Saturday, October 14, 2017


From First Things-

It all did start with the ninety-five theses, in a sense. Luther probably did not actually nail them to the church door—at least no one at the time tells us so. And if he did, it was not in anger or protest against the church. He was trying to arrange an academic discussion, and evidently that’s where the bulletin board was. What we do know is that he mailed them off to his archbishop, together with a treatise on indulgences and a cover letter dated October 31, 1517, so that is the date remembered as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther was a professor at the University of Wittenberg, which is why he was arranging a disputation, a standard medieval form of academic discussion that would subject his theses to helpful critical debate so that he could clarify his own position. (He was certainly not wedded to all ninety-five theses.) He was also the official town preacher with pastoral responsibilities for the laity of Wittenberg, which is why he was trying to clear up some issues concerning the theology of indulgences, which were being sold very aggressively in neighboring territories, much to the harm of the souls in his charge. And he was a pious monk, intensely obedient to authority, who was convinced the pope could not possibly approve of turning indulgences and the forgiveness of sins into a kind of merchandise at the expense of Christ’s people.

More here-

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