September 19, 2010

The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power of Indulgences were written and placed on the door of the Wittenberg chapel by Martin Luther in 1517. He was a German monk, theologian, university professor, and considered to be the Father of Protestantism, and church reformer whose ideas influenced the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of Western civilization. He died on February 18, 1546.

Martin Luther used these Theses to display his unhappiness with the Church's sale of indulgences, and this eventually gave birth to Protestantism. It especially defied the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the nature of penance, the authority and power of the pope and the efficacy of indulgences. They sparked a theological dispute that would result in the Reformation and the birth of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist traditions within Christianity. Martin Luther did not intend the Theses to be a program for reform, nor was it an attack on the Pope. He was simply questioning the indulgences and wanted the Church to proclaim the truth of the gospel in all its teachings.

The purpose of the 95 theses was to invite local scholars to a disputation on indulgences. He addressed a lot of hierarchical issues within the church. The following point summary shows the purpose of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses:

· He felt that the focus of the Church was no longer God but was men, some of whom he felt shouldn't have been in the positions they were in.

· The other main focus was that people were thinking they didn't have a direct link with God but that there were middle men whom they had to approach to reach God.

· The Popes at church were not paying enough attention to those outside of the Church who were suffering and poor.

History records Martin Luther as a very important person in the survival of Christianity. He was concerned with the well-being of the Roman Catholic Church and its policy of granting forgiveness through indulgences rather than penance. Luther's actions were not groundbreaking, for Jan Hus who was burned at the stake in 1415, over 100 years before Luther posted up the 95 theses, had preached the same message. The message of the 95 Theses gave the summary and expressed the feelings that many of his peers already had about the corruption of Christ's teachings. Luther illustrated the spiritual, material, and psychological truths behind abuses in the Church, in the practice of buying and selling indulgences. He was not out to pick a fight or to have his own way; his purpose was to uphold the truth, for the cause of Christ.