Martin Luther, a German monk started a revolution which he called a ‘Reformation’ in 1517 when he pinned ‘The Ninety-Five Theses’ which mainly criticized the selling of indulgences and making confessions of sins to a priest, on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The ideas which were against the Church were later written and that consisted the concept of justification, salvation, the teaching of the Bible and others which will be explained in details afterward. The word ‘Revolution’ in this essay means Luther reforming what the Church believed in like gospel, indulgences, salvation and other religious beliefs. In this essay, I will be arguing why Luther was a revolutionary due to his actions, consequences such that he was officially excluded by the pope Leo X after the ‘Edict of Worms’, the cause of the peasants’ war and his followers eventually forming a ‘breakaway Christian movement known as ‘Protestantism’ (Coram 2018, p.5).
The Catholic Church believed that buying indulgences which Tetzel’s profit preaching called ‘tickets to heaven’ (Appold 2011, p.47) would help erase the sins and would shorten the time spend in purgatory (Anderson 2011, p.30). They also believed that it worked for both the living and the dead (Appold 2011, p.46). However, Luther believe that the indulgences were just a mercy for bad deeds that could be brought as he wrote ‘As the penny in the coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs’ (Green 1998, p.17). He also stated that the pope could not save the people in the purgatory or make their time spend there to be shorter but pray (Appold 2011, p.48). He even asked why did the pope who was extremely wealthy would build St Peter’s basilica at Rome with the money of the poor instead of his (Boniface Unam Sanctam ex.). The reason was that half of the money received from indulgences were paid to the creditors of Archbishop Albert of Mainz and the other half to the pope (Anderson 2011, p.3) meaning that the money was used for the church’s needs rather than using in what it intended to be. He believed that ‘a Christian improves more by doing works of love than buying indulgences’ (Appold 2011, p.48). Luther concluded that there must be faults with the whole structure of authority and the theology unless the Church and pope reform the indulgences incident (Marshall 2009, p.24).
The next matter Luther went against was people’s confession of sins to priests. The Catholic Church stated that everyone was born sinful and confessing sins to priests who were called an earthly figure of Jesus Christ (Appold 2011, p.43) was the way to get to heaven (Coram 2018, p.5) and there was no forgiveness of sins nor salvation apart from the church (Boniface Unam Sanctam ex.). Notwithstanding the church said, Luther argued that ‘The pope cannot remove any penalties’ or ‘any guilt’ (Luther 95 theses ex.5&6) and forgiveness sins did not need a priest to get involved as it was only between a person and God (Coram 2018, p.5). Also, he said that the existence of popes were just a separation from the ordinary Christians to raise their standard as ‘every baptized Christian is a priest already’ (Luther Address ex.2). Luther ended up saying that salvation was how a person behaved, worked than what it is believed to be and not serving the God with works and faith (Green 1998, p.15).