October 31, 1517 was the date. The place was Wittenberg Castle church, Wittenberg, Germany. His name was Martin Luther. Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith in Jesus Christ alone and by God’s divine grace only, Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences by the Roman church. Consequently, he defiantly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. His singular act is indelibly inscribed in the annals of salvation history as the event that gave birth to the Protestant Reformation.
The Church of Rome responded to Luther’s Reformation with its Counter-Reformation. Ignatius Loyola, soldier turned priest and mystical icon, initiated the Jesuit Order, commonly known as the Jesuits. This movement became the most effective and ruthless instrument in the hands of the papacy to overturn and discredit Luther’s Reformation. Its objective has always been to undo all that Protestantism has done and to establish the Roman church as the supreme ruler of the world.
So successful has the church’s efforts been that Jesuit Pope Francis can announce to the world that the Protest is over. His church is commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Ironically, it is the pope of Rome and his church that are most proactive in celebrating Luther and commemorating the Protestant Reformation which he ignited. Their celebration, however, is an overmastering deception. The reality is that they are congratulating themselves on the undeniable effectiveness of the Counter-Reformation. No one can deny its success; hence their celebration. Francis’ joint celebration with the leadership of the Lutheran church in Lund, Sweden on October 31st was hailed as a great and memorable moment for Luther’s Reformation. Rather, under the pretense of commemorating Martin Luther’s Reformation, Francis and his church are announcing to the world that the Counter-Reformation has been successful–mission accomplished.
Nevertheless, contrary to their attempt to influence the world otherwise, the Protest is not over.
Luther’s 95 Theses which became the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, was quite provocative, confronting the un-Biblical teachings of the church to which he had dedicated his life, sincerely believing that it was God’s church on earth. But, having found the truth and light of God’s word, Luther declared, “We are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist…personally I declare that I owe the pope no other obedience than that of Antichrist…” (Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 1, pg. 121, Froom). Luther’s theses was the beginning of a movement and the engine that drove untold millions to protest against the erroneous dogmas, doctrines, and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
It is approaching 500 years now and some throughout Christendom are celebrating the anniversary of Luther’s Protest which has affected all of our lives. For there would have been no Protestant denomination had not the God of all creation inspired and empowered the humble, God-fearing monk named Martin Luther. He is one of the most influential figures in Western history. This one man’s faith in God’s word was displayed by his courageous act that changed the course of human history. Luther, by the direction and divine grace of Creator God, discovered that the church he so very much loved was practicing fraud, deception, and treachery beyond his wildest imaginations.
However, in the document, From Conflict to Communion, which solidifies the return of the Lutheran church to the Church of Rome and forms the basis for Rome’s celebration, this revealing, classical Jesuitical statement is found under the section, New Perspectives on Martin Luther and the Reformation: “What happened in the past cannot be changed, but what is remembered of the past and how it is remembered can, with the passage of time, indeed change. Remembrance makes the past present. While the past itself is unalterable, the presence of the past in the present is alterable. In view of 2017, the point is not to tell a different history, but to tell that history differently…Lutherans and Catholics have many reasons to retell their history in new ways. They have been brought closer together through family relations, through their service to the larger world mission, and through their common resistance to tyrannies in many places. These deepened contacts have changed mutual perceptions, bringing new urgency for ecumenical dialogue and further research. The ecumenical movement has altered the orientation of the churches’ perceptions of the Reformation: ecumenical theologians have decided not to pursue their confessional self-assertions at the expense of their dialogue partners but rather to search for that which is common within the differences, even within the oppositions, and thus work toward overcoming church-dividing differences” (From Conflict to Communion, (Ch. 2, Sec 16, 17).
How sad that on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s formidable Protestant Reformation, the church he founded, the Lutherans, have fully clasped hands with the Papal church, effectively agreeing with the current pope that the Protestant Reformation is over. Looking around the religious landscape, one can confidently conclude that many others have agreed with the pope and are following suit. How grieved would Luther and the other Protestant Reformers be could they witness the current rejection of their sacrificial efforts as millions are embracing popery and returning to the fold of the Roman church? Quite interestingly, none of the doctrines, dogmas, and practices that led to Luther’s Protestant Reformation have changed. Those policies resulted in the unmerciful slaughter of tens of millions whose only crime was to choose, like Luther, that salvation is available through Jesus Christ alone. It would therefore not be too difficult to conjecture what will befall those who, like the Protestants of old, continue to reject the spurious teachings of Francis and his church.
As we enter into the 500th year of Luther’s Protest, shamefully, not too many Christians are celebrating the man and his work which changed the course of human history. It is indeed a great mystery that on the anniversary of Luther’s courageously monumental act, the followers of Jesus Christ would choose, contrary to the word of God, to engage in activities rooted in sorcery, witchcraft and necromancy rather than reflect upon the event that was the foundation for their civil and religious liberty. Why would they choose carving pumpkins and pretending to be ghosts instead of praising the God of all creation for sending Luther and the other reformers, many of whom gave their lives, so that we can live?
They need to be reminded that the protest is not over.