About 450 or 460 years ago, As a Catholic monk, Martin Luther was wondering deeply about the Roman Catholic Church selling indulgences to allow Catholics to escape years of agony in purgatory and also indulgences to ease the way of already dead relatives or friends into heaven. He was also unable to find Biblical justification for all the sacraments of the Catholic Church that put priests in as middlemen between God and man.
Martin Luther became a professor at the new university in Wittenburg at the bequest of the head Staupitz. That study of the Bible led ultimately to Luther's revolution against excesses of the papacy and to the Reformation.
The program is interesting history. It is unlikely to persuade anybody that either Lutheranism or Catholicism makes any real sense however...just that there are varying degrees of religious lunacy and corruption. The Roman Catholic church wanted heretics to be executed without spilling blood, so they were burned to death. Luther apparently approved of the slaughter of 100,000 peasants who used his idea of individual salvation apart from the Church as reason to pursue freedom from the temporal princes and lords of Germany, France, and Belgium. This also led to many deaths in Britain under Cromwell's armies. Luther also had little patience with Jews and their religion and we can only speculate on the connections between that the horrors that followed in the next 460 years..
The program does conclude that the invention of moveable type and Luther's "heresy" of 95 thesis occuring at nearly the same time made Luther's ideas spread like wildfire and consequently end up with the deaths of thousands. Luther was perhaps the first media hero. The Roman Catholic church was perhaps the first embodiment of the modern police state..
And that revolution of reformation ultimately led to freedom of religion and freedom from religion in the US. The DVD of the 120 minute 2002 program is available from Shop PBS. Empires: Martin Luther DVD for $17.95
It might however be that the Martin Luther program on SDPB-TV today might better be shown before the 4th of July than on the day before Easter..or perhaps again before the Fourth of July..
*** Stay tuned even if you have no intention of nailing anything on any church doors anywhere, anytime --- Doug Wiken