Holy Communion Celebrated Every Sunday at Both Services

1900 Wales Rd NE, Massillon. Ohio 44646

Church Office: 330-837-4645

"One in the Spirit: United in Christ and with Each Other"

CHURCH OFFICE HOURS ARE MONDAY THRU FRIDAY - 9AM TO NOON

Worship Services:8:00 am & 10:30 am       Sunday School and Bible Classes: 9:15 am 

St John Lutheran Church

Christ Centered Worship and Education


95 Theses Martin Luther nailed on the church door at Wittenburg.
OCTOBER 31, 1517
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at
Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred
Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are
unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.
In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent" ( Matthew 4:17 ), he willed the entire life of
believers to be one of repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and
satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces
various outward mortification of the flesh.
4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our
entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or
that of the canons.
6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or,
to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases
were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him
submissive to the vicar, the priest.
8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing
should be imposed on the dying.
9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes
exception of the article of death and of necessity.
10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for
purgatory.
11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the
bishops slept ( Matthew 13:25 ).
12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true
contrition.
13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are
concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the
smaller the love, the greater the fear.
15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of
purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are
outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their
own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words "plenary remission of all penalties," does not actually
mean "all penalties," but only those imposed by himself.
21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and
saved by papal indulgences.
22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law,
they should have paid in this life.
23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted
only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise
of release from penalty.
25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop
or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys,
which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the
soul flies out of purgatory.
28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when
the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St.
Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is
exceedingly rare.
32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will
be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable
gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction
established by man.
35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of
purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence
letters.
37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and
this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have
said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the
people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences,
however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them -- at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are
preferable to other good works of love.
42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any
way be compared with works of mercy.
43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than
he who buys indulgences.
44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become
better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for
indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God's wrath.
46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for
their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout
prayer more than their money.
49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them,
but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would
rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his
sheep.
51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though
he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole
money.
52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the
pope, were to offer his soul as security.
53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in
some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is
devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
55. It is certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are
celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest
thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently
discussed or known among the people of Christ.
57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not
distribute them freely but only gather them.
58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace
for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according
to the usage of the word in his own time.
60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that
treasure.
61. For it is clear that the pope's power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases
reserved by himself.
62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last ( Matthew 20:16 ).
64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be
first.
65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be
such only insofar as they promote gain.
68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and
the piety of the cross.
69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams
instead of what the pope has commissioned.
71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of
indulgences.
74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm
to holy love and truth.
75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the
impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as
guilt is concerned.
77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St.
Peter and the pope.
78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his
disposal, that is, the gospel,spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written, 1 Corinthians 12:28 ).
79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers
is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to
answer for this.
81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence
which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
82. Such as: "Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the
souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to
build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
83. Again, "Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or
permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
84. Again, "What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man
who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather,
because of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love's sake?"
85. Again, "Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through
disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?"
86. Again, "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus,
build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?"
87. Again, "What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full
remission and blessings?"
88. Again, "What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these
remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?"
89. "Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he
suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?"
90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving
reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians
unhappy.
91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these
doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no
peace! ( Jeremiah 6:14 )
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and
hell.
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false
security of peace ( Acts 14:22 ).

IN COMEMORATION OF THE 500th ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION 2017