Luther Essay, Research Paper

On a mission to Rome in 1510–11 he was appalled by the corruption

he found there. Money was greatly needed at the time for the rebuilding of

St. Peter’s, and papal emissaries sought everywhere to raise funds by the

sale of indulgences. The system was grossly abused, and Luther’s

indignation at the shameless traffic, carried on in particular by the

Dominican Johann Tetzel, became irrepressible. As professor of biblical

exegesis at Wittenberg (1512–46), he began to preach the doctrine of

salvation by faith rather than works; and on 31 October 1517 drew up a

list of 95 theses on indulgences denying the pope any right to forgive

sins, and nailed them on the church door at Wittenberg. Tetzel retreated

from Saxony to Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, where he published a set of counter-

theses and burnt Luther’s. The Wittenberg students retaliated by burning

Tetzel’s, and in 1518 Luther was joined in his views by Melanchthon.

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