How the World Is Marking the 500th Birthday of Protestantism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

How the World Is Marking the 500th Birthday of Protestantism

Oct 27, 2017

Five hundred years ago, an unknown monk named Martin Luther marched up to the church in Wittenberg, a small town in what is now Germany, and nailed a list of criticisms of the Catholic church to its door.

The date was Oct. 31, 1517, and Luther had just lit the fuse of what would become the Protestant Reformation. His list of criticisms, known as the 95 theses, would reverberate across world history. The Church would split, wars would be fought and people would be burned at the stake. It was the birth of Protestant Christianity.

Religiously speaking, the Reformation led to the translation of the Bible into languages other than Latin, allowing many people to engage with scripture for the first time. It also brought an end to the controversial sale of “indulgences” — payments the Church said reduced punishment for sins after death, which Luther regarded as corrupt.

More generally, the Reformation contributed to the expansion of literacy, with people no longer needing to rely on priests to read and interpret the Bible. Luther promoted universal education for girls and boys at a time when education was reserved for the wealthy, and believed in the connection between literacy and empowerment, both spiritually and socially.

Luther’s act is taught as one of the cornerstones of world history, even though most historians now agree that it was a relatively unremarkable event which was canonized at a later date for political ends. Nevertheless, it remains a lasting symbol of resistance 500 years later.

So how is an anniversary of that magnitude being celebrated?

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The hub of anniversary celebrations will be Luther’s homeland, Germany, where “Reformation Day” has long been celebrated as a holiday in certain states. This year, it’s set to be a full-blown national holiday. Chancellor Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, has encouraged German churches to promote a narrative of unity over division in their celebrations.

That’s a line that the Catholic Church and some of the biggest protestant denominations are also keen to stress. On last year’s 499th anniversary, Pope Francis joined leaders of the Lutheran World Federation in Sweden (where Lutheranism is the dominant religion) to hold a joint commemorative service. In his address, Francis said: “We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.”

Not long after Francis’ address, the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury in England expressed remorse for the violence committed there in the name of the Reformation. Hundreds of churches and monasteries were demolished in the 1500s, and many people gruesomely killed, during England’s pained transition from Catholicism to Protestantism.

After 500 years of division, there seems to be a consensus from the top that this anniversary will be one of reconciliation.

But official church celebrations aren’t the only ways in which the milestone is being marked.

In popular celebrations Germany also leads the way, and for proof you need look only as far as its toy economy. In 2015, a commemorative Martin Luther figurine from Playmobil became the German company’s fastest-selling product ever. It took just 72 hours for the initial run of 34,000 to sell out, leading the company to rush another batch into production. A spokesperson labeled the demand a “big mystery.”

Martin Luther is now the best selling @playmobil of all time – with 750,000+ sold! 

RT for the chance to win your own! (GK)

Americans are also doing their bit. A musical entitled Luther: The Rock Operapremiered in Wittenberg earlier this year. The North Dakota pastor responsible for the two-and-a-half hour production describes it as “Hamilton meets Jesus Christ Superstar meets Monty Python.” Performances in Berlin and Wittenberg will mark the anniversary.

And, as the anniversary falls each year on the same day as Halloween, around the world people are taking inspiration from Luther for their costumes. On Reddit’s Christianity subreddit, a post asked whether it would be sinful to dress up as Martin Luther for Halloween. On Twitter, others had no qualms about their plans to do the same, whilst on Amazon, a search for “Martin Luther Costume” turns out enough results to dress a small congregation.

In honor of the 500th anniversary of the reformation, I say we all dress up as Martin Luther for Halloween and nail stuff to people’s doors.

Back in Germany, the broadcaster ZDF is airing a two-part serial entitled “Reformation” commissioned especially for the anniversary, starring Maximilian Brückner as Martin Luther. It is also airing in the U.K. on the BBC, and both channels have also commissioned special documentaries to mark the occasion.

The town of Wittenberg itself is understandably excited; in fact it’s already in the tenth year of a “Luther decade” it proclaimed in 2008. On the anniversary, a “Reformation festival” will see “jugglers, musicians, hosts, craftsmen and people from the Middle Ages” gather in the town center, before the church opens for a commemorative concert in the evening.

For some people, this anniversary may be the first they’ve heard of Luther and the Reformation. But the wide range of celebrations, exhibits, documentaries and even commemorative toys mean that it’ll be hard to escape its legacy, 500 years on.

Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz Explains A Lie That Many Christians Believe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz explained one “lie” about the Christian faith that Satan wants people to believe while sharing his faith at a live event held at Eastern University in Pennsylvania last week.The 24-year-old Wentz, who is in his second season with the Eagles after a successful collegiate career at North Dakota State University, appeared at a special live event last Wednesday hosted by “Faith on The Field” radio show broadcasted on Philadelphia’s 610 AM. Although the event was held outside in the rain, over 2,000 people attended the free event.Wentz, along with Eagles tight end Trey Burton and offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, was interviewed by the show’s host, Associated Press sports writer Rob Maaddi, and his co-hosts.

Considering that Wentz grew up as a Lutheran but is now a non-denominational Christian, he was asked during the show, which will air on the radio Monday, to explain where he currently is in his faith.

Wentz went on to talk about the lie that a lot of Christians believe and one that he admitted falling into the trap of while growing up.

“I think talking specifically about that and being saved by works is obviously a lie, but it’s a lie that a lot of people believe. It’s a lie just in our culture. I know for me as a man, even when I was a kid, with sports and anything I did, I was going to work my tail off to earn what I got. That’s how I was wired, that’s how the world kind of instills this value, so to speak, is work, work, work, and earn it,” he said.

“And that’s kind of what I thought. I’d pray, I’d go to church, I’d do this and that, and I’m like that’s great, I’m a good person, I did the right and so I’m going to be saved naturally. That’s what I thought,” he added. “That’s the lie that the devil wants you to believe.”

Wentz also shared the Bible verse that really changed his perspective of salvation.

“Ephesians 2:8-10 — ‘For it is by Grace that you have been saved through faith — and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do go works which God prepared in advance for us to do,'” he recited. “So, when I learned about this grace and learned about how my view of Christianity was really just flipped on it’s head, because you see, Christianity is the only religion in the world that you can’t earn Heaven, you can’t earn an afterlife, you can’t earn reincarnation or whatever it is that other people believe.”

“Christianity says it’s done; Jesus already did it. He took it all for you and this is what Paul is saying here in Ephesians,” Wentz continued. “He’s saying it’s by grace alone you’ve been saved, not by works so that no one can boast. I mean, he can’t lay it out much clearer. Then he says, ‘But we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.’ See we’re not saved by our actions but our actions come out of our faith.”

According to Wentz, the notion that people are saved through works and not a relationship with Christ is a “misconception that a lot of people have.”

“I think it’s a daily thing. I know for me, we get caught up in doing good, doing good, doing good. That it’s a daily thing for me to just remind myself like without Jesus in it, I can’t do it,” he added. “I can’t earn my way to Heaven and nobody can. So, I really challenge every one of us to just [have] daily kind of have that perspective because it’s so easy to get caught up in doing good and thinking that I’m good enough, but without Jesus, none of us are.'”

Wentz has not been afraid to share his faith on Christ on social media and with others. In the interview, Wentz was asked to explain how he handles criticism he faces for expressing his faith publicly.

“Jesus was murdered on a cross. I mean it doesn’t get much worse than that. In that day and age, it doesn’t get anymore humiliating and embarrassing than that. And so, I’m like, if Jesus, who is our ultimate example, endured that, then I can endure a couple tweets, I can endure a little riff raff here and there,” Wentz said. “I can keep that out and stay true to His Word because at the end of the day, I can stay true to that, and Jesus is ultimately, the example.”

“If you love something enough, you’re going to talk about it — if you love your wife, if you love your job, if you love whatever it is that you’re passionate about, you’re going to talk about it,” he added. “If you love Jesus, you should talk about it. You should tell the world about Him, you should share that truth. And so, there’s going to be persecution, there’s going to be haters, you have to just stay true to Him and ultimately that’s what it’s all about.”

Wentz founded the AO1 Foundation earlier this year, which exists to “demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need.”

The organization not only cares for the poor, but also provides unique opportunities for the physically challenged and also provides service dogs to youth in Philadelphia.

“It’s a cool platform and opportunity to just really make a difference overseas, back home in the Midwest, and then also in the Philadelphia area,” Wentz said during the interview. “I encourage you to go check that out and see if God puts it on your heart to make a difference in that area.”

Earlier this year, Wentz, along with Buffalo Bills receiver Jordan Matthews, went on a missions trip to Haiti.

“We only went for three days, and you know everyone always goes on these mission’s trips and [is like] ‘I’m going to go change the culture and go make a difference there.’ It’s an incredible thing and an incredible opportunity, but what really happens is it changes you. It changes your heart, it changes your life, it changes your perspective in a big way,” Wentz emphasized. “This was my first mission trip, my first eye opening event like this in my life.”

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