It's worth a thought

Change the World – Part 3

From 1514 Martin was not only a university professor but also the priest in the main church in Wittenburg and around 1517 a few things began to change. First Martin changed his last name from Luder to Eleutherius – the Greek word for freedom. However eventually he settled on the more latin sounding Luther. But what motivated him to make the change?

At that time there was a great deal of fundraising going on and one way the church raised funds was to encourage the people to buy indulgences. A man by the name of Johann Tetzel would sell the common folks a piece of paper which he said gave them forgiveness in Heaven for any past sins as well as any future sins. When some church goers came to Martin with their certificates he declared them worthless and indicated that forgiveness comes from God and is free!  The people were simple, superstitious and now extremely angry. Some went back to Tetzel and demanded a refund and this infuriated the fundraiser.

The battle lines had been set. On one side there was the offical church-authorised fundraiser who wanted to keep the people under control and take their money. While on the other side was the university professor who wanted the people, who were largely ignorant, to understand that salvation is free. This may have been the background to one of the reasons for Martin’s name change.

A second change began on the 31st October 1517 when young Martin got up and decided he had had enough. The church at that time was troubled by corruption and he had written down his concerns – all 95 of them and sent them to the church leaders. Many of the leaders agreed with Martin but were worried about the consequences of lost income and so they did nothing. Martin however, went to the church in Wittenberg and, according to his friend Philipp Melanchthon, he posted his 95 points on the door. Before long the ideas had been reprinted and distributed all over Germany and then throughout Europe.

Those 95 ideas later became the foundation of a movement to reform Christianity and bring about a more biblically based understanding of how to connect with God.  Five hundred years later we still remember the changes that were begun by young Martin, who after reading the Bible decided that our sins and the consequences of them cannot be escaped by paying money. Repentance and forgiveness involves no cash. Despite great opposition Martin remained true to his conscience and while he had his faults he can be admired for his integrity.

How about you? When you know what is right, true and honest and yet you face resistance, how will you respond?

It’s worth a thought.



Mark Vodell