500 Years Ago Today...

Earlier this month I had the privilege of taking a 10-day European cruise on the Elbe River (click here to see a beautiful album of photos from the trip). The main purpose of my trip was to celebrate with millions of others in honoring the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. When we stopped at the church doors on which the 95 Theses were displayed, our guide explained that Luther’s desire wasn’t to be a revolutionary; he wanted to be a reformer. He loved the Catholic Church but came to the conviction that their religious practices conflicted with his understanding of the Bible. The door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany was the official location where scholars would place their points for public discussion held the following day, November 1st, 1517. Luther contextualized his 95 Theses which he placed on October 31st, 1517 as follows:

“Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

I was struck by the fact that Luther was not trying to make a point; he was trying to make a difference. He was attempting to bring issues into the open for public discourse. His motives originated from a place of love, not a desire to be right and prove the Catholic Church wrong. Luther strongly disputed; he didn’t vilify. How far we’ve devolved from this brilliant manner of highlighting societal issues to be addressed in a collaborative fashion.

We then toured Castle Church and Luther’s home. We saw his Bible, his books, his table where he discussed theological insights, where he debated, where he stood, lived, and walked. It was surreal. What Luther did 500 years ago has far-reaching application for today’s leader regardless of religious beliefs. His life stands as a reminder that even 500 years later, the cost of questioning authority and bringing unsound practices to light comes at a steep price. The very organizations we care so deeply for may turn on us and spit us out should we try and reform them.


Click here to see a full album of photos from the trip!

To learn more about what happened on this day 500 years ago and how Luther had the character and conviction to weather the events, pick up a copy of our latest Life-Changing Classic, Luther on Leadership by Dr. Stephen Nichols. Who knows what trials and debates you may find yourself engaged in throughout your life and leadership journey. Be prepared by learning from this seminal figure on how to stay true to your convictions, so you too can be a tremendous world changer.




Martin Luther did reform the Catholic Church – and much more.
He purposely went against it for personal reasons, including his own position of power.
He married an ex-nun, Katharina von Bora, whom he had personally lured out of her convent; priests in the Catholic Church don’t marry.
This was much more than speaking out against selling indulgences (which was a bad idea).
He was also virulently anti-Semitic; see his “On Jews and Their Lies” which Hitler used some 400 years later.

The schism of the Church did not end with the Reformation; witness the hundreds of Protestant Churches which have come of it since, with even some of the larger ones having fallen victim to “The Global Sexual Revolution” – an excellent book that people especially in The Western World should read to make sense of what is happening today.

Martin Luther – a man – was an idealist and flawed like all of us.

Elaine Mallios

Elaine Mallios

Martin Luther was a back to basics guy. He was a proponent of original teaching of Jesus Christ who began the first christian church. I believe there were four synods of the Eastern Orthodox faith over the next many centuries. Luther’s teachings were directly from the original teachings. The Lutheran faith is very similar to the Orthodox christian beliefs since he derived his principles from them. Although many associate Orthodoxy with Catholicism, the catholics left the original church in 1080 (about) and had many revisions of their own that basically were not in the original statutes.
Thank you so much for the inside look of your trip and it really sounds and looks amazing!

Hugh Hogue

Hugh Hogue

Enjoyed your writing about Luther and your trip! Makes me want to go.
I read a book on Luther earlier this year. He had no idea how he would change the world for the next 500 years.

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