On this day in 1517, a lone Augustian monk upset Western civilization as we know it. On All Hallow's Eve, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses onto the door of the church in Wittenberg. This would be the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, or 95 Theses, challenged the Romanist practice of selling indulgences that were said to be able to rescue deceased loved ones for Purgatory. Luther saw this a gross abuse of the Church's power and a cruel exploitation of the poor. Thus he wrote his theses to challenge the practice.
Recently, I read Luther's theses and a few of the 95 stood out to me. Think of this like a highlight show for a sports game.
My favorite of Luther's theses:
1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
4. The penalty of sin therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and the need of true contrition. [I like this one just because he gets snarky with the "keen theologians"]
41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives his money for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the "greatest graces" are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal arms which is set up by the preachers of indulgences is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace!
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!