Today it’s all about Halloween. At least if you live here in the United States. In Germany, October 31 has been declared a national holiday this year, and that not because of Halloween.
Let’s talk about Martin Luther, the scholar, priest, and unifier.
Germany Celebrates 500 Years of The Reformation
500 years ago, Martin Luther, a priest and scholar went to a church in Wittenberg to nail his 95 theses on to its doors. That act started a religious revolution and led to the formation of a new religious structure within Christendom: Protestantism. The Reformation was born.
Today Germany and churches around the globe commemorate Martin Luther and this significant event that brought about Protestantism and its many subgroups, like Lutheranism, Baptism, Anglicanism, Methodism and more.
But, What do We Really Know About Martin Luther?
Luther – The Priest who Started the Reformation
Martin Luther hadn’t planned for all this to happen. In fact, all he wanted was to find a way to draw attention to some teachings and practices of the Catholic Church he didn’t agree with. Despite attempts and requests to debate this with church leaders, they chose to ignore him. Luther had to find a different way to make himself heard and found a very effective one. He nailed his 95 theses to the doors of the castle church of Wittenberg. At least, so the legend goes. It is disputed if this actually happened, especially since Luther just wanted to change some grievances and not cause a religious revolution.
Luther – The Scholar, Speaking Out for Free Education for All
Luther, the revolutionary, the priest who started a new religion within Christianity. That’s how many of us know him best. But, did you know that Luther was also a revolutionary in regards to education? In a way, we can thank him for free public education, which is very much still policy in present day Germany. He not only supported that education should be free for all and not a privilege of the rich elite, but also pioneered in making education available for girls!
Luther – The Linguist and Uniter
By translating the Bible from Latin into German, Martin Luther united a people under the umbrella of one common German language. Before the days of the Bible written in German, the German language consisted of many varieties of dialects. Luther, fluent in both, the northern and southern German dialects, wanted all the German people to understand the teachings of the Bible. By taking all dialects into account he created a German language that was understandable to everyone. Credit Luther for the first standardized German, if you will!