October 31st marks a vital anniversary. It is the anniverary of the Reformation of the church. It was on October 31st 1517 that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenburg door, challenging sinful practices in the Catholic church such as the sale of indulgences, a practice in which people paid money to the church in exchange for promises that their loved ones would be freed from purgatory sooner rather than later.
I highly recommend the movie Martin Luther with Joseph Feinnes. My husband and I watch it every year at this time with our oldest son. It’s rated PG-13 for graphic violence, and there are a few swear words in the movie, as well…so our younger children don’t watch. Here is the trailer.
The movie tells the story of Luther, who gave up a life of promise and privilege to become an Augustinian monk. He was wracked with guilt and spent hours confessing every piccadillo of sin in his life, yet he could find no peace with God.
Luther made a pilgimage to Rome, where he was shocked by the sale of indulgences, the lack of purity in the church leaders and an institution that was selling salvation, literally, to raise money for a new cathedral.
The Lord revealed himself to Luther through the Bible, when Luther came to realize that salvation was through grace alone by faith alone, and not by works. He posted his theses and was tried as a heretic at the Diet of Worms, where he refused to recant his writings. It was there he said those famous words, “I cannot–I WILL NOT recant….Here I stand: I can do no other.”
If you have a Netflix subscription, there are two Luther videos available for live streaming from your computer. I haven’t watched either one, so I can’t recommend them per se. The first is the 1953 Martin Luther with Naill MacGinnis. The other is the 2002 documentary Here I Stand.
This is also a good time to read a book or two about Martin Luther. My favorite Martin Luther book to read with the kids is from the Heroes of Faith and Courage series. We have several books in that series and they are all excellent, with colorful pictures and a detailed biography on each page, as well as side bars detailing the practices and theology that Martin Luther was opposing.