On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posed his 95 theses on the castle church doors. He indicated many areas of disagreement with the Catholic Church, especially the practice of indulgences. The Church didn’t care for Luther’s views and booted him and his supporters out in 1520. The Church’s action helped launch the Protestant Reformation, and of course, the rest is history.
It would be hard to deal with the practice of buying people out of purgatory, plus the fact there might be some people that might cost more to get out than others. The people were at the mercy of the Church. Indeed, this practice was a significant money maker for the Church and it’s understandable why the powers that be would be upset with Luther. His views of sola scriptura and sola gracia could have devastating effects in that the common folk didn’t actually need the priests or the Church to forgive their sins.
Baptists emerged out of what has been called “the radical reformation” and it was out of this period that our views of congregational autonomy and believer’s baptism by immersion developed. This is a greatly abridged history lesson, but suffice it to say that we Baptists wouldn’t be where we are today without Luther taking a stand on the Word of God.
It must have very difficult for Luther to stand up to the Church and refute the doctrines that had been taught to the people for years. I have read that there were times that Luther deal with depression and struggled with what was going on around. That really is an understatement, and the fact that someone actually had the courage to say that the Church was wrong in what it was doing truly is incredible. I admire Luther for his gall as he spoke during the Diet of Worms: “Here I stand (on the Word of God), that is all I can do. God help me.”
That statement was good enough for Luther and it’s good enough for me. Today I give thanks for him and others who laid the groundwork for the rest of us. This is truly a day for us to give thanks. My prayer is that Baptists will continue to take a stand on principles that have been tried and true through the years. This might cost us fellowship in some denominational circles, but the price is definitely worth it. May there always be individuals who are willing to stand up for our historic Baptist distinctives. Baptists have been free and faithful. May we always be.