Last Thursday, I made my way over to the movie theater at about 6:45pm. I was already excited, but I could tell I wasn’t the only one. I arrived thinking I would be one of the first, but by the time I got in the door, many other Zion members were already showing up for our 7:30pm screening of “Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World.” When I first started planning the event, I wasn’t sure we would have the 105 minimum needed to host the event. But, by Tuesday morning, we had sold out at 153 tickets! Many of our members were in attendance, but family and friends of a variety of other church backgrounds attended with us as well.
The movie was well received. I was one of the last people out of the theater, but when I left there were still twenty of thirty people in the hall discussing the movie! Many expressed delight in how much they had learned about Martin Luther and the Reformation. A few facts in particular seemed to stick out for many:
- Luther struggled with depression. Oftentimes when we discuss or learn about heroes of the faith, we forget that they were very human and experienced temptations, struggles, and doubts just like we do. Luther was certainly no exception. While he was publicly bold and confident, he privately struggled with sever spiritual anxiety. At several times throughout his life, he was so depressed that he was unable to work for days or weeks at a time. One thing that helped him was his calling and the needs of his neighbors. In one instance, his depression was so debilitating until the plague came to Wittenberg and he was needed to minister to the dying and grieving.
- Luther could at times use crude language. On occasion it was excessive. However, given the severity of the false doctrine and harmful practices effusing from the monks, the papacy, and the indulgence sellers, crude language was sometimes the tool that Luther needed to use to point out the serious spiritual danger of these false teachings and practices.
- The Reformation had a far reaching impact on modern history. The effect wasn’t just the Reformation of the church. Society, government, politics, and economics all were impacted by the reform of the church. Even many of the principles of the founding of our own country were influenced by the work of the Reformation.
I even learned a couple of things that I didn’t know. For example, I learned that the Ninety-five Theses, once printed, were spread so rapidly throughout Europe that there were copies in Spain in only ten days. That’s a distance of at least 1200 miles, and the fastest modes of transportation were horse or ship. Astounding!
Following the movie, we had a brief period for reflections and questions and answers. One of the questions was whether we could in a certain sense understand Martin Luther as inspired by God. At the time I said that we should make a distinction between the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible word of God and the writings of Martin Luther or any other human author. I still stand by that answer, but I would add that, without a doubt, we can see God at work through Martin Luther to bring about the reformation of the church and the clear proclamation of the Gospel. In that sense, we can definitely say that God “inspired” Luther. Five hundred years later, we give thanks for God’s work through his humble servant to bring the Gospel to light once again, a light which has been kept burning ever since.
It was a joy to celebrate the Reformation by attending a movie together. I would like to thank everyone who came out to watch with us. I would also like to give a special thank you to Angie Luczak, who helped so much with ordering tickets and getting the word out. Thank you once again!