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Elizabeth Eisenstein has argued that his claimed surprise at their success may have involved self-deception and Hans Hillerbrand has claimed that Luther was certainly intending to instigate a large controversy. At times, luther seems to use the academic nature of the Theses as a cover to allow him to attack established beliefs while being able to deny that he intended to attack church teaching. Since writing a set of theses for a disputation does not necessarily commit the author to those views, luther could deny that he held the most incendiary ideas in the Theses. The posting of the 95 Thesis and other attacks on the Church were predicated on Luther's developing beliefs about Jesus, salvation by faith alone and his study of biblical prophecies. Distribution and publication edit On, luther sent a letter to Archbishop of mainz, albert of Brandenburg, under whose authority the indulgences were being sold. In the letter, luther addresses the archbishop out of a loyal desire to alert him to the pastoral problems created by the indulgence sermons. He assumes that Albert is unaware of what is being preached under his authority, and speaks out of concern that the people are being led away from the gospel, and that the indulgence preaching may bring shame to Albert's name. Luther does not condemn indulgences or the current doctrine regarding them, nor even the sermons which had been preached themselves, as he had not seen them firsthand.

Luther's intent edit The Theses are written as propositions to be argued in a formal academic disputation, though there is no evidence that such an event ever took place. In the heading of the Theses, luther invited interested scholars from other cities to participate. Holding such a debate was a privilege luther held as a doctor, and it was not phase an unusual form of academic inquiry. Luther prepared twenty sets of theses for disputation at Wittenberg between 15Andreas Karlstadt had written a set of such theses in April 1517, and these were more radical in theological terms than Luther's. He posted them on the door of All saints' Church, as Luther was alleged to have done with the ninety-five theses. Karlstadt posted his theses at a time when the relics of the church were placed on display, and this may have been considered a provocative gesture. Similarly, luther posted the ninety-five theses on the eve of All saints' day, the most important day of the year for the display of relics at All saints' Church. Luther's theses were intended to begin a debate among academics, not a popular revolution, but there are indications that he saw his action as prophetic and significant. Around this time, he began using the name "Luther" and sometimes "Eleutherius Greek for "free rather than "Luder". This seems to refer to his being free from the scholastic theology which he had argued against earlier that year. Luther later claimed not to have desired the Theses to be widely distributed.

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How should he answer those who ask why the pope does not simply empty purgatory if it is in his power? What should he say to those who ask why anniversary masses for the dead, which were for the sake of those in purgatory, continued for those who had been redeemed by an indulgence? Luther claimed that it seemed strange to some that pious people in purgatory could be redeemed by living impious people. Luther also mentions the question william of why the pope, who is very rich, requires money from poor believers to build. Luther claims that ignoring these questions risks allowing people to ridicule the pope. He appeals to the pope's financial interest, saying that if the preachers limited their preaching in accordance with Luther's positions on indulgences (which he claimed was also the pope's position the objections would cease to be relevant. Luther closes the Theses by exhorting Christians to imitate Christ even if it brings pain and suffering. Enduring punishment and entering heaven is preferable to false security.

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The preachers have been promoting indulgences as the greatest of the graces available from the church, but they actually only promote greed. He points out that bishops have been commanded to offer reverence to indulgence preachers who enter their jurisdiction, but bishops are also charged with protecting their people from preachers who preach contrary to the pope's intention. He then attacks the belief allegedly propagated by the preachers that the indulgence could forgive one who had violated the virgin Mary. Luther states that indulgences cannot take away the guilt of even the lightest of venial sins. He labels several other alleged statements of the indulgence preachers as blasphemy: that saint Peter could not have granted a greater indulgence than the current one, and that the indulgence cross with the papal arms is as worthy as the cross of Christ. Luther lists several criticisms advanced by laypeople against indulgences in theses 8191. He presents these report as difficult objections his congregants are bringing rather than his own criticisms.

They should be taught that giving to the poor is incomparably more important than buying indulgences, that buying an indulgence rather than giving to the poor invites God's wrath, and that doing good works makes a person better while buying indulgences does not. In theses 4852 Luther takes the side of the pope, saying that if the pope knew what was being preached in his name he would rather. Peter's Basilica be burned down than "built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep." Theses 5355 complain about the restrictions on preaching while the indulgence was being offered. Luther criticizes the doctrine of the treasury of merit on which the doctrine of indulgences is based in theses 5666. He states that everyday christians do not understand the doctrine and are being misled. For Luther, the true treasure of the church is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This treasure tends to be hated because it makes "the first last in the words of Matthew 19:30 and 20:16. Luther uses metaphor and wordplay to describe the treasures of the gospel as nets to catch wealthy people, whereas the treasures of indulgences are nets to catch the wealth of men. First page of the 1517 Basel printing of the Theses as a pamphlet In theses 6780, luther discusses further the problems with the way indulgences are being preached, as he had done in the letter to Archbishop Albert.

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He sees it as encouraging drawing sinful greed, and says it is impossible to be certain because only god has ultimate power in forgiving punishments in purgatory. 1525 woodcut of forgiveness from Christ outweighing the pope's indulgences Theses 3034 deal with the false certainty luther believed the indulgence preachers offered Christians. Since no one knows whether a person is truly repentant, a letter assuring a person of his forgiveness is dangerous. In theses 35 and 36, he attacks the idea that an indulgence makes repentance unnecessary. This leads to the conclusion that the truly repentant person, who alone may benefit from the indulgence, has already received the only benefit the indulgence provides.

Truly repentant Christians have already, according to luther, been forgiven of the penalty as well as the guilt of sin. In thesis 37, he states that indulgences are not necessary for Christians to receive all summary the benefits provided by Christ. Theses 39 and 40 argue that indulgences make true repentance more difficult. True repentance desires God's punishment of sin, but indulgences teach one to avoid punishment, since that is the purpose of purchasing the indulgence. In theses 4147 Luther criticizes indulgences on the basis that they discourage works of mercy by those who purchase them. Here he begins to use the phrase, "Christians are to be taught." to state how he thinks people should be instructed on the value of indulgences.

A truly repentant sinner would also not seek an indulgence, because they loved God's righteousness and desired the inward punishment of their sin. These sermons seem to have ceased from April to October 1517, presumably while luther was writing the ninety-five theses. He composed a treatise on Indulgences, apparently in early autumn 1517. It is a cautious and searching examination of the subject. He contacted church leaders on the subject by letter, including his superior hieronymus Schulz ( de bishop of Brandenburg, sometime on or before 31 October, when he sent the Theses to Archbishop Albert of Brandenburg. Content edit The first thesis has become famous.


It states, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'repent he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." In the first few theses Luther develops the idea of repentance as the Christian's inner struggle with sin rather than the external. Theses 57 then state that the pope can only release people from the punishments he has administered himself or through the church's system of penance, not the guilt of sin. The pope can only announce god's forgiveness of the guilt of sin in his name. In theses 1429, luther challenged common beliefs about purgatory. Theses 1416 discuss the idea that the punishment of purgatory can be likened to the fear and despair felt by dying people. In theses 1724 he asserts that nothing can be definitively said about the spiritual state of people in purgatory. He denies that the pope has any power over people in purgatory in theses 25 and. In theses 2729, he attacks the idea that as soon as payment is made, the payer's loved one is released from purgatory.

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Johann Tetzel was commissioned to preach and offer the indulgence in 1517, and his campaign in cities near Wittenberg drew many wittenbergers to travel to these cities and purchase them, since sales had been prohibited in Wittenberg and other Saxon cities. Luther also had experience with the indulgences connected paperless to All saints' Church, wittenberg. By venerating the large collection of relics at the church, one could receive an indulgence. He had preached as early as 1514 review against the abuse of indulgences and the way they cheapened grace rather than requiring true repentance. Luther became especially concerned in 1517 when his parishioners, returning from purchasing Tetzel's indulgences, claimed that they no longer needed to repent and change their lives in order to be forgiven of sin. After hearing what Tetzel had said about indulgences in his sermons, luther began to study the issue more carefully, and contacted experts on the subject. He preached about indulgences several times in 1517, explaining that true repentance was better than purchasing an indulgence. He taught that receiving an indulgence presupposed that the penitent had confessed and repented, otherwise it was worthless.

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Jan Hus and his followers had advocated a more severe system of penance, in which indulgences were not available. Johannes von Wesel had also attacked indulgences late in the 15th century. Political rulers had an interest in controlling indulgences because local economies suffered when the money for indulgences left a given territory. Rulers often sought to receive a portion of the proceeds or prohibited indulgences altogether, as duke george did in Luther's Electoral Saxony. In 1515, pope leo x granted a plenary indulgence day intended to finance the construction. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It would apply to almost any sin, including adultery and theft. All other indulgence preaching was to cease for the eight years in which it was offered. Indulgence preachers were given strict instructions on how the indulgence was to be preached, and they were much more laudatory of the indulgence than those of earlier indulgences.

punishment in hell, but may still be liable to temporal punishment. This punishment could be satisfied by the penitent's performing works of mercy. If the temporal punishment is not satisfied during life, it would need to be satisfied in purgatory. With an indulgence (which may be translated "kindness this temporal punishment could be lessened. Under abuses of the system of indulgences, clergy benefited by selling indulgences and the pope gave official sanction in exchange for a fee. Woodcut of an indulgence-seller in a church from a 1521 pamphlet Popes are empowered to grant plenary indulgences, which provide complete satisfaction for any remaining temporal punishment due to sins, and these were purchased on behalf of people believed to be in purgatory. This led to the popular saying, "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs". Theologians at the University of Paris had criticized this saying late in the 15th century. Earlier critics of indulgences included John Wycliffe, who denied that the pope had jurisdiction over purgatory.

Explanations of the disputation Concerning the value of Indulgences. Luther sent the, theses enclosed with a letter to, albert of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of mainz, on, a date now considered the start of the reformation and evernote commemorated annually as Reformation day. Luther may have also posted the Theses on the door of All saints' Church and other churches in Wittenberg in accordance with University custom on 31 October or in mid-november. The Theses were quickly reprinted, translated, and distributed throughout Germany and Europe. They initiated a pamphlet war with indulgence preacher Johann Tetzel, which spread Luther's fame even further. Luther's ecclesiastical superiors had him tried for heresy, which culminated in his excommunication in 1521. Though the Theses were the start of the reformation, luther did not consider indulgences to be as important as other theological matters which would divide the church, such as justification by faith alone and the bondage of the will. His breakthrough on these issues would come later, and he did not see the writing of the Theses as the point at which his beliefs diverged from those of Rome. Contents Background edit martin Luther, professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg and town preacher, wrote the ninety-five theses against the contemporary practice of the church with respect to indulgences.

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The, ninety-five theses or, disputation on the power of Indulgences a is a list of propositions for an academic disputation written in 1517 by, martin Luther, professor of moral theology at the. University of Wittenberg, germany, that started the, reformation, a schism shakespeare in the, catholic Church which profoundly changed Europe. They advanced Luther's positions against what he saw as the abuse of the practice of clergy selling plenary indulgences, which were certificates believed to reduce the temporal punishment for sins committed by the purchasers or their loved ones in purgatory. Theses, luther claimed that the repentance required by Christ in order for sins to be forgiven involves inner spiritual repentance rather than merely external sacramental confession. He argued that indulgences led Christians to avoid true repentance and sorrow for sin, believing that they could forgo it by purchasing an indulgence. They also, according to luther, discouraged Christians from giving to the poor and performing other acts of mercy, believing that indulgence certificates were more spiritually valuable. Though Luther claimed that his positions on indulgences accorded with those of the pope, the, theses challenge a 14th-century papal bull stating that the pope could use the treasury of merit and the good deeds of past saints to forgive temporal punishment for sins. Theses are framed as propositions to be argued in debate rather than necessarily representing Luther's opinions, but Luther later clarified his views in the.


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