Luther’s ’95 Theses’

The 95 Theses, famously posted on the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517 by Martin Luther (1483-1586), were a series of short points that he was willing to debate. They were primarily concerned with indulgences (the partial or total remission of temporal punishment due to sin), and particularly the sale of indulgences. During this time Pope Leo X was renovating St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and he permitted indulgences to be granted to people who contributed money to this project. Martin Luther condemned this practice in his 95 Theses, but he did not yet condemn the entire system of indulgences. Thesis 71 says “He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!”. The ideas that eventually became Lutheranism had not been fully developed yet. His theses did not deny the Pope’s authority, the truth of indulgences, or the doctrine of purgatory. All these and more would be denied in years top come, but here Luther did not stray too far from traditional Church doctrine.

 

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