Luther’s Ninety-five Theses: What You May Not Know and Why They Matter Today

Justin Holcomb | October 31, 2014


If people know only one thing about the Protestant Reformation, it is the famous event on October 31, 1517, when the Ninety-five Theses of Martin Luther (1483–1586) were nailed on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg in protest against the Roman Catholic Church. Within a few years of this event, the church had splintered into not just the “church’s camp” or “Luther’s camp” but also the camps of churches led by theologians of all different stripes

Luther is known mostly for his teachings about Scripture and justification. Regarding Scripture, he argued the Bible alone (sola scriptura) is our ultimate authority for faith and practice. Regarding justification, he taught we are saved solely through faith in Jesus Christ because of God’s grace and Christ’s merit. We are neither saved by our merits nor declared righteous by our good works. Additionally, we need to fully trust in God to save us from our sins, rather than relying partly on our own self-improvement.

Forgiveness with a Price Tag

These teachings were radical departures from the Catholic orthodoxy of Luther’s day. But you might be surprised to learn that the Ninety-five Theses, even though this document that sparked the Reformation, was…


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