500 years ago today, before America, before TV, before the internet, a largely unknown German monk tacked a list of 95 complaints about his church to a chapel door to invite debate.
That church was treating God’s grace as something it could buy and sell, preventing the laity from reading the scriptures on which it claimed authority, and harbored leadership whose scandals would rival present-day Hollywood.
That church tried to silence that monk and his complaints, even trying to brand him as a heretic, which then carried the penalty of death. But they could not. Through God’s providence in the form of the recently-invented printing press and distracted leaders from political turmoil in the region, the ideas spread. Soon, the Bible returned to the hands of the common people. The biblical gospel of salvation by grace through faith and the promise of peace with God were rediscovered.
Flawed as he was, few people did more to change the world than that monk, Martin Luther. Today, as people stuff themselves with candy corn and try to squeeze into ever more elaborate and scandalous costumes, few will pay any mind to Luther and his life and work. But we are all in his debt.