Martin Luther hadn’t intended to create continental chaos when he hammered his document into the church door, but turmoil is what his deed delivered. With one act from this seemingly obscure Augustinian monk the town of Wittenberg became ground-zero for the greatest spiritual and social upheaval the world had ever witnessed.
Luther had been unsettled. The sale of indulgences by John Tetzel on behalf of the church had caused confusion amongst some of his parishioners and students. If they bought these indulgences did they really need to alter the behaviours that were against God’s will? Could they really buy their way into heaven – but what about Christ’s gift of salvation?
Luther had hoped his respectful letter to Archbishop Albert would bring some clarity to increasingly muddied church practices. Martin’s decision to then knock the document into a nondescript church door would spark radical change on the continent of Europe and around the world.
The invention of the printing press a few decades prior allowed someone to take this one document nailed to a church door in Wittenberg and easily duplicate it. These duplicates were then copied, and within weeks Luther’s “Ninety-five Theses” of church malpractices were being discussed in palaces and public squares not just in Germany, but across Europe and in Rome itself.
In modern-day language – Martin Luther’s publicly posted “status update” was retweeted hundreds of times and had gone viral.
The revolution we now know as the Protestant Reformation had been centuries in the making. Many God-honouring individuals had courageously voiced the need for more biblical practices – and they’d lost their lives. The Reformation of the Christian church would not be the act of one single person, but in Martin Luther’s hammer on a church door in Wittenberg there would be sparks that would illuminate God’s truth more clearly.
The Dark Ages were ending and light was beginning to re-enter into the hearts and minds of millions around the world.
About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and lives on the Gold Coast in Australia. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series – which you can subscribe to by clicking “follow” on this website.
Want to read more inspirational stories of faith from this series? Click here to read what the Duke of Wellington can teach us about taking Communion.