The strokes that nailed Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses to the local church door marked a defining moment in history. It was one of the greatest turning points in Western Civilization, and they struck a blow at the Roman Church, causing the much needed Reformation.
Martin Luther’s Theses were aimed at errors in the Roman Church’s view of indulgences. The Roman Church believed that acts of piety or charity or a donation to the church could reduce or even remove the eternal punishment for sin. Such sayings as “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory into heaven springs” were fiercely objected to by Luther, who believed that only God can forgive sins (Mathew 9:6, Colossians 1:14). If forgiveness of sins can only be obtained through the blood of Jesus, than a coin cannot do so, and it is blasphemy against God to declare that that could be the case.
The Theses also strikes at the pope. Luther states in Thesis 86, “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?” A similar point can be made like this; if the pope has the keys of heaven and hell, why doesn’t he let everybody into heaven? Would that not be a Christian thing to do? Would not he have the “merit” necessary to do so? Is he not “God on this earth”?