By Pete Schrank
When devout German monk Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-five Theses” on the church door in Wittenberg in 1517, I am sure that he did not expect to set into motion the breadth of evangelical reforms in Christian teaching and practice that followed. In his effort to eliminate Papal indulgences and change the Catholic Church (not break from it) he changed every dimension of Christian faith bringing a renewed trust in God’s forgiving mercy, and replacing a reliance on teachings and practices like the sale of indulgences, that were vulnerable to abuse and corruption. He taught us to believe in God’s love as shown by Christ rather than God’s wrath waiting for us in purgatory and hell.
Later, Luther said, “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. I did nothing; the Word did everything.” By Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone. Our Lutheran doctrine is based on only those words found in scripture.
Nearly 500 years later, the results of this evangelical confidence in God’s forgiving and liberating Word are evident today in Christian communities of all types. Let us prepare to celebrate.