On October 31st, Reformation Day celebrates one of the most monumental events in Christianity. It was on this date in 1517 that the Protestant Reformation began.
Up until 1517, the beliefs of the Catholic Church dominated Christianity throughout the world. That is until an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther began studying the Bible for himself. He was then brave enough to nail his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Part of Luther’s theses condemned the Roman Catholic Church for many of its unbiblical practices. One such practice involved asking for payment in order to forgive sins. These payments were called indulgences.
Luther’s 95 Theses also contained two central beliefs:
1. The Bible is the central religious authority.
2. Humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their works.
The Roman Catholic Church warned Luther to keep quiet about his opinions and beliefs. When he didn’t, he was excommunicated from the Church. Luther was later branded an outlaw and heretic. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany even gave permission to have Luther killed. While on the run, Luther spent the next 10 years working on a German translation of the Bible.
It wasn’t until 12 years after Luther posted his 95 Theses that the term “Protestant” was first used. The term came to describe anyone who opposed the Catholic Church. Eventually, anyone who believed the Church should be reformed were called Protestants. This included those living outside of Germany. Luther died in 1546, but his revolutionary beliefs lived on to form the foundation for the Protestant Reformation.
Today, Protestants make up several different denominations. These include Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and Wesleyan. Of the 2.5 billion Christians throughout the world, up to 1 billion of them are Protestant. The countries with the most Protestants include South Africa, Brazil, China, Nigeria, and the United States.
HOW TO OBSERVE #ReformationDay
Protestant churches throughout the world hold special services on this day. Some people watch movies or learn about other important men that influenced the Protestant Reformation. Along with Martin Luther, these men include John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and John Hus. Instead of celebrating Halloween, some churches and families have Reformation Day parties. To participate:
- Attend a worship service at a Protestant Church.
- Learn more about how the Protestant Reformation forever changed Christianity throughout the world.
- Watch the documentary, Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World.
- Share this day on social media with #ReformationDay.
REFORMATION DAY HISTORY
Protestants have been celebrating Reformation Day for hundreds of years. It always falls on October 31st, which is when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses onto the door of a Catholic Church in 1517.