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Persons From the Past…
…Opening Doors for the Future

Text by: Elizabeth Cummings
Photography Credits-Available Upon Request
Many people celebrate Halloween on October 31st. Were you aware, though, that there is another holiday celebrated around the world on this same date? The holiday is called Reformation Day and is celebrated as the beginning of the "re-formation" of the Roman Catholic Church. It was on this day in 1517, when an obscure German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 theses (or theories) to the door of the Catholic Church in Wittenberg, Germany. His theses (historically known as "The 95 Theses") consisted of his theories, as well as his objections, to the extravagances made by one specific monk of the church, namely Johnan Tetzel. Tetzel had been sent by the Pope to raise money from the church members to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Martin Luther’s objection was that the church was asking for money from its poor members, when the Pope had quite enough money of his own and should have used it to build the great church building.
“Why does the Pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”
- Martin Luther, "These #86" of The 95 Theses

It is believed by some that what Martin Luther did was an act of rebellion, when, in actuality, it was a very normal method practiced at that time by scholars for the purpose of calling for a debate on an issue. Church doors were used as a type of "bulletin board" so that many writings could be seen at one time. Martin Luther was simply using the church doors to call for a debate on 95 issues he had with the church. The posting was not seen by many, but those who did were the ones who turned it into one of the most widespread transformations in all of history. The credit can be given to a few forward-thinking students who reproduced and published Luther's writings, and within only a few weeks had distributed them all over Germany. The theses were quickly spread across all of Europe into Switzerland, England, and Scotland, thus sparking a voice of change and renewal for all within the massive church organization. If you haven't yet recognized Martin Luther's name as synonymous with "The Lutheran Church," you will now. Not only was this the beginning of the "Lutherans," but it was the founding of almost every other religion that is a break-off of the Catholic Church, including the Protestants, Methodists, and many, many others. It is believed that, because of the event on October 31st, a ripple effect transpired, and a revolution was created ultimately causing an entire reformation of the Roman Catholic Church. New rules were made, new standards were set, and more people were able to be independent in the practice of their personal, religious beliefs.
Before the Reformation, the members of the Church did not enjoy the rights and freedoms we enjoy today. Church members all around the world can now do many things that were never allowed, nor taught, such as reading and preaching the Bible in their native language, singing songs about Bible truths, praying out loud, praying privately in the home, and most importantly, believing in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The effects of this event extend far beyond religion as well. We are able to enjoy freedoms of equality, science, and education within our family life because of this incident... an event that happened on an ordinary, humble day... a day where an obscure monk named Martin Luther opened millions of doors for the future... by humbly, yet courageously, protesting the beliefs of his church... on a door.