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This Month in History

This nineteenth-century painting by Julius Hübner sensationalizes Luther's posting of the Theses before a crowd. In reality, posting theses for a disputation would have been routine.

 

31 October 1517

 Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg

This month marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s attack on the Catholic Church for the practice of selling indulgences to absolve sins. Luther was a monk and scholar within the Catholic Church in Germany. The two radical themes within his 95 theses were sola fide and sola scriptura.  Sola fide, or justification by faith alone, is the idea that faith in God will bring an individual to salvation, rather than the exercise of good works. Sola scriptura argues that Christians should look to the Bible, rather than church tradition and custom, for the true doctrines and articles of Christian faith. Luther’s theses angered the Catholic Church, and exposed deep-rooted tensions between reformers and conservatives that could not be reconciled. Luther was eventually excommunicated, which made him a heretic, and with his supporters began a new form of religious worship in Germany, known as Lutheranism. He is considered to be one of the chief architects of the Protestant Reformation. 

 

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