Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Lucia Indulgences revisted

Accusations of historic abuse of indulgences seems to pop every once in a while. I've already discussed indulgences in detail on the yet to be resurrected Sir Humphreys, but, its seems there is a need for a re-visitation.

So, if you want to join in the discussion, required reading is the Wikepedia page on Indulgences and the Catholic Answers page on Indulgence myths (with NIHIL OBSTAT, free from doctrinal errors and IMPRIMATUR).

4 comment(s):

M. Pease said...

Hi Lucyna;

I'm doing my homework for now (the assigned reading and a bit extra) and will get back to you in a couple of days.

About your correction of my use of "Roman Church":
why is it not good to say "Roman Church"? Is there a possibility of confusion?
Why is it OK to shorten it to "Church" as though no one else is part of the Universal Church or that you speak for all Christians?

M. Pease said...

Hello Lucyna;

I notice that you have not responded to my initial comments and questions of several weeks ago.

A comment on your post here. An accusation is an unproved assertion that someone is guilty of a fault or offense which leads (or should lead) to an investigation of the facts unless it is dismissed as utterly improbable or unlikely, so my comment was not an accusation. It is simply a statement of fact used to illustrate a point and was not meant as an attack. It is a matter of historical record that indulgences were, in fact, sold by certain individuals who were the duly appointed representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also on the record that these were abuses and not approved in the slightest decree. This does not, however, mean that it is a myth, or a lie, or an accusation.

I've read the assigned pages plus others and, to tell the truth, wish I hadn't. Each thing I read raised new questions and required more reading that, in turn, raised more questions, and the answers kept getting weirder from my perspective.

I will admit that there is no direct and immediate connection between grace and indulgences, however there are connections between grace and forgiveness, merit, and mercy; which at a slight remove produces the same result.

It was not that I had anything much to say about indulgences as such, my point was that the gracious attitude and actions of God have somehow been quantified and measured with some getting more than others. Indulgences came into it because of the angle of forgiveness (which, I know, was an abuse and not This is not found in the RCC alone, but also in most Protestant Churches (with which I am more familiar) as well. Also it is not grace alone, but "merit", punishment, faith, moral valuation of "sins", blessing etc., etc., ad nosium.

When people must ask whether they have received enough grace to feel confident in salvation, there is a problem which should not exist.

Though God is speaking directly to Paul here, I believe that it's not a stretch to include all believers.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9a

In any case, I have found through reading and discussions of late that I could never be a Roman Catholic, there are too many doctrines that are foreign to my way of thinking, and I am sure that some of my beliefs would be equally strange to you.

Lucia Maria said...

Hi M,

Thank you for your reply and the time you took to read the links I gave.

Most impressive.

In my experience, people that bandy around mythical insults tend to ignore anything that could puncture their view of reality.

So, that is why I am impressed that you’ve taken the time to seriously look at an alternative point of view.

You’ve also piqued my curiosity when you said that you wish you hadn’t read the links as they had raised questions with weird answers. But, I certainly understand if you have no wish to comment on any of those questions and answers here.


I gave the links to mainly point out that contrary to popular belief, there was no outright selling of indulgences. The closest it got was almsgiving that resulted in an indulgence – the practice of which was condemned later as an abuse. Though, I can also understand that this could be perceived to be an argument of semantics, where to all intents at purposes it could be seen to be the same thing.

When people must ask whether they have received enough grace to feel confident in salvation, there is a problem which should not exist.

Of everything you’ve said in your comment, the above sentence is causing me the most difficulty. I can understand what you mean in a general sense and can even agree with what you’ve said. However, what I don’t understand, is how it relates to Roman Catholic faith, which is I think what you are driving at with it.

As I understand it, and I’m not a theologian, just a person who is seeking to know their own faith, I think you are meaning that is not possible to get to Heaven unless you have enough grace. Which is not really how I think of getting to Heaven. Getting to Heaven is about staying right with God, which He helps with with His grace, but which we have to choose to respond to. If we do something that really offends Him (a mortal sin) then we need forgiveness in order to avoid Hell. If we are not pure enough to enter Heaven directly upon death but are not destined for Hell, we stay for a time in the purifying fire of Purgatory until we are fit for Heaven.

In my understanding, everyone on Earth receives enough grace to enter Heaven, we should not be concerned that we do not. However, whether everyone will choose to respond adequately to that grace – that is another question altogether.

M. Pease said...

The comment about grace that bothered you was not in any way directed toward the Roman Catholic faith. The comment that spurred mine was by A.J., a Calvinist and presumably a protestant though not, I think, a Wesleyan Methodist.

I need to state clearly that in no way do I single out the Roman Catholic Church for criticism. I believe that every branch of the Universal Church has a portion of the picture but that no one group or individual has everything correct. This includes me and those who have influenced me. If I knew what doctrines I have wrong, I would exchange them for those which are true, but I do not. St. Paul seems to agree since he said....

For now we see in a mirror (or glass) dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)

My quest is very like yours, in that I too am looking for truth. Since I was a teenager, some forty odd years ago, I have yearned to have a self-consistent theology. That is, a theology in which one doctrine does not conflict with or contradict either Scripture or itself. Though you might think it unlikely, I have not found an established theology (that I've looked at) to be free of internal conflict. I also believe that where science has something true to say, that we should listen and incorporate that truth into our world view. The problem, both in and out of the Church, is to rightly divide truth from error.

As I said, the statement about grace was prompted by comments on Frank's post "Arminianism II". A comment by A.J. Chesswas had a statement about the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism with respect to man's response to God's grace. I was raised in a Clavinist (Baptist) environment, but I've not heard predestination expressed as a function of grace in this way.

What I understood A.J. to be saying was, in effect, that God extended varying amounts of grace to people depending on whether they were "elect" (predestined for salvation) or not. The projection of this is that the elect receive grace for salvation and will therefore inevitably be saved, while others would receive grace but not enough for salvation regardless of any other factor. This implies that grace can be measured and meted out. It was my assumption, now corrected, that an indulgence was grace given for the purpose of forgiveness of sin. My apologies.

The more disturbing implication of this, when taken to its logical conclusion, is it implies that God is a sadistic bastard who dangles the promise of salvation before people who He has no intention of saving. This view of God does not match what is revealed in Scripture and must therefore be false.

In any case, I think of God's grace as His gracious attitude and behavior toward all of us, with the greatest expression of this grace being the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He came that all the world could be reconciled with God the Father and be adopted into His family.

As for Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, ...well let's just say my beliefs are not compatible with those of your Roman Catholic Church or, for all that, most Protestant Churches either.

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. Foul language and personal attacks may get your comment deleted without warning. Contact us if your comment doesn't appear - the spam filter may have grabbed it.