95 Theses: 67-78

“Readers who picture Luther’s theology as being predominantly obscure and abstruse have a surprise coming. While he gave generations to come plenty to read…he had many ways to express his thought.
For example, he liked pictures and stories. He came to the publishing scene when movable type was new, books had become more easily available, and some of the major artists of the day were drawn to his gospel preaching. He would see even his earliest printed books brightened with woodcuts, often of biblical scenes. Most significant among these is his seal.” (October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World, p.28)

“The Catholicism of Luther’s day certainly saw itself as ‘universal,’ and documents published in the days of Columbus and Luther claimed the whole world for Catholic power and sovereignty. But in the eyes of Luther and other critics, the ‘catholic’ or ‘whole’ or ‘holistic’ concepts of the faith were being narrowed by practices, definitions, and sovereign or colonial edicts and subsequent corollary practices. The longer career of Luther and the developments of the Catholic Church under the papacy as it faced modernity gave many evidences of further narrowing or fragmenting.” (ibid, p.36)

Regarding Theses 75, 77, and 79: “Luther attributes the statements…directly to Johann Tetzel, who categorically denied ever saying these things.” (The Roots of Reform, p.43)

67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.

68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.

70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.

71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.

72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.

73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.

74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.

75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.

76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.

77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.

78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])

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