In a time where religion was life and blasphemy meant an eternity in hell, there were obviously few who spoke against the church. When Martin Luther published his 95 Theses, that was exactly what he did, though it did not start as that. It first began with criticism of the system. He meant to bring to light the issues of the economy and way it was running, not necessarily the faith itself. It seemed though that the more people became outraged at this, and the more people were sent to stop him, the deeper he went into the actual religion. It was amazing to see how much someone can change something without even meaning to. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses completely reshaped Europe’s religious world when all he meant to do was simply criticize. The church controlled everything such as money, and set the expected social norms. His 95 Thesis obviously played a large role in all he did, and was the very reason that his criticisms were spread so rapidly. One of the things that made this Thesis unique was the way he wrote. He wrote in a powerful, “earthy” sort of way (20:40) that anyone of any class could understand. This was important because, obviously the vast majority of his readers were peasants. They were able to better relate to his blunt, vivid, sarcastic way of writing, or the pictures he provided. His writing was more powerful than he realized, though. Many of the strong words he used (“smite, blow, etc.) were misinterpreted and taken literally and there was violence and bloodshed (44:30). It is ironic seeing as how different types of interpretation are what lead up to this religious reform. For example, he turned to the bible and read through the sacraments. According to his reading, he believed that there were really only two sacraments and that the other five were “invention of the church” (23:21). By seeing these new interpretations and these criticisms, people were beginning to learn that they could stand up to the church and make their own views and beliefs known. This enraged the Pope and he gave him the bull of excommunication (27:00) which Luther simply tossed into a bonfire. This was the ultimate symbol of his belief in himself and what he taught, because in a sense, he was saying “I don’t care if it means I am going to hell. I will continue to spread my opinions.” Luther also translated the bible into German (40:30) so that anyone could have access to the word of god, something that had not been done before. People were beginning to follow Luther and mimic Luther’s beliefs more and more. Many priests and monks left the church to get married (41:15), and people were beginning to take over church run schools. Luther was one of the first to teach that one has the ability to believe freely when it came to religion. He believed that it should be just about your relationship with your soul and with god. Without Luther or his 95 Theses, the way would have never been paved for the continuation of progressing in religious and social freedom.
Word Count: 526 By: Mary Ann Meussling
An interesting interpretation of Luther today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt5AJr0wls0