Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses and the Fervor They Caused
Once the people read Luther’s 95 theses they pushed for a change he hadn’t intended
Though most Protestants know of Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses, few have ever read them. Here’s why:
First written in Latin and then translated into German, neither of these versions of Luther’s ninety-five theses helps us as English-speaking readers. Several English translations exist, but their formal language, complex sentence structure, and unfamiliar terms make them hard to understand. The fact that Martin wrote his original document five hundred years ago in another culture further complicates our ability to understand them today.
So difficult to comprehend, few people invest the time to wade through Martin’s ninety-five points of contention. And most who try give up after the first few.
In considering Luther’s ninety-five points of debate, it’s important to remember that they don’t stand alone, with many building upon prior items. If some of his theses seem contradictory, it may be because there exists a fine line of distinction between what Martin opposed and what he approved or that we fail to grasp his subtle nuances.
When Luther’s followers distributed printed copies of his ninety-five theses, they essentially went viral and sparked a religious rebellion. Many mark this as the birth of the Protestant Reformation.On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther stepped forward to post his ninety-five theses. Click To Tweet
However, aside from Martin Luther, many notable theologians and ministers breathed life into this movement, too. They helped advance the cause, of which Luther played a part. These include John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli, along with William Tyndale, Jan Hus, Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, John Knox, and George Wishart, among others. Some were peers, some preceded Luther, and others followed him, yet their common goal was reform.
In determining a date for the onset of the Protestant Reformation, the most accessible one is October 31, 1517, the day Martin Luther stepped forward to post his ninety-five theses. As such, many assign this date as the beginning of the Reformation, and Luther, the man behind the list, as its chief advocate.
Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book 95 Tweets: Celebrating Martin Luther in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.