On this day, the 31st October, exactly 495 years ago, in 1517, a German monk in his mid thirties left his accomodation in the early morning, wrapped against the dawn cold in his woollen cowl he briskly walked towards the castle church in Wittenberg. On arrival he withdew from the folds of his habit a hammer, some nails, and a document and he proceded to nail the document to the church door. The monk’s name was Martin Luther, the document would become known as the 95 theses, and those hammer blows would reverberate down the centuries.
Before we set about examining the question within the title, it seems appropriate that we should look first at the situation which prompted Martin Luther to write the 95 theses. The terms ‘catholic’ and ‘protestant’, today, seem to me to define religious, almost tribal, allegiance but the word ‘catholic’ comes from the Greek word καθολικός meaning ‘univeral’ and it was first used in the second century AD. The word ‘protestant’ literally means protester and only came into use after the events described in the opening paragraph.
As the church increased in power so it attracted the ambitious and corrupt. Luther was particularly enraged by the selling of indulgences. He felt that the sale of indulgences was a gross violation of the original intention of confession and penance, and that Christians were being falsely told that they could find absolution through the purchase of indulgences.
Today, almost 500 years later the central banks and financial elites are similarly corrupt. Capitalism has been undermined.
Isn’t it time that we had a new Reformation ?
As we approach the quincentenary of this momentous event, shouldn’t we be demanding wholesale reform ?
And what do you think should be in a new 95 theses ?