500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation


    This Halloween marks the 500 anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. The 95 Theses, or “The Disputation for Clarifying the Power of Indulgences,“ were written to challenge the doctrine of the Catholic Church, specifically the selling of indulgences by the Church. This sparked the Reformation, and led to other branches of Christianity such as Protestantism, Lutheranism, and Baptism.


    The 95 Theses were written in response to the selling of “indulgences” by a friar named Johann Tetzel to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica. “Indulgences” were a paper you would sign that would count as a confession. Luther disagreed with this practice, believing that confession was an important part of the Christian faith.


    Within two weeks, the writings had spread across the Holy Roman Empire. Within two months, Europe. This is considered to be one of the first times the printing press majorly influenced the world. The people’s response was split in two. They either agreed wholeheartedly, or called for blood. The Church’s response was to name it heretical, burn copies of it, and excommunicate Luther. This only served to further radicalize him. After being forced out of the Empire, he translated the Bible into German, and came back to Germany, though still under the threat of arrest and founded Lutheranism. He died in 1546, at the age of 62.