October 31st is the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, but this one is extra special – it marks the 500 year anniversary. My social media feeds have been filled with reminders, articles, and posts all year – indicative, I suppose, of the type of individuals and groups that I follow!
Even if you are not “religious” – this is history, and it impacted the world as we know it. Here is an article from Time magazine: How the World Is Marking the 500th Birthday of Protestantism. The Reformation contributed to the expansion of literacy, and the universal education of children.
A worthwhile and well-done movie is Luther from 2003. We saw it twice in the movie theater back then, to support Hollywood making such a film. You can see the DVD in the photo. At that time, Concordia Publishing House re-printed an old biography of Luther (by Frederick Nohl) and gave it a cover to match the movie. It is on the far left in the photo. It is a beautiful and quality hardcover edition.
If you are not much of a reader, watch this movie!
If you feel ignorant about the Reformation, on the right in the photo is a book in the “armchair theologian” series entitled The Reformation. Written by experts but designed for the novice, the Armchair series provides accurate, concise, and witty overviews of some of the most profound moments and theologians in Christian history. There are even little cartoon drawings in the books! These are published by Westminster John Knox.
Martin Luther wrote the well-known hymn “A mighty Fortress is our God.” But maybe you have never sung the following verse of it and I will share it, in fun, since it is Halloween time.
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
We can’t overlook the flaws of Luther. Professor John Stackhouse addresses this in an article: What to Do about Martin Luther? As he points out, Luther could be, ahem, cranky. Luther “…ruthlessly focused on what he understood to be the gospel and the renewal of a recalcitrant church. Those issues mattered most, and anyone who would impede, distract from, or resist that reformation felt his ire.” Stackhouse makes an interesting point regarding Luther’s fury against the Jews: “Contrary to popular belief, Luther wasn’t an anti-Semite. He was instead anti-Jewish. His was a religious rage, not a racist one.”
Hope some of these resources might be helpful to someone out there. Happy Reformation Day tomorrow.