Today the Episcopal Church remembers a reformer, Martin Luther, who lived from 1483 and died on this day in 1546. There is an excellent biography of Luther by Roland Bainton, Here I Stand.
Luther lived during a time when corruption in the Church was at rampant. Everything was for sale: from Church offices to salvation. Luther, a German monk, priest and theologian, confronted the Church and its corruption. In 1517, Luther came across Johann Tetzel who was selling indulgences (full or partial remission of punishment in purgatory for sins which have already been forgiven). Taking the route of academics of his day, Luther wanted to engage in debate, so he posted his now famous Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg. Here is a sample from the Ninety-Five Theses:
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter. In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. …
43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons.
44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
49. Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
The funds raised by the sale of indulgences were being used to build St. Peter’s in Rome. The pope was not amused. Eventually Luther was excommunicated by Rome.
Luther translated the Bible into German, celebrated the Eucharist in German rather than in Latin, and worked to reform the Church.
Let us pray: O God, our refuge and our strength, who raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word: Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace, which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
THANK YOU TO THE CHILDREN’S CHOIR FROM MAINLAND preparatory academy and their director Mrs. Holloway for the wonderful music yesterday!
The first in the Wednesday Lenten Series begins this week at St. Augustine’s with the Rev. Dr. Allen Robinson at 6 p.m. Thus far we have the following for dinner:
Short rib and vegetable soup: MakowskisGreen beans and rice pilaf: Taylors
Seaside Seniors meet this Thursday in Sutton Hall.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List.
Your servant in Christ,
The Rev. Chester J. Makowski+St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550