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Viewpoints . . . The 500th Anniversary of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses

While October 31 marks Halloween for most Americans, this year by Martin Ederer Political leaders picked up the unique spirituality and strident
the date marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Disputatio work and found it useful. By the style met up with northern late
pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum, better known in our part of On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Lu- end of 1517, the Theses had been medieval sensitivities and ideal-
the world as his Ninety-Five Theses, the document that launched the ther angrily posted his Nine- translated into German, and from ism, a story of two cultures either
Protestant Reformation. ty-Five Theses on the Castle there the newfangled technology talking past each other either by
Church door in Wittenberg. A re- known as moveable-type printing design or simply because they
Several of the traditionally Protestant regions of Germany have sponse to the sale of indulgences did the rest. Some German rulers, didn’t get each other. The more
long celebrated Reformation Day. In honor of the 500th anniversary there, Luther’s work invited the itching to flout Habsburg imperial Luther got pressed in disputations
of the Protestant Reformation, however, Reformation Day will be Wittenberg university community authority, loved Luther’s work, and questioning, the more radical-
celebrated as a universal holiday in Germany. To all of our Protestant – Luther belonged to the university and used it to advance their own – ized his views and his theology
readers, happy anniversary! faculty – to a disputation on indul- often very limited and divergent – became.
gences. Nailing debate notices to political agendas. Luther’s own
Lutherans mark 500th the church door, as dramatic as it local ruler, Frederick the Wise, While church authorities ini-
anniversary of Reformation sounds, was normal in a university Elector of Saxony, saw in Luther a tially demanded that Luther recant
town that routinely used its church way to engage in some power pol- 41 “errors” in his Theses, as dispu-
The Reformation Readers Book Club will meet Tuesday, Oct. 10 at doors as bulletin boards, and it itics. Anyhow, Frederick’s protec- tations and negotiations dragged
St. John Lutheran Church, 6950 Ward Rd., (corner Niagara Falls Blvd), even less constituted any inten- tion of Luther was crucial to on, the Catholic final offer was
Wheatfield at 7 p.m. to review and discuss Rev. Dr. Daniel Preus, vice tional populist revolt against pow- Luther’s – and Lutheranism’s – reduced to only two non-negotia-
president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s book Why I Am a erful and entrenched church survival. bles: Luther was expected to re-
Lutheran: Jesus at the Center. authorities. cant the 7th and the 58th theses (he
What Luther’s Ninety-Five refused).
His book explains why he believes the Lutheran Confessions are the Luther’s Theses were written Theses accomplished probably
purest expression of the Christian faith. To receive a copy of the book in Latin, which made sense in a surprised Luther more than anyone In many respects, the issue – at
for only $5.00 (while quantities last), please contact Pastor Bauch at 434 university town full of professors else. While it is clear that Luther least initially – was not so much
3106 or It’s also available at its full price of $17.99 and students who knew Latin, pur- stood by what he was stating, he insurmountable doctrinal nuances,
from Concordia Publishing House (1-800-325-3040). sued their studies in Latin, and still initially was conciliatory to- but rather obedience and embar-
wrote in Latin. But he was hardly ward church authority. His Letter rassment issues: Luther had stated
On Saturday, Oct. 21, Renaissance Banquet and Luther Talks will be addressing the common folk. Fur- to Leo X, which accompanied his that there might be a need for dis-
held at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 875 Eggert Rd., North Tonawanda. thermore, the disputation Luther Freedom of the Christian still indi- cussion of issues that church au-
proposed was no resounding suc- cates a confidence as late as 1520 thority held as not open for
Opening devotions and plenary session begins at 1 p.m., followed by cess. Sources are silent about that Leo would surely act to re- discussion. While scholars might
two lectures (choice of 4 subjects). At 5 p.m. the Reformation Banquet, whether the disputation even took form abuses had he known just continue to debate what the Nine-
features food that may have been served at that time. Entertainment will place. how bad they had become. ty-Five Theses ultimately meant, it
include Martin Luther, music of the time, and “In Jest.” Tickets are $30, is clear that all Protestantism as we
for the entire day. Call 716 731 7183 by Oct. 6. Indeed, any casual reader of In a sense, this is where the know it would not have come into
the Theses would easily wonder Italian Renaissance, with its own existence without them.
On Sunday, Oct. 22 a Reformation Service will be held at St. what the fuss was all about any-
Matthew Lutheran, 875 Eggert Rd., North Tonawanda at 3 p.m. The way. The issues are nuanced, Since 1970 the Buffalo Standard
public is invited to attend. scholarly and detailed and, while Printing Booster Club has raised funds
vigorously presented, hardly ap- to support our family of publications.
On Thurs., Nov. 16 the Historical Society of North German Settle- pear to be angry. Ordinarily, Lu-
ments, 2790 Church Rd., Wheatfield, will host “Art and the Reforma- ther’s theses might have earned a These funds have been used to off-set some of the
tion” presented by Nona McQuay. The program begins at 7 p.m. shrug. That’s what makes the The- publication costs, increases in postage, and affords
ses all the more remarkable. Aside the ability to secure the best writers in Western New
The public is welcome to all the events. from his outdoor posting, Luther York. The German Citizen is published to serve the
sent a copy – still in Latin – to his German-Americans of Upstate New York. Donors to
German American regional metropolitan, Bishop Al- the Press Fund will be thanked in the last issue of the
Calendar of Culture bert of Mainz, as an FYI to make year, unless otherwise instructed by the donor.
him aware of the kind of theologi-
OCTOBER cal abuse that was flourishing.
6 - Oktoberfest at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School, Thorn
Ave. Orchard Park - 5:30 - 10 p.m. Silent auction, music by The The reality, of course, was that
Frankfurters, Heard of Buffalo. Adults only. $40 at the door. Albert was up to his neck in the matter, and had authorized the spe-
6 - 8 - Adirondack Oktoberfest - Canada St., Lake George, NY - cial indulgence sale in the first
Live music, authentic food, family activities, craft vendors. place. In any event, Albert sent a
7 - Oktoberfest of Tonawanda - Niawanda Park - noon to 8 p.m. copy to the amiable Pope Leo X,
Beer tent, vendors, live music with The Skiffle Minstrels who at first seemed little troubled
7 - Orchard Park 2017 Oktoberfest, Orchard Park Train Depot, by Luther’s work.
395 S. Lincoln Ave. 5 - 11 p.m. - Brats, beer and good cheer. Live
entertainment, German food specialties, German wine and beers. Other circumstances made Lu-
13 - Schnitzel Tent Party - Schnitzel & Co., 9210 Transit Rd., 6 - ther’s work revolutionary once it
10 p.m. Music by The Frankfurters. began to take on a life of its own.
14 - SGTV Edelweiss Oktoberfest - Knights of Columbus Hall, The Dominicans, largely responsi-
2735 Union Rd., Cheektowaga. Featuring Bavarian folk dancing by the ble for the indulgence debacle in
Schuhplattlers and Musik by Die Auslanders. For tickets 716-697-8222. Wittenberg in the person of Johann Tetzel, made an issue of Luther’s
14 - Oktoberfest Adirondack Brewery - ADK Brewery Lake Theses that eventually reached to
George, NY - Live music, guest breweries, games and prizes - 21 and the Imperial diets and to Rome.
over. Ironically, had the Dominicans
NOVEMBER made less noise, the issue might
4 - WURST Party Ever - Peek’n Peak Bierfest - 5 - 9 p.m. 25 piece have subsided on its own.
German band, dancing, brats, 42 craft beers.
16 - Art and the Reformation, presented by Nona McQuay. Pro- MAIL TO: Buffalo Standard Printing Press Fund
gram of the Historical Society of North German Settlements, at 2790 3620 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga, NY 14215
Church Rd, Wheatfield, 7 p.m. The public is welcome. I want to make sure the German Citizen continues its
service to the German-American Community.
2 • • October - November 2017
Enclosed is my contribution of $ _____
City, State, Zip___________________________________

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{ }do not include my name in your list of contributors.
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