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The 95 Theses - Martin Luther

A summary of the 95 theses.

Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses in 1517 as a protest against the selling of indulgences.

After he sent a copy of the theses to Albert of Mainz (who sent a copy to Pope Leo), Luther continued to write, elaborating on the issues raised.

Drawing of selling of indulgences

He makes three main points in his 95 theses. Here they are, in his own words:

1. Selling indulgences to finance the building of St. Peter's is wrong.

"The revenues of all Christendom are being sucked into this insatiable basilica. The Germans laugh at calling this the common treasure of Christendom. Before long, all the churches, palaces, walls and bridges of Rome will be built out of our money.

First of all, we should rear living temples, next local churches, and only last of all St. Peter's, which is not necessary for us. We Germans cannot attend St. Peter's. Better that it should never be built than that our parochial churches should be despoiled. ...

Why doesn't the pope build the basilica of St. Peter's out of his own money? He is richer than Croesus. He would do better to sell St. Peter's and give the money to the poor folk who are being fleeced by the hawkers of indulgences."

2. The pope has no power over Purgatory.

"Papal indulgences do not remove guilt. Beware of those who say that indulgences effect reconciliation with God. ... He who is contrite has plenary remission of guilt and penalty without indulgences.

The pope can only remove those penalties which he himself has imposed on earth, for Christ did not say, 'Whatsoever I have bound in heaven you may loose on earth.'

Therefore I claim that the pope has no jurisdiction over Purgatory.

... If the pope does have power to release anyone from Purgatory, why in the name of love does he not abolish Purgatory by letting everyone out? If for the sake of miserable money he released uncounted souls, why should he not for the sake of most holy love empty the place?

To say that souls are liberated from Purgatory is audacious. To say they are released as soon as the coffer rings is to incite avarice. The pope would do better to give everything away without charge."

3. Buying indulgences gives people a false sense of security and endangers their salvation.

"Indulgences are positively harmful to the recipient because they impede salvation by diverting charity and inducing a false sense of security. Christians should be taught that he who gives to the poor is better than he who receives a pardon.

He who spends money on indulgences instead of relieving want receives not the indulgence of the pope but the indignation of God. ...

Indulgences are most pernicious because they induce complacency and thereby imperil salvation. Those persons are damned who think that letters of indulgence make them certain of salvation.

God works by contraries so that a man feels himself to be lost in the very moment when he is on the point of being saved. ...Man must first cry out that there is no health in him. He must be consumed with horror. This is the pain of Purgatory. ...

In this disturbance salvation begins. When man believes himself to be utterly lost, light breaks. Peace comes in the word of Christ through faith. He who does not have this is lost even though he be absolved a million times by the pope, and he who does have it may not wish to be released from Purgatory, for true contrition seeks penalty. Christians should be encouraged to bear the cross."

Here is the full text of the 95 Theses.

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This Day In History : October 31

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martin luther wrote the 95 theses in order to

Martin Luther posts 95 theses

On October 31, 1517, legend has it that the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation .

In his theses, Luther condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking payment—called “indulgences”—for the forgiveness of sins. At the time, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X, was in the midst of a major fundraising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Though Prince Frederick III the Wise had banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members traveled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for their sins.

Luther’s frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 Theses, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into German and distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, and efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune. He refused to keep silent, however, and in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church. That same year, Luther again refused to recant his writings before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany, who issued the famous Edict of Worms declaring Luther an outlaw and a heretic and giving permission for anyone to kill him without consequence. Protected by Prince Frederick, Luther began working on a German translation of the Bible, a task that took 10 years to complete.

The term “Protestant” first appeared in 1529, when Charles V revoked a provision that allowed the ruler of each German state to choose whether they would enforce the Edict of Worms. A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would over the next three centuries revolutionize Western civilization.

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martin luther wrote the 95 theses in order to

Martin Luther , a Catholic monk, wrote a document referred to as 95 Theses , that changed Western Christian religion forever. What made a devout monk openly criticize the Church? What was written in the 95 Theses that made it so important? Let's look at the 95 Theses and Martin Luther !

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95 Theses Definition

On October 31, 1417, in Wittenberg, Germany Martin Luther hung his 95 Theses on the door outside of his church. The first two theses were the issues that Luther had with the Catholic Church and the rest were the arguments that he could have with people about these issues.

Martin Luther and the 95 Theses

Martin Luther intended to be a lawyer until he was stuck in a deadly storm. Luther swore an oath to God that if he lived then he would become a monk. True to his word, Luther became a monk and then completed his doctoral program. Eventually, he had his very own church in Wittenberg, Germany.

95 Theses Martin Luther StudySmarter

95 Theses Summary

Over in Rome in 1515, Pope Leo X wanted to renovate St. Peter's Basilica. The Pope permitted the sale of indulgences to raise money for this construction project. Indulgences challenged Luther's view of Christianity. If a priest sold an indulgence, then the person who received it paid for forgiveness. The forgiveness of their sins did not come from God but the priest.

Luther believed that forgiveness and salvation could only come from God. A person could also buy indulgences on behalf of other people. One could even buy an indulgence for a dead person to shorten their stay in Purgatory. This practice was illegal in Germany but one day Luther's congregation told him that they would no longer need confessionals because their sins had been forgiven through indulgences.

95 Theses Martin Luther Hammer StudySmarter

95 Theses Date

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther went outside of his church and hammered his 95 Theses to the Church wall. This sounds dramatic but historians think it probably wasn't. Luther's theses took off and were soon translated to different languages. It even made its way to Pope Leo X!

The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church was the only Christian church in existence at this time, there were no Baptists, Presbyterians, or Protestants. The Church (meaning the Catholic Church) also provided the only welfare programs. They fed the hungry, gave shelter to the poor, and provided medical care. The only education available was through the Catholic Church. Faith was not the only reason people attended church. At church, they could show off their status and socialize.

The pope was extremely powerful. The Catholic Church owned one-third of the land in Europe. The pope also had power over kings. This is because kings were thought to be appointed by God and the pope was a direct link to God. The pope would advise kings and could heavily influence wars and other political struggles.

When going forward, remember how important and powerful the Catholic Church was. This will offer context to the Protestant Reformation .

The first two theses are about indulgences and why they are immoral. The first thesis refers to God as the only being who can grant forgiveness from sins. Luther was very dedicated to the belief that God could grant forgiveness to anyone who prayed for it.

The second thesis was directly calling out the Catholic Church. Luther reminds the reader that the church does not have the authority to forgive sins so when they sell indulgences, they are selling something they do not have. If God is the only one who can forgive sins and the indulgences weren't bought from God, then they are fake.

  • When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  • This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

The rest of the theses are providing evidence of Luther's first two claims. These are written as arguing points. Luther opens the door that if anyone found fought in any of his points then they could write him and they would debate. The point of the theses was not to destroy the Catholic church but to reform it. The 95 Theses were translated from Latin to German and were read by people all over the country!

95 Theses Luther 95 Theses StudySmarter

Luther wrote the theses in a conversational tone. While it was written in Latin, this would not be for the clergy alone. This would also be for the Catholics who, in Luther's eyes, wasted their money on indulgences. Luther proposed a reform of the Catholic Church. He was not trying to strike out and create a new form of Christianity.

Martin Luther no longer believed that priests could forgive people of their sins on behalf of God. He had a completely radical idea that people could confess in prayer on their own and God would forgive them. Luther also believed that the bible should be translated into German so that everyone could read it. At this point, it was written in Latin and only the clergy could read it.

The Gutenberg Printing Press and the Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther was not the first educated person to go up against the Catholic Church but he is the first to start a reformation. What made him different? In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. This made information spread quicker than it had previously. While historians are still researching the effect of the printing press on the Protestant Reformation, most agree that the Reformation would not have happened without it.

95 Theses Effect on Europe

Luther was excommunicated from the church while the 95 Theses sparked the Protestant Reformation. This was also a political reform. It eventually took away the majority of the pope's power removing his role as a political leader and leaving him as a spiritual leader. The nobility began to break from the Catholic Church because they could then dissolve the church's landholdings and keep the profits. Nobles who were monks could leave the Catholics and get married then produce heirs.

Through the Protestant Reformation people were able to get a German translation of the bible. Anyone who was literate could read the bible for themselves. No longer did they have to rely so heavily on the priests. This created different denominations of Christianity that did not follow the same rules as the Catholic Church or each other's. This also sparked the German Peasant Revolt which was the largest peasant revolt at that time.

95 Theses - Key takeaways

  • The 95 Theses was originally a response to the sale of Indulgences
  • The Catholic Church was a social, political, and spiritual world power
  • The 95 Theses sparked the Protestant Reformation which eventually drastically diminished the power of the Catholic Church

Frequently Asked Questions about 95 Theses

--> what were the 95 theses .

The 95 Theses was a document posted by Martin Luther. It was written so the Catholic Church would reform.

--> When did Martin Luther post the 95 Theses? 

The 95 Theses was posted on October 31st, 1517 in Wittenberg, Germany.

--> Why did Martin Luther write the 95 Theses? 

Martin Luther wrote the 95 Theses so that the Catholic Church would reform and stop selling indulgences. 

--> Who wrote the 95 Theses? 

Martin Luther wrote the 95 Theses.

--> What did the 95 theses say? 

The first two theses were against the sale of indulgences the rest of the theses backed up that claim. 

Final 95 Theses Quiz

95 theses quiz - teste dein wissen.

Who wrote the 95 Theses?

Show answer

Show question

When were the 95 Theses written? 

October 31, 1517

Where was the 95 Theses posted?

Wittenberg, Germany 

When someone is removed from the Catholic church because of their actions it is called ________.

Excommunication

What were tokens that could be purchased by anyone that meant the buyer's sins had been forgiven?

Indulgences

Why did Pope Leo X allow Catholics to start back selling indulgences?

To Fund the restoration of St. Peter's Basilica

What was the first thesis about?

Only God can forgive people of their sins

What was the second thesis about?

The Catholic Church did not have the authority to forgive people of their sins

What were the third through ninety-nine theses about?

They were points that backed up the first two theses. 

What invention helped the spread of the Protestant Reformation?

What reformation was sparked by the Ninety-Five Theses?

Protestant Reformation 

Nobles broke from the Catholic Church then dissolved the Church's holdings so that they could keep the revenue.

True/False 

Before the Protestant Reformation, there were plenty of denominations of Christians.

Which book did Luther translate into German that greatly influenced the Protestant Reformation?

Who did Martin Luther think that people needed to forgive their sins?

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  • European History
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In the 95 theses, Martin Luther specifically did which of the following?

In 1517, martin luther wrote 95 theses criticising roman catholic church. the 95 theses is a proposition for debate concerned with the questioning of indulgences. indulgences were pardon certificates granted by the pope to those who gave money to build the church..

Which of the following was led by Martin Luther?

What is the correct sequence of events of the following statements leading to Protestant Reformation Movement? 1) Martin Luther wrote 95 Theses and believed to have nailed it on the Church door. 2) Martin Luther criticised the selling of Letters of Indulgence. 3) Martin Luther translated the Holy Bible from Latin to German. 4) Martin Luther's actions started gaining followers.

When did Martin Luther start opposing the idea of buying letter of Pardon?

Martin Luther was working as a professor at ______________.

Why did the church excommunicate Martin Luther?

IMAGES

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  2. The Real Story of the Reformation

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  3. Copy of Martin Luthers 95 Theses sells at auction in Germany

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  4. Martin Luther's 95 Theses helped lead the way for the Reformation. This website is a scholarly

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  5. CAB News Online: Five Hundred Years Since Martin Luther's 95 Theses

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  6. Why did Martin Luther Post the 95 Theses?

    martin luther wrote the 95 theses in order to

VIDEO

  1. Bethel Lutheran Church Worship Service (9/24/23)

COMMENTS

  1. Why Did Martin Luther Write “The Ninety-Five Theses?”

    Martin Luther wrote “The Ninety-Five Theses” because he was dissatisfied with several practices of the Roman Catholic Church, including the sale of indulgences, the abuse of priestly power and the power of the Pope. He also argued that fait...

  2. What Did Martin Luther Protest Against?

    Martin Luther protested against the selling of indulgences, clerical abuses and doctrines on salvation in the Catholic Church. He famously published these discontents in his “95 Theses.”

  3. Why Did the Reformation Begin in Germany?

    The Reformation began in Germany in 1517 because an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther, who lived in Germany, wrote “95 Theses” protesting the Pope’s selling indulgences.

  4. Ninety-five Theses

    The Ninety-five Theses (95 Theses) or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences is a list of propositions for an academic disputation written in

  5. Martin Luther and the 95 Theses

    His “95 Theses,” which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only

  6. The 95 Theses: A Summary

    Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses in 1517 as a protest against the selling of indulgences. After he sent a copy of the theses to Albert of Mainz (who sent a

  7. Martin Luther's 95 Theses

    The main arguments presented by Luther in the 95 Theses were that the Bible is the ultimate Christian religious authority and that humans can only get to heaven

  8. Ninety-five Theses

    Ninety-five Theses, propositions for debate concerned with the question of indulgences, written (in Latin) and possibly posted by Martin

  9. Martin Luther posts 95 theses

    In his theses, Luther condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking payment—called

  10. 95 Theses

    The 95 Theses · When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. · This word

  11. What are the 95 Theses of Martin Luther?

    Luther wrote his radical “95 Theses” to express his growing concern with the corruption within the Church. In essence, his Theses called for a

  12. 95 Theses: Definition and Summary

    Who wrote the 95 Theses? Show answer. Answer. Martin

  13. Martin Luther's 95 Theses

    The 95 Theses represented a direct challenge to the authority of the Church from a respected clergyman. The 95 Theses became the catalyst for

  14. In the 95 theses, Martin Luther specifically did which of the following?

    In 1517, Martin Luther wrote 95 theses criticising Roman Catholic Church. ... What is the correct sequence of events of the following statements