Help from Lutherans

I am studying Luther in a little more depth and I am wondering can you steer me to any writing from Luther himself where he discusses nailing the 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg Germany. I think it might be illuminating to hear what the man himself had to say about this act and how he compiled the list.


This might be a start.


Yes and thank you for that but that does not discuss the event its self.

You would probably have to try Luther’s Works for something like that, but I will keep looking.


Interesting question.

If you want to read what Luther had to say, the following site contains a lot of his writings, including A Sermon on Indulgences and Grace.

If you want an historical text, or a biography, there are thousands of books dealing with Luther and the Protestant reformation. As in any controversial event, there are a lot of biased views for and against. My suggestion is that you begin with an Internet search and try to sort out the more objective writers.

Yes well I am not an authority on Luther and I was hoping a Lutheran who had knowledge of this could direct me to a specific source but thank you I am aware that there are mountains of documentation on Luther and his philosophies but that is not what I was asking about.

I’ve poked around in Luther’s Works and I don’t see much about the actual posting of the thesis - and this does fit with how historian think Luther intended the paper to be viewed as.

Not as a “bold Luther striding up to the cathedral and proudly nailing his 95 thesis to the door to spark the Reformation”. Instead as a monk who posed his concerns on the wall where other people posted notices and other things.

It wasn’t supposed to be a ‘big deal.’ - just one man who noticed a few things that needed addressing.

Thank you. Does the history seem to support a singular list compiled by Luther at one time and place and then relayed or was the list compiled later as a summation of previously annunciated grievances? Is there any evidence that Luther was not the exclusive source of these theses? The reason I ask is since I started this thread I cannot find any historical reference to the events in Wittenberg until over 100 years after they are supposed to happen. So has there been any historical discussion among Lutherans that Luther was perhaps like a John Thomas Scopes, a type of spokesman for a larger group. I hope these questions makes sense and I mean no offense by asking the questions.

What the linked article says is essentially what I have understood since childhood. Further, unlike the occasional portrayal of a bold, defiant action, Luther’s posting of the 95Theses, or “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, was more likely a request for discussion and debate on the subject of indulgences, and how they were being used to raise money.

Some things that need stating regarding the 95 Theses. They are not doctrine. They do not appear on the Book of Concord, our confessional documents. They are not central, often not even peripheral, in catechesis within Lutheranism.


That is very interesting and completely contrary to the version of events taught to me in Catholic school which was, believe it or not, very pro-Luther. He was portrayed as a bold revolutionary not a simple monk with rational grievances. I know this thread can’t go on forever but in this context I don’t see how this resulted in a total split from the Church and the formation of an entirely new Christian religion? But I will read your sources further.

Thank you.

Interesting that this view of Luther was promoted in a Roman Catholic school - it wouldn’t’ve happened to have been an ethnically German area, would it? I ask because the view of Luther as “bold revolutionary” has its roots in the Prussian Union, not in Lutheranism (as others have noted, we could care less about the man - it is the Confessions, as a clear reflection of Scripture, that we follow).

A bit of history… To unify the various German states, the political powers of the time had to invent a single, common, national identity. Religion was a necessary aspect of German life to ‘nationalize’ and make a point of commonality. So Prussia attempted to force protestant churches under one, single, unionistic umbrella partly through force (some Lutheran pastors were defrocked, jailed and even killed), and also through nationalistic rhetoric and propaganda. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, were all relegated to simple contributors to some great German cause, rather than representatives of their separate reformations; this meant that Calvinists and Lutherans would have to celebrate their respective Reformations on a shared day. The powers that be selected the posting of the 95 Theses (October 31). Until that time, Lutherans mostly celebrated the presentation of the Augsburg Confession (June 25).

I’ve never understood the posting of the 95 Theses to be that big of a deal - they are actually quite Roman Catholic. Some Lutherans still get rather ornery about celebrating them, and Luther himself advocated their burning. :shrug:

The very last post by Paul McCain on the second link states: *My take: The reason the 95 Theses happened to get Luther in SO much trouble is that he, without fully realizing him, put himself directly into the finances of the Roman Catholic Church and threatened the Papal fund raising department. *
That’s essentially the comment I make about the difference between Luther and Catherine of Sienna. :wink:


I grew up in the southeastern US which is a scotch Irish area made up primarily of Southern Baptist some Protestants and very few Catholics or Lutherans. I don’t know who wrote my textbooks though.

Luther actually wrote a defense and explanation of the 95 Theses. It’s a long and detailed treatise, and is available in the English edition of Luther’s Works, which can be found in most college libraries.


I’m fairly fluent in Luther studies, and I never recall reading anyone arguing that Luther was not the sole author of the 95 Theses.

By the way, please elaborate on your search for historical references and “until over 100 years.” Thanks.


I am sorry but it was one of those web sites that you come across while browsing the internet on certain issues. Specifically it seemed to be saying that the Wittenberg episode, the physical act of nailing 95 theses to the church door, was not referred to until almost 150 years after it happened. It was not saying that there were not 95 theses just that it did not happen the way history recorded. It may be a dubious source that is why I asked my questions. Thank you all we have some very knowledgeable Lutherans here.

Interesting. Is the latter celebration common among many (or any) modern day Lutherans?

Not for me when I was Lutheran ( 35 plus years ) … at least not where I went to church.

Yes, particularly among Lutherans who are well-catechized and observe the commemorations and feast days on our calendars.

More info from sources other than myself :smiley: :

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit