“Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and by divine grace only, [Martin] Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences. Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.”[i]
It is highly doubtful that Martin Luther could have ever, in his wildest dreams, imagine the far-reaching implications of his humble actions on October 31, 1517. Rather, he was seeking to stimulate academic discussion within Catholic circles on the validity of indulgences, by showing the baselessness and crass selfishness of the practice. Furthermore, Luther contended that the sale of indulgences was patently unbiblical, being defensible by neither reason nor, as he said in Thesis #18, Holy Writ. Thus, “The reformers [Martin Luther and his allies] considered Sola Scriptura to be the very basis of the Reform movement.”[ii]
So in our study this morning, we will examine the substantial differences between evangelicalism (or more broadly, Protestantism) and Catholicism. While there are theological differences of a variety of sorts, they all may be fairly traced back to the foundation- Sola Scriptura.