Tuesday, October 31, 2017

500 Years of the Reformation -- What This Means to Me

Today is the day!  I've got my special t-shirt on that commemorates the anniversary.  The kids and I have been playing CDs of Martin Luther's hymns on and off all day.  I've been skulking around Facebook liking people's posts.  I've been reading all kinds of posts about the Reformation and Luther.  And, most of all, I've been giving thanks to God for all the brave people who have stood firm on his Word throughout the ages.  Martin Luther was one of them, but certainly not the only one.

However, today I want to share just a little of why this anniversary is such a big deal for me personally.  I've talked before about why I'm a Lutheran.  But I haven't really talked here about why Martin Luther is a personal hero of mine.  So today, I will.

Imagine you're a well-educated man, dedicated to serving God and the church.  You come to realize that the people you've been listening to and believing all your life are teaching things that don't come from God's Word.  In fact, they contradict them.  This bothers you.  So you try to show them that they're wrong because you don't want them to languish in error.  You're sure they'll see the problems and resolve them.

But they don't.  In fact, they get mad at you, they put you and your words on trial, and eventually they declare you an outlaw.  In fact, they throw you out of the very church you were trying to serve and help.

Scary.  So, so scary.  Can you imagine being Martin Luther, just a professor, standing before the Emperor to defend his writing?  Being told by the head of the entire church that you were wrong?  How much easier it would be to say, "Oh, you're so right -- I messed up.  I'm sorry I bothered you.  Let's go back to how things were and I'll be quiet.  Oops."

Think of him standing at the Diet of Worms, knowing he's basically going to be condemned to death if he doesn't recant.  And then not recanting.  Not even a little bit.  Not even kind of amending his statement of faith, or kind of fudging it a little. 

Can you imagine having that much faith in God?  That strength of faith, that conviction.  Wow.

And then to live out those convictions for the rest of your life.  On your deathbed, to have someone ask if you still stand by what you've preached, and to answer with a resounding "Ja."  (That's German for "yes," just FYI.)  Wow again. 

Yes, Luther was imperfect, a sinner like you and I.  He made mistakes.  He got angry.  He sometimes used language I would not.  All of which is why I don't worship Luther, though I do admire him.  I simply want to be like him when it comes to stubbornly clinging to God's Word, God's love, God's grace and mercy.

God used Martin Luther to shine a light on the truths in the Bible that had been hidden and misused and neglected.  God gave Luther the faith, the courage, the voice.  To God alone be the glory.

This is probably my last post about this topic, unless I manage to do another couple book reviews on The Edge of the Precipice.  So I want to finish off by linking to some really great articles about this anniversary that I've read elsewhere.  I definitely encourage you to read them if you're interested in learning more about Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformation, etc.

"That's What the Reformation is All About, Charlie Brown" by Heather Smith on Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife.

"How Lutherans View the Reformation Differently" by Gene Veith on Cranach: the Blog of Veith

"Whose Reformation is it?" by Matthew Fenn on The Gospel Coalition: Canada

"We Still Need the Reformation" by Rev. Paul Fries from ELS.org

A Reformation-themed devotion from WELS.net


  1. I do admire his courage, although it's tragic that, as is common with mere mortals, others tried to hijack his movement into a political agenda.


    Humans. :P

  2. I have learned so much about the Reformation and Martin Luther these plast few weeks because of you. *hugs*

    With that in mind,I thought I'd recommend While Mortals Sleep by Jack Cavanaugh. The main character is a great admirer of Luther and A Mighty Fortress features in it, too. It's the first book in a trilogy, all very good, but you could totally read the first one as a stand-alone.

    Great post!

    1. Eva, that's so cool! I feel like I've accomplished a little bit of something, then. ::hugs you back::

      I will add that to my TBR list! Thanks :-)

  3. So thrilled about today. I'm baptist, personally, but we're all brothers and sisters on this side of things :) It's so cool to meet people who are excited about the 500th anniversary of Wittenberg. All my friends are Catholic so I haven't talked to them about it at all. Sigh.

    1. Florid Sword, Happy Reformation Day to you! I'm sorry you've had fewer people around you who are celebrating -- isn't the internet great for bringing people together like this?

  4. I admire Luther's courage, too.

    Obviously, I am Catholic, and obviously, I don't agree with much of what he taught. But I do admire him for saying, "this is what I believe, and I don't care what you guys threaten me with; I'm not backing down." That takes guts.

    I also admire the Catholics of that era who stood up to Protestant governments and said, "this is what we believe; torture us, kill us, whatever you want, we're not backing down." It's the same courage . . . the courage of conscience. People (people on both sides) try to look back and portray Protestants and Catholics as mortal enemies--as if they didn't have a single thing in common. But that's wrong. They had something very, VERY important in common: the strength of conviction to make their own decisions about how they wanted to worship God.

    So thank you for this post <3 It's a good example of the kind of courage all of us Christians should aspire to.

    1. Jessica, you're totally correct -- Luther did not have a monopoly on bravely standing up for what he believed. Many people, Protestant and Catholic alike, did that before, during, and after the Reformation.

  5. I deeply cherish Martin Luther's words before the Diet of W├Ârms: "Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helf mir." (Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God aid me.) They inspire me to speak out when I am tempted to be quiet.

    I too have some issues with some things Luther did, particularly as regards the Jewish people, but his courage cannot be denied.

  6. Happy (late) Reformation! This post was great (plus I love that your kids were playing Luther hymn CD's...so was I :) )

    1. Happy Reformation season to you, Abby! Glad you liked the post ;-)

  7. I've spent time this morning enjoy your blog. Such encouragement in your words and lovely inspiring images. I had no idea it was the 500th anniversary. Enjoy this time of Thanksgiving.

    1. Decor to Adore, I'm glad you enjoyed poking around my blog :-) Yes, 500 years -- it's amazing!

  8. Wow, 500 years. Fascinating.


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