"95 Theses" good Catholic theology?



above is a link to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.
the question is
are the 95 Theses good Catholic theology; or are they heretical?


As in most errors, there are threads of truth. “Good” Catholic theology? No. Luther held many personal notions, most of which were incorrect.



] 1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance. Certainly more in line with Catholic theology than most current Protestant theology.


] 2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests. False since it restricts a broad term to a narrow definition. Repentance does indeed include sacramental penance, but penance is not limited to sacramental penance.


] 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. Again, he attempts to restrict penance to his personal opinion which is incorrect. Please3 note this is DEFINITELY NOT in accord with most Protestant theologies.


] 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. This goes against Scripture, so is therefore false.


] 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. Again against Scripture therefore false. Should we go to each of the 95? Or do you get the idea?


I like this one:

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.



] 8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying. So declares Pope Luther. Against Scripture. Luther has an incorrect understanding of purgatory, although he certainly agrees it does exist. Again, many Protestants agree with him? His misunderstanding shows itself in item 21.


] 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; Once a soul enters purgatory, it is saved. No soul that enters purgatory ever enters hell, all sould from purgatory enter heaven. It isn’t the pope “saving” anyone. An indulgence does not save a soul from hell.



] 41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love. ”Good works” of love? OMG


that is exactly what Luther is saying; so you agree with him on this point?



This is a very Catholic thing to say. but do you like this one?


No, that’s not what Luther is saying. He is saying an indulgence can save, which is incorrect. An indulgence is for purgatory only, the person is already “saved”, indulgence or not. Luther is saying the popes’ indulgence can save.

[quote=ML]by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

The papal indulgence has nothing to do with saving, as ML is trying to imply.


Luther is saying the popes’ indulgences DO NOT save.

he is saying those preachers of indulgences (like Johann Tetzel) are wrong. Read the whole statement Luther is saying it is wrong to say that indulgences can save.


That “indulgences can save” being wrong, Catholics agree. Luther was burning a strawman.


had Luther been making a case against the Catholic Church I would agree, but he was making a case against the “preachers of indulgences” who were saying that they could save.


Since these “preachers” were in error, those who impune the whole Church based on it are also in error.


Luther was called a heretic for bringing the errors of Tetzel to light, he had to go into hiding so he would not be put to death. what was he supposed to do?


Since these “preachers” were in error, those who impune the whole Church based on it are also in error.

No one person has the full vision of the Church at any moment in time.

I sometimes think we demand that Luther have a larger vision of the Church than he could of had. We all have the benefit of seeing the historical consequences of actions by men in all camps. It obviously wasn’t this clear at the time.


Show us where any official Church teaching says an indulgence saves. There aren’t any. Indulgences don’t, and never have “saved”. Luther implies the Church teaches they do, it’s false, the Church never taught they save.


Ahhhhh, I knew there were more people far more intelligent (I’m not sure about the wiser part, yet ;)) than I on this matter. I’ve planned on getting a good book on Luther (I understand Hillaire Belloc has a very good and accurate one), but alas, I haven’t devoted the time to do it yet. Maybe this summer.

I thank you, JTBT, for the invite to this thread, and will continue to follow it. And who knows, I’ll probably be adding my two cents worth to it, shortly (or did I just do that already?).


I’m not so sure he was declared a heretic for this. Obviously, he was for other things, but the Pope and the Church agreed that the selling of indulgences was wrong. By the way, this was not the first time they had this problem. It had been dealt with a couple hundred years before, but unfortunately, it resurfaced.

Luther posted the 95 Theses in 1517, but he wasn’t excommunicated until 1521. During the time before his excommunication, he argued to and sought the opinions of numerous bishops and councils and even the Pope himself, each time declaring he was at the mercy and obedience of the Council/Pope. Of course, when each decided against his doctrines, Luther resorted to cursing and humiliating those he agreed to obey. He debated his points with many eminent Catholic theologians, such as Johann Eck. The Pope, Leo X, hoped this would wash over and Luther would fall back in line. When he saw that Luther continued rebelling, the Pope took further action by issuing the Papal Bull on June 15, 1520. He informed Luther that he had 60 days to retract 41 errors contained in the Theses and Luther’s writings, or he would be subject to excommunication. In other words, a good deal of the 95 Theses was accepted as legitimate. On December 10, 1520, Luther burned the Bull and all the decretals. This marked another defiance of the Pope and authority, so on January 3, 1521, Pope Leo X officially excommunicated Luther from the Church. Luther; however, was also summoned before the Diet of Worms where authorities would determine his sentence. By authorities, I mean the civil authorities–they were now in charge of enforcing his sentence because he was now an outlaw in Germany. They laid out his works and asked if they were his and if he remained steadfast to them. He admitted writing them, but was not prepared to answer to whether he still held to them. I think, he realized that if he said yes, then he truly was being thrown out of Christ’s Church. After five days of prayer, he returned and declared he agreed with his statements. He knew what awaited him by doing so. The Council decided he would be arrested and his books would be burned. On top of that, the authorities issued an open warrant for his death. Of course, Luther never was arrested thanks to his pal Frederick III…

So, to sum it up to your point, Luther was given plenty of time to make a fair decision. It wasn’t just one day he disagreed and he was given a death sentence. On top of that, it wasn’t over the selling of indulgences. This was declared to be wrong by the Church. It was when he went against Church doctrine that he was called on it. He had years to change his mind, but he didn’t.

Prayers and petitions,


:hmmm: you are trying to build a strawman that is not what he is saying. He is trying to correct the preachers of indulgences which were saying that indulgences save, is that a bad thing???

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