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❶What should he say to those who ask why anniversary masses for the dead , which were for the sake of those in purgatory, continued for those who had been redeemed by an indulgence? Around this time, he began using the name "Luther" and sometimes "Eleutherius", Greek for "free", rather than "Luder".

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In this system, when Christians sin and confess , they are forgiven and will no longer receive eternal punishment in hell, but may still be liable to temporal punishment. With an indulgence which may be translated "kindness" , this temporal punishment could be lessened. Popes are empowered to grant plenary indulgences, which provide complete satisfaction for any remaining temporal punishment due to sins, and these were purchased on behalf of people believed to be in purgatory.

This led to the popular saying, "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs". Theologians at the University of Paris had criticized this saying late in the 15th century. Jan Hus and his followers had advocated a more severe system of penance, in which indulgences were not available. Rulers often sought to receive a portion of the proceeds or prohibited indulgences altogether, as Duke George did in Luther's Electoral Saxony.

In , Pope Leo X granted a plenary indulgence intended to finance the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. All other indulgence preaching was to cease for the eight years in which it was offered.

Indulgence preachers were given strict instructions on how the indulgence was to be preached, and they were much more laudatory of the indulgence than those of earlier indulgences. Luther also had experience with the indulgences connected to All Saints' Church, Wittenberg.

After hearing what Tetzel had said about indulgences in his sermons, Luther began to study the issue more carefully, and contacted experts on the subject. He preached about indulgences several times in , explaining that true repentance was better than purchasing an indulgence. A truly repentant sinner would also not seek an indulgence, because they loved God's righteousness and desired the inward punishment of their sin.

It is a cautious and searching examination of the subject. The first thesis has become famous. It states, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent,' he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

The pope can only announce God's forgiveness of the guilt of sin in his name. Theses 14—16 discuss the idea that the punishment of purgatory can be likened to the fear and despair felt by dying people. He denies that the pope has any power over people in purgatory in theses 25 and In theses 27—29, he attacks the idea that as soon as payment is made, the payer's loved one is released from purgatory.

He sees it as encouraging sinful greed, and says it is impossible to be certain because only God has ultimate power in forgiving punishments in purgatory.

Theses 30—34 deal with the false certainty Luther believed the indulgence preachers offered Christians. Since no one knows whether a person is truly repentant, a letter assuring a person of his forgiveness is dangerous. In theses 35 and 36, he attacks the idea that an indulgence makes repentance unnecessary.

This leads to the conclusion that the truly repentant person, who alone may benefit from the indulgence, has already received the only benefit the indulgence provides. Truly repentant Christians have already, according to Luther, been forgiven of the penalty as well as the guilt of sin.

Theses 39 and 40 argue that indulgences make true repentance more difficult. True repentance desires God's punishment of sin, but indulgences teach one to avoid punishment, since that is the purpose of purchasing the indulgence. In theses 41—47 Luther criticizes indulgences on the basis that they discourage works of mercy by those who purchase them.

Here he begins to use the phrase, "Christians are to be taught They should be taught that giving to the poor is incomparably more important than buying indulgences, that buying an indulgence rather than giving to the poor invites God's wrath, and that doing good works makes a person better while buying indulgences does not.

In theses 48—52 Luther takes the side of the pope, saying that if the pope knew what was being preached in his name he would rather St.

Peter's Basilica be burned down than "built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep. Luther criticizes the doctrine of the treasury of merit on which the doctrine of indulgences is based in theses 56— He states that everyday Christians do not understand the doctrine and are being misled. For Luther, the true treasure of the church is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This treasure tends to be hated because it makes "the first last", [27] in the words of Matthew In theses 67—80, Luther discusses further the problems with the way indulgences are being preached, as he had done in the letter to Archbishop Albert.

The preachers have been promoting indulgences as the greatest of the graces available from the church, but they actually only promote greed. He points out that bishops have been commanded to offer reverence to indulgence preachers who enter their jurisdiction, but bishops are also charged with protecting their people from preachers who preach contrary to the pope's intention.

Luther states that indulgences cannot take away the guilt of even the lightest of venial sins. He labels several other alleged statements of the indulgence preachers as blasphemy: Luther lists several criticisms advanced by laypeople against indulgences in theses 81— He presents these as difficult objections his congregants are bringing rather than his own criticisms.

How should he answer those who ask why the pope does not simply empty purgatory if it is in his power? What should he say to those who ask why anniversary masses for the dead , which were for the sake of those in purgatory, continued for those who had been redeemed by an indulgence? Luther claimed that it seemed strange to some that pious people in purgatory could be redeemed by living impious people.

Luther also mentions the question of why the pope, who is very rich, requires money from poor believers to build St. Luther claims that ignoring these questions risks allowing people to ridicule the pope. Enduring punishment and entering heaven is preferable to false security. The Theses are written as propositions to be argued in a formal academic disputation , [32] though there is no evidence that such an event ever took place.

Holding such a debate was a privilege Luther held as a doctor, and it was not an unusual form of academic inquiry. Karlstadt posted his theses at a time when the relics of the church were placed on display, and this may have been considered a provocative gesture. Luther's theses were intended to begin a debate among academics, not a popular revolution, [34] but there are indications that he saw his action as prophetic and significant. Around this time, he began using the name "Luther" and sometimes "Eleutherius", Greek for "free", rather than "Luder".

This seems to refer to his being free from the scholastic theology which he had argued against earlier that year. Elizabeth Eisenstein has argued that his claimed surprise at their success may have involved self-deception and Hans Hillerbrand has claimed that Luther was certainly intending to instigate a large controversy. Since writing a set of theses for a disputation does not necessarily commit the author to those views, Luther could deny that he held the most incendiary ideas in the Theses.

On 31 October , Luther sent a letter to Archbishop of Mainz , Albert of Brandenburg, under whose authority the indulgences were being sold. In the letter, Luther addresses the archbishop out of a loyal desire to alert him to the pastoral problems created by the indulgence sermons. He assumes that Albert is unaware of what is being preached under his authority, and speaks out of concern that the people are being led away from the gospel, and that the indulgence preaching may bring shame to Albert's name.

Luther does not condemn indulgences or the current doctrine regarding them, nor even the sermons which had been preached themselves, as he had not seen them firsthand. Instead he states his concern regarding the misunderstandings of the people about indulgences which have been fostered by the preaching, such as the belief that any sin could be forgiven by indulgences or that the guilt as well as the punishment for sin could be forgiven by an indulgence.

In a postscript, Luther wrote that Albert could find some theses on the matter enclosed with his letter, so that he could see the uncertainty surrounding the doctrine of indulgences in contrast to the preachers who spoke so confidently of the benefits of indulgences.

It was customary when proposing a disputation to have the theses printed by the university press and publicly posted.

The Theses were copied and distributed to interested parties soon after Luther sent the letter to Archbishop Albert. Albert seems to have received Luther's letter with the Theses around the end of November. He requested the opinion of theologians at the University of Mainz and conferred with his advisers. His advisers recommended he have Luther prohibited from preaching against indulgences in accordance with the indulgence bull.

Albert requested such action from the Roman Curia. He later said he might not have begun the controversy had he known where it would lead. Johann Tetzel responded to the Theses by calling for Luther to be burnt for heresy and having theologian Konrad Wimpina write theses against Luther's work.

Tetzel defended these in a disputation before the University of Frankfurt on the Oder in January Luther became increasingly fearful that the situation was out of hand and that he would be in danger. To placate his opponents, he published a Sermon on Indulgences and Grace , which did not challenge the pope's authority.

Luther's reply to Tetzel's pamphlet, on the other hand, was another publishing success for Luther. Another prominent opponent of the Theses was Johann Eck , Luther's friend and a theologian at the University of Ingolstadt.

This was in reference to the obelisks used to mark heretical passages in texts in the Middle Ages. It was a harsh and unexpected personal attack, charging Luther with heresy and stupidity.

Luther responded privately with the Asterisks , titled after the asterisk marks then used to highlight important texts. Luther's response was angry and he expressed the opinion that Eck did not understand the matter on which he wrote. Luther was summoned by authority of the pope to defend himself against charges of heresy before Thomas Cajetan at Augsburg in October Cajetan did not allow Luther to argue with him over his alleged heresies, but he did identify two points of controversy.

The first was against the fifty-eighth thesis, which stated that the pope could not use the treasury of merit to forgive temporal punishment of sin.

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