Blog: Max Dawson
October 31, 2016
It was on this day in history–October 31, 1517–that the Protestant Movement had its official beginning. It was exactly 499 years ago today that Martin Luther nailed a paper to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
While prior protests had been made against the Catholic Church, it was this event that sparked the massive movement of Protestantism that swept much of Europe.
Luther’s 95 Theses condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. It particularly focused on the sale of indulgences. An indulgence was an official piece of paper, sanctioned by the church, that guaranteed forgiveness of sins. Luther particularly opposed a Dominican priest, Johann Tetzel. Tetzel had been commissioned by the church to lead a fundraising campaign to finance the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Tetzel’s prime method for raising funds was through the sale of indulgences.
The indulgence guaranteed complete forgiveness of all sins; and that the purchaser would have to spend no time in purgatory. Purgatory was a prime element in the sale of indulgences. This (fictional) place was where a Catholic would go at death to be purged from whatever sin remained on his record. (While that statement may be somewhat of an oversimplification, it expresses the substance of a very complex doctrine.) In purgatory, he would even be cleansed from the stain of original sin (another piece of fiction brought to us by the Catholics).
Luther strongly protested the sale of indulgences. He saw the practice as immoral, unscriptural, and degrading to religion. The indulgence, once purchased, was like a license to sin.
In 1521, Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church. Luther was regarded as an outlaw and heretic.
While there were others who protested practices of Catholicism prior to Luther, it is Luther who is credited with beginning the Protestant Reformation. It was 499 years ago today that the movement formally began.


Luther’s protest led to the formation of the Lutheran Church. Other Protestant churches were soon to follow the Lutherans. The Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc. All these were regarded at “Protestant” churches, because in some way each protested against Catholicism.
It is somewhat humorous that, today, most “Protestants” don’t even know the history of the movement or the meaning of the word. Add to that, that few of them would seriously protest anything in the Catholic Church today.
Protestantism spawned a confusing conglomeration of churches and contradictory doctrines. This movement did not lead people to find God’s will.
Yet, God’s will can be found today in the place where it could always be found. It is not in Catholicism or Protestantism. It is found in the word of God. Unadulterated. Unchanged. In the Scriptures alone. Not in the creeds of Rome or of Luther.
Find your salvation in the word of God! No human creeds! No doctrines of men!
May God be with you, my dear friends,