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Oct 31

October 31 and the Protestant Reformation

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Recommended Link

October 31 is Halloween. It’s also Reformation Day – the day when Martin Luther nailed his famous “95 Theses” to the Wittenberg Door.

Today, Justin Taylor published an interview with Carl Trueman on the subject of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.” Trueman’s historical insight helps to appreciate the providence of God in what was a great renewal of the gospel in that day.

On Saturday, October 31, 1517, a 33-year-old theology professor at Wittenberg University walked over to the Castle Church in Wittenberg and nailed a paper of 95 theses to the door, hoping to spark an academic discussion about their contents. In God’s providence and unbeknownst to anyone else that day, it would become a key event in igniting the Reformation.

Carl Trueman—who wrote his dissertation on Luther’s Legacy, teaches on Luther’s life and theology, and is writing a book on Luther on the Christian Life—answered some questions for us.

Had Luther ever done this before—nail a set of theses to the Wittenberg door? If so, did previous attempts have any impact?

I am not sure if he had ever nailed up theses before, but he had certainly proposed sets of such for academic debate, which was all he was really doing on October 31, 1517. In fact, in September of that same year, he had led a debate on scholastic theology where he said far more radical things than were in the Ninety-Five Theses. Ironically, this earlier debate, now often considered the first major public adumbration of his later theology, caused no real stir in the church at all.

What was the point of nailing something to the Wittenberg door? Was this a common practice?

It was simply a convenient public place to advertise a debate, and not an unusual or uncommon practice. In itself, it was no more radical than putting up an announcement on a public notice board.

What precisely is a “thesis” in this context?

A thesis is simply a statement being brought forward for debate.

Read the rest of this insightful interview here.

For a round-up of helpful articles related to Reformation Day, see this post from this time last year. To learn more about the Reformation from Carl Trueman, download audio from Clarus ’05, The Reformation: Why Was It Needed and Do We Need Another?. If you would like to read a book on the subject of the reformation, purchase, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation, on Amazon or at the DSC Resource Center.

Oct 31

Reformation Day Resources

2011 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Recommended Resources

Today is October 31, the anniversary of the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Door and, thus, began what is known as the Protestant Reformation. So, today is Halloween, but it is also Reformation Day.

Around DSC we have a number of posters with the word “sola” in them, which is Latin for “alone.” These “solas” reflect the heart of the Reformation, and, indeed, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Salvation is:

  • Revealed in Scriptures Alone (Sola Scriptura)
  • In Christ Alone (Solus Christus)
  • By Grace Alone (Sola Gratia)
  • Through Faith Alone (Sola Fide)
  • To the Glory of God Alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

With that in mind, here are a few resources to help you learn and share about what happened now almost 500 years ago:

  • Justin Taylor’s interview with Carl Trueman about the 95 Theses.
  • Carl Trueman’s five talks on the subject of the Reformation given during his visit to DSC for Clarus ’05.
  • The 2003 movie, Luther, which is a helpfully accurate portrayal of the story and the times.
  • Douglas Linder and Chris Castaldo have written helpful accounts of Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms, the trial where Martin Luther refused to recant of his belief in the saving gospel revealed in Scripture. A 27 minute clip from this portion of the movie, Luther, is available here.
  • Max McClean’s audio overview of Luther’s trial, available on YouTube (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Although it’s a little late to order a book or two for Reformation Day, it’s never too late to learn more about the Reformation. Stephen Nichols’ Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought, is a helpful introduction to Martin Luther. And for kids, there are two books worth picking up: Paul Maier’s Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World, and R.C. Sproul’s The Barber Who Wanted to Pray.