In the preceding months Albert, Archbishop of Mainz had authorized Dominican Friar Johann Tetzel to sell indulgences (a paper declaring that the deceased person for whom it had been purchased had received total forgiveness of sins and therefore a release from Purgatory) in order to finance the construction of St. Peter,s basilica. Tetzel is alleged to have declared "as soon as the coin in the coffer clings, the soul from Purgatory springs".
At the same time, Luther had been engaged in intensive study of the scriptures in search of his own spiritual peace. He found tremendous relief in "the just shall live by faith". This principle of justification by faith became the positive argument underlying the ninety-five theses.
Because the theses were a direct challenge to the Papacy--and to the economic system enriching the Papal treasury--the reaction was swift and severe. The Pope initiated proceedings to have Luther tried for heresy; proceedings that very likely would have led to his execution. Luther--with the support of the Wittenberg faculty--appealed to elector Frederick III of Saxony for protection.
Although Luther did not intend to begin a separate Church, such was the unavoidable consequence of his challenge. By 1530 Germany was divided between communities loyal to the Pope and those following the reforms initiated by Luther.
-Rev. J. Thomas Shelley
In celebration of Reformation Day, I would challenge you to rent (or buy) the Martin Luther Hollywood movies from either 2003 or 1953. You will not only be entertained, you will be educated and motivated in your Christian walk as well.