The original text of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in original Latin and translated English text. More correctly the 95 Theses was actually called the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” by Dr. Martin Luther (1517).
English text first, Latin text follows:
Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther
on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences
by Dr. Martin Luther (1517) Published in:
Works of Martin Luther:
Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds.
(Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Vol.1, pp. 29-38
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.
In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.
21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.
25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.
35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.
40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.
59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;
61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
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.
65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
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.
77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
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.”
83. Again: — “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
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?”
85. Again: — “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”
86. Again: — “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”
87. Again: — “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”
88. Again: — “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”
89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”
90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
“Disputatio pro Declaratione Virtutis Indulgentiarum.”
by Dr. Martin Luther, 1483-1546
D. MARTIN LUTHERS WERKE: KRITISCHE GESAMMTAUSGABE.
1. Band (Weimar: Hermann Boehlau, 1883). pp. 233-238.
Amore et studio elucidande veritatis hec subscripta disputabuntur
Wittenberge, Presidente R. P. Martino Lutther, Artium et S.
Theologie Magistro eiusdemque ibidem lectore Ordinario. Quare
petit, ut qui non possunt verbis presentes nobiscum disceptare
agant id literis absentes. In nomine domini nostri Hiesu Christi.
1. Dominus et magister noster Iesus Christus dicendo `Penitentiam
agite &c.’ omnem vitam fidelium penitentiam esse voluit.
2. Quod verbum de penitentia sacramentali (id est confessionis et
satisfactionis, que sacerdotum ministerio celebratur) non potest
3. Non tamen solam intendit interiorem, immo interior nulla est,
nisi foris operetur varias carnis mortificationes.
4. Manet itaque pena, donec manet odium sui (id est penitentia
vera intus), scilicet usque ad introitum regni celorum.
5. Papa non vult nec potest ullas penas remittere preter eas, quas
arbitrio vel suo vel canonum imposuit.
6. Papa non potest remittere ullam culpam nisi declarando, et
approbando remissam a deo Aut certe remittendo casus reservatos
sibi, quibus contemptis culpa prorsus remaneret.
7. Nulli prorus remittit deus culpam, quin simul eum subiiciat
humiliatum in omnibus sacerdoti suo vicario.
8. Canones penitentiales solum viventibus sunt impositi nihilque
morituris secundum eosdem debet imponi.
9. Inde bene nobis facit spiritussanctus in papa excipiendo in
suis decretis semper articulum mortis et necessitatis.
10. Indocte et male faciunt sacerdotes ii, qui morituris
penitentias canonicas in purgatorium reservant.
11. Zizania illa de mutanda pena Canonica in penam purgatorii
videntur certe dormientibus episcopis seminata.
12. Olim pene canonice non post, sed ante absolutionem
imponebantur tanquam tentamenta vere contritionis.
13. Morituri per mortem omnia solvunt et legibus canonum mortui
iam sunt, habentes iure earum relaxationem.
14. Imperfecta sanitas seu charitas morituri necessario secum fert
magnum timorem, tantoque maiorem, quanto minor fuerit ipsa.
15. Hic timor et horror satis est se solo (ut alia taceam) facere
penam purgatorii, cum sit proximus desperationis horrori.
16. Videntur infernus, purgaturium, celum differre, sicut
desperatio, prope desperatio, securitas differunt.
17. Necessarium videtur animabus in purgatorio sicut minni
horrorem ita augeri charitatem.
18. Nec probatum videtur ullis aut rationibus aut scripturis, quod
sint extra statum meriti seu augende charitatis.
19. Nec hoc probatum esse videtur, quod sint de sua beatitudine
certe et secure, saltem omnes, licet nos certissimi simus.
20. Igitur papa per remissionem plenariam omnium penarum non
simpliciter omnium intelligit, sed a seipso tantummodo
21. Errant itaque indulgentiarum predicatores ii, qui dicunt per
pape indulgentias hominem ab omni pena solvi et salvari.
22. Quin nullam remittit animabus in purgatorio, quam in hac vita
debuissent secundum Canones solvere.
23. Si remissio ulla omnium omnino penarum potest alicui dari,
certum est eam non nisi perfectissimis, i.e. paucissimis, dari.
24. Falli ob id necesse est maiorem partem populi per
indifferentem illam et magnificam pene solute promissionem.
25. Qualem potestatem habet papa in purgatorium generaliter, talem
habet quilibet Episcopus et Curatus in sua diocesi et parochia
1.  Optime facit papa, quod non potestate clavis (quam nullam
habet) sed per modum suffragii dat animabus remissionem.
2.  Hominem predicant, qui statim ut iactus nummus in cistam
tinnierit evolare dicunt animam.
3.  Certum est, nummo in cistam tinniente augeri questum et
avariciam posse: suffragium autem ecclesie est in arbitrio dei
4.  Quis scit, si omnes anime in purgatorio velint redimi,
sicut de s. Severino et Paschali factum narratur.
5.  Nullus securus est de veritate sue contritionis,
multominus de consecutione plenarie remissionis.
6.  Quam rarus est vere penitens, tam rarus est vere
indulgentias redimens, i. e. rarissimus.
7.  Damnabuntur ineternum cum suis magistris, qui per literas
veniarum securos sese credunt de sua salute.
8.  Cavendi sunt nimis, qui dicunt venias illas Pape donum
esse illud dei inestimabile, quo reconciliatur homo deo.
9.  Gratie enim ille veniales tantum respiciunt penas
satisfactionis sacramentalis ab homine constitutas.
10.  Non christiana predicant, qui docent, quod redempturis
animas vel confessionalia non sit necessaria contritio.
11.  Quilibet christianus vere compunctus habet remissionem
plenariam a pena et culpa etiam sine literis veniarum sibi
12.  Quilibet versus christianus, sive vivus sive mortuus,
habet participationem omnium bonorum Christi et Ecclesie etiam
sine literis veniarum a deo sibi datam.
13.  Remissio tamen et participatio Pape nullo modo est
contemnenda, quia (ut dixi) est declaratio remissionis divine.
14.  Difficillimum est etiam doctissimis Theologis simul
extollere veniarum largitatem et contritionis veritatem coram
15.  Contritionis veritas penas querit et amat, Veniarum autem
largitas relaxat et odisse facit, saltem occasione.
16.  Caute sunt venie apostolice predicande, ne populus false
intelligat eas preferri ceteris bonis operibus charitatis.
17.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod Pape mens non est,
redemptionem veniarum ulla ex parte comparandam esse operibus
18.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod dans pauperi aut mutuans
egenti melius facit quam si venias redimereet.
19.  Quia per opus charitatis crescit charitas et fit homo
melior, sed per venias non fit melior sed tantummodo a pena
20.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod, qui videt egenum et
neglecto eo dat pro veniis, non idulgentias Pape sed indignationem
dei sibi vendicat.
21.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod nisi superfluis abundent
necessaria tenentur domui sue retinere et nequaquam propter venias
22.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod redemptio veniarum est
libera, non precepta.
23.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod Papa sicut magis eget ita
magis optat in veniis dandis pro se devotam orationem quam
24.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod venie Pape sunt utiles, si
non in cas confidant, Sed nocentissime, si timorem dei per eas
25.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod si Papa nosset exactiones
venialium predicatorum, mallet Basilicam s. Petri in cineres ire
quam edificari cute, carne et ossibus ovium suarum.
1.  Docendi sunt christiani, quod Papa sicut debet ita vellet,
etiam vendita (si opus sit) Basilicam s. Petri, de suis pecuniis
dare illis, a quorum plurimis quidam concionatores veniarum
2.  Vana est fiducia salutis per literas veniarum, etiam si
Commissarius, immo Papa ipse suam animam pro illis impigneraret.
3.  Hostes Christi et Pape sunt ii, qui propter venias
predicandas verbum dei in aliis ecclesiis penitus silere iubent.
4.  Iniuria fit verbo dei, dum in eodem sermone equale vel
longius tempus impenditur veniis quam illi.
5.  Mens Pape necessario est, quod, si venie (quod minimum
est) una campana, unis pompis et ceremoniis celebrantur,
Euangelium (quod maximum est) centum campanis, centum pompis,
centum ceremoniis predicetur.
6.  Thesauri ecclesie, unde Pape dat indulgentias, neque satis
nominati sunt neque cogniti apud populum Christi.
7.  Temporales certe non esse patet, quod non tam facile eos
profundunt, sed tantummodo colligunt multiÂ concionatorum.
8.  Nec sunt merita Christi et sanctorum, quia hec semper sine
Papa operantur gratiam hominis interioris et crucem, mortem
9.  Thesauros ecclesie s. Laurentius dixit esse pauperes
ecclesie, sed locutus est usu vocabuli suo tempore.
10.  Sine temeritate dicimus claves ecclesie (merito Christi
donatas) esse thesaurum istum.
11.  Clarum est enim, quod ad remissionem penarum et casuum
sola sufficit potestas Pape.
12.  Verus thesaurus ecclesie est sacrosanctum euangelium
glorie et gratie dei.
13.  Hic autem est merito odiosissimus, quia ex primis facit
14.  Thesaurus autem indulgentiarum merito est gratissimus,
quia ex novissimis facit primos.
15.  Igitur thesauri Euangelici rhetia sunt, quibus olim
piscabantur viros divitiarum.
16.  Thesauri indulgentiarum rhetia sunt, quibus nunc
piscantur divitias virorum.
17.  Indulgentie, quas concionatores vociferantur maximas
gratias, intelliguntur vere tales quoad questum promovendum.
18.  Sunt tamen re vera minime ad gratiam dei et crucis
19.  Tenentur Episcopi et Curati veniarum apostolicarum
Commissarios cum omni reverentia admittere.
20.  Sed magis tenentur omnibus oculis intendere, omnibus
auribus advertere, ne pro commissione Pape sua illi somnia
21.  Contra veniarum apostolicarum veritatem qui loquitur, sit
ille anathema et maledictus.
22.  Qui vero, contra libidinem ac licentiam verborum
Concionatoris veniarum curam agit, sit ille benedictus.
23.  Sicut Papa iuste fulminat eos, qui in fraudem negocii
veniarum quacunque arte machinantur,
24.  Multomagnis fulminare intendit eos, qui per veniarum
pretextum in fraudem sancte charitatis et veritatis machinantur,
25.  Opinari venias papales tantas esse, ut solvere possint
hominem, etiam si quis per impossibile dei genitricem violasset,
1.  Dicimus contra, quod venie papales nec minimum venialium
peccatorum tollere possint quo ad culpam.
2.  Quod dicitur, nec si s. Petrus modo Papa esset maiores
gratias donare posset, est blasphemia in sanctum Petrum et Papam.
3.  Dicimus contra, quod etiam iste et quilibet papa maiores
habet, scilicet Euangelium, virtutes, gratias, curationum &c. ut
1. Co. XII.
4.  Dicere, Crucem armis papalibus insigniter erectam cruci
Christi equivalere, blasphemia est.
5.  Rationem reddent Episcopi, Curati et Theologi, Qui tales
sermones in populum licere sinunt.
6.  Facit hec licentiosa veniarum predicatio, ut nec
reverentiam Pape facile sit etiam doctis viris redimere a
calumniis aut certe argutis questionibus laicorm.
7.  Scilicet. Cur Papa non evacuat purgatorium propter
sanctissimam charitatem et summam animarum necessitatem ut causam
omnium iustissimam, Si infinitas animas redimit propter pecuniam
funestissimam ad structuram Basilice ut causam levissimam?
8.  Item. Cur permanent exequie et anniversaria defunctorum et
non reddit aut recipi permittit beneficia pro illis instituta, cum
iam sit iniuria pro redemptis orare?
9.  Item. Que illa nova pietas Dei et Pape, quod impio et
inimico propter pecuniam concedunt animam piam et amicam dei
redimere, Et tamen propter necessitatem ipsius met pie et dilecte
anime non redimunt eam gratuita charitate?
10.  Item. Cur Canones penitentiales re ipsa et non usu iam
diu in semet abrogati et mortui adhuc tamen pecuniis redimuntur
per concessionem indulgentiarum tanquam vivacissimi?
11.  Item. Cur Papa, cuius opes hodie sunt opulentissimis
Crassis crassiores, non de suis pecuniis magis quam pauperum
fidelium struit unam tantummodo Basilicam sancti Petri?
12.  Item. Quid remittit aut participat Papa iis, qui per
contritionem perfectam ius habent plenarie remissionis et
13.  Item. Quid adderetur ecclesie boni maioris, Si Papa,
sicut semel facit, ita centies in die cuilibet fidelium has
remissiones et participationes tribueret?
14.  Ex quo Papa salutem querit animarum per venias magis quam
pecunias, Cur suspendit literas et venias iam olim concessas, cum
sint eque efficaces?
15.  Hec scrupulosissima laicorum argumenta sola potestate
compescere nec reddita ratione diluere, Est ecclesiam et Papam
hostibus ridendos exponere et infelices christianos facere.
16.  Si ergo venie secundum spiritum et mentem Pape
predicarentur, facile illa omnia solverentur, immo non essent.
17.  Valeant itaque omnes illi prophete, qui dicunt populo
Christi `Pax pax,’ et non est pax.
18.  Bene agant omnes illi prophete, qui dicunt populo Christi
`Crux crux,’ et non est crux.
19.  Exhortandi sunt Christiani, ut caput suum Christum per
penas, mortes infernosque sequi studeant,
20.  Ac sic magis per multas tribulationes intrare celum quam
per securitatem pacis confidant.
49 thoughts on “Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in Latin and English”
I am particularly moved by Luther’s courage. His rejection of indulgences is especialy applicable today. The “prosperity” preachers of today, especially in Africa, are selling their own kind of indulgences by making outrageous promises and then taking money from the vunerable. Their own hypocrisy usually finds them out. One’s poverty or lower class in not about whether he/she has enough faith. Rather then try and escape our suffering, I believe that we often must go through them. Luther was asked what our part in salvation was. He replied, “Sin and resistance!” The 95 Theses of Luther were born of a perfect storm both socially (external) and within his soul (inward). It took Luther thousands of day, hours, and minutes to come to the conclusions in the theses. I wonder if there is a perfect storm within me and would have the same kind of courage to act.
Need another Protestant Reformation. A simple I and Thou relationship. A man’s life and conscience is between him and God. Not got any to judge or stand in between. In the image of God was man made. Male and female He made them. Not one above another. and to Him only may they turn. For no man stands before them or between them and God except Jesus Christ Our Saviour. begotten Not made…Too many getting fantastical diverse theologies and mad ideas. Madder than the catholic church is a man not versed in basics. Belief runs amok and becomes a vile, repugnant blasphemy. Oh for simplicity again. I and Thou Oh Lord. I and Thou. In Thee only do I put my trust.
I also had thought we needed a new reformation. And then I’ve slowly realized that we ARE in the middle of a new reformation. I believe it is the contemporary clash of religions – on such a world scale now and so publicized that daily – that is giving us new eyes to see that there are changes that need to be made.
I look forward to searching out Martin one day and thanking him for his courage. a former roman catholic, Ralph Gaily
Thank you for this posting. It shall prove handy for the research paper I chose to write on the Protestant Reformation.
I must ask, though, if you had thought of this the same way as I:
Was Luther really all that special? Others had come before, uttering very nearly the same complaints. I somewhat feel that Luther’s only edge was the printing press; an advantage (although accidental) Hus nor Wycliffe possessed. Not that Luther wasn’t courageous, of course.
Yes, definitely the printing press gave an advantage; and along with his translations of scripture into “the language of the people” – it was the first time regular people could read for themselves, study and debate.
And because of the printing press his many books were widespread among the Germans and beyond.
I find it funny that even in the 95 Theses Luther never rejected the full authority of the papacy; the treasury of the merits of Christ and the Saints; or even the belief in indulgences: he merely, criticised their abuse. He had not advocated, it would seem, their complete abolition. Luther most certainly didn’t innovate his doctrines of “Sola Scriptura” or Justification by “faith alone” till approximately 1520. He even in 1518, submitted his judgement fully to “Holy Roman Church.”
See thus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd66KXIbAjc&feature=related
Additionally, I could probably affirm maybe thirty or thirty-five of these “Theses;” the rest are erroneous or incorrect in their assertions.
I posted that video as it exemplifies quite a bit about Martin Luther and his so-called “Reformation.” I find that at times he was very confused and contradicted himself. Now that being said, I will not endorse the persons who compiled the video; however I do support the veracity of the claims wherewith they present.
If you like, please join us over at http://forum.bible-discussion.com – Lots of Martin Luther posts over there!
I personally don’t find it surprising that Martin Luther did not reject the full authority of the papacy in his 92 Theses. At the time, he was a practicing Catholic – his aim (to my understanding) with the 95 Theses was to bring about reform. In the beginning he seemed convinced this could happen within the church.
I think someone should publish this in real English! x
It was most unfortunate that Martin Luther decided to reform from outside the Church instead of from within. He would have been a pillar of the Church instead of an outcast that he is!
Was Martin Luther a special? I believe he was just like you and me but anointed and led by the Holy Spirit, something we really don’t understand in our finite thinking. I find it hard to comprehend an infinite, timeless, knowledgeable divine designer and His ways. He understands physics way beyond our understanding, i.e. Jesus walking on water and isn’t constrained by physical limitations we know and understand.
I believe Luther was the person that pushed the truth over the top with the help of the printing press by God’s Grace. As I understand it he tried for years to reform from within but was met with such hostility he had to make a choice. He stuck to his heart’s leading through all kinds of disgrace but always stayed true to his calling. Our Father gives us the horse power to get through every situation in our life. That horse power is the Holy Spirit which operates on what Jesus did for us by dying as an innocent man with all the pain that came from that horrendous treatment. Jesus, God’s Son, paid the price for our sin’s dying on that cross but in His dying conquered death when he rose from the grave.
Luther realized that one only needs to confess or state our short comings honestly, (in some seasons of our life all day long) and we are forgiven because of what Jesus did for us. (1 John 1:9). It doesn’t take anything on our part, Jesus did it all. That is what Luther was trying to say without separating himself from the only system He knew. I believe some of the things said in this document were a desperate attempt trying to reform the Catholic Church with all its management and upper management problems. Surely not all leaders within the Catholic Church were taking advantage of their followers but I’m sure it was becoming more in vogue to tap this lucrative or sure fire way to get people motivated to donate even when they had nothing to give. I can almost hear the rationale in my mind now.
Luther was just a man but studying his life will show us how we are called on to stand when all others are flocking to a seemingly easier way of life. The Bible is an amazing Book. It is the way an infinite being is using to communicate with us finite thinkers. There are so many layers of understanding it is hard to imagine how our Father could possibly weave truth that touches and is applicable to all of us (Individually)through the ages and different cultures. Unfortunately, it has been misused to control people which in turn has tainted many and continues to keep many from seriously considering what is said in this wonderful Book.
Praise God Luther didn’t turn away from the Bible when he saw all the injustices that were being done to mankind, as many do, but he studied harder and found his convictions truly were correct. He understood God wasn’t as some were portraying God to be. There it is again …what we all need to do. Study God’s word to you and me, and in doing so, find perfect peace even in troubled times. It really works that way.
Its amazing that Martin Luther had so much against indulgences. If he knew what the Catholic Church taught and still does about it. He was right in correcting those who abused “their flock”, which of course Christ said would happen. However, if Luther had gone to the public teaching what indulgences really were and used the printing press towards that end the effects would have been much different. The Catholic Church teaches this about indulgences(which can be found in paragraph 1471 in the cathecism):
“”The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.
What is an indulgence?
“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”
“An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.” The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.””
This has always been the teaching of indulgences, but during Luthers time this doctrine was being abused and he should have corrected them. Because a doctrine is abused does not make the doctrine itself wrong.
32 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.
33 O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled.
34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.
35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
37 For behold, ye do love amoney, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?
41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.
Some Baptist Preachers on Television still use this technique late at night. They say that if you give 500$, 1000$, or if the Lord lays it on your heart to give 5,000$, you will be blessed; more than that, the money will return to you in your future. They also say that you can get your body healed by giving money. They use as examples a time when they gave money to the church and they, in turn, got lots of money back. I have sat down and watched entire episodes of this, cringing. They prey upon people’s sincere desire for salvation who don’t know the message of the bible yet; people who are naive and innocent. They wear minister’s clothes and speak loudly and look very respectable. It makes me feel sick.
Martin Luther was the voice that apparently spoke for thousands who were too afraid of the church to speak up. I wish I could do the same against the Cath***c Church for teaching me lies when I was a child. At this point I realize that Mary, despite what the Catholic church says, was not the actual Mother of God, etc. Lies, all lies. God doesn’t have a mother, actually, because he is God. I mean, Hello!
Read up on Luther and his devotion to Mary. He was EXTREMELY Marian in his outlook even until death,
If you are Christian, and believe that Jesus is God, and that Jesus’ mother on earth was Mary, then God does have a mother, and her name is Mary… idiot. I’m an atheist and even I can see that.
My, my…such rankor. It’s simple folks, just read Matt 16; 13 to 19 and ponder, meditate upon them… We are commanded to love our neighbor as our selves. To me that means everyone on planet earth, past, present and future, not only those next to me and my house, but all…God Bless you, all, all my beloved neighbors…Eddie
Scripture interprets scripture, we all seem to have the answer but until we piece all the scripture together we will only have man-made religions. Matt 16; 18 to 19 is also understood by reading Eph 2 ;19-21,Gal 2;7-9,Rev 21;14.I Cor 12;28.
Roscoe (October 23, 2010 at 9:53 pm) posted a quote from the Book of Mormon. That’s like the headless leading the blind! I can’t think of a more decieved cult of so called “Christians” than the LDS who have bastardized Holy Scripture and Christian doctrine to suit thei own needs more than anyone. Get saved, dude!
I can’t help but to wade into this flock of sheep. First, I would like to thank the publisher and congratulate you on getting your link on Wikipedia. I am a historian and this morning I was studying Locke and his relation to the origins of American Liberalism as well as the relation of the British Whig party to the American one.
While diving I came into religious strife as one always does in the history of Europe. I realized the work of the British Empiricists was almost defeated at it’s genesis in Locke by a Catholic resurgance in England. All of this of course directly related to the 30 years war, related of course to Martin Luther … which is how I came here.
Historical analysis aside I read each and every comment here and came up with an interesting question for all of you who CHOOSE to still believe that there is a god. You see, the information is out there and it is less difficult to understand than understanding the history of religion.
For instance, understanding that Constantine and Charlemagne are more important to Christianity than Christ ever was is significantly more difficult than understanding the biological facts of evolution. Yet I often find educated believers who understand the prior, while dismissing the latter. So my question to all you believers (as antique as you are) is this:
In the next 20-40 years we will eliminate death. This is not some scientific fantasy, it is an easily attainable biological reality and it is on its way. My question is, what do you think will come of the two most violent religions (Christianity and Islam of course) when death is no longer an inevitability? How will you scare people into believing? Consider also a generation blessed with Google and Wikipedia from their birth and you have the first generation (the Millenials) with the tools at hand to dismiss the theologies that have been so incredibly destructive.
Ever since Medici, Christians have been bought and paid for, your time has been waning since the Age of Enlightment. Sorry Pope Leo X, no more little boys to pop out of your cake. Thank you Pope Urban II, your ego started the secular revolution by showing historians that religion is for warmongers, bankers, politicians, and silly peasants.
I am a historian, and a soldier. Being the first makes the second easier. It helps to understand the “why” and answers “is it worth it”.
As to eliminating death in 20 to 40 years: HA! We are all one car wreck, one blood clot, one bullet, one breath away from death. Explain to me the medical means to put a man’s brain back in his head after a bullet has torn it out and I’ll give you some credit (and I’m sure someone will give you a very high paying job). I expect that God will prove to YOU the fallicy of your pediction in the next 20 to 40 years. Death is the great unknown. Only the dead know the truth or falsehood of God. For the rest of us, its known as “faith”. As in “not requiring proof”.
As for evolution, Darwin only proved micro-evolution: that over time you get variations in a KIND. Such as you start with a bird, and over time, get a different bird. He did not prove macro-evolution: that if you add water to mud and strike it with lighting you get LIFE and we all evolved from this (or whatever un-proven nonsence evolutionists believe and teach our kids at our expense). None of his followers since have been able to do so either. Therefore, evolution must be taken on “faith”, and is just as much a religion as Christianity or Islam. This is the crux of the argument against REQUIRED teaching of Macro-evolution in schools in the United States. That children are taught the “theory”(religion) of evolution at taxpayer expense while other religions are barred from exposure.
I do consider the Millenials blessed, as before the advent of Google and Wikipedia, children only had two sources of knowledge, thier parents and the government run schools. So five days a week required attendance versus a couple of voluntary hours on sundays. Now the resources are out there for children to find and weigh thier own information and choose thier own path…just as I believe Christ intended us to do, that is to CHOOSE HIM FREELY. Which I do.
I pray he will find his way into your heart as well.
As for Urban II showing that religion is for warmongers, bankers, politicians, and silly peasants; if you were half the historian you claim to be, you would know the Mohammed beat him the punch by better than 300 years. You would also know that the most deadly and costly wars in human history, those of the 20th century, were engineered by leftists of various flavors who tried succesfully to replace faith in God with faith in the State in the minds of thier citizens. Tyranny and war followed shortly thereafter. This is also what American leftists and progressives are currently trying to do through government school indoctrinaion in the United States. We should not be suprised, that if successful, it will also ends in tyranny and war. That places long odds on the whole “eliminating death” thing.
Good discussion, God Bless!
To: Empiricism Epistomology,You are making the assumption that all the gibberish that is found on Google and Wikipedia is %100 true and accurate, when English Professors at the college level will not even read research papers that use these so-called sources as legit cited material. Why are you so afraid of death? Someone that clings to the hopes of everlasting earthly life must some fear in the thought of their end of existence.( I Will be awaiting your reply that the “gibberish” is not any different than the words written in the Holy Bible and that I have been brainwashed by some bible-thumping white racist preacher and that I’m not as smart as you…blah…blah…blah…..)
when we say we are going to do something hard to ignore, apparently God means it.
Thanks for the responses back. Sola Fide I really enjoyed your response! Check this out as far as living forever within a generation or two is concerned.
http://video.pbs.org/video/1754457671 (NovaScienceNow “Can We Live Forever”)
And Martin your argument about Wikipedia holds no weight when we consider the historical context relative to this discussion. Wikipedia is no longer “open” to anyone to edit regarding most entries. It hasn’t been for a while. Considering historical entries like “Charlemagne” or “The First Ecumenical Council” you would have to display credentials or incredible layperson knowledge in the talk page to make any edits.
However if we were talking on Wikipedia about a celebrity, sure, I will give you that. Who knows, who cares.
We’re talking however about historical entries and those are protected by educated professionals and very knowledgable laypeople. The reason Wikipedia isn’t allowed at accredited universities is because of the problem of the layperson. Accredited universities can only accept peer-reviewed research from people with accredited degrees. It’s an important rule to maintain higher educational quality. (Research Alcuin for the beginnings of Liberal education.) My bet is that Wikipedia will become even more difficult to edit regarding important historical entries and will surpass this minor issue. An issue not due to Wikipedia’s inaccuracy.
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Personally, I find Emerson weak-willed. A bouy on an ocean of ignorance … but then again he didn’t have access to information from CERN, modern cosmology, artificial intelligence or nuerobiology.
Have a great day!
And Sola Fide you need not worry about your “Leftist” armageddon scenario. Additive manufacturing is on the way, there will no longer be a fight for resources. You can look up additive manufacturing on Wikipedia Martin ….
…. well, back to the Habsburg Empire.
This can be a grand idea for Veggie Tales’ The Story of Martin Luhter.
You can also see in the music
The Great American Frontier
that it somewhat depicts the future in how it is to be done, by God.
–God Wills It!
I’m impressed and surprised this chain is still accessible through wiki. 20 to 40 years from now our children and grandchildren will be convinced that none of us had the decency to respect others hearts and values as we have admonished THEM to do when these types of chains show how quickly we go from honoring such a huge impacting personality in the past to bashing religion with science and vice versa, politics with religion and vice versa, etc. I mean how can they ever look back a generation or two with any respect for us (some of which call ourselves historians) with these types of chains floating around the net??? They too will wish they were raised in Martin Luther’s time where at least this huge, relatively new e-resource wasn’t avaible to their undisciplined parents and grandparents who so easily were drawn to boast themselves as great by demeaning others or in some cases just want to post something so that they could laugh about it with their “weiser buds” with not even an inkling of a care or concern for the hundreds of thousands who may actually be viewing said comment chain for more insight into its obvious intentional premise. Not to mention the millions of possible viewers in the future, perhaps trillions if dying is going to be so much more difficult in the near future. Lets all tether ourselves to at least a modicum of respect for others even if they don’t believe like you do, they meet opposition throughout this life just like you have. Lets show our new age offspring BY EXAMPLE how to continually seek PROGRESS amongst others, not defiant digression due to pride, or desire to belittle, or what ever other lack of discipline enslaves our cranium- and maybe they too follow suit as they teach THEIR children how to, and how not to use such potentially beautiful and potentially treacherous media. God Bless!
Give glory to the Reformation that taught mankind that they can contradict God, the Church, the Bible, and each other.
Fundamentalists are sometimes horrified when the Virgin Mary is referred to as the Mother of God.
Fundamentalists often assert that Mary did not carry God in her womb, but only carried Christ’s human nature. This assertion reinvents a heresy from the fifth century known as Nestorianism.
The Nestorian claim that Mary did not give birth to the unified person of Jesus Christ attempts to separate Christ’s human nature from his divine nature, creating two separate and distinct persons—one divine and one human—united in a loose affiliation. It is therefore a Christological heresy, which even the Protestant Reformers recognized. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin insisted on Mary’s divine maternity. In fact, it even appears that Nestorius himself may not have believed the heresy named after him. Further, the “Nestorian” church has now signed a joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church and recognizes Mary’s divine maternity, just as other Christians do.
Since denying that Mary is God’s mother implies doubt about Jesus’ divinity, it is clear why Christians (until recent times) have been unanimous in proclaiming Mary as Mother of God.
The Church Fathers, of course, witness to their lively recognition of the sacred truth and great gift of divine maternity that was bestowed upon Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord.
How many times does Protestantism have to reinvent itself? Does it not have enough contradictory groups?
Does anyone lauding Luther really understand what he is saying in the 95 theses (many points on one topic) or actually agree with him? Many would do well to resist the temptation to follow the culture of adulation inherited by others and maybe actually dig a little more deeply into the issues.
My first impression at reading these here is that Luther is asserting opinions in a highly-charged reaction to clerical abuse. This is not exegesis, not a logical treatment of the truths of the faith or Church doctrine; I say this because there are no supporting arguments to defend his statements. He simply states them. He is frustrated with corruption in ecclesiastical circles and he is speaking out.
No doubt the abuses at the time were real. But Luther’s objections were not intended to start another church — which is in itself a ludicrous term. No one starts his own “church”. There is only one Church and Jesus Christ founded it. Those who break away from it break Him apart, for indeed we are the Body of Christ. There is only one other who has started his own so-called “church” — satan, the one who is a murderer and liar from the beginning. The sad divisions known as “denominations” in the Church is the work of the ancient confuser and liar. People took Luther’s concerns about abuse and confused them with doctrines which they placed at the center of their own so-called “church”. Satan divides; the Holy Spirit unites.
At this point in history, Christians need to unite and stop handing down the senseless divisions upon which denominations are based. Throwing out the baby with the bath water is foolish in life. Why continue to throw out the unity of Christendom for our petty selfishness (which is at the root of division)? Jesus DIED for our UNITY. Before he died, he prayed that we “all may be one as the Father and I are one” (Jn 17:21).
Ultimately, you know a tree by its fruit. The division of the Body of Christ is an affront against the same Jesus Christ who came that we might all have life in Him — and have it to abundance.
I recommend checking out: http://www.catholicscomehome.org
At the time of the posting of the 95 theses, Martin really believed he was helping to bring the church back on course. His intention at the time was not to start a new church. He thought he was helping from within the Catholic church.
Lisa, i don’t agree with you a wee bit. i think you have not had the chance to ponder over and compare what Martin said with the Scripture and the catholic church. for almost centuries now, ask yourself why the catholic church as is known has not come out yet to object or give a concrete counter or evidence to disprove what has been said.’silence means consent’. the time has come for the world to know the truth.
the catholic church should read the theses very well and correct their faults to tell the world that they stand to be corrected. if not then the should watch out for another Martin Luther in the future. (anyone can make a vivid research on Galileo-the scientist who discovered that the earth goes round the sun-and the catholic pope.is very important:history doesn’t lie!)
Understanding the 95 Theses is not possible unless you first study the history preceeding them. The political, social and religious mores of the time and especially the way they affected people within Luther’s community must be considered.
Sincerely if Martin Luther comes back, the protestant church can recieve whips before they recieve those of Christ for pervating the real truth of God. If it were posible, there would be a person you know of that can fund the transilation of these facts and be supplied to varoius people and churches both pentecostals and protestant to verifiy what exactly Martin said or opposed. Iam ready to do the job.
What Luther Caused was significant. He alone cause a splinter effect from the Catholic Church. From this act of disobedience from his vows he said “there are as many new churches as there were principalities or republics” (Menzel, op. cit., 739). He himself was resigned to quitting the reform, but talked into it through political pressure. From him we now have 500 different Christian religions within the bubble of “Christianity”, with all professing truth, while claiming the truth lies within their set of beliefs. So who is right? The latest church that split from thier parent church, over some diagreement? Who was he, a priest that rebelled amist social and political reform? An abused child, a brat? My ex-wife is a baptist swithced methodist, her father church of christ, her mother, southern baptist swithced methodist, her brother a Baptist switched Calvary Chaple, and her sister baptist switched to episcopalian. I am a cradle Catholic. Thanks Luther guess what Christmas was like? When luther stole 2 millioin souls from the Faith, it got back 7 million because of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then after all that was the counter-reformation, a flourshing of the Faith. Like the Jews before, the Church was allowed pain for growth. It caused the result Luther wanted, but not by his miserable hand.
Luther passion took him too far, i guess he also misinterpreted some doctrines.
Yes, it is a shame that his fight against financial abuse in the church caused a reformation outside of the Church. His main points about indulgences are right-on, but also has some misinterpretations. Too bad the issues could not have been worked out and Christ’s church un-split.
So sad how far the reformation and the reformations of the reformations have become. Christianity has become a free-for-all, each like sheep going their own way, far from the Sheppard church. May are returning to the Catholic-Orthodox or Orthodox-Catholic church of the first 1500 years.
Jesus is coming back, many will seek to hide at the sign of His appearing, the Kingdom of God dwells within you, let
can anyone tell me what causes the protestant reformation ?plz
This is so ignorant its sad… The Catholic Church is WAY different than it is now :(. He makes Catholics sound like mad, stupid people… At least in my opinion. I know he meant well, but I think he was way harsh… Of course, I’m not gonna waste my time justifying every single thesis, for that would be childish in my opinion. Personally, I just hope not everyone sees Catholics as ignorant, foolish people. Depending on the person, we’re quite nice if you get to know us :). God bless!