The Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences [a] is a list of propositions for an academic disputation written in by Martin Luther , professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg , Germany. Retrospectively considered to signal the birth of Protestantism , this document advances Luther's positions against what he saw as the abuse of the practice of clergy selling plenary indulgences , which were certificates believed to reduce the temporal punishment in purgatory for sins committed by the purchasers or their loved ones. In the Theses , Luther claimed that the repentance required by Christ in order for sins to be forgiven involves only inner contrition, and that sacramental confession is unnecessary. He argued that indulgences led Christians to avoid true repentance and sorrow for sin, believing that they could forgo it by obtaining an indulgence. These indulgences, according to Luther, discouraged Christians from giving to the poor and performing other acts of mercy, which he attributed to a belief that indulgence certificates were more spiritually valuable despite the fact that indulgences were granted for such actions. Though Luther claimed that his positions on indulgences accorded with those of the Pope , the Theses challenge a 14th-century papal bull stating that the pope could use the treasury of merit and the good deeds of past saints to forgive temporal punishment for sins.
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Last Updated: March 20, References Approved. This article was co-authored by Jake Adams. With over 11 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is also the CEO of Simplifi EDU, an online tutoring service aimed at providing clients with access to a network of excellent California-based tutors. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 2,, times.