It is the 500th anniversary of an event that shook the world; Martin Luther’s protests at the Roman Catholic church, expressed in public in his 95 theses, nailed to the door of Castle church here in
Wittenberg in Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined local leaders to mark the anniversary.
What would become known as Protestantism split the Christian world, leading to one nation elevating its king to unprecedented spritual and temporal rule, England’s Henry VIII, and splitting from Rome while other mostly northern European nations broke away from what they saw as a hopelessly corrupt Roman Catholic heirarchy.
“The centrepiece of the reformist momentum is freedom. “On the Freedom of a Christian” is Martin Luther’s most important work. And freedom is the megatopic of our time. Is freedom the freedom from any obligation? Is freedom the option to choose between thousands of options? Or is freedom the personal power to resist authorities and to follow your conscience?“asked the Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm.
Protestantism promised your reward in heaven would not be precluded by amassing wealth, which was no longer intrinsically evil if spent on good works, and thus it opened the door to modern Capitalism, for better or worse.