I know some of you are all focused on giving out candy, and have spent plenty of money going to see the movie “Halloween” in its 7th or 8th iteration. I am not at all happy about Halloween, but today is a day that offers a very different bit of excitement. Today is Happy Reformation Day. Now, that may not seem like a lotta fun, and some of you may be scratching your heads. But, in actuality, the freedom and liberties that we enjoy enabling us to give out candy on this day are linked to an event 501 years ago this day.
Yes, it was October 31, 1517, when a Germanic monk named Martin Luther challenged the status quo, and the Catholic Church when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Church in Wittenberg. Now, my dear Catholic friends may be upset with me for mentioning this, but just read on and follow my thoughts.
“Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the Catholic view on indulgences (basically paying for absolution of one’s sins). Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his 95 Theses of 1517. Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds, but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace and through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. Luther’s theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God.”
The crux of Martin Luther’s ideals was that each person had the natural right to a personal relationship with God, through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. He felt that everyone should have access to God’s word, the Bible, and individually, not collectively, be responsible, and have the right, to attain their own personal salvation . . . not through the granting of such by any other entity. What Martin Luther did, and should be firmly recognized, was to establish a movement towards individual rights, not collective subjugation. The term “Protestant” Reformation came from the root word “protest,” and Luther proposed a concept that stood in clear opposition to the prevailing dogma of that day. It was a belief in divine rights theory, meaning that through the established Catholic Church, rulers were appointed. Those rulers were, therefore “divinely” ordained and from those divinely appointed rulers — kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, barons, and their appointed lords, all others were to be subject. After all, any challenge to their rule was going against their “divine” appointment.
Martin Luther upset that apple cart by challenging that position and placing rights in the grasp of each individual, their spiritual rights.
Fast forward to the English political philosopher John Locke of the 17th century, who is referred to as the “Father of Classical Liberalism.” It was John Locke who expanded upon Luther’s concept and challenged the ideal of divine rights theory. Locke came to believe that if man’s spiritual salvation came from the Creator, and we inherently had the right to have an individual relationship with Him, then why shouldn’t all our rights emanate from Him? Locke introduced the concept of Natural Rights Theory stating that we all have individual rights of life, liberty, and property. These rights are not granted to us from so-called “divinely” appointed persons, or rulers. These rights were natural to each and every one of us.
Again, coming back to Luther, this was all about individual rights as opposed to collective subjugation.
Go forward a few more years, and we find these theories, principles, ideals all coming together in a place called America, in 1776. When Thomas Jefferson penned those immortal words in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” America became the manifestation of what Martin Luther had begun, and John Locke had articulated. America took theory and made it into a nation, the longest running Constitutional Republic that the world has known. We stood up and challenged the orthodoxy of the day, that we would not be subject to a king since it was established that the one true King endowed us with our unalienable rights — Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Sadly, we are within a week from a critical midterm election and these foundational principles are being “fundamentally transformed.” We are moving away from the belief in Natural Rights Theory. Remember, Jefferson, in the Declaration, referred to “nature and nature’s law” along with the consent of the governed. That is rooted in individual rights, freedoms, and liberties versus collectivism — progressive socialism, Marxism.
The individual and their indomitable spirit are being relegated to a back seat when it comes to the “divine” belief that we should be ruled by elitists who say, “if you own a business, you didn’t build that.” Secular humanists seek to remove the Judeo-Christian God from the open marketplace of ideas and replace him with the belief that only through man, government, are rights given — right to free health care, education, owning a home. Even the very first unalienable right, life, is being challenged, as progressive socialists do not embrace the right to life, and seek to determine when you may die. Our very first freedom in our Bill of Rights, the freedom of religion, and the free exercise thereof is being revised to be freedom of worship,” and government elitists, secular humanists, are defining where you can worship. That is antithetical to what Martin Luther established 501 years ago today.
Unfortunately, what I have sought to explain here is not taught in our schools, and, certainly not on our college and university campuses. There will be those who will try to spin this missive, and negatively shed light upon Martin Luther. Yes, I know that some of his beliefs were anti-Semitic. I am not talking about any of that. My point is that the movement towards individual rights, freedom, classical liberalism, the establishment of these United States of America started with an action taken on October 31, 1517.
So today, moms, dads, grandparents, teach your kids about Reformation Day before you give out candy. Because the greatest candy, or treat, that we can have is individual liberty and freedom. As it says in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way that they should go so that when they grow old they shall not depart from it.” In a generation, we could lose these real freedoms and have them replaced by false rights, freedoms.
Hat tip to ol’ Martin Luther for his 95 Theses that set us on the path to having America, a land of free men and women whose unalienable rights come from the Creator, naturally . . . and not falsely from man, government.
During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
West is a commissioned officer in the Texas State Guard. He’s Fox News Contributor, former Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom, and, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, and the forthcoming We Can Overcome.