The 95 Theses
- In the 95 Theses, Luther argued against the selling of indulgences
- NB not against the Catholic Church itself, did not want to divide the Church, but only to reform/improve it
- argued that repentance should be a continuous progress, therefore the single act of buying an indulgence did not work
- a true repentant sinner should seek punishment rather than try to escape it
- questioned the application of indulgences for souls already in Purgatory: how can one be sure if they are truly repentant?
- questioned whether the rebuilding of St. Peter's Cathedral as a just cause for launching an indulgence campaign. Money would be better spent on feeding the poor.
Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide
- scripture is the authority on what should exist within the Church
- Luther decided to go back to the scriptures and seek scriptural warranty for everything
- as a result (one example) he decided that there were only three sacraments instead of seven, due to lack of scriptural warranty
- as a novice monk, Luther read the writings of St. Paul and St. Augustine
- experienced a "Turmerlebnis" (tower experience) where he became convinced that justification came from faith alone
- one did not need good works, to receive the sacraments or even to go to church in order to go to heaven if one believed in God
Denial of Transubstantiation
Luther denied that the bread and wine turned into the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the sacrifice of the Mass (Catholic doctrine). However, he was stuck at the words in the Bible "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood". So Luther came to a compromise: although the priest did nothing special to make this happen, if the bread and wine were taken by a believer, elements of Christ's body and blood co-existed with the bread and the wine. I.e. there was a "real presence", but it was nothing that the priest did to bring this about. This was called the consubstantiation.
The Priesthood of All Believers
Catholics believed that priests were one step above the laity (ordinary people) and thus one step closer to God.
Luther's belief was that the only difference between ordinary people and priests was one of office and function, not as intermediaries between man and God. In other words, every Christian was as much a priest as the next one.
This was called the Priesthood of All Believers.
Pamphlets of 1520
- Address to the Germany Nobility (August 1520)
- Luther explained how the Catholic Church had built up three walls to protect itself from reformation.
- These walls were: Church is above the law of the land, only the Pope can interpret the Scriptures, only the Pope can call a council of the Church
- Luther called upon secular leaders of the Empire (e.g. Charles V) to effect reform
- Babylonian Captivity of the Church (October 1520)
- Christians had been enslaved by a "Babylonish" tyranny by the Pope
- attacked the Church at its heart for the first time
- attacked the sacraments
- hated ideas of Aristotle
- good works do not lead to salvation
- denial of Transubstantiation
- Liberty of the Christian Man (November 1520)
- answered his critis
- Christians do not need to do good works, but if they Christian they will do naturally
No Free Will
In "The Bondage of Will" in 1525, Luther fell out with Erasmus over the issue of Free Will.
Erasmus, a humanist scholar and friend of Luther's, believed that man could aid his own salvation: i.e., he had free will.
Luther disagreed with him on this, claiming that God had decided who would be saved, and no-one could do anything about it. They fell out to such an extent that Luther wrote against him many times.