Graphic Novel Videos

Episode One: The Stormy Monk

July 2, 1505, Outside Erfurt, Germany: Young Martin Luther was on his way home from law school during spring break. Suddenly a storm thundered across the sky.  A bolt of lightning flashed so close it singed his coat! He fell to the ground and pleaded to the mother of the Virgin Mary, “Save me, St. Anne, and I will become a monk!”  The storm subsided. Luther went on his way. Later that day he told his parents of his plans. They were angry he was giving up a promising law career for the monastery. “Ungrateful child, who will take care of us in our old age? What of God’s command to honor your father and mother?”  Two weeks later Martin entered an Augustinian Cloister to escape the sin and temptations of the world... on a quest to find peace with God.

Episode Two: Doing Penance

The young law student, Martin Luther, entered a monastery in Erfurt in order escape the sin and temptations of the world. He renounced all worldly passions and took vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience to the church. Maybe now, by leaving all earthly temptations behind, he could finally earn God’s approval and find peace? At the monastery, Luther outdid all the other brothers in acts of service, prayer, study,and piety. He disciplined and punished his body, wore out his supervising priest with constant confession, and volunteered for the lowest, dirtiest jobs. In 1509, Luther said his first mass, spilled wine on the altar, and became a priest of the church. His father came for the mass and threw him a banquet afterwards. There, in front of all the brothers, he insulted Luther for leaving his family NS questioned his thunderstorm calling. Maybe it was Satan who called in the storm? Luther was miserable.

Episode Three: Dark Night of the Soul

Martin Luther was tormented by his sin and the fear that no matter how much he tried to be perfect, he still would never be good enough to merit God’s love. He secretly began to hate the perfect God who created him imperfect... and then demanded perfection! The head of monastery sent Luther to the University of Wittenberg to become a professor. Maybe in education Luther would find his peace? Luther quickly became a favorite teacher, lecturing on Aristotle’s moral philosophy. Still he had no peace. His mentor, Johann von Staupitz, sent Luther to Rome on monastery business. Maybe in the Holy City he could find his peace? No. All he found there was corruption, priests living openly amoral lives, and people paying money to earn merits with God by visiting holy shrines.

Episode Four: Peace With God

Much to his surprise, Luther was ordered to begin studies toward becoming a Doctor of Theology in the church! He thought this was a terrible idea, but he had vowed obedience so there would be no argument. His benefactor, Elector Frederick of Saxony - who owned one of the largest holy relic collections in the world - would pay his tuition. On a chilly light in May 1513, Luther was studying by candle light in the Black Tower ofWittenberg University when he stumbled across something that would change his life... and change our world. As he searched the Bible trying to find peace with God, he came upon a scripture that hit him like another lightning bolt.  When Martin read Romans 1:17, everything changed.  All of his life he was trying to do good works in order to earn God’s love and favor. This scripture claimed a right relationship with God comes to people through faith. Not works. And even this faith is a gift of God! Luther later wrote he was “born anew” at this moment.

Episode Five: The Door

Pope Leo X needed money to build the magnificent new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He sent emissaries across the empire to raise funds by selling certificates called “indulgences.”  With these papers, the Pope promised forgiveness of sins for the living and the dead. One of the salesmen, Friar Johann Tetzel, arrived in Luther’s region with bells ringing, choirs singing, and the best show in town. His pitch:  “As soon as the coin in the money box rings, the soul from purgatory springs!” Luther was outraged. The church didn’t own God’s grace and forgiveness! Those gifts belonged to Jesus. Our Lord offered them freely to any sinner who came to God in true repentance. As legend has it, on All Hallows Eve (Halloween), October 31, 1517, the protesting professor walked overto the community bulletin board—the door of the Castle Church—and nailed 95 objections to the abuses of the church. Before he knew it, 18,000 copies of his 95 Theses had been printed on Gutenberg’s new presses, translated into a dozen languages, and were flying across the empire. The monk-turned-protestor, Martin Luther, was now in big trouble. Big trouble. He would have to answer to the church. The Protestant Reformation had begun!

Episode Six: Trouble, Trouble, Trouble

After posting his 95 Theses against Indulgences and other abuses of the church, Luther was in trouble. 100 years earlier Luther’s predecessor,  Czech Reformer, Jan Hus (“Goose” in Czech), had been burned at the stake for writing and teaching many of the same complaints against the church.  This time, however, the Reformers had two tools on their side that didn’t exist for Hus: Gutenberg’s printing press and the new pan-European postal service. Within days Luther’s students had translated his works into a dozen languages. Within two weeks, Luther’s protest had spread all across Germany. Within two months, 18,000 copies were flying across the Empire. Luther penned a letter of complaint to his archbishop, who was getting a percentage of all indulgence sales.  The archbishop forwarded the letter to Rome. Pope Leo ordered Luther to face trial. If Luther wouldn’t recant (back down), the church had another goose to roast.