If you know your church history, you know that Martin Luther split the church by deciding that Scripture meant what he said it meant, not what the Church declared. He discarded a number of books of the Old Testament, or said he didn’t like them (like James, Revelation, Esther, and Hebrews which remained canon, and he much preferred John to the other Gospels) all the while declaring “sola scriptura” to be the basis of faith. He changed the Catholic church’s definition of original sin and justification to one he created.
But the implications went far beyond the church—probably because there were many forerunners of revolt who didn't like papal control, and the church was in great need of reform. Or, scratch a religion, any religion, and you get politics. Once that Bible cat was out of the bag, all sorts of interpretations began cropping up among others, and one was the horrible conditions of the peasants of Europe, who were virtually slaves to the local Lords. This was ready to explode even before Luther since their lives were so awful, not unlike slavery in the U.S. but often worse. So when the peasants got word of what Luther was saying and posting and writing (liberty in all things), they thought he could be their leader against both the church and the lords. Wrong. Luther sided with the German power structure, not the peasants. They rioted; Luther didn’t support them. Over 100,000 peasants died, as well as people in other classes who were poor or had less power.
Let’s jump ahead 500 years. Luther was hot headed, intemperate, nasty, prone to deep depression, but brilliant in gathering supporters and translating Scripture into the language of the people, German. He touched a nerve both spiritually and politically. His ideas exploded all over Europe.
Does that sound familiar? Like today’s headlines?