Martin Luther's '95 Theses on the Power of Indulgences'

Martin Luther's '95 Theses on the Power of Indulgences'

The 95 Theses on the Power of Indulgences is a very notable and historical academic writing that focuses on one devout man's reaction to the Roman Catholic Church.  Written by Martin Luther in 1517, the 95 Theses triggered the Protestant Reformation, which sought to establish Protestantism as a major religious denomination.  Martin Luther's writing helped him to protest certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church such as penance, papal authority, and the usefulness of indulgences.

Martin Luther's 95 Theses discussed the commercialization of the Church in which people could purchase indulgences for forgiveness of their sins.  According to Martin Luther, this was a major violation that corrupted the original intent of confession and penance.  It further added offense to justification because sinners could seek absolution through the purchase of these extravagant indulgences.  Martin Luther professed that this was a false promise since sinners needed to receive absolution as a result of God's mercy and Jesus Christ's sacrifice to mankind.

The initial purpose of the 95 Theses was to outline the proceedings of a public scholarly debate on the issue of indulgences.  Martin Luther delineated every possible point of discussion for the debate and wrote these matters succinctly in book form.  On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his academic writing on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Since the debate was going to be held at the University of Wittenberg, the posting of the 95 Theses on the church doors was customary protocol.

Then, Martin Luther met with church officials to present his 95 Theses.  When they did not respond favorably to his pleas to stop indulgences, Luther circulated the 95 Theses privately.  As a result, the academic writing became a very popular catalyst for the birth of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist movements in Christianity.  The 95 Theses was printed in many German cities such as Nuremburg, Leipzig, and Basel.  Yet, when Pope Leo X ordered Luther to recant certain sections in his writing, Martin Luther refused at the Diet of Worms in 1521.  This act of defiance unquestionably led to the initial stages of the Protestant Reformation.  

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