500: The Impact of the Reformation Today

Five-part video series and Bible study

A lone monk’s actions 500 years ago continue to have a great impact. Hear from some of the world’s greatest scholars on Martin Luther and the significance of the Reformation for our modern world in “500: The Impact of the Reformation Today,” a documentary from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis that reveals how the Reformation surrounds us more than we realize through religion, politics and our society.

In this five-part version of the documentary, groups are encouraged to watch each segment in conjunction with the Bible study, “500: The Impact of the Reformation Today — Biblical Foundations,” by Dr. Timothy P. Dost, an associate professor of historical theology at the Seminary. Leaders who choose to lead the study in five sessions should select one of the main points or be selective in some other way. The sessions, as well as their component parts, mostly stand alone for one-time use.

Dost writes: “The concentration here is not on what passages the reformers took to heart as they did their work, but rather on the ways in which the early church and the people of the Old Testament reflected the same sorts of values, providing a solid foundation for the Reformation that was later to arise.”

Click here to download the Bible study.


Part 1

This episode deals with changes to the perception of the individual as a Christian in contrast to the authority of the priesthood. A major element of the Reformation was the teaching that lay Christians also had an important vocational standing before God, one no less important than that of called clergy.

Part 2

This episode treats the Reformation goal of spreading the truth of God’s word, by various means and in the most effective manner possible, to the people. The result was a laity that better understood the word of God and was resistant to being swayed by simple superstitions. Although education was carried out in different ways in biblical times (for example through the priesthood, from parent to child, from apostles to people, and person to person) the principles of disseminating and learning the word and avoiding superstition were the same as today.

Part 3

In this episode we see how the Reformation has influenced our current situation in three ways: first, participation in worship; second, reactions to violence and injustice; third, both the freedom and obligation found in our justification by Christ’s work and our new lives as believers.

Part 4

Part four of this series treats several issues that the Reformation addressed including individual reading and interpretation of the Bible, the seeds that led eventually to religious pluralism, and the idea that we have rights from God, eventually leading to the principle of intrinsic and universal human rights.

Part 5

Part five continues the study of changes wrought by the Reformation with three areas: (1) the Bible for the laity and its effect on pastoral ministry; (2) the practice of usury and the rise of capitalism; and (3) arguments over the Lord’s Supper and their influence on the politics of the day.