Why We Celebrate
On October 31, 1517, a German monk, Martin Luther, posted a list of 95 points for debate with fellow Catholic scholars and students. These Ninety-Five Theses sparked a Reformation movement that ultimately spread far beyond the Church to language, art, music, education, and politics—an era that would become one of the major turning points in world history.
Thanks to the relatively new technology of the printing press, what could have been a local curiosity a few decades earlier instead became an international phenomenon. The Ninety-Five Theses and many other writings propelled Luther to a form of stardom the world hadn’t encountered before. Scholar and outlaw, earthy humorist and skilled debater, Luther became a household name—and the Reformation became a cause célèbre. Luther was at the right time and place to start a chain reaction that spread outward from “religious” life to virtually every corner of Western culture.
Yes, Luther and the Reformers changed the world forever, despite the best efforts of powerful religious and political leaders to silence (or even kill) them. But what we celebrate this year isn't a man or a movement. What we celebrate this October is the Reformation’s Gospel-centered legacy of timeless, biblical Christian teaching that humankind is saved by God’s grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, on the basis of Scripture alone. Northwest Reformation 500 is an historic, once-in-a-lifetime occasion for all area Lutherans—and fellow Christians—to celebrate that, after 500 years, it’s still all about Jesus.