Monday, 14 August 2017

LETTER TO POPE LEO X, ACCOMPANYING THE “RESOLUTIONS” TO THE XCV THESES, 1518

In our previous post we have noted that Luther had sent a copy of the 95 Theses with an accompanying letter to Albert of Mainz on the same day he purportedly posted the same Theses on the doors of Castle Church. He had not expected that his action would cause such a furore across Christendom – but it did! So much so, he was not only taken by surprise, but taken aback by the increasing backlash to himself.

This backlash is partly described in a letter he wrote to Pope Leo X, some time in 1518, less than a year after he posted the 95 Theses. In the letter, together with which he attached his 95 Theses, Luther seeks not so much to defend himself as to inform the Pope of his original intention in posting the 95 Theses and to clarify that intention. This was made necessary because (1) his enemies had accused him as a heretic, (2) others have wanted to know his intention; and (3) he was seeking the Pope’s understanding and protection.

So why did he post the 95 Theses? It was for the purpose of “disputation” – a debate among scholars within the university (“at our University and for our University only”). Or as Luther put it, “inviting only the more learned to dispute with me”. It was never his intention to make the Theses public largely because Luther was not seeking to undermine the Pope nor the Church. Though a “servant of Christ”, Luther also saw himself as a servant of the Pope and of the Church. For that reason, he was willing to cast himself, in this matter, at the mercy of the Pope to “quicken, kill, call, recall, approve, reprove, as you will.” If the Pope felt Luther was deserving of death, Luther declared, “I shall not refuse to die.”

Not to be overlooked is Luther’s clarification that the 95 Theses were “not doctrines or dogmas”. Rather they were “a set of theses”, crafted for the purpose of debate among scholars. Thus the “obscure and enigmatic” language! This clarification was crucial as Luther did not wish to undermine the sole authority of the Pope or the Church to formulate doctrines and dogmas for the Church. He didn’t think in any way that he was in a position to do so “especially since I am unlearned, dull of brain, empty of scholarship.”

Thus this letter, as with his earlier letter to Albert of Mainz, helps to further confirm Luther’s original intention in posting the 95 Theses. It also explains to an extent why Luther was himself surprised by the furore they caused, and how he continued to view himself as a member of the Catholic Church despite it. It was never his intention to usurp the authority of the Pope or the Church, or to overthrow them. The last thing he wanted was to “split” the Church.

You may read this letter below.

[Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds., Works of Martin Luther, (Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Volume 1, pp 44-48]

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LETTER TO POPE LEO X, ACCOMPANYING
THE "RESOLUTIONS" TO THE XCV THESES
1518
To the
Most Blessed Father,
LEO X.
Martin Luther,
Augustinian Friar,
wisheth everlasting welfare.

I have heard evil reports about myself, most blessed Father, by which I know that certain friends have put my name in very bad odor with you and yours, saying that I have attempted to belittle the power of the keys and of the Supreme Pontiff. Therefore I am accused of heresy, apostasy, and perfidy, and am called by six hundred other names of ignominy. My ears shudder and my eyes are astounded. But the one thing in which I put my confidence remains unshaken -- my clear and quiet conscience. Moreover, what I hear is nothing new. With such like decorations I have been adorned in my own country by those same honorable and truthful men, i.e., by the men whose own conscience convicts them of wrongdoing, and who are trying to put their own monstrous doings off on me, and to glorify their own shame by bringing shame to me. But you will deign, blessed Father, to hear the true case from me, though I am but an uncouth child.

It is not long ago that the preaching of the Jubilee indulgences was begun in our country, and matters went so far that the preachers of indulgences, thinking that the protection of your name made anything permissible, ventured openly to teach the most impious and heretical doctrines, which threatened to make the power of the Church a scandal and a laughing-stock, as if the decretals De abusionibus quaestorum did not apply to them.

Not content with spreading this poison of theirs by word of mouth, they published tracts and scattered them among the people. In these books -- to say nothing of the insatiable and unheard of avarice of which almost every letter in them vilely smells -- they laid down those same impious and heretical doctrines, and laid them down in such wise that confessors were bound by their oath to be faithful and insistent in urging them upon the people. I speak the truth, and none of them can hide himself from the heat thereof. The tracts are extant and they cannot disown them. These teachings were so successfully carried on, and the people, with their false hopes, were sucked so dry that, as the Prophet says, “they plucked their flesh from off their bones”; but they themselves meanwhile were fed most pleasantly on the fat of the land.

There was just one means which they used to quiet opposition, to wit, the protection of your name, the threat of burning at the stake, and the disgrace of the name “heretic”. It is incredible how ready they are to threaten, even, at times, when they perceive that it is only their own mere silly opinions which are contradicted. As though this were to quiet opposition, and not rather to arouse schisms and seditions by sheer tyranny!

None the less, however, stories about the avarice of the priests were bruited in the taverns, and evil was spoken of the power of the keys and of the Supreme Pontiff, and as evidence of this, I could cite the common talk of this whole land. I truly confess that I was on fire with zeal for Christ, as I thought, or with the heat of youth, if you prefer to have it so; and yet I saw that it was not in place for me to make any decrees or to do anything in these matters. Therefore I privately admonished some of the prelates of the Church. By some of them I was kindly received, to others I seemed ridiculous, to still others something worse; for the terror of your name and the threat of Church censures prevailed. At last, since I could do nothing else, it seemed good that I should offer at least a gentle resistance to them, i.e., question and discuss their teachings. Therefore I published a set of theses, inviting only the more learned to dispute with me if they wished; as should be evident, even to my adversaries, from the Preface to the Disputation.

Lo, this is the fire with which they complain that all the world is now ablaze! Perhaps it is because they are indignant that I, who by your own apostolic authority am a Master of Theology, have the right to conduct public disputations, according to the custom of all the Universities and of the whole Church, not only about indulgences, but also about God's power and remission and mercy, which are incomparably greater subjects. I am not much moved, however, by the fact that they envy me the privilege granted me by the power of your Holiness, since I am unwillingly compelled to yield to them in things of far greater moment, viz., when they mix the dreams of Aristotle with theological matters, and conduct nonsensical disputations about the majesty of God, beyond and against the privilege granted them.

It is a miracle to me by what fate it has come about that this single Disputation of mine should, more than any other, of mine or of any of the teachers, have gone out into very nearly the whole land. It was made public at our University and for our University only, and it was made public in such wise that I cannot believe it has become known to all men. For it is a set of theses, not doctrines or dogmas, and they are put, according to custom, in an obscure and enigmatic way. Otherwise, if I had been able to foresee what was coming, I should have taken care, for my part, that they would be easier to understand.

Now what shall I do? I cannot recant them; and yet I see that marvelous enmity is inflamed against me because of their dissemination. It is unwillingly that I incur the public and perilous and various judgment of men, especially since I am unlearned, dull of brain, empty of scholarship; and that too in this brilliant age of ours, which by its achievements in letters and learning can force even Cicero into the corner, though he was no base follower of the public light. But necessity compels me to be the goose that squawks among the swans.

And so, to soften my enemies and to fulfil the desires of many, I herewith send forth these trifling explanations of my Disputation; I send them forth in order, too, that I may be more safe under the defense of your name and the shadow of your protection. In them all may see, who will, how purely and simply I have sought after and cherished the power of the Church and reverence for the keys; and, at the same time, how unjustly and falsely my adversaries have befouled me with so many names. For if I had been such a one as they wish to make me out, and if I had not, on the contrary, done everything correctly, according to my academic privilege, the Most Illustrious Prince Frederick, Duke of Saxony, Imperial Elector, etc., would never have tolerated such a pest in his University, for he most dearly loves the Catholic and Apostolic truth, nor could I have been tolerated by the keen and learned men of our University. But what has been done, I do because those most courteous men do not fear openly to involve both the Prince and the University in the same disgrace with myself.

Wherefore, most blessed Father, I cast myself at the feet of your Holiness, with all that I have and all that I am. Quicken, kill, call, recall, approve, reprove, as you will. In your voice I shall recognize the voice of Christ directing you and speaking in you. If I have deserved death, I shall not refuse to die. For the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. He is blessed forever. Amen.

May He have you too forever in His keeping. Amen.



ANNO MDXVIII.

Friday, 21 July 2017

LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOP ALBRECHT OF MAINZ OCTOBER 31, 1517


While most of us would have heard or know something about Luther’s 95 Theses, not many would be aware that he actually addressed a copy of the same Theses to Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz on the same day he purported posted them on the doors of Castle Church on October 31, 1517. Why did he send the Theses to Albrecht or “Albert”. Perhaps a brief background might help us understand why.

Albert of Brandenburg, Cardinal and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire was born on June, 1490 and died on 24 September, 1545. As early as 1509, when he was a mere 19 years old, he was made Prebendary in the Cathedral of Mainz. From 1513 he was Archbishop of Magdeburg and Administrator of Halberstadt.

In 1514, Albert of Mainz became the Archbishop. Being the Archbishop of Mainz made him a member of the prestigious Electoral College: a group of seven members, three ecclesiastical rulers (the Archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne) and four secular rulers (the king of Bohemia, the Margrave of Brandenburg, the Count Palantine of the Rhine, and the Duke of Saxony) whose responsibility it was to elect emperors. Obtaining such a position did not come without expense, and in order to finance becoming the Archbishop, Albert borrowed 21,000 ducats from a famously rich banker. In order to pay off his debt, Albert obtained permission from Pope Leo X to collect alms in return for indulgences, provided that half of the money collected would be forwarded to the papacy in order to help finance the building of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In 1517, Pope Leo X commissioned John Tetzel as the Commissioner of Indulgences for all of Germany.

Tetzel came to Wittenberg Germany in 1517, generating money to pay off Albert’s debt, and to build up Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. But when Tetzel began to sell these indulgences to the uneducated German on masses, it struck a nerve. Tetzel had created a chart itemizing prices for various sins, and sloganeering with such crass slogans as “As soon as the gold in the casket rings - the rescued soul to heaven springs” and even claiming that the indulgences he sold could save a soul who violated the Virgin Mary. Albert himself employed Tetzel for the actual preaching of the Indulgence and furnished him a book of instructions: Instructio summaria ad Subcommissarios P nitentiarum et Confessores. It was partly against this promotion of indulgences coupled with the conduct of Tetzel, and Albert’s book of instructions that Luther sought to address both in his 95 Theses and his letter to Albert. That Albert’s book did leave much to be desired is evidenced by Pope Leo X’s message of admonition to Albert for permitting so many books which are hostile to Faith to be published under the latter’s eye.

Luther’s letter to Albert is significant. First of all, it was written on the same day the 95 Theses were first made public. As such the letter informs us of the reasons Luther had written his Theses and why he had made them public. Secondly, we do not need to second-guess what Luther’s original reasons were and what his original intention was. Scholars have debated over why he did what he did. There is no need for speculation. In this letter, Luther clearly spells out his intention. Thirdly, there can be no doubt that Luther understood his place in the society of his day. He viewed himself as but a servant of the state and the Church. Revolution was furthest from his mind when he first published the Theses. They were meant for a “disputation”, a debate. Little did he expect that his Theses would be so revolutionary! As we will discover in subsequent posts, the revolutionary character of his Theses actually caught him by surprise!

 You may read Luther’s letter to Albert for yourself below. 
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TO the Most Reverend Father in Christ and Most Illustrious Lord, Albrecht of Magdeburg and Mainz, Archbishop and Primate of the Church, Margrave of Brandenburg, etc., his own lord and pastor in Christ, worthy of reverence and fear, and most gracious JESUS. The grace of God be with you in all its fullness and power!

Spare me, Most Reverend Father in Christ and Most Illustrious Prince, that I, the dregs of humanity, have so much boldness that I have dared to think of a letter to the height of your Sublimity. The Lord Jesus is my witness that, conscious of my smallness and baseness, I have long deferred what I am now shameless enough to do moved thereto most of all by the duty of fidelity which I acknowledge that I owe to your most Reverend Fatherhood in Christ. Meanwhile, therefore, may your Highness deign to cast an eye upon one speck of dust, and for the sake of your pontifical clemency to heed my prayer.

Papal indulgences for the building of St. Peter’s are circulating under your most distinguished name, and as regards them, I do not bring accusation against the outcries of the preachers, which I have not heard, so much as I grieve over the wholly false impressions which the people have conceived front them; to wit, — the unhappy souls believe that if they have purchased letters of indulgence they are sure of their salvation; again, that so soon as they cast their contributions into the money-box, souls fly out of purgatory; furthermore, that these graces [i.e., the graces conferred in the indulgences] are so great that there is no sin too great to be absolved, even, as they say — though the thing is impossible—if one had violated the Mother of God; again, that a man is free, through these indulgences, from all penalty and guilt.

O God, most good! Thus souls committed to your care, good Father, are taught to their death, and the strict account, which you must render for all such, grows and increases. For this reason I have no longer been able to keep quiet about this matter, for it is by no gift of a bishop that man becomes sure of salvation, since he gains this certainty not even by the “inpoured grace” of God, but the Apostle bids us always “work out our own salvation in fear and trembling,” and Peter says, “the righteous scarcely shall be saved.” Finally, so narrow is the way that leads to life, that the Lord, through the prophets Amos and Zechariah, calls those who shall be saved “brands plucked from the burning,” and everywhere declares the difficulty of salvation.

Why, then, do the preachers of pardons, by these false fables and promises, make the people careless and fearless? Whereas indulgences confer on us no good gift, either for salvation or for sanctity, but only take away the external penalty, which it was formerly the custom to impose according to the canons.

Finally, works of piety and love are infinitely better than indulgences, and yet these are not preached with such ceremony or such zeal; nay, for the sake of preaching the indulgences they are kept quiet, though it is the first and the sole duty of all bishops that the people should learn the Gospel and the love of Christ, for Christ never taught that indulgences should be preached. How great then is the horror, how great the peril of a bishop, if he permits the Gospel to be kept quiet, and nothing but the noise of indulgences to be spread among his people! Will not Christ say to them, “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel?”

In addition to this, Most Reverend Father in the Lord, it is said in the Instruction to the Commissaries which is issued under your name, Most Reverend Father (doubtless without your knowledge and consent), that one of the chief graces of indulgence is that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to God, and all the penalties of purgatory are destroyed. Again, it is said that contrition is not necessary in those who purchase souls [out of purgatory] or buy confessionalia.

But what can I do, good Primate and Most Illustrious Prince, except pray your Most Reverend Fatherhood by the Lord Jesus Christ that you would deign to look [on this matter] with the eye of fatherly care, and do away entirely with that treatise and impose upon the preachers of pardons another form of preaching; lest, perchance, one may some time arise, who will publish writings in which he will confute both them and that treatise, to the shame of your Most Illustrious Sublimity. I shrink very much from thinking that this will be done, and yet I fear that it will come to pass, unless there is some speedy remedy.

These faithful offices of my insignificance I beg that your Most Illustrious Grace may deign to accept in the spirit of a Prince and a Bishop, i.e., with the greatest clemency, as I offer them out of a faithful heart, altogether devoted to you, Most Reverend Father, since I too am a part of your flock.

May the Lord Jesus have your Most Reverend Fatherhood eternally in His keeping. Amen.

From Wittenberg on the Vigil of All Saints, MDXVII.

If it please the Most Reverend Father he may see these my Disputations, and learn how doubtful a thing is the opinion of indulgences which those men spread as though it were most certain.

To the Most Reverend Father,

BROTHER MARTIN LUTHER.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

PLEASE USE GOOGLE CHROME TO ACCESS LINKS

We are not sure why IE (Internet Explorer) comes up with an error message when you click the links to access the "Reformation 500 Church Flyer" and the "Reformation 500 Brochure". If you happen to experience that with IE (or Firefox or some other browser), please switch to Google Chrome as your browser. Our sincere apologies!

Friday, 19 May 2017

UPDATE!

We wish you to know that we have made some corrections to the Reformation 500 Brochure which can now be downloaded from the link on the right-hand menu. We have also updated further details for payment of registration fee by cheque (see the address of STM on the right-hand menu under "Registration"). And finally, we have designed a Reformation 500 Church Flyer (also on the right-hand menu) which you can print and post on your Church notice board. Thank you to those who kindly provided useful feedback on this blog.

Monday, 3 April 2017

MARTIN LUTHER'S 95 THESES

As noted in the previous post of March 7, 2017, the Reformation 500 Conference has been organised to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of his "famous" (or some would say, "infamous") "95 Theses" on the door of Castle Church, Wittenberg, on 31st October 1517. Some have argued that it was never nailed to the door and that it might have been "posted" (as in slow-mail today) to the authorities for attention. Erwin Iserloh, a Catholic Reformation scholar, attributed the story of the theses-posting to a myth conjured by Philip Melanchthon long after Luther's death. Other Luther scholars have rushed to Melanchthon's defence and insisted that the door of the Castle Church had served as the official bulletin board for the university and, in fact, was regularly used for the kind of announcement Luther made when he called for a public disputation on indulgences. Whether the event happened as has been thought traditionally, copies of Luther's theses were soon distributed by humanist scholars all over Europe. Within just a few weeks, he had become a household name. What were the "95 Theses"? You may read it for yourself here.
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Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent" (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
  3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
  4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
  5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
  7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
  10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
  11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
  12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
  14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
  15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
  17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
  18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
  19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
  20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words "plenary remission of all penalties," does not actually mean "all penalties," but only those imposed by himself.
  21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
  22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
  23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
  24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
  25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
  26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
  27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
  28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
  29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
  30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
  31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
  32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
  33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
  34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
  35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
  36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
  37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
  38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
  39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
  40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them -- at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
  41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
  47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
  49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
  51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
  52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
  53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
  55. It is certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
  59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
  60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
  61. For it is clear that the pope's power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
  62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
  63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
  66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
  67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
  68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
  70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
  71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
  72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
  73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
  74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
  75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
  76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
  77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
  78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
  79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
  80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
  81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
  82. Such as: "Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?" The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
  83. Again, "Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
  84. Again, "What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, because of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love's sake?"
  85. Again, "Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?"
  86. Again, "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?"
  87. Again, "What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?"
  88. Again, "What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?"
  89. "Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?"
  90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
  91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
  92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
  93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
  94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

SATURDAY, 30TH SEPTEMBER 2017
CCM ECUMENICAL CENTRE, PETALING JAYA

2017 marks the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. The beginning of the Reformation has been traditionally traced to 31st October, 1517, when Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses” on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

In view of the fact that all Protestant Churches in Malaysia are a fruit of the Reformation, it was felt that the 500th Anniversary of such a momentous event should not be allowed to pass us by without some form of commemoration.

STM (Seminari Theoloji Malaysia) is pleased to announce that it is organising a one-day “Reformation 500 Conference” to be held on Saturday, 30th September, 2017 at CCM Ecumenical Centre, Petaling Jaya. Over the past two months, contributors representing the various Protestant denominations in Malaysia have been approached to assist us in facilitating the plenary sessions and workshops. We are pleased to announce that the response has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward very much to their contribution.

We intend to cover a wide range of topics to address the movers and movements of the Reformation and its lasting impact on the Christian Church today. It is our hope and desire that Malaysian Christians be given a "taster" of the Reformation so as to help them value their Protestant heritage, diverse as that might be. It is our conviction that unless and until we gain an insight into that heritage, we will not appreciate what we have received on the one hand, and what we need to beware of on the other.

More details of the conference and more information on the Reformation itself will be posted in the coming days on this blogspot. So, do visit us regularly. Most important of all, mark Saturday, 30th September, 2017 down on your diary, and we hope to see you at the conference.