Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Martin Luther and Reformation Day

Does anybody know what day it is today? Ok wise guy, I know it is Monday. But other than today being Monday, is there anything else that makes today special? Payday? No, that’s not it. The day we mail the mortgage check? Not that either. Halloween? My family does not celebrate that. Well, with too many wise crackers out there, I might as well tell you the event that is being commemorated today—Reformation Day!

On October 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk and professor of theology named Martin Luther nailed a notice on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany. The paper became widely known as the “Ninety-five thesis” on which Martin Luther protested the sale of indulgencies. In those days, if you want to schedule a debate, you put up a sign.

In 1516, a Dominican friar named Johann Tetzel was named as the papal commissioner of indulgencies. Tetzel was sent to Germany by the Roman Catholic Church to sell indulgencies to raise money to rebuilt St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. Tetzel became known for the couplet “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs”.

The act of indulgence is strongly disputed by Martin Luther because the practice basically says that freedom from God’s punishment for sin can be purchased with money. This is clearly not in line with the Holy Scriptures for God is the only one who could forgive sin. Luther taught that salvation is not earned by doing good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as the redeemer from sin.

Prince Frederick III, an elector of Saxony, banned the sale of indulgence in Wittenburg. But in spite of the ban, many churches still traveled to purchase them. Some of these indulgence purchases in form of letters of pardon were shown to Martin Luther claiming that they no longer need to repent of their sins since they already paid money for them.

Martin Luther’s "Ninety five Theses" letter was quickly translated from Latin to German. Eventually, a copy made its way to Rome and an effort began to convince Luther to recant his claims. On April 18, 1521, Luther appeared as ordered before the Diet of the Worms, which was a general assembly of the estates of the Holy Roman Empire. The general assembly was held at the town of Worms which is one of the towns in the Rhine. It was conducted from January 28th thru May 25, 1521 and was presided by Emperor Charles V.

During the assembly, Johann Eck (assistant of the archbishop of Trier) asked Luther if copies of writings laid across the table were his and if he stood by its contents. Luther confirmed that the materials were his but requested additional time to answer the second question which was if he stood by its contents. Luther prayed and consulted with friends. The following day, Luther gave this answer to the assembly:

“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”

On May 25, 1571, the emperor declared Martin Luther as an outlaw, banning his literature and ordered his arrest. It was also made a crime for anyone in Germany to give Luther food or shelter. It permitted anyone to kill Luther without legal consequence.

Prince Frederick III was a supporter of Luther and wanted to save him from harm. While Luther was on his way home, masked men hired by Prince Frederick “kidnapped” Luther and brought him to the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach.

During his stay in Wartburg Castle, Luther translated the New Testament of the bible from Greek to German finishing it in 1522. He and his collaborators also translated the Old Testament completing it in 1534. He continued to refine the translation of the bible until the end of his life.

In June 13, 1525, Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora who was one of the 12 nuns that Luther helped escape the Nimbschen Cistercian Convent in April 1523. Luther arranged the 12 nun escapees to be smuggled out of the convent in herring barrels. Luther’s wedding set the seal of approval on clerical marriages. The couple moved into a former monastery called “The Black Cloister”. They had six children, two of which died.

Referring to his wife, Luther confided to his friend, Michael Stifel (German monk and mathematician) on August 11, 1526: “My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad the Church is not in the business of indulgences anymore. Also, Reformation was to reform, not to split or separate. Too bad others acted contrary to Luther's intent.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No judgment or criticism intended, but I wonder what would Luther say today about the different kinds of Lutheranism, not to mention the other groups.

9:35 PM  

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