STIRRINGS AT BETHESDA
A Monthly Publication of
Bethesda Baptist Church
October 27, 2015
HAPPY … !
We wish a very Happy Birthday this month to the following Bethesda Baptist family members:
* Noah on the 6th
* Sandy on the 17th
BACK to Standard Time…
Daylight Savings Time ends this Saturday evening/Sunday morning. Please remember to turn your clocks BACK one hour before you go to bed on Saturday.
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. As is our tradition, we, as a church, will gather together on Sunday, November 22 after morning worship for our annual Thanksgiving fellowship dinner.
More information will follow in future church bulletins.
Men’s Book Study
Brother Dennis is leading the men in a weekly book study over the next couple of months. The study, entitled, “Living the Life” begins this Thursday, October 29, at 7 p.m. at the church. If you wish to attend but did not sign the sheet at the church, please contact Dennis as soon as possible so he can make certain he has enough books for those coming.
Reminder: CHURCH COUNCIL MEETING THIS SATURDAY MORNING AT 9 a. m.
The Luther Monthly
Saturday marks the 498th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That act is considered by most historians as the spark that lit the flame of the Protestant Reformation. Below is the opening paragraph of that document, announcing Luther’s desire to debate. That “debate” lasted for the rest of his life!
“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.”
October 31st has been called Protestant Reformation Day for many, many years. For some time Martin Luther, a German monk, had been greatly convicted by his own personal sins as well as by the abuse he read and saw among many Roman Catholic church leaders. On of these abuses was the sale of indulgences. The Church proclaimed that by contributing to the building of St. Peter’s in Rome, you could buy complete forgiveness for you or a loved one presently in purgatory.
Luther did not believe in indulgences and that all the church was doing was stealing the money of the German people. November 1, a Sunday in 1517, was a holy church day still known as “All Saints’ Day”. In his town of Wittenberg, many church relics would be on display. The Church promised a reduced sentence in purgatory for those who viewed them. Therefore, there was a large crowd in town by “All Hallow’s Eve”, October 31 (“Halloween”).
The door of the local church served as a bulletin board. With a good crowd in town, Luther decided to announce he wanted to debate his thoughts and beliefs on indulgences, so he posted his notice and his theses for debate on that church door 498 years ago this Saturday.
Luther never intended to split the Roman church. A year before his death, he even admitted that, in 1517, he would have killed anyone who fought with the pope! His remark was probably a bit of hyperbole but nevertheless it reveals that, at the time, Luther was a Roman Catholic and intended to remain one.
The original theses, written in Latin, were taken from the door, translated into German, and, with the help of the recently invented printing press, distributed throughout Europe. The fire storm which ensued almost cost Luther his life and ultimately resulted in a seismic split within the church. In less than 5 years, Luther had been excommunicated from the church and was deemed an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor.
The 95 theses Luther posted were 95 matters he wished to debate. Some of them have little to offer in terms of debate. Some of them are mired in the teachings of the church of that day and require knowledge of church doctrine in order to understand what he was debating. But some of them are priceless! How about #86?
86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
You can be certain that was political incorrectness of the first order back in 1517! I wonder how deeply the Pope gasped when he read it?
Or, read this one:
82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?” The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
I suspect the Pope AND those preaching indulgences were quite upset with #82!
And, for a final sample, here is #53.
53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others. We see in that thesis the importance Luther placed in the preaching of the Word. Preaching the Word would become a hallmark of Protestant Christianity, a clear, distinguishing mark of separation with the Roman church.
So, maybe on this Saturday we should set aside our candy for a moment and have a sausage for our supper in honor of the beginning of the Reformation!
May Christ richly bless you this coming month!