As one of the activities for this year’s scholarship competition, I asked volunteers from our high-school apologetics fellowship to select a PragerU video that interested them and write a summary of it to post on my blog.
Claire Wilkerson submitted the following essay:
How the Reformation Shaped Your World – by Claire Wilkerson
It all started in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. A monk named Martin Luther nailed his complaints about the Catholic church on a church door. These complaints would spark the Protestant Reformation which changed Christianity forever.
His grievances included the church practicing indulgences. Whoever gave enough money to the church was essentially given a get out of hell free card. The only person licensed to give those is Jesus. Luther argued that it had no scriptural basis and made the church look bad. He believed the church required reformation or it would lose its legitimacy. Luther wasn’t aware at the time that his 95 grievances would start a chain reaction that would change the course of history.
Erasmus urged Luther to keep his complaints to just indulgences, good thing Luther didn’t listen. Luther was very much a flawed individual with a brilliant mind and charismatic personality. However, he could be stubborn and vindictive which let to antisemitism later in life.
Importantly, Luther thought that the Bible should not be separate from the believer. He thought that each individual should have equal access to the word of God, the same as any priest or even the pope. This was controversial among the clergy specifically. Being able to read Latin gave them an elite status. Luther was making the point that everyone is under the authority of God alone, not God and the Pope. If only clergymen could interpret the Bible for the people, then the people would receive a version of God constructed by a select elite class.
The conflict between the church and Luther split Europe into opposing religious factions. It is also argued that as a result of Luther’s ideas the modern individual was born. This revolutionized the idea that the individual had rights that were God-given and were an innate part of humanity. Each person was entitled to read and interpret those rights by reading the Bible for themselves.
The effect of this reformation on our world has not only to do with our access to the Bible, but also with our country. All but one of the signers of the Constitution were Protestants. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness all started with an outspoken German monk.