What did Luther's Ninety-five Theses protest against?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Martin Luther's 95 Theses protested against what he saw as a number of abuses that were being committed by the Roman Catholic Church.  The main point of his arguments (which were actually meant to be debated in an academic setting, not to be publicly disseminated) was that the Church should not be selling indulgences.

Indulgences are essentially credits that people get that will allow them to spend less time in Purgatory than they might otherwise have to.  Indulgences can be earned by doing things like pilgrimages, but they could in those days also be bought.  Luther was protesting against the selling of indulgences.

He made three main points.  He said that:

  • It was wrong to wring money out of poor church members when the Pope had plenty of money of his own.
  • That the Pope has no power to release anyone from Purgatory or to keep them there.
  • That buying indulgences gives people a false sense of security.  It makes them think that their sins are forgiven when really they are not.