Who was Martin Luther?
Having grown up in the Lutheran Church, I naturally thought everyone knew the story of Martin Luther. Apparently not. And in doing some recent research, I found that even my understanding of his life contained mistakes. So why is Martin Luther even important? Well, as I tell the story, perhaps you will see the parallels to the current situation with the Church of Scientology and its Independent Field critics. Actually, it’s a pretty brief story, as I won’t detail his whole life.
Martin Luther was a Catholic monk, priest and theologian who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. At the time, the Catholic church was the only Christian church. Also at the time, the Catholic church, under Pope Leo X, was engaged in all manner of what we might call nefarious pursuits. Most important for our purposes, it was involved in selling indulgences. Simply put, indulgences were where you, as a parishioner, would pay money and the church would therefore absolve you of your sins, paving your way, ultimately, into heaven. Of course, the church had this all justified in various ways– paying the church was a good deed, you see, and that made up for the bad deeds you did. The money received was used for, among other things, rebuilding the St Peter’s Basilica, a building in Rome. Do you start to see a pattern here?
Martin Luther disagreed with this practice (and quite a few others). His disagreement was extreme enough in fact that ultimately he wrote a long dissertation which came to be known as the Ninety-Five Theses, which detailed his disagreements. He sent it to his bishop, among others. Ultimately, the pope in Rome got hold of a copy, and it sent shock waves through the church. Moreover, it was copied around Europe and sent shock waves around Europe as well. Apparently, Martin Luther was not the only one who disagreed with many of the doctrines and practices of the Catholic church. The pattern continues.
Subsequent to Luther writing the Theses, Pope Leo X excommunicated him from the church. (Some time and various events happened in between these two events, but that was the ultimate result.)
Understand that Luther had no desire originally to defy the church. He merely wanted the papacy to perhaps change some of its policies and practices. But instead, they had kicked him out. Meantime, there was a ground swell of support for his ideas. Ultimately, he formed a new church, and thus began what came to be known as the Reformation. It was the beginning of protestantism.
The parallels to the current situation between the current Church of Scientology and the Independent Field should be obvious by now. Martin Luther was an agent for change, not only for the Catholic church (which, you’ll notice, no longer sells indulgences), but for all of Christianity.
Now, although this blog is named after Martin Luther, I am not he, nor would I presume to be. Many others came before me and have done far more for the greater Scientology community than I have. But in naming this blog, I did want to point out the parallels between the current scene and that of 600 years ago. And in fact, I have produced what I think could probably pass for our modern version of the Ninety-Five Theses.
Will our version have any impact? Although there is always hope, I doubt it. There has already been too much damage done to the existing Church of Scientology. And there is too much sentiment in the Independent Field in the direction of, “Let it all burn down. We have started over. We don’t need them any more.”
I would caution you on two points, though. First, the schism between the Catholic and protestant churches has caused more than its share of brutality and death down through the ages. I would hope that no one would prefer to see it repeated between the Church of Scientology and the Independent Field. Second, the raising of anyone (including me) in the Independent Field to the status of religious icon is best avoided. The current Church of Scientology has David Miscavige as their icon. They are welcome to him. At one time, we all had L. Ron Hubbard as our icon, but many in the Independent Field object to even that. So be it. If not Ron, then perhaps no one should aspire to that throne. Perhaps it’s best that way. The last thing we need in the Independent Field is our own version of David Miscavige.