I was recently asked by Dr. Tom Woods, instructor of my on-line Western Civilization course, to consider: “What were the 95 Theses about? What was the basic message of Luther’s complaint?
Here are my thoughts.
Martin Luther, who is sometimes referred to as the ‘father’ of the Protestant Reformation, wanted to reform the Catholic church. In a sense, he wanted to reboot the whole system. If possible, his goal was to replace all the Catholic beliefs with new ones. And, naturally, preferably with his. As one can imagine, this did not go over well with the Catholic leadership or even normal, everyday parishioners so he ended up forming his own sect of religion instead. What he is most known for was the bold way he and ‘hand-delivered’ his complaints, nailing 95 statements against the selling of indulgences.
An indulgence was a slip of paper that, when purchased, declared you forgiven of your sins. Along with a few required actions, like saying a prayer, all you really had to do was purchase one every time you needed to do some repenting. For instance, Theses No. 27 chides, “They [Catholic bishops and other authorities] preach man that as soon as the penny jingles in the money box, the souls fly out of purgatory.” I am curious to know if the Catholic bishops back then actually believed that divine forgiveness required money more than a change of heart, but either way it is easy to understand how this could get out of hand. For the poor, what was it like if they had to choose between buying food or indulgences?
Another one of Luther’s arguments that kills the practice at its core, and one that I particularly liked, is No. 36: “Every truly penitent Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt without letters of pardon.” He is saying that not just some Christians have the chance to be saved, but all of them!
While I’m sure the Catholic church has changed and moved on since the 16th Century, I believe God inspired Martin Luther, and other truth seekers like him, to courageously stand up against what they felt was wrong for the benefit of believers.
During a recent lesson in my Western Civilization course, I had the opportunity to read a small part of Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. First though let me briefly tell you a little bit about this religious man then I will mention what I found about his religious and doctrinal opinions.
Ignatius lived in 16th Century Spain. When he was a young man, he joined the Spanish military. While serving in the military, he was shot in the legs by a cannonball and he survived! Unfortunately for him, he was discharged from the military. That incident left him with a limp for the rest of his life. When he was in the hospital he read some religious texts that sparked an interest in religion. In 1540 he and a few other theologians, including St. Francis Xavier, were granted permission, by Pope Paul III, to organize the Society of Jesus or Jesuits.
You cannot read Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and not get the sense that he really was a committed Catholic. However I found it interesting in the reading that he does not want time to be wasted explaining faith vs. good works in depth. Instead, he felt that people should decide on their own whether they faith or did good works. He argued that there would be no need for faith if everybody practiced good works and no need for good works if everybody had faith.
In many ways Loyola accomplished much, but his greatest contribution was to the betterment of the current state of the world that he lived in. And even though he is not alive today, his contributions, such as his Spiritual Exercises can still be read and have the same impression it had on someone then as it does today. That is the great thing about religious books and texts, they will always be applicable no matter where and when you live!
Wow! How many posts was that? Not counting posts unrelated to history, I think that’s about 28? 32? No! 36! This is my last post on this site, but I will continue posting on a different blog. I’ll let you know when that’s up and running! In this post I finish up with what I learned throughout my history posts. (I will be creating one more small post with a timeline of events that occurred.)
In the 18th Century, the French settlers who lived in modern-day Canada shared borders with the English colonists. This sometimes created friction because the borders were unclear. The French took this seriously and created forts to state where their borders where. During this time, an English squadron was sent ahead to build a road so that troops, artillery and supplies could get to a British fort. Lt. Col. George Washington (who was 21 at the time) was their leader!
In the 18th century, many people started becoming lazy in following the Gospel. Many were being hypocrites by calling themselves *Christians but weren’t living like Christians. Some theologians and pastors took this seriously.
“With great power comes great responsibility” -Spiderman
In the 17th century, when James 1 was King of England he was able to enjoy the privileges of the Divine Right of Kings which was a rule where they thought God gave the King his power and not the people. James believed that with the Divine Right of Kings he could do what ever he wanted, whenever he wanted and that kind of thinking made the relationship of his son, James 1, with the English Parliament very unsteady.