About the Book
Author: Martin Luther
Genre: Non-Fiction, Historical Theology
Release Date: August 8, 2017
In 1517, an unknown Augustinian monk, informed by his growing belief that salvation is by faith alone, published and distributed a stark criticism of papal abuses in the Catholic Church. In doing so, Martin Luther lit the spark for what would become the Protestant Reformation.
What became known as the “95 Theses” was a series of statements expressing concern with corruption within the church, primarily the selling of “indulgences” to the people as a means of releasing them from acts of penitence.
For the five hundredth anniversary of Luther’s revolutionary writing, This volume combines each thesis with an excerpt from one of his later works to provide a convenient way to understand the ideas and concepts that became the seeds of the Protestant Reformation.
Print out a fun Luther mask here.
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My Review: I am so glad that I had the opportunity to dig into this book. As a Protestant, I had a working knowledge of Martin Luther and his theses. But 95: The Ideas that Birthed the Reformation was just what I needed to better understand Luther, the issues he had, the reasons for the Reformation, and why a Protestant is a Protestant.
Each chapter covers a specific thesis, and then is followed up by more of Luther’s writing that is relevant to said thesis. It took me a few chapters to get into the swing of this format, as there wasn’t a huge distinction made between where the thesis ended and the later works began. But once I figured it out, it was easy for me to pick out the thesis and then enjoy diving into the other writings for more insight and clarification. There is no commentary in the book; meaning it contains only Luther’s writings alone. While I always love a good commentary (#BibleNerd) I actually preferred having only Martin Luther’s words in front of me, as it gave me a better understanding of why he felt he needed to stand up to the church leaders of the time.
A recommended, applicable read for Christians today.
About the Author
Martin Luther (1483–1546) was a German monk, priest, professor of theology, and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the sale of indulgences, the church’s practice of selling pieces of paper that guaranteed freedom from God’s punishment for sin. In 1517, Luther directly confronted this and other papal abuses by publishing his “95 Theses.” In 1534, Luther published a complete translation of the Bible into German.
Guest Post from Whitaker House Publishing
In 1517, a thriving new industry was sweeping northern Germany. Begun a few centuries earlier, its reappearance in the 16th century was perhaps the cleverest abuse of church power to date. Church officials strapped for cash decided to offer remission from the punishment for sins, or “indulgence,” to German believers in return for a commensurate amount of money. The slick church salesmanship of indulgences incensed one young priest, who believed that faithful Christians were being manipulated and the Word of God misinterpreted. He wrote a pamphlet comprised of 95 claims that he hoped would inspire scholarly debate. Titled Disputation of Dr. Martin Luther Concerning Penitence and Indulgences, it went down in history as “The 95 Theses.”
Most historians believe that Martin Luther did not intend to spark a public debate. It was written in Latin, the language of scholars, and pinned to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church which served as a “bulletin board” of sorts, where Luther knew fellow theologians would see it and perhaps engage in a discussion on the topic.
Luther’s pamphlet, however, was not another piece of paper flapping in the wind. Someone translated into German, and distributed it to the public with the help of a recent invention—the printing press. Luther tried to retrieve his work, but the damage was done. Within weeks, the debate that began in Wittenberg spread throughout Germany, and within months, all of Europe.
Five hundred years later, Whitaker House presents each of Luther’s 95 Theses paired with an excerpt from his many writings. Not every excerpt directly relates to the accompanying thesis, but we endeavored to select passages in which Luther was expounding on the same subject. Where further explanation was thought necessary to contextualize his words, a footnote is included. We hope you find 95: The Ideas That Changed the World an accessible and fascinating look into the ideas of this groundbreaking priest who stood up for God’s Word, the grace of the gospel—and made history.
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A Greater Yes, November 29
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Texas Book-aholic, December 2
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A Baker’s Perspective, December 5
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 6
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