October 31 is when most of us think of scary costumes, spooky movies, and happily giving out candy to those who ring our doorbells. Without question, Halloween has become part of our American culture, complete with bonfires, trunk or treats and festivals. However, as Halloween arrives this year, let’s take a moment to recognize a day of tremendous significance on the Christian calendar this week.
In 1717, the date of October 31 was established as the official Reformation Day Celebration. This was a day set aside to remember what Martin Luther, and so many martyrs before him, sacrificed as they followed their conviction to stand for the accurate teaching of God’s word. As Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, who but God could have known the impact this one man’s actions would have on believers more than 500 years later.
One of Luther’s most passionate charges against the Catholic Church was that priests would sell “indulgences,” or documents that released individuals from having to serve penitence for their sins. Luther and many others before him recognized the consequences of this false teaching of “ buying your way into heaven.” They knew that our salvation was not received through works, or by penance, but by the immeasurable grace and mercy of Christ alone.
Luther’s “protest”, and public concerns levied against the Catholic Church began a debate amongst religious scholars at that time and ultimately lead to the Protestant Reformation. Out of the Reformation, we received the 5 Solas which are guiding principles in most Protestant and evangelical churches today: Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone); Solus Christus (by Christ alone); Sola Gratia (by Grace alone); Sola Fide (by Faith alone); and Soli Deo Gloria (by Glory to God alone).
Since October 31, 1717, this day has been set aside on the Christian calendar to reflect on the critical nature of this church history that made us aware of the freedom we have to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So amongst the pumpkins and trick-or-treaters, we encourage you to remember this truth: By God’s grace, we do not need a mediator to communicate with God, nor do we have to empty our bank accounts to pay for our sins. We have immediate access to a personal and loving God who created us, loves us and died for us so we can spend all of eternity with Him.
May we celebrate this day, October 31, with great joy and thanksgiving!
Dr. Rob Brown
Head of School