The sixteenth-century document that changed the course of Christianity.
Monk and theology professor Martin Luther found himself in disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church on the subject of indulgences—certificates sold by the Church that promised to spare their owners from punishment for their sins. With his 95 Theses, Luther proposed a debate on the subject, but ultimately, he was excommunicated and the Protestant Reformation began.
This is both a religious document and a historical one—a turning point that marked a challenge to papal authority, set off political conflicts and bloody war in Europe, and led to the remarkable variety of Christian denominations and sects that exist in the world today.
Martin Luther (1483–1546), one of the most significant figures in Western history, was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation. Over the course of his life, Luther was a monk, a priest, a professor of biblical literature, a Reformer, a husband, and a father.
Luther is most noted for his Ninety-Five Theses (1517), in which he argued that indulgences were not acts of penance which could replace true repentance. His refusal to retract all his writings, demanded by Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521, resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor.
Luther has been both praised and vilified for what he preached and wrote. Luther’s translation of the Christian Bible into the vernacular greatly influenced the church. His works continue to impact all Christians and animate the movement that bears his name. Luther’s Works (55 vols.) contains many of Luther’s writings, including commentaries, sermons, and lectures.