95 Theses revisited- Reformation Day

Wittenburg Door

Perhaps I am thinking about the wrong things altogether on October thirty-first.  Though not a Lutheran, I am surely a daughter of the Reformation, who is privileged to read the Bible in her own mother tongue, to rest her faith on scripture alone, and who believes that when she dies she will go directly into the presence of her Redeemer.

Perhaps on October thirty-first I should spend a moment in thankfulness for a German Priest who, on October 31, 1517 stood against the powers of his Church and declared Christians free from the sale of Papal pardons and indulgences and the fear of Purgatory.

I had never actually read Luther’s 95 Theses but this morning I looked up an English Translation- and extracted a handful for this blog.

36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.

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.

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.

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.”

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?”

I have long thrilled to Luther’s defense at the Diet of Worms

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”

Happy Reformation Day everyone!

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