How the Protestant Reformation Still Drives Western Civilization 500 Years Later

The Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches signed a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" putting aside their differences over the way humanity achieves salvation ending an almost 500-year debate that started when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door.
The Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches signed a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" putting aside their differences over the way humanity achieves salvation ending an almost 500-year debate that started when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door. Cardinal William H. Keeler, Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore, nails a copy of the doctrine to the doors of Christ Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 31, 1999, as Reverend Doctor George Paul Mocko looks on. AP Photo/John S. Zeedick
The Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches signed a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" putting aside their differences over the way humanity achieves salvation ending an almost 500-year debate that started when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door.
The Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches signed a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" putting aside their differences over the way humanity achieves salvation ending an almost 500-year debate that started when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door. Cardinal William H. Keeler, Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore, nails a copy of the doctrine to the doors of Christ Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 31, 1999, as Reverend Doctor George Paul Mocko looks on. AP Photo/John S. Zeedick

How the Protestant Reformation Still Drives Western Civilization 500 Years Later

Around the globe, the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary will be officially commemorated on Oct. 31. 

On that day in 1517, Catholic priest Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. His revolutionary ideas challenged the Roman Catholic Church and touched off religious and social changes still apparent today. 

Many historians credit the Protestant Reformation with providing the undergirding for capitalism, Western democracy, and accelerating the growth of the modern secular state. 

We’ll discuss the past 500 years with a number of religious experts: 

  • Fr. Don Senior, president emeritus, chancellor, and professor of New Testament Studies at Catholic Theological Union
  • Susan Ross, professor of Theology and faculty scholar at Loyola University Chicago
  • Reverend Craig Mueller, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Chicago and author of the book Any Body There?: Worship and Being Human in a Digital Age
  • David Goa, a former Lutheran, now Eastern Orthodox Christian, who is a philosopher, ethicist and founding director emeritus of the University of Alberta’s Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life