Johannes Gutenberg provided another face of the Reformation

Could Johannes Gutenberg have known when he first conceived the idea of moveable type that it would contribute to the spread of the Reformation and the Renaissance and lead to the education of all levels of society? His presses printed not only Luther’s 95 Theses but also the papal indulgences that sparked Luther’s polemic pen.

Gutenberg died 15 years before Luther was born. Nonetheless, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he declares that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

The stage was set for the coming battle between Luther and his followers and the pope and his supporters. The Reformation has often been called the war of pamphlets. The volume of pamphlets increased as much as one thousand fold in the first few years after Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. Printing shops sprang up all over Germany, and many came to Wittenberg like moths to a flame. Luther’s German Bible helped codify the German language and aided in increasing the literacy rate.

Surely Gutenberg would have been amazed at the world altering events that resulted from the works planned in advance for him to do.

For more information, attend Sunday services at St. Paul’s in Fredonia, Immanuel in Gowanda or Trinity in Silver Creek.

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