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Martin Luther - Reformation Undone

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Martin Luther - Reformation Undone

October 31, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On Halloween, October 31 1517, a young Augustinian monk named Martin Luther posts a notice regarding the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, requesting a personal debate  or written response as a public discussion at Germany's Wittenburg University.  With these 95 Theses, 33-year old monk Martin Luther declared an end to the 1.200 year era of holy Roman Catholic hegemony over Christian belief and practice. 

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But for now we take on an intriguing added question: Is it merely a coincidence that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on Halloween, or something more?

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be clear evidence one way or the other. Some suggest that it may be more than coincidence that Luther got things going on Halloween. He may have been protesting Halloween (exploiting people’s fear of judgment and purgatory) and also protesting false saintliness (with All Saints Day on the following day, November 1).

Here's a bit of a different spin. All Hallows Eve is the night before All Saints (Hallows) Day. Hallow means to honor as holy. So there are some who claim that All Hallows’ Eve may have originated as just such an occasion to “trick” Satan, the most prideful of all creatures, by giving him what is most offensive to his arrogance: mockery. As Luther would say, “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.” 

So while some say that Halloween has pagan roots, other see Halloween as being a fundamentally Christian event – a time for people to “trick” Satan, by giving him what is most offensive to his arrogance: mockery. With this blog, we are not going to try and solve the mysteries of Halloween, but will come back to the theme of Luther’s lifelong struggle  with the demonic. It drove much of his theology.