October 31, 1517: The Birth of a Religious Revolution

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of one of the most important events of Western history. It was then that German monk Martin Luther presented his Ninety Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to his immediate ecclesiastical superior.

Catholic journalist Peter Stanford explains the importance of Luther’s actions to Western society:

“He [Luther] was thus challenging the entire late medieval way of doing things and the result was strikingly modern. For Luther championed conscience, informed by reading the scriptures, over the dictates of church rules and regulations. Read scripture and make your own mind up. This, in its turn, opened the door in the 17th and 18th centuries to Enlightenment notions of human liberty, free speech and even human rights, all of which today shape Europe.”

Military historian Thomas Leckwold explains what prompted Luther to write his 95 Theses:

“The German indignation toward the power of Rome reached a personified height of loathing by the Dominican seller of indulgences John Tetzel. Tetzel’s role was to raise money to pay the debt of the Archbishop of Mainz Albert of Brandenburg. Albert was the twice over archbishop who needed to raise money for the pope in exchange for being granted his position and was Luther’s archbishop. The pope intended to use this money to help pay for the finishing of the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. The quiet undercurrents were that Tetzel was fleecing the German people to help pay for their luxury lifestyle by using indulgences. This is what inspired Martin Luther to act.”

Peter Stanford elaborates:

“What Luther did in the 95 theses – which, incidentally, were sent to his local archbishop, not nailed to a door, a fanciful exaggeration put about by his followers after his death – was to tap into a deep vein of alienation among the poor in a fragmented Germany. They were disillusioned not only with the excesses and corruption of their pope and church, but also with their own local rulers in the jigsaw of states that made up their country.

Luther struck a chord with a congregation that felt exploited and ignored: on the one hand, fleeced to pay for lavish basilicas in Rome by the sale of worthless pieces of parchment known as indulgences that “guaranteed” a berth in heaven for loved ones (or themselves); and on the other, in the secular world, seeing the age-old ways on which their livelihoods depended overturned by the rise of a money economy.”

It was not Luther’s intent to start a religious revolution, but rather to rid the Roman Catholic Church of corruption, something that the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church is trying to do.

From Voice of America, 12/16/16:

“Pope Francis on Thursday denounced the resistance he’s encountering in reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, saying some of it is inspired by the devil and that the prelates who work for him must undergo “permanent purification” to serve the Catholic Church better.

For the third year in a row, Francis took the Vatican bureaucracy to task in his annual Christmas greeting. He said the reform process he was elected to push through in 2013 isn’t aimed at a superficial face-lift for the Holy See, but rather a profound change in mentality among his collaborators who run it.

“Dear brothers, it’s not the wrinkles in the church that you should fear, but the stains!” he said.

In 2014, Francis stunned the Vatican Curia, or administration, when he listed the 15 “spiritual ailments” its members were suffering. He accused them of using their careers to grab power and wealth, of living “hypocritical” double lives and of forgetting _ due to “spiritual Alzheimer’s” _ that they’re supposed to be joyful men of God.”

A CBS story from one year ago describes Pope Francis as acknowledging the corruption that Luther spoke against:

“Years ago, Francis spoke harshly of the Protestant reformers. But in the run-up to the trip [to Sweden], he has had only words of praise for Luther. He recently called the German theologian a reformer of his time who rightly criticized a church that was “no model to imitate.”

“There was corruption in the church, worldliness, attachment to money and power,” Francis told reporters this summer.

They are the same abuses Francis has criticized in the 21st-century Catholic Church he now leads.”

One does not have to be a theist in order to appreciate what Luther did 500 years ago. He set into motion a movement that resulted in Westerners gaining freedoms of speech, press and religion, which is why Peter Stanford’s above-quoted commentary is appropriately titled Five centuries on, Martin Luther should be feted as hero of liberty and free speech.

More Displays of Right-Wing Lunacy
Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners Week of October 27, 2017
  • It was not Luther’s intent to start a religious revolution, but rather to rid the Roman Catholic Church of corruption, something that the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church is trying to do.

    Bullshit. Francis is aligning the Catholic Church with the social marxists.

    • Jwb10001

      I don’t know anything about the Catholic Church but it seems to me the current Pope is more interested in politics than religion. Seems quick to chastise the US for climate change but not abortion, quick to complain about our immigration policies but not so vocal about gay marriage. So for me I don’t pay any attention to much of anything he says or does. If I were a catholic I might not be all too pleased with him.

      • jim_m

        Francis’ politics are very far left wing, but I do not think that it is because he has made any intellectual effort to understand his positions. I believe he just thinks they sound good. He is uncritically accepting of a lot of things. Evidence his appointing a Pro-abortion Catholic to the Pontifical Academy for Life. This was a move conducted by an idiot. Francis is not a smart man.

    • Brett Buck

      Of course, and as long as there is a dollar or old master painting left unsold in the Vatican archives, anything the Pope says about economics and his concern for the poor and downtrodden can be dismissed out of hand.

      I am not at all prepared (or sufficiently knowledgeable) to dismiss the entire works of the RCC, and as an outside observer, in terms of faith, the worst abuses identified by Luther are at least much better if not completely gone. But in terms of economics, it appears to operate about like a pyramid scheme , virtually unchanged since the time of Luther.

      I am still willing to imagine Francis to merely be a man far out of his depth, rather than malicious/socialist, but in the end it hardly matters what his motivation might be.

  • yetanotherjohn

    Here we come, talking about the Christ
    We want to tell the story to everyone we meet.

    Hey, hey, we’re the Lutherans
    And people say we’re protesting,
    But we’re too busy singing
    To put anybody down.

    We know we are sinners,
    we read the scriptures
    We know we’re forgiven,
    we are born a new

    Hey, hey, we’re the Lutherans
    And people say we’re protesting,
    But we’re too busy singing
    To put anybody down.

    We’re just tryin’ to be friendly,
    come and join us sing and pray
    We’re of all generations,
    and God’s got something to say

    Scripture alone,
    Grace alone,
    we all are saved
    by faith alone

    Hey, hey, we’re the Lutherans
    And people say we’re protesting,
    But we’re too busy singing
    To put anybody down.

    Hey, hey, we’re the Lutherans
    And people say we’re protesting,
    But we’re too busy singing
    To put anybody down.

    We’re just tryin’ to be friendly,
    come and join us sing and pray
    We’re of all generations,
    and God’s got something to say

    Hey, hey, we’re the Lutherans
    Hey, hey, we’re the Lutherans

  • DonnieZen

    “It was not Luther’s intent to start a religious revolution, but rather to rid the Roman Catholic Church of corruption, something that the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church is trying to do.”

    WTAF? This Jesuit Pope is an abomination. He’s on the side of warmistas and TG’s, in other words, NOT on the side of truth. You need to have your head examined.

  • Par4Course

    We take freedom of religion for granted, but in the 16th Century, being a Protestant was a capital offense in England and France, and the Spanish Inquisition was torturing confessions out of alleged heretics. If nothing else, Luther helped bring plurality to Christianity and a more open-minded acceptance of a variety of beliefs.

    • In England in the 16th century? Only under Mary I. Catholics got plenty of grief under her father and sister.

      • Par4Course

        During her five-year reign in the 1550s, Mary had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake. When Elizabeth succeeded her, protestants came back into control but penalties for non-protestants were not as extreme.

        • Five whole years! OMG! A whole century defined by five @#$!!ing years. And your characterization of the oppression of Catholics as “not as extreme” covers a chasm big enough to swallow Europe.

          • jim_m

            That’s over 1 person a week for 5 years being executed by the state for their religious views. That amounts to a pretty high level of state terrorism, especially when you consider that none were put to death when the pendulum swung back toward Protestantism for the final time.

  • Wild_Willie

    The thesis is written in Latin which mostly the educated could read especially the priests.

    Church doors (all Catholic) were pseudo information boards for the community which means your source is wrong on the doors.

    Luther was not rebelling but trying to save a church that he strongly believed lost it’s way.

    Luther discovered grace of God is the key, not anything that we could do.

    I love how God worked this. Gutenberg invented the press. Luther used the invention to change the course of the Catholic/Popes monopoly on the message of Christ to His people.