Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2
The book of Ecclesiastes condemns, not what God has created, but rather people’s evil tendencies and desires. We aren’t satisfied with what God created and gave us to use. So we concern ourselves with accumulating more possessions and achieving more fame as if we were going to live on this earth forever. We become bored with what we currently have, then we strive for more things, and then strive for ever more. Depriving ourselves of what we presently have because we’re desperately concerned about acquiring more for the future is shameful and pointless.
These twisted tendencies and human striving are what the author is condemning in this book, not the things themselves. Later, in Ecclesiastes 5:18, the author says that nothing is better for people than being happy and making their lives pleasant by eating, drinking, and finding joy in their work. The author would be contracting himself if he condemned these same things in this passage. Instead, he’s only condemning the misuse of these things, which comes from having a wrong attitude.
Some foolish people haven’t understood this very well and have taught nonsensical ideas about hating the world and avoiding anything to do with it. But living alone or isolating ourselves from others doesn’t show the proper contempt for the world. Neither does throwing money away or refusing to touch it show the proper contempt for money. Those who live surrounded by what the world has to offer and yet don’t become attached to these things are the ones who display the proper attitude.
95 Theses are reproduced in their entirety, with an introduction and explanatory notes to aid readers in discerning the significance of Luther’s call to reformation.
The Ninety-Five Theses is a text that everyone knows, most refer to, but few actually read, writes Stephen Nichols. Nevertheless, it is such a crucial text that it deserves to be read widely. Toward that end, Nichols has prepared this edition with an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, and several illustrations. Martin Luther has left a legacy that continues to enrich the church through his writings. . ., writes Nichols. All of this may be traced back to the last day in October 1517 and the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door.