann Tetzel was travelling around asking people for their money and giving them a piece of paper in return saying that their loved relative was relieved from the pains of purgatory. The problem Luther saw with this was that the people they were taking money from were poor. The average person of that day was barely able to pay for their food, let alone, pay for an indulgence. And just like any good salesman Tetzel was able to cut to their hearts by his dramas and speaking. Luther took offense to this seen in the 86th point in his 95 Thesis:

“Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”

Luther saw this for what it was…a money grab. The Catholic Church was willing to take money from those who had little to build a huge building that they would never walk into. This was the spark that ignited a fire that even the powerful Catholic Church could not put out. Luther stood against the destructive teaching of the church and began to work in highlighting the true Gospel of Grace.

So, why should we, as Christians, celebrate this day? We should celebrate it because it is a great example of standing for what you believe in. It is an example that the Gospel matters. It stands for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It is an example for fighting against the injustices in our time. And while Luther had some wild ideas we should all be grateful that God used this man to light the fire that freed people from the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church of his time.

Allow me to end with the words of Martin Luther who at the Diet of Worms in 1521 stood for his beliefs even in the face of possible death:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen”


About Travis Berry

I am a blatantly honest person who loves to think, read, discuss, and write about God and theology. I have a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Crown College. I work at a church in Houston, TX as a Youth Director and love every minute of it! I am married to a wonderful woman named Becky and we have one amazing child! I have a love for God's Word, and a fervor to live it out in the fullest, and I pray this blog reflects that. Thanks for checking out AnotherChristianBlog!.

Posted on October 31, 2011, in Christianity, Life, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I’m thankful for what Martin Luther did. He was an anti-semite though.

    • Thanks for the comment Joshua. Yes Luther later in his life was against Judaism but earlier in his life he wasn’t. The post wasn’t to say I agree with Luther 100% but rather as an example of standing for truth when it comes to the Gospel.

  2. I am a Catholic who converted seven years ago. Up until then I was a Protestant all of my life. I love both.

    I understand what you are saying regarding the “indulgences.” Many Catholics I have spoken with feel the same. My point though is this.

    For years I have watched and heard some Protestant ministers doing the same, to the tune of, “Give us your money and God will bless you with a car, get you out of debt, heal your bodies, etc..” I remember one saying a few years back, “Send to this ministry all you have and you will be blessed.”

    Granted the blessings which they are speaking of is of a different kind than the Catholic Church, however to me it is still the selling of “indulgences.” It is still trying to buy the blesssings of God.

    I know we are supposed to “give” but we should do so out of obedience, not because we want something. God is not a “tit-for-tat God, where we do this and He will do that.

    Still a good post though, just wanted to share my thoughts on the matter and I thank you for letting me. God Bless, Sr

    • Hey Sr,

      First, thanks for the comment. I appreciate that a Catholic didn’t take what I was saying to be offensive because that was not the intention of the post.

      Second, I will join you in pointing out that people like Bennie Hinn and those that say things like, “give us 100 dollars and we will send you a bottle of holy water or a blessed towel.” That is NOT Christianity in the slightest. Jesus’ sacrifice or blessings cannot be purchased with a price because they already have been on the cross.

      Thanks for Reading,


  3. You are welcome. No offense taken, after all I am a Catholic we are used to it:>)))) You are correct none of the above mentioned had anything to do with “Christianity” as far as I am concerned. I am sure I have both Catholics and Protestants who will not agree, but that is how I feel. Take care and again thank you for letting me have a “voice.” God Bless, SR

  1. Pingback: Happy Reformation Day! « Kevin Nunez

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