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Luther was calling the pope and those in power to repent—on no authority but the convictions he’d gained from Scripture—and urged the leaders of the indulgences movement to direct their gaze to Christ, the only one able to pay the penalty due for sin.Of all the portions of the document, Luther’s closing is perhaps the most memorable for its exhortation to look to Christ rather than to the church’s power: 93.
For instance, in this passage he appears to be defending the pope against detractors, albeit in a backhanded way: 51.
Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St.
That fact combined with the intended audience and largely academic tone of the writing indicates Luther didn’t write the document for mass consumption. Regardless, it was translated into the common Germanic language of Saxony and was reportedly posted on the door of the Schlosskirche (the Castle Church of Wittenberg) on October 31, 1517.
Luther’s Ninety-five Theses focuses on three main issues: selling forgiveness (via indulgences) to build a cathedral, the pope’s claimed power to distribute forgiveness, and the damage indulgences caused to grieving sinners.
Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better.
Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
Obviously, since Leo X had begun the indulgences campaign in order to build the basilica, he did not “wish to give of his own money” to victims.
However, Luther phrased his criticism to suggest that the pope might be ignorant of the abuses and at any rate should be given the benefit of the doubt.
It provided Leo a graceful exit from the indulgences campaign if he wished to take it. Luther’s Ninety-five Theses hit a nerve in the depths of the authority structure of the medieval church.