On our way back to Biskirchen from Berlin (by common consent of our family- the most fascinating city in Germany) we decided to take a detour to Wittenberg - the town where Luther (an Augustinian monk) had lectured at the University, and more significantly, where he had nailed his famous "95 Theses" , to the door of the Schlosskirche.
This event began the Protestant Reformation.
|Schlosskirche - Wittenberg|
LUTHER'S 95 THESES
Luther's Ninety-Five Theses, essentially focus on the nature of true repentance. Luther took the Roman Catholic practice of the sale of indulgences to task. Indulgences were guarantees of the forgiveness of sins in exchange for money. These guarantees were provided by the Pope. Confession and forgiveness therefore became a financial transaction rather than a matter of genuine contrition. Luther's theses argued 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.
The Castle Church in Wittenberg also held one of Europe's largest collections of holy relics that had been collected by Frederik III of Saxony. At that time the veneration or viewing of relics was purported to allow the viewer to receive relief from temporal punishment for sins in purgatory. By 1509 Frederick had collected apparently over 5,000 relics, purportedly including vials of the milk of the Virgin Mary, straw from the manger [of Jesus], and the body of one of the babies massacred by King Herod.
As part of a fund-raising campaign commissioned by Pope Leo X to finance the renovation of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest started to sell indulgences in the German territory. Even though Luther's prince, Frederick III, and the prince of the neighboring territory, George , Duke of Saxony forbade the sale in their lands, Luther's parishioners traveled to purchase them anyway. When these people came to confession they presented their indulgences which they had paid for, claiming they no longer had to repent of their sins, since the document promised to forgive all their sins.
Luther became very angry that they had paid money for what was theirs by right as a free gift from God. He felt compelled to expose the fraud that was being sold to these uneducated and superstitious people. The Ninety-five Theses outlined the items to be discussed and issued the challenge to any and all comers.
Wittenberg today is a town of about 50 000 inhabitants, and even though Wittenberg has an enormous spiritual history, and even though tens of thousands of vistors visit Wittenberg every year (Wittenberg and Wartburg are recognised World Heritage Sites) one doesn't get the impression that this town is abuzz with spiritual vitality.
I got the impression that the town really reflected the ethos of the buyers and sellers in the temple precincts in Jerusalem. Way back then in the days when the Lord Jesus walked upon the face of this earth, the temple had ceased to be the great spiritual renewal center for which it was designed by God. The big buzz in the temple then was commerce - not prayer or worship. It appears that modern Wittenberg is trading on its past, making money out of history and selling Luther relics without embracing the red hot faith of Luther .
"Oh Lord , in your wrath remember mercy ! " (Habakkuk 3:2)
|The majestic pulpit of the Schlosskirche|
"O land, land , land hear the Word of the Lord." - Jeremiah 22:29