One day a young aspiring lawyer was traveling on a road to Erfurt in Germany when a violent storm came upon him. This young man cried out in terror, “Help me, St. Anne, and I will become a monk,” (quoted from The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen Nichols).
So, Martin Luther left the path to becoming a wealthy lawyer and entered the monastery. However, he was dogged and dissatisfied with monastic life, not because the clothes were itchy, but because the more he studied, and even after a pilgrimage to Rome, Luther was plagued with what he saw as an insurmountable obstacle: “he was unrighteous, and the holy God demanded righteousness,” (27). His trip to Rome and his encounter with Johann Tetzel infuriated him. How could one buy repentance? Tetzel was famed for selling indulgences with his memorable jingle, “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs,” (29).
In response, on All Hallow’s Eve, October 31st, 1517 Luther swung a mallet and tacked his Ninety-Five Theses on the door at Wittenberg, the town where he taught and preached. On that night, people attempted to appease the dead wandering spirits and remembered the saints, and then on the following day (All Saints’ Day) they would come to the relics in the church and “would appeal to the excess merits of the saints in hopes of pleasing the righteous demands of God,” (28). To this Luther adamantly cried, “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God,” (29). With that document, Luther sparked a controversy that spread across Europe and eventually the world - a controversy called the Reformation.
So, a better reason to celebrate October 31st than Halloween is Reformation Day, the day God brought the Gospel back to the church. Praise God we do not bow to relics of dead Christians to be right, but instead believe that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone for the glory of God alone.