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Eckehard Schulz, Associated Press
A bronze sculpture of Martin Luther holding the New Testament is seen on the market square in Wittenberg, eastern Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006. German priest and church reformer Martin Luther on Oct. 31, 1517, pinned his controversial 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg castle church, since 1667 protestant Christians celebrate the so called Reformation Day on Oct. 31. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)

My, how time flies.

It has already been 500 years since the Protestant Reformation. On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 complaints to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.

Now the old church has been given a facelift for the celebration. And people are lining up to book tours.

Since that October day, Protestant religions have sprouted like dandelions.

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, the world is currently home to 45,000 Christian denominations, with an average of 2.4 new ones appearing every day.

Luther clearly set in motion a lot of dominoes.

The explosion of sects prompted Christianity Today to recently ask, “Should we wholeheartedly celebrate the Reformation when one of its main legacies seems to be so much division?”

Then the magazine answers its own question.

All those churches are still Christian, which puts them under the same umbrella. In that, they are "one."

As for Luther himself, the many biographies and commentaries about him only prove he’s impossible to pin down.

He could be coarse and crude — once claiming he’d like to use the devil’s lair as an outhouse.

He could be gloriously high-minded, as when he wrote the hymn “A Mighty Fortress.”

He could be dangerous, as when he supposedly took out a knife and carved an answer to a question in a table.

Like the pilgrim in the Kris Kristofferson song, he was “A poet, a preacher and a problem.”

So rather than try to capture him with my words, let me offer him up in his own. Several years ago, I bought a booklet titled “Martin Luther: His Later Years and Legacy” that shares some of his most provocative quotes.

Here are a few to chew on:

• On prayer: “Oh, if only I could pray the way this dog watches the meat!”

• On theology: “A simple layman armed with scripture is to be believed above a pope or a cardinal without it.”

• On trials: “Affliction is the best book in my library.”

• On temptation: “Temptations cannot be avoided. But because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need to let them nest in our hair.”

• On music: "The devil should not be allowed to keep all the best tunes for himself."

• On himself: “Next to faith, this is the highest art: to be content in the calling in which God has placed you. I have not learned it yet.”

• “Our Lord God must be a pious man to be able to love rascals. I can’t do it, and yet I am a rascal myself.”

• “Others try to make me a fixed star, but I am an irregular planet.”

Email: jerjohn@deseretnews.com