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The ninety five thesis
such only insofar as they promote gain. Again: - What is this new holiness of God and the Pope that, for money's sake, they permit the wicked and the enemy of God to save a pious soul, faithful to God, and yet will not save that pious and beloved soul without payment. Additionally, he states in Theses 30-34 that indulgences give Christians false certainty and he attacks the idea that indulgence makes repentance unnecessary in Theses 35-36 and, in Theses 37, he continues that Christians do not require indulgence to receive benefits provided by Christ. What is sure, is, that as soon as the penny rattles in the chest, gain and avarice are on the way of increase; but the intercession of the church depends only on the will of God Himself. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure. Xvii ( Top of Martin Luther 95 Theses). His foremost Theses discuss Christian repentance as internal struggles with sin instead of an outward sacramental confession. Therefore, those preachers of indulgences err who say that, by the Pope's indulgence, a man may be exempt from all punishments, and be saved. It is certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions,. Theses 39-40 explains that purchased indulgence makes repentance difficult hence Christians luck desire for Gods punishment. Luther discusses in Theses 27-29 that only God has the power to forgive punishment in purgatory.
The Pope acts most rightly in granting remission to souls, not by the power of the keys - which in Purgatory he does not possess - but by way of intercession. Again, Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?' Again, What is this new piety of God and. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying. Every Christian who feels sincere repentance and woe on account of his sins, has perfect remission of pain and guilt even without letters of indulgence. Martin Luther wrote the Theses for argument in a formal academic disposition and he invited interested scholars to participate in the discussion. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first. Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and by divine grace only, Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences.
As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men. As for instance: - Why does not the Pope deliver all souls at the same time out of Purgatory for the sake of most holy love and on account of the bitterest distress of those souls - this being the most imperative of all motives.
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The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed. The 95 Theses, which would later become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, were written in a remarkably humble and academic tone, questioning rather than accusing. Seldom even as he who has sincere repentance, is he who really gains indulgence; that is to say, most seldom to be found. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity. To repress these very telling questions of the laymen by force, and not to solve them by telling the truth, is to expose the Church and the Pope to the enemy's ridicule and to make Christian people unhappy. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. This fear and horror - to say nothing of other things - are sufficient in themselves to produce the punishment of Purgatory, because they approximate to the horror of despair.