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Indulging a Laugh

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On this day, 491 years ago, Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg 95 theses for debate over the matter of indulgences.

An actual photo of Luther nailing up his theses

Some of the theses were actually quite funny, like Thesis 82, which asked why the pope didn’t just release all souls from purgatory out of love, instead of charging for it. Later, though, Luther realised he’d missed a trick, and he circulated a pamphlet inviting people to see an even greater collection of relics than that in Wittenberg. This included:

·    Three flames from the burning bush on Mt Sinai
·    Two feathers and an egg from the Holy Spirit
·    Half a wing of the archangel Gabriel
·    A section of Moses’ left horn [Exod 34:29, in the Vulgate, Moses‘ face was ‘horned’ from the conversation with the Lord]
·    Two ells of sound from the trumpets on Mt Sinai
·    A remnant of the flag with which Christ opened hell
·    A large lock of Beelzebub’s beard, stuck on the flag

Who says you have to be always serious to reform the Church?  The laughter of the Reformation was one its most powerful weapons, exposing and humiliating bankrupt theology.

Posted as part of the Challies.com Reformation Day 2008 Symposium.

2 comments on “Indulging a Laugh

  1. Apparently Luther came across a monk who claimed to have the head of John the Baptist. Luther said, “You’ve got one skull up here in one place, and one skull in another, and one’s bigger than the other. Which one is John the Baptist?” The priest replied, “Well, the little one is when he was a boy.” I read it on the interweb.
    http://soamc.org/tfh/FILES/Teachings%20About%20Christ/HSTORY02. It must be true.

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