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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Reformation Sunday

Brief summary and reflection on the 95 Theses of Martin Luther:

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light (emphasis added), the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther...

(Establishes what true repentance is)

(Establishes the limits of the Pope’s power and will, i.e., as vicar of Christ)

(Canons of Church apply only to the living, cannot extend into purgatory)

(Indulgences must not go beyond the right and just powers of the Pope, which is to declare what God has done, so that they deceive the people)

(The powers of clergy lie in intercession, which is ultimately dependent upon the will of God)

(The certainty of contrition or salvation lies outside of men themselves and with God alone)

(No man is better than another; all benefits of Christ are granted by God alone)

(The indulgent nature of indulgences most often renders them contrary to true repentance; i.e. dulls the conscience)

(Only a very few can rightly distinguish between indulgence(s) and true contrition)

(Service and mercy are above indulgences; works of love improve a man but indulgences promote manipulative behavior)

(A person’s money is better spent than on many indulgences)

(St. Peter’s, or money spent on the Church, is worth less than prayers for the Pope himself or the very flesh and bone of the people)

(Indulgences should not have too great an importance attached to them, especially compared to the Word and the Gospel.)

(Indulgences should not be a matter reserved merely for the clergy, but the people ought to be privy to the accounts as well.)

(The first shall be last, and the last, first)

(The gospel fishes for men, but indulgences fish for wealth)

(Indulgences have their rightful place; i.e., there is apostolic precedent to preaching pardon in Christ)

(To assert that the Pope has power to remit sin is to blaspheme the Pope himself)

(The Pope’s graces come from God via spiritual gifting)

(If grace is free to all, then it ought not be limited to those who purchase indulgences)

(Let’s not make money off of prayers for the dead – they’re past the point of intercession)

(Why doesn’t the Pope use his own wealth, which is substantial, to build St. Peter’s?)

(Remittance of sin by the Pope is redundant)

(These questions are serious and deserve the attention of and reply from the Pope)

Luther illustrated the spiritual, material, and psychological truths behind abuses of the practice of buying and selling indulgences. His assumption was that the Pope would want to know of these abuses in order to right them.* Luther was not out to pick a fight or to have his own way...his purpose was to uphold the truth, for the cause of Christ.

*or, I should say, Luther was allowing the Pope this, in the spirit of I Corinthians 13; whether he personally had confidence in the Pope's character is a different matter. (added 11/2/05)


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