October 31 is traditionally thought to be the day Martin Luther nailed to a Wittenberg church door his 95 theses or issues he had with the Catholic Church, thus commencing the Reformation. The division of the church into Catholics and Protestants resulted in hundreds of years of intolerance, persecution, torture and war. The bloodshed on each side was so great that in 1554 Sebastian Castellio wrote,
. . . dost Thou now command that those who do not understand Thy precepts as the mighty demand, be drowned in water, cut with lashes to the entrails, sprinkled with salt, dismembered by the sword, burned at a slow fire, and otherwise tortured in every manner and as long as possible? Dost Thou, O Christ, command and approve of these things? . . . If Thou, Christ, dost these things or if Thou commandest that they be done, what has Thou left for the devil?
Now 500 years later those who sacrificed so much on both sides of the divide would be astonished, perhaps dismayed, that so few believe what cost them their lives.
Surveys in the United States and Western Europe by the Pew Research Center reveal that most Catholics and Protestants now believe many of the same concepts that caused bloodshed in the past. That salvation was obtain solely by faith was a rallying cry among Protestants during the Reformation. Now a majority, like Catholics, believe that both faith and works are required. Whereas 500 years ago, Protestants held that the Bible alone was necessary to understand God’s will, today they are in the minority. Along with Catholics, the majority of Protestants hold that church tradition along with the Bible is necessary to understand God’s will.