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Martin Luther’s Legacy

After Martin Luther had nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Church door in Germany, he started a movement known as the Protestant Reformation (1517). But, what did this all lead to? What did he leave behind after he died? Why was this considered one of the most important things to affect the Christian Church?

Well let’s the browse the history of the Church after the Reformation to understand the impact it had on today’s churches:

1504-1598 

  • 1504 b. Heinrich Bullinger
  • 1507 Luther is ordained as a priest at Erfurt
  • Henry VIII becomes King of England in 1509
  • 1509 b. John Calvin
  • 1510 Luther sent to Rome on monastic business. He saw the corruption of the church
  • 1513 Leo X becomes Pope
  • 1514 b. John Knox
  • 1515 While teaching on Romans, Luther realizes faith and justification are the work of God
  • 1517 Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg. It is the first public act of the Reformation
  • Zwingli’s reform is also underway
  • 1519 Charles V becomes Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire
  • 1521 Luther is excommunicated
  • 1525 The Bondage of the Will Many of the essays, discourses, treatises, conversations, etc. that Luther had over the years are collected in his Table Talk
  • 1529 The Colloquy of Marburg
  • 1531 d. Ulrich Zwingli
  • c. 1532 or 1533 Calvin’s conversion
  • 1534 Henry VIII declares himself “The only supreme head in earth of the Church of England”
  • 1535 Anabaptists take over Muenster
  • 1536 d. Erasmus
  • 1536 Menno Simons rejects Catholicism, becomes an Anabaptist, and helps restore that movement back to pacifism
  • 1536 William Tyndale strangled and burned at the stake. He was the first to translate the Bible into English from the original languages
  • 1536 First edition of Calvin’s Institutes
  • 1540 Jesuit order is founded. The Catholic Reformation is under way
  • c. 1543 Knox converted
  • 1545 The Council of Trent begins
  • 1546 d. Luther
  • 1547 The young Edward VI becomes King of England. The Duke of Somerset acts as regent, and many reforms take place
  • 1549 Consensus Tigurinus brings Zwinglians and Calvinists to agreement about communion
  • 1553 Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary) begins her reign
  • Many protestants who flee Mary’s reign are deeply impacted by exposure to a more true reformation on the continent. John Knox is among them
  • 1558 Elizabeth is crowned, the Marian exiles return
  • 1559 Last edition of the Institutes
  • 1559 The Act of Uniformity makes the 1559 Book of Common Prayer the standard in the Church of England and penalizes anyone who fails to use it. It is not reformed enough for the Puritans
  • 1560 b. Jacobus Arminius
  • Parliament approves the Scot’s Confession, penned by the six Johns (including Knox)
  • 1561 d. pacifist Anabaptist leader Menno Simons
  • 1563 The Council of Trent is finished
  • 1564 d. John Calvin
  • 1566 Bullinger writes The Second Helvetic Confession
  • 1567-1568 The Vestments Controversy. Puritans did not want the ceremony and ritual symbolized by the robes of the Church of England
  • 1571 Thirty Nine Articles are finalized
  • 1572 d. John Knox
  • 1572 b. John Donne, devout Anglican minister and poet
  • 1572 Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, the worst persecution of Huguenots
  • 1575 d. Bullinger
  • 1582 The General Assembly in Scotland, with Andrew Melville as moderator, ratifies the “Second Book of Discipline.” It has been called the Magna Carta of Presbyterianism
  • 1593 b. George Herbert, Anglican country parson and poet
  • 1596 b. Moses Amyrald, founder of Amyraldianism, which is basically Calvinism minus limited atonement. Amyraldianism became the theology of the School of Saumer in France
  • 1596 b. Descartes, founder of rationalism
  • 1598 Edict of Nantes grants Huguenots greater religious freedom

1603-1691 

  • 1603 Arminius takes the position that predestination is based on fore-knowledge
  • 1603 James I becomes King
  • 1604 The Puritans meet James at Hampton Court. Their hopes are dashed
  • 1609 d. Jacobus Arminius
  • 1610 b. Brother Lawrence
  • 1610 The Arminians issue the Remonstrance containing 5 articles
  • 1611 The King James Version, the most influential English translation of the Bible
  • 1615 b. Puritan Richard Baxter, author of The Reformed Pastor
  • 1616 b. Puritan John Owen, called the Calvin of England
  • 1618 The Book of Sports is published. It contradicts the Puritan view of the Sabbath, but Puritans are forced to read it
  • 1618-1619 The Synod of Dort is called in the Netherlands to answer the Arminians. The response forms 5 point Calvinism
  • 1620 Plymouth, Massachusetts colony founded by Puritans
  • 1623 b. Blaise Pascal
  • 1623 b. Francis Turretin
  • 1625 Charles I becomes King. He too is against the Puritans
  • 1628 William Laud becomes Bishop of London and steps up oppression of the Puritans
  • 1628 b. Puritan John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress among many other works of poetry and prose
  • 1629 Charles I dismisses Parliament
  • 1630 John Winthrop and many Puritans migrate to America
  • 1632 b. Locke, founder of empiricism
  • 1633 The Book of Sports is renewed
  • 1636 Harvard founded by Puritans
  • 1638 The National Covenant
  • 1640 Charles I summons Parliament. They curtail his power
  • 1643 The Solemn League and Covenant
  • 1643-1646 The Westminster Assembly
  • 1646 Cromwell’s army defeats the King at the Battle of Naseby
  • 1647 George Fox founds the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • 1649 Charles I is executed. Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector
  • c. 1650’s Brother Lawrence became a monk, and “walk(ed) with God around a kitchen for forty years” (Great Christian Books, 57) But he did it to glorify God
  • 1654 Conversion of Pascal. He started collecting notes for an Apology for the Christian Religion. It was unfinished, but his notes were published posthumously as Pensees
  • 1658 d. Cromwell
  • 1660 Charles II becomes King of England
  • 1661-1663 John Eliot publishes the Bible in Algonkian, a Native American language. Over the course of his life he also helped plant at least 14 Native American churches
  • 1662 d. Pascal
  • 1662 New Act of Uniformity, over two thousand Puritan pastors resign or are forced out
  • 1675 Philip Jacob Spener’s Pia Desideria helps begin the pietistic movement
  • Edict of Nantes is revoked, making Protestantism illegal again in France. Many Huguenots emigrated, some stayed and met in secret
  • 1685 b. J.S.Bach, called the fifth evangelist
  • 1687 d. Turretin. His Institutes of Elentic Theology were published the next year
  • 1688 William and Mary take the throne. Puritans are free to preach and establish their own churches
  • 1691 d. Brother Lawrence

  

1703-1799 

  • 1703 b. Jonathan Edwards
  • 1706 Francis Mackie founds the first Presbytery in America in Philadelphia
  • 1714 b. Immanuel Kant, a leader of the Romantic movement. He said knowledge is not what is, but only what our minds can grasp
  • 1714 b. George Whitefield
  • 1727 “The Golden Summer.” A revival broke out among Count Nikolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf and the Hussite Moravian refugees he had taken in. Many Moravian missionaries were sent overseas
  • During the 1720’s, revival breaks out as Theodore Frelinghuysen preaches in New Jersey. Revival spreads through Gilbert Tennant to New Brunswick. It is the first stirrings of the First Great Awakening
  • 1734-1737 The Great Awakening continues as Jonathan Edwards preaches in Massachusetts. Revival spreads to Connecticut
  • 1739-41 George Whitefield joins Edwards. He traveled diligently, traveling between England and America 13 times, and was able to reach about 80% of the colonists with the gospel
  • 1739 The Methodists begin as a parachurch society in London
  • 1741 The conservative Old Side/ pro-revival New Side controversy in American Presbyterianism
  • 1746 Princeton founded by the Presbyterians
  • 1754 Dartmouth founded for Native Americans
  • 1758 Old Side/New Side schism healed
  • 1759 b. Charles Simeon, founder of low-church party of Church of England
  • 1759 b. William Wilberforce, an evangelical in the Church of England, who fought against slavery and wrote Real Christianity
  • 1761 b. William Carey
  • 1764 Brown founded by Baptists
  • 1766 Rutgers founded by Dutch Reformed. All these new colleges were fruit of the Great Awakening
  • 1768 Lady Huntingdon, who brought Methodism to the upper classes and founded “The Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion”, opened Trevecca House as a Methodist Seminary
  • 1770 d. Whitefield.
  • 1772 b. Archibald Alexander, who would organize Princeton Theological Seminary
  • c.1773-1775 Founded, the first black Baptist church in America, Silver Bluff, South Carolina
  • 1779 Olney Hymns produced by John Newton and William Cowper. It includes “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” and “Amazing Grace”
  • 1783 b. Asahel Nettleton
  • 1784 John Wesley baptizes Thomas Coke, making Methodism a denomination separate from the Church of England
  • 1787 Archibald Alexander at Hampton Sydney College. May be considered the first early stirrings of the Second Great Awakening
  • 1791 d. Lady Huntingdon
  • 1792 William Carey preaches “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”
  • 1792 Particular Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen founded, later called the Baptist Missionary Society
  • 1792 b. Charles Finney, inventor of modern revivalism
  • 1795 London Missionary Society founded
  • 1797 b. Charles Hodge
  • 1799 Church Missionary Society founded
  • 1799 Friedrich Schleiermacher’s On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers presented Christianity in a Romantic, subjective light. Precursor to Liberalism

 

1800 – 1898 

  • 1800 The first camp meeting in Kentucky is presided over by Calvinist James McGready
  • 1801 William Carey’s Bengali New Testament published
  • 1801 The Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky is an early stirring of the Second Great Awakening
  • 1808 Henry Martyn publishes the New Testament in Hindustani
  • 1809 Harvard having been lost to Unitarianism, Andover Seminary is founded
  • 1812 Princeton Seminary founded
  • 1812 b. James Henley Thornwell, the great Southern Presbyterian mind whose influence is still felt in the PCA
  • 1813 b. David Livingston, missionary and explorer in Africa
  • 1813 b. Soren Kierkegaard
  • African Methodist Episcopal Church founded in 1816 by Richard Allen, a freedman who had been the first black Methodist to be ordained as a deacon
  • 1824 Charles Finney leads revivals from Wilmingham to Boston. The Second Great Awakening is underway
  • 1825 Charles Hodge founds the Princeton Review
  • 1834 d. William Carey, called “the Father of Modern Missions”
  • 1834 b. C.H.Spurgeon
  • 1835 Hodge’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
  • 1835 Finney’s Lectures on Revivals
  • 1833-1841 The Oxford Movement, or the Tractarian Movement, attempts to bring the Church of England closer to Catholicism. Tried to popularize the Via Media. Led by John Henry Newman
  • 1835-1837 Adoniram Judson translates the Bible into Burmese
  • 1837 b. Abraham Kuyper
  • 1837 Old School/New School controversy splits American Presbyterianism
  • 1843 The Disruption of the church in Scotland
  • 1844 d. Asahel Nettleton, Calvinist leader who opposed Finney’s formulaic view of revivalism during the Second Great Awakening
  • 1845 John Henry Newman converts to Roman Catholicism
  • 1848 b. Mary Slessor, who the Africans she would minister to called “The Mother of All of Life”
  • 1851 d. Archibald Alexander
  • 1851 b. B.B.Warfield, Princeton theologian who would defend inerrancy
  • 1852 b. Adolf Schlatter, a respected conservative voice in liberal Germany
  • 1854 Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
  • 1855 d. Kierkegaard
  • 1857 Finney’s Lectures to Professing Christians written to influence the practice of “Christian Perfection”
  • Origen of Species, 1859, Darwin
  • 1860 Essays and Reviews published. A liberal manifesto by 7 Church of England priests
  • 1861 Spurgeon moves to the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Soon he is preaching to over 6,000 per week
  • 1864 Old School/New School schism healed in the South
  • 1869 Old School/New School schism healed in the North
  • 1870 Vatican I, and the declaration of Papal Infallibility when speaking ex cathedra
  • 1870 Fifty year celebration of Friedrich August Tholuck’s professorship at Halle. Tholuck was the spiritual father of thousands of students, and mentored Charles Hodge
  • 1873 d. David Livingston
  • 1875 d. Charles Finney
  • 1874 The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation by Albrecht Ritschl reduces Christianity to a social gospel
  • 1878 d. Charles Hodge
  • 1879 John Henry Newman made a Cardinal
  • 1881 b. J.Gresham Machen
  • 1886 Abraham Kuyper leads a major sucession in the Dutch Reformed Church
  • 1886 The Student Volunteer Movement
  • 1886 b. Karl Barth
  • 1890 d. John Henry Newman, who became one of the most influential Roman Catholic thinkers of his time
  • 1892 d. C.H.Spurgeon
  • 1898 Kuyper’s Stone Lectures urge the development of a Christian worldview encompassing all of life

1900-2002 

  • 1900 What is Christianity by Adolf Harnack reduces Christianity to the personality of Jesus in the synoptics, without any supernatural elements
  • 1905 d. George MacDonald, Christian novelist and Poet
  • 1906 Azusa St. Revival, a major catalyst to the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches
  • 1921 d. B.B.Warfield
  • 1922 “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” sermon by Harry Emerson Fosdick
  • 1922 “Shall Unbelief Win?” sermon by Clarence Edward Macartney
  • 1923 Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
  • 1925 Scope’s Monkey Trial brings national attention to Fundamentalism
  • 1929 Machen and others found Westminster Seminary after Princeton is lost to the liberals
  • 1934 Conversion of Billy Graham
  • 1936 d. G.K. Chesterson
  • 1941-43 Reinhold Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man
  • 1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer hanged by the Nazis
  • 1945 D.Charles Williams, who wrote Christian metaphysical thriller fantasy novels and hung out with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien
  • 1950 Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary
  • 1950 The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • 1951 Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture
  • 1955 L’Abri Fellowship founded by Francis Schaeffer
  • 1962-1965 Vatican II
  • 1963 d. C.S.Lewis
  • 1968 d. Karl Barth
  • 1968 Liberation Theology comes to prominence in the second Conference of Latin American Bishops
  • 1968 The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer
  • 1973 Mission to the World of the Presbyterian Church in America
  • 1999 The twentieth century had more Christian martyrs than all the other centuries combined. Find out more from The Voice of the Martyrs

As you can see, his impact had a MAJOR impact on the church and influenced THOUSANDS of people. It also lead to the start of several other minor denominations within the church as shown here:

History of the Church... Notice what happens after the 1500's

Although this has caused major division within the Church of Jesus, do you believe that Martin Luther’s works seem to contradict and complicate the faith? Do you think that what Martin Luther did this was beneficial to you or was this not benenficial in your Christian walk?

October 31, 1517 became a day of great controversy when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door of Wittenberg. He was accusing the Roman Catholic church of “heresy upon heresy”. Heresy according to the Roman Catholic church is defned as the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church. The publication of the 95 Theses brought great pressure upon Luther to study the Bible. After studying the publication, Luther thought that the church had lost the sight of several central truths. To Luther, the most important of the theses was the one refering to creating peace with God.

Do you believe that Martin Luther was right in creating the 95 Theses and using it to cause the Protestant Reformation? Think about what has become of Protestantism today, with all the denominations, do you still believe Martin Luther made the right choice?

The 95 Theses

  1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance. 
  2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
  3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers’ mortifications of the flesh.
  4. The penalty, 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.
  5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiving.
  7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
  10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
  11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
  12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
  14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
  15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
  17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
  18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
  19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
  20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.
  21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
  22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
  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.
  24. It needs must be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
  25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
  26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
  27. They preacher who says that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
  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.
  29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
  30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
  31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
  32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
  33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
  34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction and these are appointed by man.
  35. They preach no Christian doctrine which teaches that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
  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.
  38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
  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.
  40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
  41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
  44. Because love grows by works of love and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only freer 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.
  46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
  47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
  49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
  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.
  52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
  53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
  54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
  55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, and a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope. Grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death and hell for the outward man.
  59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
  60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure; 
  61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
  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.
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
  66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
  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.
  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
  70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
  71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
  72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
  73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
  74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
  75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God — this is madness.
  76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
  77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
  78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
  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.
  81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
  82. To wit: — “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”
  83. Again: — “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
  84. Again: — “What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”
  85. Again: — “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?  
  86. Again: — “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater tha the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”
  87. Again: — “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”
  88. Again: — “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”
  89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”
  90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
  91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
  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!
  94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace

After reading the 95 Theses, which one Thesis do you believe is the most important?

Martin Luther posting the 95 Theses

 

 

A copy of the 95 Theses

 

 The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences were written by Martin Luther in 1517 and are widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

The background to Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses centers on agreements within the Catholic Church regarding baptism and absolution. Significantly, the Theses offer a view on the validity of indulgences (remissions of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven). They also view with great cynicism the practice of indulgences being sold, and thus the penance for sin representing a financial transaction rather than genuine contrition. Luther’s theses argued that the sale of indulgences was a gross violation of the original intention of confession and penance, and that Christians were being falsely told that they could find absolution through the purchase of indulgences.

The Theses itself was posted on the door of The Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, in the Holy Roman Empire on October 31st, 1517. This date held extreme significance because the day after was All Saint’s Day, and therefore, everybody went to Church, and wound up seeing the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

Nailed.Dead.Risen Part 3

The demands of study for academic degrees and preparation for delivering lectures drove Martin Luther to study the Scriptures in depth. Luther immersed himself in the teachings of the Scripture and the early church. Slowly, terms like penance and righteousness took on new meaning. The controversy that broke loose with the publication of his 95 Theses placed even more pressure on the reformer to study the Bible. This study convinced him that the Church had lost sight of several central truths. To Luther, the most important of these was the doctrine that brought him peace with God.

Martin Luther and the Papal Bull

Martin Luther is depicted burning the Papal Bull that was issued against him

With joy, Luther now believed and taught that salvation is a gift of God’s grace, received by faith and trust in God’s promise to forgive sins for the sake of Christ’s death on the cross. This, he believed was God’s work from beginning to end.

Question: Do you believe that Martin Luther’s purpose applies to every Christian?

Nailed.Dead.Risen Part 2

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Martin Luther in his youth

 

  Three years later, in 1505, he received a Master’s degree. According to his father’s wishes, Martin enrolled in the law school of that university. All that changed during a thunderstorm in the summer of 1505. A lightening bolt struck near to him as he was returning to school. Terrified, he cried out, “Help, St. Anne! I’ll become a monk!” Spared of his life, but regretting his words, Luther kept his bargain, dropped out of law school and entered the monastery there.

  Young Brother Martin fully dedicated himself to monastic life, the effort to do good works to please God and to serve others through prayer for their souls. Yet peace with God escaped him. He devoted himself to fasts, flagellations, long hours in prayer and pilgrimages, and constant confession. The more he tried to do for God, it seemed, the more aware he became of his sinfulness.

  Johann von Staupitz, Luther’s superior, concluded the young man needed more work to distract him from pondering himself. He ordered the monk to pursue an academic career. In 1507 Luther was ordained to the priesthood. In 1508 he began teaching theology at the University of Wittenberg. Luther earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies on 9 March 1508 and a Bachelor’s degree in the Sentences by Peter Lombard, (the main textbook of theology in the Middle Ages) in 1509. On 19 October 1512, the University of Wittenberg conferred upon Martin Luther the degree of Doctor of Theology. And as a doctor, he had one of the greatest discoveries of all time…

Nailed.Dead.Risen Part 1

The title does refer to Christ’s death, however, this title also adds meaning to a particular man that has changed the course of history for the Christian Church forever.

That man… was named Martin Luther.

Before we get into details of how he revolutionized the Christian faith and lifestyle as we know it, let’s give a little bit of background information about him.

Martin Luther was born November 10th, 1483 in Eisleben, Germany. At this time in history, Germany had been a part of the Holy Roman Empire. In other words, the Catholic churchwas in control of a majority of European countries.

His father was raised as a peasant and owned a copper mine. Disappointed with his status as being a “poor peasant”, he was determined to see his son ascend to civil service and bring honor to the family. With this goal in mind, he sent his son to the best schools in the towns of Mansfield, Magdeburg and Eisenach.

At the age of seventeen, he enrolled into the University of Erfurt (1501). A year later he got his Bachelor’s degree. Three years later he achieved his Master’s degree. He originally enrolled in studying law at the university, however, things drastically changed…