Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

wearenothumans

Between the years of 1520 and 1536 the battle of Europe was being fought among the Christians and Muslims for its very soul. Three years prior a poor monk had started his own war on the church that revolutionized Christianity. His name was Martin Luther.

This was reprinted from this website:http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/creeds-confessions/luther-95-theses.html

95 Theses Martin Luther nailed on the church  door at Wittenburg.

OCTOBER 31, 1517

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent”  ( Matthew 4:17 ), he willed the entire life of believers to be one  of repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the  sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction,  as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such  inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various  outward mortification of the flesh.

4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of  self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our  entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any  penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that  of the canons.

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring  and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be  sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he  humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the  vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living,  and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be  imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to  us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes  exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the  case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for  purgatory.

11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the  penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops  slept ( Matthew 13:25 ).

12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not  after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are  already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and  have a right to be released from them.

14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying  person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the  smaller the love, the greater the fear.

15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say  nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of  purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as  despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.

17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear  should necessarily decrease and love increase.

18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason  or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the  state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.

19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at  least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own  salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of  it.

20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words “plenary  remission of all penalties,” does not actually mean “all  penalties,” but only those imposed by himself.

21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say  that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by  papal indulgences.

22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in  purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they  should have paid in this life.

23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be  granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted  only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.

24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived  by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release  from penalty.

25. That power which the pope has in general over  purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or  curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and  parish.

26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to  souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he  does not have, but by way of intercession for them.

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon  as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies  out of purgatory.

28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money  chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the  church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be  redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St.  Paschal, as related in a legend.

30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition,  much less of having received plenary remission.

31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he  who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.

32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their  salvation because they have indulgence letters will be  eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say  that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by  which man is reconciled to him.

34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with  the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by  man.

35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the  part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or  to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.

36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full  remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence  letters.

37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead,  participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church;  and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence  letters.

38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no  means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said  (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.

39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned  theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the  people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true  contrition.

40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to  pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences,  however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them –  at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.

41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest  people erroneously think that they are preferable to other  good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not  intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be  compared with works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the  poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who  buys indulgences.

44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby  becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by  means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.

45. Christians are to be taught that 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.

46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have  more than they need, they must reserve enough for their  family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.

47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of  indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting  indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer  more than their money.

49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are  useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but  very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of  them.

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the  exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that  the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built  up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.

51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and  should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to  sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom  certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.

52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence  letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the  pope, were to offer his soul as security.

53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid  altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some  churches in order that indulgences may be preached in  others.

54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same  sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to  indulgences than to the Word.

55. It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if  indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are  celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony,  then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should  be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a  hundred ceremonies.

56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the  pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently  discussed or known among the people of Christ.

57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is  certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not  distribute them freely but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for,  even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the  inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer  man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the  treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the  usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of  the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that  treasure.

61. For it is clear that the pope’s power is of itself  sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases  reserved by himself.

62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy  gospel of the glory and grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it  makes the first to be last ( Matthew 20:16 ).

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is  naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be  first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with  which one formerly fished for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one  now fishes for the wealth of men.

67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the  greatest graces are actually understood to be such only  insofar as they promote gain.

68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant  graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of  the cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the  commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.

70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and  ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what  the pope has commissioned.

71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal  indulgences be anathema and accursed.

72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of  the indulgence preachers be blessed.

73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by  any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of  indulgences.

74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who  use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love  and truth.

75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could  absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had  violated the mother of God is madness.

76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot  remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is  concerned.

77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could  not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and  the pope.

78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or  any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal,  that is, the gospel,spiritual powers, gifts of healing,  etc., as it is written,  1 Corinthians 12:28 ).

79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat  of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in  worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.

80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such  talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for  this.

81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it  difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence  which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd  questions of the laity.

82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for  the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that  are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the  sake of miserable money with which to build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most  trivial.

83. Again, “Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the  dead continued and why does he not return or permit the  withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is  wrong to pray for the redeemed?”

84. Again, “What is this new piety of God and the pope  that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is  impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious  soul of a friend of God and do not rather, because of the  need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure  love’s sake?”

85. Again, “Why are the penitential canons, long since  abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now  satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they  were still alive and in force?”

86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today  greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this  one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than  with the money of poor believers?”

87. Again, “What does the pope remit or grant to those who  by perfect contrition already have a right to full  remission and blessings?”

88. Again, “What greater blessing could come to the church  than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and  blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he  now does but once?”

89. “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather  than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the  indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have  equal efficacy?”

90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by  force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is  to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their  enemies and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to  the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts  would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the  people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!  ( Jeremiah 6:14 )

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of  Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in  following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and  hell.

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through  many tribulations rather than through the false security of  peace ( Acts 14:22 ).

Feel free to comment and share.

In Him, Mike

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