Generosity In Luther's The Ninety-Five Theses

Great Essays
Spanning continents, centuries, and cultures, generosity, as defined by the Oxford Online English Dictionary, is “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish; a willingness to ive money and other valuable things to others.” (Oxford Online Dictionary). Just as value may vary depending on context, generosity may be perceived in many different forms; it can be as simple as sharing a piece of food with a friend to donation large sums of monetary resources to the public. “The Ninety-Five Theses,” written by Doctor Martin Luther, illustrates the friar’s blatant protest against the Catholic Church, and its corrupted practices, through contrasting instructions that Luther deemed aligned with the Bible. The Prince, written by Niccolo …show more content…
Luther states, “Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.” (“Ninety-Five Theses” Thesis 45) Conversely, Luther also states, “Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.” (“Ninety-Five Theses” Thesis 44) Luther asserts both the consequences of being generous and denying generosity to those in need. According to Luther, through works of love and expressed generosity, one not only develops into a better person and is also saved from the wrath of God; conversely one inherits the wrath of God by actively denying generosity to those in need. Based on his faith, Luther’s view on generosity, according to its consequences, is beneficial for all when selflessly applied and spiritually condemning when selfishly withheld. Machiavelli, with his combined expertise in history and politics, developed different consequences of generosity, as they mirrored his own perception of liberality, exemplified in the provided text:
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It is also true that some aspects of their view on generosity may seem similar. Nevertheless, evidence from the text, combined with an analysis of the authors’ backgrounds suggest that the two men shared widely different views on the aforementioned virtue when examined side by side in regards to their perceived intents, purposes, and consequences of generosity. Expressed in his work, Machiavelli, a politician who believed in his methods of establishing and maintaining authority through the restraint of generosity, saw self-less generosity as detrimental to a a prince and dismissed it in favor of selfish parsimony. Contrastingly, Luther, a friar who placed his faith in God above all else and sought others to follow faith through his expression of generosity, viewed self-less generosity as beneficial, as well as rewarding, to all; encouraging people to be generous and condemning parsimonious behavior. After careful consideration, investigation, illustration, and analysis of the two views expressed in both texts, this essay concludes that the two authors did not share a similar view on generosity but rather hold widely different, if not completely opposing views on the virtue as one view encourages generosity while the other view comprehensively condemns

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