I know, we’re not there yet. It was on All Hallow’s Eve (nicknamed Halloween) that the fiery preacher of Wittenberg marched down the cobbled streets with a parchment in one hand and a hammer in the other. How many nails did it take? What kind of attention did he attract while he was standing there? It’s one of those historical events I’d like to have been present for, especially since I know what became of it and nobody on the scene did, least of all Luther himself. He wanted to spark a lively debate, but instead he sparked a movement that profoundly altered the Western world.
Speaking of world, the current issue of World Magazine features a Reformation section honoring the 500th anniversary of that crazy preacher hammering on the Wittenberg church door. Of particular interest is Marvin Olasky’s roundup of books and biographies on the Reformation and Mindy Belz’s excellent analysis of how Europe might regain is Reformation legacy.
A very casual online search uncovered dozens of Christian and educational sites with creative ideas for celebrating the Reformation. If you don’t have time to set up an entire unit study by next Tuesday, here are some quick, easy, and fun activities you can try with the younger kid.
A print-and-color page about the “Luther Rose,” from Hip Homeschool Mom: http://www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com/reformation-day-activities/
I found this on several websites—a “Pin the beard on the theologian” game, whereby you construct a larger-than-life poster of John Calvin’s head and take turns pinning a distinctive Beard on his hairless chin.
You might also fill in some background about John Calvin. See our interview with Simonetta Carr (author of several biographies of church-history figures, including Calvin) on teaching church history to kids. For teens, see our review of The Doctrines of Grace, Student Edition.
And just what were those 95 Theses? It’s not a list of distinct grievances, but rather a logical argument against the practice of selling indulgences, point by point. Martin Luther was a plainspoken man and a plainspoken writer, and his argument isn’t hard to follow. Here’s a Redeemed Reader exclusive: a pdf download of all 95, in five letter-size sheets you can glue together, artistically age, and hammer on your own church door (or basement door or kitchen door or whatever). Take some time to discuss the indulgence issue and the greater principles involved.
Before Martin Luther, there were several efforts to reform the established church. One reason Luther’s reformation took off when it did was the invention of the printing press. Here’s an interesting video showing how it the Gutenberg press worked. One takeaway: nothing was easy back then! We can be all the more grateful for people who were willing to do it.
If they ask Why do we have to learn this stuff? (a question kids have been known to ask), the Gospel Coalition can fill you in with Five Reasons.