95 Thesis Summary

Moreover, Luther did not even call for the abolition of indulgences at this point, but merely its reform. You might expect the document that launched the Protestant Reformation to be pretty rough on the pope . The liberal promise of freedom from penalty was leading them astray. Contrition is what leads to forgiveness, not purchasing a letter of pardon. For some scholars, it was this action that truly ignited the Protestant Reformation. Well, theological dispute was no longer relegated to the elites; instead, the door was opened for a wider discussion within Christendom over national and church authority.

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What was really happening in the heart of the person? For Luther, the concern was pastoral: Were people putting their trust for forgiveness in a purchased document?

I posted Martin Luther's 95 theses on this site long ago, but not everyone understands either the context or the meaning of the theses.

(A brief definition of indulgences would be a release from the penalty of sin based on the merits of Jesus and the saints.) The specific issue was that Johann Tetzel, sent by the pope to earn money for the building of St.

Peter's Basilica in Rome, was preying on the ignorance of poverty-stricken and superstitious Germans, collecting money from them to buy the release of their relatives from the fires of Purgatory.

Luther’s intention was to spark an academic debate over the current practice of indulgences in the church as was his right as professor of theology.

Yet what transpired from 1517 on could in no way be predicted or anticipated. Ultimately, the point for Luther was that our assurances for saving grace come from Christ and not the pope. For Luther, it was better to give to the poor than to buy an indulgence, as thesis 45 declared, “He who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.” Similarly, Luther made it clear that it was better to care for one’s family than to waste money on indulgences. By the following year, on August 7, 1518, Luther received a summons by the pope to Rome, to [account] for his ideas and actions.

Luther reference "the penalty" because that is what an indulgence is supposed to remit.

He ties the penalty of sin to hatred of self that should never end rather than a temporary penance issued by the Church.

Indulgences were increasingly taking the place of both contrition and confession in the penance process. Martin Luther, John Knox, John Calvin, Louis Berkhof, R. Sproul, John Stott, and more—Reformers past and present are well-represented in this historic bundle.

Possession of an indulgence was becoming proof of a person’s willingness to be penitent, and absolution was being granted based on that evidence. Was one placing his or her faith in Christ, or in the indulgence? It’s only available until November 11, so don’t wait—get your Reformation Day Bundle while you still can!


Comments 95 Thesis Summary

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