Martin Luther: A Friend or Foe of God? By: Kate Harden


95 Theses

Martin Luther's theses gave proof that he had good intentions, and not a plan to increase his power, wealth, or fame. "The purpose of his theses was simply to have a discussion on the matter of indulgences with fellow scholars." This debate took place two weeks after Luther nailed his theses on the Church door in Wittenberg.

Gathering at Wittenberg

Many of his theses stressed the importance of a singular, major idea, and was worded in different ways. For example, theses #21, 28, and 40 all try to show that indulgences are not the way to get God's forgiveness for your sins, but a selfish method the Church uses to collect and hide money in their pockets. Luther is trying to bring it to people's attention that "an indulgence will not save you", "only God can save souls," and that sin can be forgiven if "a man sincerely repents." He wants to help the Church come closer to God again.

Luther's 95 Theses



Martin Luther was able to influence others and spread his new beliefs of how the Church should work. Some of those people were John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and the Anabaptists. Calvin and Luther both believed that only God can give salvation (no church hierarchy), and that there shouldn't be any indulgences. Zwingli, as well as the Anabaptists, adopted the idea that faith alone can assure your salvation (Solo Fidelis = “by faith alone”), and that the Bible should be translated so that people can read and understand it. By being successful in convincing others of his beliefs, Martin started the Reformation, which eventually lead to having one of the biggest impacts on the way the Church was run.

Council of Trent - Counter Reformation



95 Theses (Again)

In some of his other theses (#91, 92, 93, & 95), Martin Luther blames the Pope for the problems that existed at that time. When he states "if the Pope had worked as he should (and by example)," he gives the impression that he thinks he is better than the Pope and more qualified for the job. He also says that anyone who believes there is no problem should leave, and also accuses the Church of lying to the people by "leading them to believe they are living a perfect life based on current Catholic teaching."

95 Theses


Defying the Church

While trying to bring people closer to God again, Martin Luther was defying the Church and going against their wishes. His theses were soon translated into German and "catapulted him into international fame." It's possible that this caused a change in his motives which lead him to earn for more power, control, and fame.

Martin Luther Statue in Wittenberg, Germany

Luther became disobedient, told people how to live their lives, and also told them that the way they were acting was evil.He accused the Church of being greedy and only offering indulgences for their own selfish purposes. Luther also claimed that the current Catholic teaching was problematic. Eventually, this caused the Church to start losing followers. The picture below depicts Luther defiantly burning the Papal Bull which was ordering his excommunication with the Church.

Burning of the Papal Bull


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2020Katherine Harden

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