Indulgences For Sale

Yo Pope! We don't need no stinkin' indulgences!


Pattie Crider

Group 1 Response 4

Luther’s 95 Theses

 Indulgences for sale!  Get your Indulgences!

      The clearest concern found in Luther’s 95 Theses is the issuance of indulgences by the papacy.  At least 54 of the 95 clearly are directed at the receipt or issue of indulgences.  Luther believed the Catholic Church was greedy for taking money from even the poorest people.  In exchange the Pope forgave them of their sins in the name of God.  This is a clear problem in Luther’s opinion and his 95 Theses addressed this issue with bold words and new perspectives.

      Luther was thought of as a rogue priest in his actions of nailing 95 Theses to the Catholic Church door on the eve of All Saints Day.  This document was certain to raise a stir as Luther addressed his concerns.  These concerns would cause a serious financial issue for the Catholic Church.  Luther stated a true believer does not need to purchase his/her salvation.  Also, salvation cannot be bought for someone who is deceased.  The Church found this threatening because the sale of indulgences was a major source of its income.  The building projects in Rome during the early 16th Century were financed by the sale of indulgences.  To Luther, this was the church “selling grace” and from his perspective, unacceptable.  (Chidester pg 316)

      Luther’s 95 Theses was viciously biting toward the Pope.  He clearly had issues with the papacy and the payments they received for pardoning the transgressions of Christian sinners.  That is, the sinners who had enough money to buy an indulgence.  Luther raised this question to Christians: Does the Pope truly have the authority to grant forgiveness?  He also directly questioned the Pope on why his personal funds are not used in establishing new church construction. 

      Luther did not stop at just stating a believer didn’t need to purchase an indulgence.  He wrote that purchasing indulgences does nothing to save your soul and instead condemns it.  Further, he instructs Christians to provide for their families before paying the church for an indulgence letter and followed that with telling Christians the act of giving their money to help the poor is more pleasing to God than the purchase of indulgences.  He also explained that buying an indulgence letter is strictly voluntary.

     The perspective of all people having the ability to be saved by God without the means of purchasing a letter of indulgence seriously conflicted with what the Catholic Church was teaching.  Luther’s statements, especially his razor-edged cuts at the papacy certainly put their robes in a twist.  The Pope wanted people to believe their sins were forgiven through an indulgence letter because the Churches financial security depended on it.

      According to Luther, there were no guarantees in these indulgence letters.   Also, one should not take them so seriously that they lose their fear of God.  The fear was that humans would use the indulgences to assure themselves they are in good graces with God.  In doing this they would no longer fear the wrath of God and the possibility of eternal suffering in hell.  Luther believed it was in vain to think these papers would get you a golden ticket to Heaven. 

     To at least limit the churches influence on Christians concerning indulgences Luther wrote that preaching about indulgences for half or more of a sermon is injurious to God’s Word. He compares the receipt of indulgences to the nets of fisherman which now fishes for the wealth of men.  These are harsh words against the powerful papacy.  The controversial 95 Theses spread quickly by means of the printing press and the church had to respond.

     The Catholic Church found their priest to be a heretic and erroneous in his theses.  Luther was given the chance to take back all he had written but instead he showed he could be even more defiant.  His life was spared but he was excommunicated in January 1521.  (Chidester pg. 317)  Though he was kicked out of the Catholic Church, Luther’s perspectives carried on.  It was his Christian ideologies that led to the establishment of the Lutheran faith.

PS. I received an A on this paper.  🙂


  1. Great job Pattie I enjoyed this blog it was much better than some of the trash I seen you post in the past! Luv Ya Auntie J

  2. I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this beneficial content.

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