October 31st, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther published his 95-theses document challenging doctrines of the Catholic church. The importance placed on the practice of selling indulgences, the false security it gave to those who purchased them and the true destination of the collected money offended Luther.
Martin Luther’s 95 Theses
Martin Luther’s 2nd These states “This word (“repent”) cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.” These 35 states “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.”
Luther greatly missed the mark by not denying the existence of purgatory or the ability of the church to sell indulgences. He was just alarmed that “Indulgence Preachers” were selling indulgences as a catch-all for anyone and any sin even if there was no remorse or contriteness. In addition, more importance was placed on selling indulgences than teaching the Catholic church’s interpretation of the Word of God. Luther’s These 53 states “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.”
Martin Luther points to the true purpose of indulgences, funding the building of St. Peters Basilica in Rome. His 86th These states “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?’”