October 31, 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses—the start of the Protestant Reformation! In the sixteenth century, the sale of indulgences by the church had become common practice.
People believed that buying an indulgence could supplement the sacrament of penance and assure them a right standing before God. Martin Luther, a German priest and professor of theology at Wittenberg, came to believe otherwise. His list of propositions for debate within the church on the efficacy of indulgences—known as “Luther’s 95 Theses”—set off a firestorm of debate.
Further, he believed if people actually read the Bible in their own language, they could read the truth for themselves. He was excommunicated. When ordered to recant, he refused: “My conscience is bound in the word of God. I cannot and will not recant!”