The Ninety-Five Theses

Posted on November 17, 2011 by


In the 16th century The Reformation was started by Martin Luther and caused a split between the Western Christianity communities.  Martin Luther decided to post a document called “The Ninety-Five Thesis” on the Castle church door for Albert of Mainz, the theses debated and criticized the Church and the Pope, but concentrated upon the selling of indulgences and doctrinal policies about purgatory, the authority of the pope and the catholic devotion to saints, Mary and sacraments.

When Martin Luther took a trip to Rome he was shocked at how corrupted the clergy was in 1510.  The pope at the time was Sixtus IV and he established the practice of selling indulgences to be applied to the dead, thereby establishing a new stream of revenue with agents across Europe.  Then Pope Alexander VI fathered seven children with 2 mistresses and he caused the corruption of the papacy and drove Luther to start writing “The Ninety-Five Thesis”.  Albert of Mainz was in debt so he started to allow the sale of the indulgences in his territory in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. Luther was apparently not aware of this so when people presented their plenary indulgences which they had paid good silver money for, claiming they no longer had to repent of their sins, since the document promised to forgive all their sins. Luther was outraged that they had paid money for what was theirs by right as a free gift from God. He went to Saxon, Wittenberg and nailed “The Ninety-Five Thesis” right to the door protesting against the sale of indulgences.

“The Ninety-Five Thesis” was not only put on the church door but Martin Luther also mailed it to Albert of Mainz and Magdeburg and the bishop of Brandenburg. Within a couple of weeks it was spread throughout Germany, in 2 months it spread all though Europe. Like anything else that is published like the Thesis,  everybody will know about it and will have read it.  The Thesis is manly about indulgences, papal authority, the authority of Scripture, and forgiveness of sin. When Luther posted it on the church door he did not intend on creating the whole reformation but he just wanted to discuss his concerns that he has with the church. The Ninety-Five Theses called the church to repentance and urged the leaders of the indulgence movement to direct their gaze to Christ, the only one who was able to pay the penalty due for sin.

“The Ninety-Five Theses” was written in Latin so I had to use the translation to understand what Martin Luther had written and what he meant.  In the first Theses Luther wrote “When Jesus said “repent” he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting” Luther means that sinners should always be asking for forgiveness and not only just repenting them once but keep on doing so.  Also since Jesus said “repent” Luther brings in a Big religious figure so that people would understand and be more likely to listen since Jesus said so, it is that much more important to do so.  Living a whole life of repenting would allow you to have more of a chance of going to heaven is what Luther is trying to infer.  To also try and beg for forgiveness of your sins to be absolved and free from them so you can be more likely going to heaven.  A lot of the Theses are based on forgiveness of sin and repenting for what you have done wrong.

In the second Theses Luther writes; “Only God can give salvation – not a priest.” Luther is writing this because the priests would “absolve” people of there sins so then they thought they were free of sins and could move on with there life.  Actually a priest might say he has given salvation after you have confessed to him but God is the one who determines if you have been given salvation. Salvation means the saving of somebody or something from sin or the consequences of sin through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.  After a Christian has sinned of course they should want salvation so they can go to heaven but the person that decides that is in fact God.  Luther wrote this Theses because the priests would sometimes have the people pay money for them to absolve there sins and that was not right since they could not fully give salvation. That angered Luther and so he wrote Theses 2 about salvation.

The third Theses that Martin Luther wrote said “Inwards penitence must be accompanied with a suitable change in lifestyle.” Penitence means regret or sorrow for having committed sins or misdeeds.  The These means that to recognize that your sin was bad and to try and forgive yourself for having committing that sin then you will have to change yourself style so the sin will not be committed again.  Luther means that you will have forgive yourself but also change your lifestyle. I think Luther wrote this These because when the people were committing the sale of indulgences and then tried to forgive themselves for their misdeed. To make sure they never commit that sin again they have to change the way they live and regret what they have done. Martin Luther wanted the people to feel bad for there sin and change the lifestyle of those who were corrupting the church so he could change it back to the way it used to be with no sale of indulgences, but instead it started an uproar and The Reformation began.

I think by Martin Luther posting the Ninety-Five Theses on the church door was the main starter for the reformation in Europe. Martin Luther did not intend on starting The Reformation it just happened and from there it spread all throughout the world. Luther wanted to help solve the problems in the church without making a huge deal out of it. He created the Ninety-Five Theses and with that created The Reformation.

Link to the translation:


Works Citied:

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Iserloh, Erwin. “The Ninety-Five-Theses.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. , 2 Nov. 2011. Web.3 Nov. 2011. <;.

Luther, Martin. “Luther’s 95 Theses.” Spurgeon. Phillip R Johnson, 2001. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.<;.

– – -. “95 Theses.” Wikisource. Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License, 28 Oct. 2011. Web.16 Nov. 2011. <;.

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Trueman, Chris. “The 95 Theses- a modern translation.” History Learning Site., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2011. <;.

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