Indulgences explained – Books – WORLD

MLuther-HendrixIn the latest installment (Oct.21, 2017) in its “Saturday Series” (which features book excerpts, articles, essays, speeches and sermons that focus on the issues facing Christians today”) World magazine (digital) featured Luther’s exposure of the evil of indulgences as explained by Scott Hendrix in his recent book Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer (Yale University Press, 2015).

World quotes at length from Hendrix’s chapter dealing with Luther’s reaction to the indulgences scandal, and you may read that full excerpt at the link below.

Remembering that this is what prompted Luther’s 95 theses, you will want to read this account. And because, as World editor points out, “a new Pew Research Center survey shows many Protestants haven’t even the foggiest idea of crucial differences between Catholicism and Protestantism,” you will want to know what drove Luther initially to attack not just the practices of Rome but her doctrines.

For our purposes we quote just one paragraph from Hendrix’s book:

Tetzel’s campaign and its claims may have reached Luther’s ears by May of 1516. As provincial vicar Luther was conducting a visitation of Augustinian houses near Meissen and Leipzig. According to a local chronicle, he met Staupitz at Grimma and heard from his superior about Tetzel’s preaching in a nearby town. The chronicle concludes that Luther began to write against Tetzel in Grimma or, as Brother Martin himself phrased it: “I’ll put a hole in that drum.” Preaching at the Wittenberg Town Church in late 1516, Luther urged listeners to cultivate genuine sorrow for their sins and not to avoid the penance they owed by acquiring indulgences. By accepting the penance they would take up their own crosses and become truly contrite. In late February of 1517, he warned worshipers that indulgences taught them how to escape the penalty of sin but not how to avoid sin itself. He ended with a dramatic outburst: “Alas, the dangers of our time! Oh, you snoring priests! Oh, darkness worse than the Egyptian! How secure we are in the midst of the worst of all our evils!”


Source: Indulgences explained – Books – WORLD

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