Faces of the Reformation
Luther was raised by God-fearing parents who sacrificed to give
their son an education. Planning to become a lawyer, Martin Luther
entered the University of Erfurt. (His courses in grammar, logic and
rhetoric provided the tools Luther later used to study and interpret
Scripture.) Law was a profession that was not only respected but
would also ensure his ability to care for his parents in their later
years. One day Luther was caught in a violent thunderstorm. He
prayed to St. Anne, promising to become a monk if his life was
spared. This was not a promise he took lightly. Much to the
disappointment of his father, Luther shed his worldly life to enter
the Augustinian monastery.
was here that Luther fasted and prayed, constantly seeking to live a
perfect and holy life for God’s approval. This attempt to live a
holy life included visiting and revering holy relics. There were
relics that were reputed to be a splinter from the cross, or a
branch from the burning bush, the hair of this saint or a piece of
cloth from that one. Even Luther’s trip to Rome, a city filled with
more relics than any other in Europe, could not put his soul at
ease. He could never be good enough for this righteous God. Despair
set in. Luther’s vicar (or priest), Johann von Staupitz, brought him
to Wittenberg where he could mentor Luther more closely.
Luther began an in-depth study of the Bible while teaching at the
University of Wittenberg. He continued this study after finishing
his doctorate, believing that the Bible was more important than the
teachings of the Church Fathers. In 1514, while studying Paul’s
letter to the Romans in his tower room, he finally saw the pure
Gospel. He realized that sinners are saved not through good works
but by the gift of God through faith. This insight into the Gospel
and the assurance of his salvation gave him the confidence to
overcome the challenges he would soon face.
The challenges began in the form of a man named Johann Tetzel.
Tetzel was sent to Wittenberg to sell indulgences. After penitents
confessed their sins, a priest might assign works of satisfaction as
part of absolving sins. At first, indulgences were granted to
Crusaders willing to sacrifice all in defense of the Church. Those
who could not go could support the effort financially and also
receive an indulgence, or pardon from sin.
This was so lucrative that the practice was soon used to raise funds
for churches and hospitals, even infrastructure. Frederick the Wise
would display his relics on All Saints Day, Nov. 1. The faithful
could pay homage to the relics, pay money to Frederick and everyone
would be happy at the end of the day; sins forgiven, revenues up.
The three parts to penance changed from contrition, confession and
absolution to contrition, confession and contribution.
Luther’s concern was that there would no longer be any sense of true
contrition. If sinners could receive pardon from all sins, then they
could spend the rest of their lives not worrying about the statuses
of their souls. He must protect his flock from this dangerous
On Oct. 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Castle Church
doors, seeking a scholarly debate on the sale of indulgences.
Although he wrote them in Latin, they were surreptitiously
translated into German and distributed throughout the land, sparking
the events that began the Reformation.
From the Elders
It's still all about Jesus
Open your average world history book and you’ll find but a paragraph
or two on the Reformation. The event appears a small drop on the
timeline, but the Christian Church knows better.
Since the past is best explored through the people who lived it, the
Elders at St. John would like to introduce you to a series of men
and women passionate about the Reformation re-discovery of the
Gospel— either for or against it. These iconic individuals used
their unique vocations to create theological and cultural tidal
waves beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing today. See
how the gracious Word of the Lord had the final word in bringing the
“it’s still all about Jesus” proclamation to the corners of Europe
and beyond. (More...)
Worship services at St. John are scheduled each
Sunday and Wednesday. Sunday morning Communion services are held on the odd numbered weeks each month with non-communion services
held on the even
numbered Sundays. (Seasonally adjusted
- Sunday Morning - 9:00 a.m.
- Wednesday Evening - (Held during
the Advent and Lenten Season - See Calendar during those months
for service times.)
Sunday Bible Class
Join us on Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. for adult Bible class
where a variety of topics, always Gospel centered. Currently, "Being
Lutheran" by A. Trevor Sutton is being discussed.
Jesus Christ brings the Gospel (from older English, "Good-spel,"
"good news") to the world. He announces that in His person the
kingdom of God has come to mankind and that through faith in Him
people might find new and eternal life. He is Himself the Good News,