Oct 31, 2005

Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

    2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

    3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

    4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

    5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.

    6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

    7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

    8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

    9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

    10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.

    11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.

    12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

    13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.

    14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.

    15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (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 as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.

    17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

    18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

    19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.

    20. Therefore by "full remission of all penalties" the pope means not actually "of all," but only of those imposed by himself.

    21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

    22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

    23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.

    24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.

    25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

    26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

    27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].

    28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

    29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

    30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

    31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.

    32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.

    33. Men must be on their 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 these "graces of pardon" concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.

    35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.

    36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.

    37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.

    38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

    39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.

    40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].

    41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.

    42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.

    43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

    44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

    45. 45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

    46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.

    47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.

    48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.

    49. Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.

    50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.

    51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.

    52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.

    53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.

    54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.

    55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

    56. The "treasures of the Church," out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.

    57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.

    58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.

    59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

    60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ's merit, are that treasure;

    61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.

    62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

    63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.

    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 they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.

    66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.

    67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the "greatest graces" are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.

    68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.

    69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.

    70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.

    71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!

    72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!

    73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

    74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.

    75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God -- this is madness.

    76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.

    77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.

    78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.

    79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.

    80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.

    81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.

    82. To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of 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 reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."

    83. Again: -- "Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"

    84. Again: -- "What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow 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 that pious and beloved soul's own need, free it for pure love's sake?"

    85. Again: -- "Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, 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 to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"

    87. Again: -- "What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?"

    88. Again: -- "What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?"

    89. "Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?"

    90. To repress these arguments and scruples 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, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, 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!

    93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!

    94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;

    95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.

Oct 24, 2005

That was then... this is now.

THEN
"I do not hold the view of our Constitution that there must be an actual, indictable crime in order for an act of a public officer to be impeachable. It is clear to this Senator that there are, indeed, circumstances, short of a felony criminal offense, that would justify the removal of a public officer from office, including the President of the United States. Manifest injury to the Office of the President, to our Nation and to the American people and gross abuse of trust and of public office clearly can reach the level of intensity that would justify the impeachment and removal of a leader."


-- Sen. Kay Baily Hutchinson on signing the Letter of Impeachment for Pres. Bill Clinton


NOW
"I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars."


-- Sen. Kay Baily Hutchinson on "Meer the Press" regarding the Plame Affair investigation of the Bush White House

Oct 22, 2005

The Great Disapointment.

The Great Disappointment was an event in the early history of a certain Christian denominations, when Jesus failed to re-appear on the appointed day of October 22, 1844 as some Christians expected.

Between 1831 and 1844, William Miller, a Baptist preacher, launched what he called the "great second advent awakening", also known as the Millerite Movement. Miller preached a set of fourteen rules for the interpretation of the Bible, which spread to followers throughout the world. Based on his study of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, Miller calculated that Jesus would return to Earth sometime between 1843 and 1844. Others within the movement calculated a specific date of October 22, 1844.

When Jesus did not appear, Miller's followers experienced what came to be called "the Great Disappointment". Most of the thousands of followers left the movement. A few, however, went back to their Bibles to find why they had been disappointed. They concluded that the prophecy predicted not that Jesus would return to earth in 1844, but that a special ministry in heaven would be formed on that date. Miller continued to wait for the second coming and died in 1849.

Seventh-day Adventists maintain that Christ went into the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary on October 22, 1844 to begin the investigative judgment of both righteous and wicked to see who is actually ready to go to heaven. This investigative judgment takes place prior to his actual return to earth, which they believe to be very soon.

Members of the Bahá'í Faith believe that the Great Disappointment wasn't a disappointment at all, and that the prophecy was fulfilled by the coming of the Báb, who heralded the coming of the return of Christ, Bahá'u'lláh. October 1844 is when the Báb started to make his public claim and began the Bábí religion.

Psychologists see this event as an example of cognitive dissonance.


-- Wikipedia

Oct 21, 2005

Say Cheese!


I used to work for a complete sociopath. The man could not tell the difference between right and wrong. It was all about him, and he figured he could "smile" his way out of any problem.

Think Ted Bundy.

Think Tom Delay.

Oct 19, 2005

All Points Bulletin.



A Letter by My Daughter

To all my beloved Katrina Caravan Rescue volunteers:

After almost two months of back-breaking work by
drivers, evacuees, and ALL OF YOU, I am pleased to
announce that we have put ourselves out of business.

We have moved 689 families or individuals, and
followed up on the other 224 (or are finishing up
their cases), and we can safely let FEMA take it from
here. I know that there have been tears of joy and
empathy (I'm shedding a few of each right now),
triumphs, irritations, prayers, and REALLY slow days.
This organization could not have functioned without
you, and I am so proud to have gotten to know you all.

We will not be glorified in the press, nor receive
any compensation for what we've done, but we all know
in our hearts that we were there for our neighbors in
a desperate hour, and many of us know first hand what
that has meant to those neighbors. I don't want to
say goodbye to you, but I think we will be rejoicing
together in spirit for a long time to come, and I know
that God has watched us.

The first phase of shut-down will be ceasing the phone
operation, as of today, 10/18. After that, case
workers will wrap up the 20 or so remaining cases. We
will then be posting a message on our wesite that
details our progress, refers people to FEMA, and
states that we are no longer operating.

If any of you wish to join the continuing volunteer
effort for Katrina victims in the long haul, we have
connections with a woman, Leslie Teltoe, who is part
of an effort to find jobs for evacuees. Her email is
grassrootsrebel@yahoo.com
and the website of the organization is
www.recruitersforkatrina.org

I leave you with lines from one of my favorite songs,

written by David Wilcox...
"It's love who makes the mortar
And it's love who stacked these stones
And it's love who made the stage here
Although it looks like we're alone
In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play...
For in this darkness love can show the way"

Thank you all. I love you.
Annie Downing



§ 1001. Statements or entries generally

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party’s counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.

(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to—
(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or
(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

Oct 18, 2005

The Rule of Law?

We are on the verge of an extraordinary moment in American politics. The people running our government are about to face their day -- or days -- in court.

Those who thought investigations were a wonderful thing when Bill Clinton was president are suddenly facing prosecutors, and they don't like it. It seems like a hundred years ago when Clinton's defenders were accusing his opponents of using special prosecutors, lawsuits, criminal charges and, ultimately, impeachment to overturn the will of the voters.

Clinton's conservative enemies would have none of this. No, they said over and over, the Clinton mess was not about sex but about "perjury and the obstruction of justice" and "the rule of law."

The old conservative talking points are now inoperative.


-- E.J. Dionne

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.


Oct 7, 2005

Oct 4, 2005

Una perla, por favor.

The Prophet's task is to speak from the heart of the tradition, to criticize and warn those who, claiming to represent the tradition, are in fact abandoning it.

- N.T. Wright

The Lily of Grace?

  • Conditional Election: God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ, out of fallen and sinful mankind, those foreknown by Him who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in Christ; but God leaves in sin those foreseen, who are incorrigible and unbelieving.
  • Universal Atonement: Christ's death was suffered on behalf of all men, but God elects for salvation only those who believe in Christ.
  • Free Will with Partial Depravity: Freedom of will is man's natural state, not a spiritual gift - and thus free will was not lost in the Fall, but cannot be exercised toward good apart from the grace of God. Grace works upon all men to influence them for good, but only those who freely choose to agree with grace by faith and repentance are given new spiritual power to make effectual the good they otherwise impotently intend. As John Wesley stated more forcefully, humans were in fact totally corrupted by original sin, but God's prevenient grace allowed free will to operate.
  • Resistible Grace: The grace of God works for good in all men, and brings about newness of life through faith. But grace can be resisted even by the regenerate.
  • Uncertain Perseverance: Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit, sufficient to enable them to persevere in the faith. But it may be possible for a believer to fall from grace

Noted in passing.

For the last few years, one of my favorite sources of inspiration in what some call the "Emerging Church" movement has been a group out of the Pacific Northwest who called themselves The Christian Counterculture Project. Cutting edge first-century Christianity was the norm for this group of young Calvinists/Presbyterians. Articles, book reviews, excerpts, and music all pushed the Jesus who transforms lives over the Jesus who carries a rule book. But as they pushed away the binding ropes of denominationalism, and "ism" Christianity as well, they appeared to come under attack from within their support structure. They floundered, fell, and then got back up. But now they seem to have given up this project. The tombstone of the Christian Counterculture Project lies beneath this linked text.

Lilies we may see on the grave, but no tulips.

God's Peace and Blessing upon you Rob, a brother in Christ I never met, but one whom I look forward to meeting when all are reconciled.