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Andrew Swan, MLA Minto
November 1, 2017

Reformation Day

Five hundred years ago yesterday, on October 31, 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther is said to have nailed thirty–95 theses to the door of the All Saints' Church in his hometown of Wittenburg. His actions sparked the Protestant Reformation, which changed forever the face of Western civilization and the world.

Luther went public as possible in 1517, because he knew it was necessary to challenge certain beliefs promoted by the established church at the time, including the idea that Christians could buy their way into heaven through the purchase of indulgences. Luther's view, based on scripture, was that salvation was not for sale, but came by grace through faith alone. His leadership inspired a priesthood of all believers, and through the use of the existing media–the printing press and the pulpit–both the Bible and Luther's message were able to reach across and beyond the Holy Roman Empire, dividing Europe and dramatically reshaping the world.

The Reformation unleashed great conflict, which some would say is not fully resolved today. Weakened central authority led to Europe's Thirty Years War, but also resulted in the formation of modern statehood and the emergence of many pillars of Western thought, philosophy and governance.

Today, one in eight people on the face of the earth belongs to a Protestant denomination. Here in Manitoba, a large and diverse number of faith-based communities point to Reformation Day as part of their history. It is a time to reflect on both positive outcomes of the Reformation as well as the mistakes and hardships and affirm the need to work together as human beings, whatever our beliefs.

Grace should not be for sale, but neither, too, should human beings, nor the protection of the environment, nor the provision of health care. Martin Luther's radical idea that some things are simply not for sale, remains important today.

Thank you