The Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences is a list of propositions for an academic disputation written in 1517 by Martin Luther. Luther argued that indulgences led Christians to avoid true repentance and sorrow for sin, believing that they could forgo it by purchasing an indulgence. In 1515, Pope Leo X granted a plenary indulgence to George Duke of Saxony, which was intended to cease for eight years.
About Ninety-five Theses in brief
The Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences is a list of propositions for an academic disputation written in 1517 by Martin Luther. Luther argued that indulgences led Christians to avoid true repentance and sorrow for sin, believing that they could forgo it by purchasing an indulgence. The Theses were quickly reprinted and translated, and distributed throughout Germany and Europe. They initiated a pamphlet war with the 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. 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 Explanations of the Disputations Concerning the Value of Ind Dulgences. In 1515, Pope Leo X granted a plenary indulgence to George Duke of Saxony, which was intended to cease for eight years in which it was offered to finance the construction of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In this system, when Christians sin and confess, they are forgiven and no longer stand to receive eternal punishment in hell, but may still be liable to temporal punishment. If the temporal punishment is not satisfied during life, it needs to be satisfied in a Catholic belief of a place in-between Heaven and Hell, called Purgatory. In the Roman Catholic Church, practically the only Christian church in Western Europe at the time, indulgegences are part of the economy of salvation.
This led to the popular saying, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs” Luther did not consider indulgence 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 the RomanCatholic Church. Luther may have also posted the NINETY FIVE 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. Under abuses of the system of indulgENCE, clergy benefited by selling indulgenced and the pope gave official sanction in exchange for a fee. Popes are empowered to grant plenary indulgegence, which provide complete satisfaction for any remaining temporal punishment due to sins, and these were purchased on behalf of people believed to be in purgatories. This punishment could be satisfied by the penitent’s performing works of mercy, but this punishment could also be lessened. Luther believed that the Pope could use the treasury of merit and the good deeds of past saints to forgive temporal punishment for sins. He did not believe that the pope had jurisdiction over Purgatory, and his followers had advocated a more severe system of penance.