Martin Luther and The 95 Theses

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Martin Luther is regarded as one of the histories’ significant person in the 15th and 16th centuries. Brought up in Germany, Martin Luther became a monk and scholar and widely criticized the Roman Catholic Church for their dubious corruption practices. In 1571, Martin Luther wrote the 95 Theses which touched on issues surrounding the Roman Catholic Church and how it conducted its activities (Sloan, 2015). Martin Luther believed that the Bible remains the only central religious authority that the people can use to attain salvation through their faith rather than buying their way into it. However, his ideas had earlier been tabled but lacked support which Martin was able to provide at the best time when the history was suitable for a religious overhaul. His 95 Theses led to the Protestant Reformation, and the Catholic denomination became divided. Protestants incorporated Martin’s ideas which led to its widespread and eventual break-out. To the Westerners, his writing changed both the cultural and religious history course.

            In his early years, Martin Luther was fascinated by the monastic lifestyle as its teachings focused more on personal devoutness. Despite his ambitions as a young boy, his father had other plans and enrolled him to a school to study and become a lawyer. He studied the regular curriculum and later graduated with a Master`s degree. During a moment in his youthful life, a thunderstorm almost took his life, and he acquitted his survival to a sign from God (“Martin Luther and the 95 Theses,” 2018). After the incident, Martin Luther abandoned his law studies and turned to the monastery. He later resumed his studies to graduate and become a professor of Biblical studies.  As the years progressed, other scholars questioned the ways and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Bible was now translated into different languages and became available to almost everyone.

            Writings by an earlier philosopher, Augustine, depicted the Bible as the sole authority and not its holders (“Martin Luther and the 95 Theses,” 2018). As was Martin Luther`s belief, Augustine disagreed with the Roman Catholic that God`s salvation could be attained through doing good deeds. They all believed that only faith could earn an individual God`s forgiveness. Regardless, the Roman Catholic Church went on to sell indulgences to sinners to attain salvation, a move that was seen as corruption. Martin Luther objected the practice reiterating that salvation can only be realized through one`s faith. He wrote the 95 Theses that, rather than accusing the corrupt practices of the Church, questioned its actions. The 95 Theses, written in a softer tone, became the pillars of the Protestant Reformation. It is believed that Martin Luther pinned the document on one of the Castle`s doors to make his opinion known.

            The first two Theses revolved around Martin`s central beliefs of faith and good deeds when seeking salvation from the Almighty. The rest of the questions addressed his criticisms of the indulgence practices. In one of his 95 questions, Martin Luther mentioned a church scandal where one Pope sold indulgences to raise money to build a church. According to Martin Luther, the Pope was wealthier to build the St. Peter`s church with money from his own pocket instead of using money from the poor (“Martin Luther and the 95 Theses,” 2018).  In his 95 Theses, Martin Luther echoed that selling of indulgences was a misleading act towards the Church followers (Holcomb, 2014). In the years to follow, Luther`s writings caused instability in the Roman Catholic Church sparking controversy across numerous regions.  

            The Catholic Church refuted Luther`s writings arguing that they did not coincide with the teachings from the Bible. They had foreseen a threat the writings would bring to the belief of their many followers. Martin was summoned by the Church to explain his writings and recant them, but he was reluctant to do so. The Roman Emperor eventually declared that Luther`s writings be burned down. Luther later went into hiding for some years where he embarked on translating the New Testament into the Germany language. The 95 Theses initiated a reformation movement that he did not take part. 

            In conclusion, Martin Luther, through his 95 Theses, gave courage to many other theologists to voice their concerns on the corrupt dealings of the Catholic Church.  However, he distanced himself from those who took advantage to radicalize other people. Martin firmly stood by his word that salvation is attained by faith and not through indulgences. Martin is remembered not only for his writings but also for other issues that he voiced during his lifetime. He proved to the people did not need the help of Priests to understand and interpret the Bible. His tone on his criticism of the Roman Catholic Church was to attract other scholars to debate on the ways the Church was conducting some of the services and policies in the name of the Almighty. Luther released his publication to the public fully aware of the consequences his actions might bring. Nevertheless, even to date, the ideas and writings of Martin Luther have shaped history both socially, religiously, and politically.


Holcomb, J. (2014). Luther's Ninety-five Theses: What You May Not Know and Why They Matter Today. Retrieved from

Martin Luther and the 95 Theses. (2018). Retrieved from

Sloan, A. E. (2015). The 95 Theses: Legal Research in the Internet Age. Legal Writing: J. Legal Writing Inst., 20, 45.

November 13, 2023

History Religion

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