Martin Luther’s Reformation has had a profound impact on the modern world, not just the religious world but also in the secular world. It was not intended to be more than a call to reform the Church, but it has turned out to be a ringing bell of freedom for everyone. Today we are not bound by a particular way of thinking. We have the freedom to question or criticize the status quo. We have human rights that were not expected a half-millenium ago. We have the freedom to ask hard questions in science which people were either afraid to ask, or didn’t even think to ask, five hundred years ago because the Church reserved the right to have the final word in science and oppressed those who thought for themselves. So we have the industrial and scientific and technological revolutions that have changed our world in so many ways. We have separation of church and state in so many places, where freedom of religion is equivalent to freedom of speech and the right to assemble and to vote one’s conscience. We even have the right to abuse these freedoms within certain bounds, so long as we do not infringe on the rights of others. The Bible is no longer an unread book, kept away from the people and reserved only for the clergy, but every person can access and interpret God’s word for themselves, to a large extent in their own language. It is the most widely read book in the world and is at the heart of culture for many people. Our world would not be the same were it not for Luther’s Reformation. This is especially true in the United States of America.

Edwin Reynolds, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Languages and Graduate Program Coordinator for Religion, Southern Adventist University

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