October 31 and the Re-Discovery of Grace

October 31 is one of the most historic days in human history, and surprisingly to many, it has nothing to do with costumes or candy. On this day in 1517, Martin Luther, a German university professor, nailed his 95 Theses upon the door of the Wittenburg Church, knowing that on the following day, All Saints Day, people would flood through the doors and read it’s challenge to reform the church. It was the shot heard round the world that brought on the Protestant Reformation, a movement that recovered the gospel of grace from centuries of legalistic theology and ecclesiastical corruption.

In Luther’s Day, October 31 was known as All Hallows Eve, the eve of the day when the church was to hallow all the dead saints (Like Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas). All Hallows Eve morphed into what we now call Halloween (notice how Halloween sounds like All Hallows Eve).  Although the focus of the day was not death, we can see how the death part has attempted to overshadow the life part, since Reformation Day was the dawning of new light upon the church as the heart of the gospel was rediscovered. So, in honor of Luther’s nail and hammer, I’d like to post one of my favorite Reformation quotes:

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred-proof grace—of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the gospel—after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.” (Robert Capon)

So, as we celebrate the Protestant Reformation, culminating on Reformation Day on Thursday, feel free to dress up and plunder your neighbors for loads of sugar. But don’t forget the real, and sweetest reason for the season—the rediscovery of 200-proof grace!

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