I’ve always wanted to dress up as Martin Luther for Halloween.
And instead of saying “Trick or Treat?!” I might say “Here I stand, I can do no other!”
But my candy gathering days are over for now. I suppose I could still dress up, just for fun, but the tonsure (the rocking monastical hair style of the 16th century) might be a little hard to accomplish without going too extreme.
Quick History Lesson
Martin Luther should not be confused with Martin Luther King Jr., (whom I wrote about not long ago) the civil rights leader of the 1960s. No, Martin Luther lived in between 1483-1546 and spent most of his life studying and teaching the Bible. In fact, it is estimated that during his professional career, he preached 3,000 times over 36 years.
Luther studied the Bible for himself—not merely listening to what the Catholic church was telling him the Bible said. And that’s when he noticed a difference. What the clergy was teaching wasn’t what the Bible actually said. Glorious biblical truths like justification by faith, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, and the final authority of God’s Word were being ignored by the church. Luther wasn’t okay with this.
So for Halloween, he didn’t go trick-or-treating. He went church-door-pounding.
From his study of God’s Word, he wrote out all these statements he had gathered that were contrary to the teachings and traditions of the Catholic church. There were 95 of them.
On October 31, 1517, Luther marched up to All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door for all to see. He wasn’t very popular after that, and endured intense criticism from the church. Eventually he was excommunicated, and lived some of his days in seclusion as he translated the Bible from Latin to German, so the common man could read it. And he wrote several hymns, including one of my favorites, A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses marked the beginning of The Reformation, where people protested the practices of the Catholic church thereby gaining the name “Protestants.” These included notables like John Calvin, John Wesley, John Knox, John Wycliffe, and a guy named Huldrych Zwingli. (I’m not sure why they let him in, since his name wasn’t John… just kidding.)
Why I’m Writing About This Today
Today is Halloween. It can be fun, it can be innocent, it can be God-glorifying. (Yes, I did just say Halloween can be God-glorifying.)
It’s the 496th anniversary of Luther’s church-door-pounding, and the birth of the Reformation. Thanks to Martin Luther (and the sovereignty of God), we are free from tyrannical religion, and biblical ignorance.
SO—Happy Reformation Day!
We all know that Halloween isn’t the most sacred of events. There’s some pretty gruesome stuff that is associated with Halloween.
It’s the same day that Luther stood up for God’s Word, opening the door for the entire world to know truth. Interesting.
Coincidence? Probably not. Spiritual warfare is real, and it can be as subtle as giving chocolate to monsters and witches. But if that’s an opportunity to inject light into the darkness, I’m taking it.
Excellent piece and thought.