Martin Luther: Ninety-five Theses

(1517)

Audience

The immediate audience for Luther's Ninety-five Theses included members of the local academic and ecclesiastical community. The document was also directed at preachers and others who supported the sale of indulgences. The burden of Luther's concern was for the Christian laity, but he was also concerned for the purity of the theology and practice of the church. As word of the theses spread, knowledge of them extended to all orders of society, especially in northern Europe. For many reformers, including the French theologian John Calvin (who gave his name to Calvinism and is regarded as a spiritual force behind Presbyterianism), the German reformer Martin Bucer, and the French reformer Guillaume Farel, Luther's teachings, expressed in part in the Ninety-five Theses, gave them reasons for pressing ahead with ecclesiastical reform.

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Luther nails his theses to the door of the All Saints' Church in Wittenburg. (Library of Congress)

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