The 95 Theses on Painting, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung
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. Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The reality was probably not so dramatic; Luther more likely hung the document on the door of the church matter-of-factly to announce the ensuing academic discussion around it that he was organizing.
COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE 95 THESES
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses or propositions against the Roman Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences – – the claim that for the right amount of money you could buy forgiveness of sins. Indulgences were hostile to the very heart of the Christian faith. Martin Luther challenged this practice from the Scriptures and called men back to the Bible and back to Jesus. In the spirit of that challenge, we present 95 theses against the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We implore you to search the Scriptures to know what is true (Acts 17:11) and seek the real Jesus while He may be found.
Kaywin Feldman, MIA director, says when they contacted the museum officials in Germany, their first question was “'How can we make this the best Luther show ever?” This exhibit shows the success of Luther as in the propaganda phenomenon. The Catholic Church characteristics would have gone unnoticed if there was no introduction of the new technology, the printing press a few decades earlier. This challenge was provocative to the church, and German printers saw it as a hot item, and they sent 95 Theses into type, print and reproduced them. When they saw how fast they were selling they made more copies, and it went viral.
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. The overall thrust of the document was nonetheless quite provocative. The first two of the theses contained Luther’s central idea, that God intended believers to seek repentance and that faith alone, and not deeds, would lead to salvation. The other 93 theses, a number of them directly criticizing the practice of indulgences, supported these first two.I’ve attempted to read through the 95 theses several times, and never gotten past #20 without my eyes blurring and having to start just skimming them. I think the reason is because of the archaic and verbose language. A pastor friend of mine posted this on his church daily e-news letter, and I find it much easier to understand. A person I had review it commented that it’s the first time he’s actually gotten through all 95 as well.The 95 Theses were quickly distributed throughout Germany and then made their way to Rome. In 1518, Luther was summoned to Augsburg, a city in southern Germany, to defend his opinions before an imperial diet (assembly). A debate lasting three days between Luther and Cardinal Thomas Cajetan produced no agreement. Cajetan defended the church’s use of indulgences, but Luther refused to recant and returned to Wittenberg.Martin Luther was drawn and painted entirely in Photoshop. The text of the 95 Theses was taken from a translation () and done in Illustrator before being brought into Photoshop. The background was just a texture I found online.Feel free to comment on how useful you think this is, and/or your own experiences with reading through the 95 theses. Of course also post if you find any errors in it that would invalidate its publication to more of our laity.Luther’s frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 Theses, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into German and distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, and efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune. He refused to keep silent, however, and in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church. That same year, Luther again refused to recant his writings before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany, who issued the famous Edict of Worms declaring Luther an outlaw and a heretic and giving permission for anyone to kill him without consequence. Protected by Prince Frederick, Luther began working on a German translation of the Bible, a task that took 10 years to complete.I’ve attempted to read through the 95 theses several times, and never gotten past #20 without my eyes blurring and having to start just skimming them. I think the reason is because of the archaic and verbose language.CPH used to print a little booklet on the 95 Theses for .95 cents. It is now out of print and apparently they have no plans to make it available except through the purchase of a book that contains it. I have a copy of the CPH booklet around here someplace and I will be looking to make a comparison. CPH would not give me permission to scan the booklet and use it as a handout at one of our seminars.Here’s another listing of the 95 Theses that seems to be a more up-to-date translation rather than a paraphrase. As I’m not a Latin scholar, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the translation: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. The overall thrust of the document was nonetheless quite provocative. The first two of the theses contained Luther’s central idea, that God intended believers to seek repentance and that faith alone, and not deeds, would lead to salvation. The other 93 theses, a number of them directly criticizing the practice of indulgences, supported these first two.