95 Theses and 500 years later, we still talk about a day in history. On the 31st October 1517, we saw the start of what we know now as the Reformation. In terms of Church history, this day holds tremendous significance, 500 years later. Today, we remember that special day.
The man credited for the start of the Reformation is Martin Luther. Who on this very date five centuries ago, took 95 arguments (or thesis’) and nailed them to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg Germany.
But why exactly was the Reformation so important to Church history? And why is it still important to us today.
In this short article we will take a look at the nailing of these 95 theses and how it still affects the Church today.
Some Historical Context
It’s the 16th Century, and a Catholic monk named Martin Luther decided to nail a list of 95 arguments to the door of a Catholic Church in Germany.
This procedure was common in that time period for raising the need to debate important issues.
So this is what Luther did, his first thesis stands out a great deal. That thesis being that when our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent’” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
His aim was to challenge the doctrinal teaching that was being pushed by the Catholic Church at that time. Including the controversial teaching on indulgences. An indulgence being a temporal punishment prescribed by the church that would lead to the forgiveness of sins. Basically, it was giving the church the authority to forgive sins.
Luther greatly objected to this, seeing it as not being Biblical or Godly. So on Saturday 31 October 1517, he took it upon himself to take his list of 95 arguments and nail them for the church hierarchy to see.
From there we saw what would become known as the Reformation. Bringing with it many amazing theologians including the likes of John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Archibald Alexander, and Karl Bath. In fact many well-known Christians over the years have associated themselves with reformed theology (article on that coming soon), including the likes of John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Kevin DeYoung, Tim Keller, Albert Mohler, and Matt Chandler.
But let’s look at why the Reformation still matters today.
Why the Reformation Still Matters Today
To understand why the Reformation is still important today, 500 years later, we should start with five key points that came out from the Reformation. Those five points being, the five solas.
The five solas, are five key points that the reformers believed encompassed the truth of Christianity.
The five solas are (in Latin and English):
- Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
- Sola Fide – Faith Alone
- Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
- Sola Christus – Christ Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone
I will be writing a series on the five solas soon, but for now let’s just take stock of these five things. These five key points often today are neglected by many.
Often people don’t take the authority of God and His word seriously, and put other things before it. Be that self, be that the demands of culture. Something else takes the place of God.
But in the same way that Martin Luther did five centuries ago, as God’s people let’s go back to these five key points. Let us focus on God, His word, and His decrees.
The challenge at the heart of the reformation was (and is) what is at the core of true Christendom. Is it our additions to the word of God, or is it taking God at His word?
Happy reformation day everybody.