Martin Luther and 500 years

500 years ago today, on 31 October 1517 Dr Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar and university teacher in Wittenberg, did something that sparked a Reformation - or a revolution, depending on your viewpoint.

Martin Luther wrote a letter to his Archbishop objecting to the corrupt practices that had developed around the selling of papal indulgences. Those corrupt practices, especially statements of some preachers, had misled people as to the true nature of repentance. Included in the letter is a list of 95 theses. This was a list of questions and propositions for academic debate in the University of Wittenberg on the power and efficacy of indulgences. He may have hung this list on the door of Wittenberg Castle church, as this was a usual place for posting such notices. More significantly, the list was printed and so was quickly widely distributed and discussed far beyond Wittenberg.

The rest is history - some of it dreadful, some glorious, but don't expect me to summarise 500 years of Protestantism and its relationship to Catholicsm here.

If you are interested and have a lot of time to spare you can read an English translation of that letter with the 95 theses plus and academic introduction here.

Lutheran Christians celebrate today as 'Reformation Day'. In 2017 a public holiday has been declared in all German states in honour of the 500th anniversary. The Church of England simply commemorates Martin Luther today, as on every 31 October. I will be remembering him by attending a Lutheran Vespers in New College Chapel, Oxford. the Vespers will include J.S. Bach's Cantata 80 'Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott'. I think Catholics and Protestants can both agree on those words which are based on Psalm 46. 

Previous post with a magnificent organ work based on Luther's hymn 'Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott' (a mighty fortress is our God) can be found at Martin Luther and a great sound