A Blind Man in a Bell Tower

from Oct 31, 2018 Category: Ligonier Resources

Martin Luther didn’t intend to start the Reformation. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul explains how Luther’s 95 Theses spread across Germany and sparked a chain of events he never saw coming.

For October only, when you give a donation of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of the award-winning documentary Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer. Don’t miss this special offer. Offer ends today.


The 95 Theses were written in Latin. That’s a key point. Because when he attached them to the church door at Wittenburg, he wasn’t doing violence to the church. That was the bulletin board where announcements were made, and invitations were given to the faculty for academic discussions among themselves. So what Luther was proposing was a serious scholarly discussion about the whole structure of the indulgence system. What happened without Luther’s permission and without his knowledge, some students say the 95 Theses translated them into German and took advantage of the printing press. And within two weeks they were in every village and hamlet throughout Germany, and this huge uproar took place. Karl Barth makes the observation that Luther, when he posted the 95 Theses, was like a blind man climbing a tower in the church, in the bell tower. He began to lose his balance, and he reached out to grab something to stabilize himself but what he grabbed in his blindness was the rope for the church bell and accidentally awakened the whole town by the ringing of the bells.