|The rumblings are already taking place underneath your feet. Can you feel them?|
The Protestant Reformation didn't happen 500 years ago simply because a German priest decided to nail his list of 95 opinions to a door. Martin Luther's act was unquestionably heroic, but the act itself was as common as thumb-tacking a flyer to a cork board for discussion on a college campus today. It wasn't because his "theses" were so persuasive and so well-written that it inspired Christians to risk their lives to reform the Western Church. Rather, Luther's words struck a nerve.
For a movement to last half a millennia it couldn't have been the work of one man in only one historic event. Nor will any future, widespread changes to Christianity take place overnight.
For Luther, the time was right. The stage was set by many reformers who came before -- many of whom lost their lives -- in defense of the simple truth of the Gospel. The circumstances made for a ripeness whereby Luther's words echoed and pierced more than just a wooden door but the hearts of great academics and church leaders whose excesses and errors are well known. Those paying attention had known for years what led to this earth-shaking act of defiance that toppled strongholds. They felt the rumblings.
Reformation didn't take place in a vacuum
This major quake happened 500 years ago, Oct. 31, 1517, to be exact, when Luther's little rebellion sparked the Protestant Reformation. It also inspired the Catholic Church's re-evaluation of itself via the Counter-Reformation and a gradual shift of priorities in other streams of Christianity (e.g. Eastern Orthodox, and a trickle of reformation groups that pre-dated Luther). That's a quarter of the entire age of Christianity that Protestantism has been in existence. And if you don't know why this change in Western Christianity is significant even today, read this. If you don't feel like clicking links, or even if you confuse Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Lutheran church guy, just be thankful that you can read the Bible in your own language.