the founder of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide said of the Catholic church
Martin Luther, the father
of the Reformation was himself a Catholic celibate priest ordained to the priesthood in 1507, administering the Catholic sacraments
and acknowledging Mary as the 'Mother of God'. With the posting of his '95 theses' in 1517 (after 10 years of practicing Catholic
priesthood) he had in fact wanted only to Reform or clean the Catholic church from its corrupt practices, as his 95 Theses
shows. The clauses from his 95 theses clearly show that he acknowledged the Catholic church as being the true church, the
dignity of the Chair of Peter, the place of the Pope as Peter’s successor and the Pope as being guided by the Holy Spirit.
He also acknowledged the Catholic church’s claim of being the true church. Excerpts from the 95 Theses he posted at
the Castle church door;
The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties
beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law.
6. The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm
it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases
to his discretion. Except for these cases, the guilt remains
9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the pope,
to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always
cease to apply at death, or in
any hard case.
20. Therefore the pope, in speaking of the plenary Remission of all
penalties, does not mean
"all" in the strict sense, but only those
26. The pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power
of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them).
38. Yet the pope's remission and dispensation are in no way
to be despised, for, as already said,
they proclaim the
41. Papal indulgences should only be
preached with caution, lest people
gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other
good works: those of love.
50. Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the
indulgence-preachers, he would rather
the church of St. Peter
were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of
Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity
should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter,
and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.
53. Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.
69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound,
must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all
they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach
their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned.
the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences.
74. It is much more in keeping with his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext
of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth.
75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much
power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God.
We assert the contrary, and say that the pope's pardonsare not able
to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned.
When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now pope, could grant a greater
grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it
learned men to guard the respect due to the pope against false
accusations, or at least from
the keen criticisms of the laity.
Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the
church if the pope
were to bestow these remissionsand dispensations, not once, as now,
but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever.
questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity.
To suppress them by force alone, and
not to refute them by giving
reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their
enemies, and to make Christian people
While maintaining his
new (and heretical) views on Indulgences and Penance, Luther claims “that the Roman Church has always maintained
the true faith, and that it is necessary for all Christians to be in unity of faith with her.” (Dr. Ludwig
Pastor, History of the Popes, Vol. 7, p. 366.) That means that, even after having been summoned to Rome to answer
for his new ideas, Luther professes that the Roman Church (the Roman Catholic Church) has the true faith.
Despite his commitment to his
new ideas, Luther declared the following at one of these interviews: “The notary read out a declaration on behalf of
Luther, that as far as he could remember he [Luther] had never taught anything against Holy Scripture, the doctrines of
the Church, the Papal decretals [decrees of the popes], or sound reason. But as he was a man subject to error, he submitted
himself to the decisions of the Holy Church and to all who knew better than he did.” (Dr. Ludwig Pastor, History
of the Popes, Vol. 7, p. 373.)
Not even once do we see Luther mention of another invisible church or another true church.
Once again, we see that Luther
claims fidelity to papal teaching and to all of Catholic doctrine. He also appeals specifically to the pope, and expresses
his willingness to retract if the pope decided against him (Ibid., pp. 375, 377).
Not long after his meetings
with the Pope’s legate, in November of 1518, Luther’s views underwent another significant development. He came
to the conclusion that the pope, to whose decrees he had just claimed submission, is the antichrist. He writes: “I send
you my trifling work that you may see whether I am not right in supposing that, according to Paul, the real Antichrist holds
sway over the Roman court.” (De Wette, I., 192; Enders I., 317; Pastor, Vol. 7, pp. 378-379.) Numerous utterances from
this time show that Luther had “fully formulated his proposition that the pope was antichrist.”
Yet, at this very time that
he was calling the pope “the Antichrist,” Luther appealed to a general council from the pope (Luther’s
works, Weimar ed., II., 36 seq.). In other words, Luther considered the decisions of general councils to be definitive and
authoritative. and even when he first called the pope the Antichrist and was appealing to a general council.
Luther’s other references
to the Pope as the antichrist;
are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the
evil to its source, and bathe their heads in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the
Pope, who is the devil in disguise." [Martin Luther, Riffel, Kirchengeschichte]
"Jews and papists are ungodly wretches; they are two stockings made of one piece of
cloth." [Martin Luther, Table Talk]
is the pope and the Turk [Muslim]together. A beast full of life must have a body and soul. The spirit or soul of Antichrist
is the pope, his flesh or body the Turk." [Martin Luther, Table Talk]
Next >> Did
Luther or any other have the
authority from the Lord or His Church