Trento, Italy: Ah, so THAT’S where the Catholic church anathematized all Protestants!

Bible Christians who have some interest in church history have heard of the Catholic church’s infamous Council of Trent (1545-63). The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Saxony and the recovered Gospel of grace quickly spread throughout Europe. In an effort to counteract the advance and influence of the Reformation, pope Paul III convoked the Council of Trent in 1545. The twenty-five council sessions took place over eighteen years, overlapping into the tenures of two other popes, Julius III and Pius IV. The main “accomplishments” of the council were Capture38clarification of Roman Catholic teaching and condemnation of the Protestant “heresies.” The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that was recovered by the Reformers and all those who believed in it were repeatedly anathematized (condemned) by the council’s declarations. Trent was the beginning of the Catholic “Counter-Reformation.”

I’ve often referred to the Council of Trent, but I honestly didn’t even know where Trent was. That’s embarrassing for an amateur history buff to admit. So I did a little googling and dug up a few facts that others may find interesting also.

Trent is actually Trento in Northern Italy (see above map) and is situated near the Italian Alps. It was inhabited by Celts and named after the Celtic god of the waters because of the nearby Adije river. The Romans conquered the city in the late-1st-century BC and renamed it Tridentum in tribute to the trident of the Romans’ mythical god, Neptune. Doctrines and practices promulgated by the council were afterward labeled as “Tridentine” in deference to the Roman name of the city.

Below are photos of the two churches in Trento where the council sessions were held. Three of the council sessions took place in the city of Bologna, but the other twenty-two sessions were held in Trento at these two churches.

In the future, when I refer to the Council of Trent, I’ll now know where the dastardly council took place. Despite its tremendous temporal power, the Roman Catholic church could not stop the Holy Spirit and the spread of the Gospel of grace. It’s quite interesting to note that, the current ecumenical climate notwithstanding, the Council of Trent’s anathemas against the Gospel of grace and believers have never been rescinded.

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Whited sepulchre #1: The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major) in Trento where some of the council sessions were held.  
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Whited sepulchre #2: The Cathedral of Saint Vigilius of Trento where the majority of the council sessions were held. Note the fountain, replete with a statue of the Roman false god, Neptune.

See here for interior photos of the two Trento churches, above, that hosted the Council of Trent.

For more information on how Catholicism condemned the Gospel of grace at the Council of Trent, see the article below:

Council of Trent: Canons on Justification
https://carm.org/catholic/council-trent-canons-justification

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Hypocritical double standard: Why was monk Luther “neurotic” for daily confession, but John Paul II “saintly”?

I listen to “Called to Communion,” a Roman Catholic talk radio show, for about one hour every work day in order to keep abreast of what’s going on within the RCC. The advertised aim of the show is to convert Protestants to Catholicism. There’s no ecumenism going on during this show, folks. Host, David Anders, is pretty blunt in his attacks on the Gospel of grace.

Last week, I was listening to the 11/1/18 podcast of the show, and the discussion focused on Reformer, Martin Luther. As in MANY previous episodes, Anders described “heretic” Luther as an overly-scrupulous neurotic, who suffered from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. On what does Anders base that ad hominem smear?

Prior to breaking from Catholicism, Luther was an Augustinian monk. Luther took his legalistic religion very seriously, unlike most Catholics, and constantly compared how his thoughts, words, deeds, and acts of deliberate omission measured up to God’s Ten Commandments. Catholics are obligated to confess their sins to a priest at least once per year or incur a mortal sin (only 12% of contemporary Catholics obey this rule). Luther confessed his sins to a priest EVERY DAY and would often spend hours in the confessional recounting his offenses against God’s Law.

Catholics like Anders brand Luther as hyper-scrupulous and neurotic, but the Holy Spirit was revealing to the monk his sinful depravity and his absolute inability to obey his way into Heaven. Luther would eventually trust in the promises of God’s Word and become spiritually reborn by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Luther was finally able to rest in God’s forgiveness and salvation through Christ.

Anders naturally pushes his church’s false gospel, which states that people can successfully obey their way into Heaven with the help of sacramental grace, but in order to keep their sanity while on this legalistic treadmill, Catholics seriously downplay the extent of their sin. Most Catholics will tell you with a great degree of sincerity that they do a pretty good job of obeying the Ten Commandments.

It’s interesting, though, that there have been many Catholics over the ages who, like Luther, also had a sharp awareness of their sinfulness. However, rather than repenting of their sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, these Catholics practiced various methods of severe asceticism including painful self-mortification as part of their penance or as attempts to master the flesh. Mother Teresa wore a pain-inducing “cilice” (see here) daily. Catherine of Siena starved herself to death by restricting her food intake to only a daily communion wafer. Pope John Paul II flagellated himself daily and also, like Luther, went to confession every day. I wrote all of the above to ask this: Isn’t it contradictory for Anders and other Catholic apologists to slander monk Luther as being overly-scrupulous, neurotic, and an obsessive-compulsive when many Catholic saints, who these apologists extol with great gusto, were slaves of their legalistic religion to an even greater degree than monk Luther? Why was Luther’s daily confession a sign of neurosis, but John Paul II’s daily confession a sign of sanctity?

Conservative Catholic priest furious over commemorations of Martin Luther and Reformation

Pope Francis is causing a great deal of consternation among conservatives in the Catholic church with his reforms. But after several years of biting their tongues, conservatives now feel bold enough to publicly oppose their pope.

Our local Catholic radio station, run by conservatives, recently launched a new show, “The Catholic Connection,” which seeks to counteract the “confusion” and heresy proliferating from Francis’s Vatican.

Yesterday, I listened to the January 15th podcast of the show, in which one of the alternating priest-hosts, Jacek Mazur, spoke at length and quite disparagingly about Martin Luther. Mazur began his comments by noting that, this past October, the Vatican issued a special postage stamp commemorating Martin Luther and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Mazur stated that ecumenism was a good thing, but only if it led Protestants back to the Catholic church. He was appalled that the Vatican was honoring Luther and the Reformation by issuing the stamp as well as by other commemorations.

The priest continued with a 50-minute tirade against Luther, calling him a “heretic” who “caused so much pain and so much division.” He stated the Reformation was actually a “revolution” that “did not come from God.” According to Mazur, Luther led millions astray by teaching that the only thing required for salvation was some kind of nebulous “faith,” allowing his followers to subsequently live like the devil with a clear conscience. He concluded that Protestantism’s many divisions demonstrated the need for an authorized magisterium, but he was mystified by the ecumenical compromise of the current pope and many other prelates, exemplified by the Reformation anniversary stamp.

It was actually refreshing to hear this reactionary, militant priest object so strongly to Martin Luther. Evangelicals and Catholics believe in two entirely different gospels – the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone versus the false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Namby-pamby ecumenists on both sides of the unbridgeable chasm would like to mask vital doctrinal differences in the name of “charity” and “unity,” but the Truth will prevail.

In his discourse, Mazur set up one straw man after another in his attack on Luther, but that’s to be expected from a priest. The Holy Spirit, Almighty God, used Martin Luther and the other Reformers to recover the Gospel of grace that had been buried under centuries of ritual, formalism, and man-made traditions. Praise God for the Reformers and the others who stood upon God’s Word and opposed Rome despite the threat of death!

But here’s the great irony, which obviously hasn’t registered with Mr. Mazur quite yet. He boasts that Catholicism alone has a divinely-led teaching magisterium, comprised of the pope and his bishops, yet Mazur and other like-minded, EWTN-type conservatives are actively opposing Francis in the lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees and other reforms. So why would conservative Catholics boast about their church’s “infallible” teaching authority when so many of them oppose Francis as a heretic? You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Mazur.

If you would like to hear priest Mazur’s diatribe for yourself, click here, and look for the itunes podcast for January 15, 2018, “The Protestant Revolution.” Given Mazur’s militant tone, one can easily imagine him joining in with those Catholics of the 16th century who called for the execution of Luther as a heretic.

Postscript: While traditionalist priests, like Mazur, have no use for ecumenism with Protestant “heretics,” pope Francis and others know they can catch more willing Protestant dupes with honey than vinegar.

Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World

I’m a bit behind on my reviews, so I’m going to keep the next several somewhat brief.

Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World
Directed by David Batty, narrated by Hugh Bonneville, and featuring Padraic Delaney as Martin Luther.
PBS, 2017, 120 minutes

I missed this docu-drama when it aired on PBS back in September as part of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, so I recently ordered the DVD. I enjoyed “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World” quite a bit. It’s clear that this was a low-budget production and written with a wide audience in mind, but it surprisingly tells Luther’s story quite accurately, including the reclaiming of the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Multiple sound bites from the most powerful Catholic clergyman in America, cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, are included in the first half of the film. Dolan concedes that the Catholic church was exceedingly corrupt at the time of the Reformation and he praises Luther for his zeal. However, he makes sure to point out that some monarchs supported Luther only as part of an effort to usurp territory held by Rome. No debate with that, but leave it to Dolan to draw attention to the temporal sidebars of the Reformation rather than to the spiritual battle of whether man is saved by Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit or by the Biblical Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The film does focus on the moment when the Holy Spirit used Romans 1:17 to enlighten Luther to the Gospel of grace.

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

I’m not altogether pleased with the title of this documentary. It infers that the Gospel was Luther’s “idea.” Rather, Luther, along with others, recovered the New Testament Gospel that had been buried under layer upon layer of ecclesiastical ritual, tradition, legalism, and ceremony.

Praise the Lord for Luther and all the Reformers who were used by the Holy Spirit to return the church to the Gospel of grace. I’m definitely going to watch this film again. Order from Amazon here.

Postscript: Catholics should have absolutely zero objections to Martin Luther and the Reformation at this point because their current pope says even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their conscience.

How genuine were Catholic prelates when they “commemorated” Martin Luther and Reformation 500?

A few weeks ago, there were MANY articles in the news regarding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. However, in today’s “post-modern” era, when doctrine is totally deemphasized, and relativism, experientialism, and plurality are worshipped as idols, the Reformation strikes many as offensive. Some “Protestants” now eagerly embrace Catholics as fellow “believers” and declare they’ve renounced the “rancor” and “sectarianism” of the Reformation and strive for unity with the church of Rome. After all, they say, Catholics also believe in “grace” and “faith” and “Jesus the Savior” so let’s all just let bygones be bygones and focus on what unites us and leave the debates over doctrine to grumpy theologians.

But beneath all of today’s doctrinally-bankrupt, ♫kumbaya♫ sentimentality, Rome still preaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it did in 1517. At the Second Vatican Council, Rome decided it could catch more “separated brethren” with “sweetness” rather than with conflict and many Protestants have taken the bait. Last month, Catholic bishops all over the world co-celebrated prayer services commemorating Reformation 500 with liberal Lutheran bishops. Catholic prelates extol “justification by faith” with gusto, but what they mean is something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than what evangelicals understand by that term. As the saying goes, if you keep telling a lie long enough, you can get just about everyone to believe it.

In the article below, ex-Catholic priest, Richard Bennett, comments on the Vatican’s enthusiastic pronouncement that the Reformation is over.


Vatican Fake News – “The Reformation is Over”
By Richard Bennett and Stuart Quint
September 29, 2017

The Lord Jesus Christ condemned the Pharisees as they attempted to suppress the truth of the Gospel by equating their traditions with the Bible.  “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees!  For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”

Today, the senior leadership of the Roman Catholic Church also undermines truth by equating man-made traditions with God’s Word.   Pope Francis and the Roman hierarchy exalt their own authority above Holy Scripture.  Consequently, the Catholic person believes not in the Almighty God and His immutable Word, but rather in the Catholic Church and her evolving tradition.

Ever since the Reformation began 500 years ago, the Roman Church continues to use its influence to camouflage the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To continue reading, click on the link below:

http://bereanbeacon.org/analyzing-the-pope/2017/9/29/vatican-fake-news-the-reformation-is-over

A prayer of gratefulness for the Reformation

Today marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, when a 33-year-old Augustinian friar, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, in Saxony, Germany on October 31st, 1517. The Holy Spirit would use Luther and the other Reformers in a mighty way to recover the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that was preached by the New Testament church, but had been buried beneath layers of religious legalism, ritual, tradition, and ceremony created by the institutional church of Rome.

I’m so grateful for the early Reformers. It took great courage and faith for Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and the others to oppose Rome at a time when such opposition should have meant certain death. Over the ages, many believers were persecuted and even martyred for their faith in Christ. I can pick up my Bible and read it any time of the day. I can also gather with other believers and worship the Lord according to His Word without restriction. I’m mindful of the many Christians who gave their lives rather than deny their faith.

I was baptized into the Roman Catholic church as an infant and educated in a Catholic grammar school and high school. In my 27 years as a Roman Catholic, I never heard the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Not once. What I was taught was a complicated religious system that was based on sacramental grace and merit. I’m so grateful for the legacy of the Reformers that’s been handed down for over 500 years and is alive in the mission of believing churches and their members. Jose, Ray, and Mike witnessed to me back in the early 1980s because someone had witnessed to them, because someone had witnessed to them, and back and back.

Lord, I am so grateful You raised up the early Reformers and used them to recover the Gospel of grace. Thank You for the generations of believers who have faithfully spread your Good News! throughout the world and help us to continue this mission. Help us also to defend the Gospel of grace and fight for its purity at a time when many who claim to be Christian compromise and betray the Gospel for the sake of popularity and false unity with those who teach “another gospel.”

This past Sunday, no mention was made at our church of the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I’m guessing that was the case in many evangelical churches. So the Reformation continues. Semper reformanda! Always reforming!

Catholics and Lutherans holding joint services to commemorate Reformation 500???

Those who follow news about the Roman Catholic church have noticed the many stories this month about joint Catholic-Lutheran prayer services being held nationwide in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Here in Rochester, N.Y., a joint service will be held on October 29th at the Catholic diocesan cathedral, presided over by the local Catholic and Lutheran (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – ELCA) bishops. See article below.

My thoughts?

As the early Christian church became increasingly institutionalized, error and anti-Biblical traditions were continuously introduced. By the Middle Ages, the church was almost completely apostate. The Holy Spirit raised up Martin Luther and the other 16th-century Reformers to recover the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that was preached by the apostles and the New Testament church. Rome immediately condemned the Reformation and sought to squelch it by ANY means. Lines were drawn. Protestant believers and Catholics opposed each other for the souls of men and women for 450 years.

At the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, Rome reversed itself and determined that a more conciliatory approach toward the “separated brethren” would reap greater results. Catholicism still preaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it did in the 16th century, but now grants that Luther may have had some legitimate grievances regarding the selling of indulgences, etc. Rome proclaims that, like Protestants, it also preaches a gospel of “grace” and “faith,” but how it defines those terms is completely different compared to Biblical Christianity. Many of the old, mainline Protestant denominations (including the ELCA) drifted into liberalism and apostasy long ago and now preach a social gospel. Embracing Catholicism is no big deal for them because they also embrace every sort of religion – from Islam to Buddhism – as legitimate “pathways” to (g)od (just as Catholicism does).

In light of the approaching joint prayer service planned by Rochester’s Catholics and ELCA Lutherans, I’m reminded of an episode from my past, but first, a little background.

I served as an altar boy at our Catholic parish church from 5th through 8th grade (1966-1970). The pastor was a very formal, aloof person who showed no warmth or kindness to us altar boys. In hindsight and in consideration of the church-wide cases of pedophilia at the time that would surface decades later, I’m actually grateful the priest kept his distance. One late afternoon, I entered into the church “sacristy” to prepare to serve at the 5PM mass. The priest was kneeling in prayer as was his habit before mass. As I walked past him, on my way to the room where the altar boys put on their cassocks and prepared for mass, I respectfully said, “Good evening, Father.” The priest annoyingly replied back, “Good AFTERNOON.” Ho, what fun! After that, I made it a point to say “Good evening” to the priest every time I entered the church for 5PM mass, and he always made a point of correcting me with a “Good AFTERNOON.” Loosen up, “father.” Great fun for a young teenage boy!

Anyway, let’s get to my point! One day in late summer of 1968, I entered the sacristy for altar service and for some reason the old priest was more talkative than usual. In fact, it’s the only time we had a conversation in my four years as an altar boy that I can recall. Somehow the subject came up that my family and I had attended my cousin, Beverly’s wedding over the weekend (on August 24th to be precise*). The old priest inquired where the wedding ceremony had taken place and I innocently replied, at Hope Lutheran Church on the other side of town. Well, you would have thought I had slapped the priest across the face with both hands from the look on his face! Prior to Vatican II, Catholics were strictly forbidden from entering a Protestant church, upon pain of mortal sin and eternal damnation. The priest evidently was out of the loop and had not been made aware of the church’s new conciliatory, ecumenical approach, but he soon would be. Maybe a year later, I was sitting in church with my family at mass and one of the hymns on the program was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” written by heretic, Martin Luther. I remember my mother being completely flabbergasted when she heard this Protestant hymn in a Catholic church. My, how things had changed!

Fifty-years later, Rome continues to gather the “separated brethren” unto itself. Some “evangelical” pastors and para-church leaders have unfortunately heeded Rome’s call. Praise the Lord for all those who continue to uphold the Gospel of grace and who reach out to Roman Catholics with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Rochester Catholics, Lutherans note unity with prayer service
http://www.catholiccourier.com/articles/rochester-catholics-lutherans-note-unity-with-prayer-service

Postscript: This ex-Catholic saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone has a “silly” rhetorical question: Prior to Vatican II, Rome had taught that it was a mortal sin for a Catholic to worship at a Protestant church. So what happened to all the Catholics who worshipped at a Protestant church and died and went to hell prior to Vatican II? Did they all receive a “Get out of hell free” card after Vatican II?

*The only reason I know the exact date of my cousin’s wedding is from a newspaper clipping via an internet search. Hope Lutheran Church belonged to the conservative evangelical Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1968, and still does. The church continues to preach the Good News! Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I attended a funeral service for my aunt a couple of months ago, and the presiding minister was from Hope Lutheran Church and he gave a wonderful, Gospel message. Cousin Bev and her family still worship at the church, fifty years after her wedding there. Unfortunately, some in the LCMS leadership are now also reaching out to Rome.

“Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” premiers Tuesday, September 12th on PBS

 

There’s admittedly a lot of junk on television, but heres a show you may want to see. “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” premiers on PBS, Tuesday, September 12th. Check your local television listings for broadcast times in your area. Let’s hope the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE is presented. I see from the trailer that Catholic cardinal, Timothy Dolan, is an interviewee so I have my doubts.

http://www.pbs.org/program/martin-luther-idea-changed-world/

Get ready for Reformation 500!

The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is coming up in about two months on October 31st. Praise the Lord for all the men and women He raised up who returned the church to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, despite the intimidation and violence of the Roman Catholic church.

There’s many good introductory books available on the Reformation with one of my favorites being Michael Reeves’ “The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation.” See my review here.

Catholics love to claim their church has been around for 2000 years and that Protestants didn’t get their start until 1517. At what point the early church of Christ fully devolved into the apostate, institutional Roman Catholic church is debatable because it was a gradual process over many centuries, but I believe there were always genuine followers of Christ, both inside and outside of Catholicism, way before the Reformation. Yesterday, I noticed a new book coming out shortly that discusses this very topic:

Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel From Christ to the Reformation
By Nathan Busenitz with a forward by John MacArthur
Moody Publishers, October 3rd, 2017, 256 pages, $13.99

Where was the gospel before the Reformation?

Contemporary evangelicals often struggle to answer that question. As a result, many Roman Catholics are quick to allege that the Reformation understanding of the gospel simply did not exist before the 1500s. They assert that key Reformation doctrines, like sola fide, were nonexistent in the first fifteen centuries of church history. Rather, they were invented by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.

That is a serious charge, and one that evangelicals must be ready to answer. If an evangelical understanding of the gospel is only 500 years old, we are in major trouble. However, if it can be demonstrated that Reformers were not inventing something new, but instead were recovering something old, then key tenets of the Protestant faith are greatly affirmed. Hence, the need for this book.

After reading Long Before Luther, readers will:

  • Possess a greater understanding of church history and the role it plays in the church today.
  • Have a deeper appreciation for the hard-won victories of the Reformation.
  • Be equipped to dialogue with Catholic friends about the presence of Reformed doctrines throughout church history.
  • Feel renewed gratefulness for the unearned nature of grace and the power of the gospel.

NATHAN BUSENITZ, (M.Div., Th.M., Ph.D., The Master’s Seminary) is the Dean of Faculty and Assistant Professor of Theology at The Master’s Seminary. He holds a doctorate in church history, with a specific focus on patristic theology. He has served as a full-time member of the pastoral staff at Grace Community Church, director of the Shepherd’s Fellowship, managing editor of Pulpit magazine, and as the personal assistant to John MacArthur.

– summary from Moody Publishers

This looks good, folks. Pre-order from Amazon here.


 

Speaking of Reformation 500, you don’t want to get to October 31st without a few Reformation 500 t-shirts ready in the clothes dresser. Sure, they’re a little tacky but that makes them GREAT conversation starters!

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Order from Amazon here. Many logos (obviously some better than others) and colors to choose from.

An explanation of Martin Luther and the Reformation for children (adults can watch, too!)

I ran across the article far below which mentions the surprising popularity of the Playmobil toy company’s Martin Luther figurine. Included in the article is the above stop-action animation video, which brings to life some of the early history of the Reformation for young people and will delight adults as well. Narrator, Michael Reeves, has written a couple of excellent books on the Reformation, which I reviewed previously. See here and here.

As we know, in contrast to this light-hearted video, many of the men and women who turned away from the Catholic church and trusted in Christ during the Reformation suffered greatly for their faith at the order of Catholic prelates.

Thank you, Lord, for raising up men like Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and others who endeavored to return the church to the glorious Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

A believer’s Bible study resource book shelf is not complete without a Playmobil Martin Luther figurine to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Order from Amazon here.


Playmobil Martin Luther is a hit – new You Tube animation brings the Reformation to life
https://www.christiantoday.com/article/playmobil.martin.luther.is.a.hit.new.youtube.animation.brings.the.reformation.to.life/110424.htm