On Oct. 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg. It has been argued that when Luther had written the Ninety-Five Theses, he had not anticipated a movement – the Protestant Reformation – which forever changed the History of Europe. The Protestant Reformation, however, would not have had the kind of influence had there not been the invention and the wide use of the printing press in Europe. Within two weeks, copies of the 95 Theses spread throughout Germany. Within two months, it spread throughout Europe. In another word, the use of the printing press was one of the catalysts behind the Protestant Reformation.
Since then until the 20th century, the printing press has not changed much, except in the advance of technology. The arrival of the internet age and the wide use of the social media, however, take publishing to another level we have not envisioned even ten-fifteen years ago. Individuals no longer need to resort to a formal publishing company in order to have his/her voices/ideas printed and heard. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media make “personal publishing” readily accessible. One of the most famous writers and social critics in China – Han Han – writes and posts his articles on a free Sina blog which attracts millions of views per article, and these viewers leave hundreds of thousands of comments each article. This is powerful!
Martin Luther once said that other than God’s salvation to mankind, the printing press is probably the best gift that God has ever given to man. Indeed, the use of printing press during the Protestant Reformation enabled not only the printing of the 95 Theses, but also that of other reformers’ thoughts, as well as mass production of the Bible for popular use. Martin Luther did not have to be in England for his thoughts to reach the people there and elsewhere in Europe.
Personal publishing by virtue of blogs and other forms of social media is a great gift from God. Five years ago when I first got on Facebook I was excited to have discovered it, and I shared with some friends on how this great tool can be utilized for God’s Kingdom, only to meet with indifference and dismissiveness. Indeed, Luther used the printing press for the broadening of the God’s Kingdom; it would be foolish for Christians (especially Christian scholars, thinkers, and writers) of the 21st century not to use this tool for the purpose of His kingdom, to reach billions of souls and to build up billions of His saints worldwide.