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In the Beginning Was the WordThe Bible in American Public Life, 1492–1783$
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Mark A. Noll

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190263980

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190263980.001.0001

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Protestant Beginnings

Protestant Beginnings

Chapter:
(p.30) 1 Protestant Beginnings
Source:
In the Beginning Was the Word
Author(s):

Mark A. Noll

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190263980.003.0003

This chapter discusses Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses, and explains how it spurred the Protestant Reformation. In the sixteenth century, Roman Catholics believed that the suffering of departed Christians in purgatory could be reduced if a living person gave the church a luxurious appropriation. Luther objected to practices authorized by the church in relaxing penalties associated with penance, arguing that the theology underlying it meant spiritual destruction. Luther began his argument in Thesis One and Two, quoting chapter 4 of the book of Matthew where Jesus preached repentance, to contend that the chapter was not relevant to ‘the sacrament of penance’ of Roman Catholics. When enterprising printers translated Luther's thesis and marketed it aggressively as an exposé, people responded with rage and a desire for reformation.

Keywords:   Martin Luther, Ninety-Five Theses, Protestant Reformation, Christians, Roman Catholics, sacrament, penance

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