The Ninety-Five Theses
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, commonly known as The Ninety-Five Theses, were written by Martin Luther in 1517 and are widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Luther used these theses to display his displeasure with some of the Roman Catholic clergy's abuses, most notably the sale of indulgences; this ultimately gave birth to Protestantism. Luther's popularity encouraged others to share their doubts about Catholicism.
Reaction to the Ninety-Five Theses
According to some, the Ninety-Five Theses gained enormous popularity over a very short period of time. Luther's ideas resonated with people regardless of class, status, or wealth, at a time when such concepts were crucial to the social order.
On June 15, 1520, Pope Leo X issued a rebuttal to Luther's 95 Theses, a papal encyclical titled Exsurge Domine. This document outlined the Magisterium of the Catholic Church's findings of where Luther had erred.
Some of the theological concepts which Luther raised still divide the Christian Church today. These questions plagued Luther, who often resorted to mortification of the flesh so as to attempt to be perfectly contrite before God. Erasmus counseled Luther to wait until scholarship was sufficient to permit reform to be more accurate than a total dependence on the Bible, which generated Anabaptism, Protestantism, and, in the modern era, Evangelicalism. Meanwhile, Luther's Theses became a declaration of independence in Northern Europe, around which rallied enormous social changes, like the decline of feudalism, and the rise of commercialism.
As early as October 27, 1521, the chapel at Wittenberg suppressed private Masses. In 1522, much of the city began celebrating Lutheran services instead of Roman Catholic. Luther's popularity grew rapidly, mostly due to the general Roman Catholic church member's dissatisfaction with the corruption and "worldly" desires and habits of the Roman Curia.