Friday, October 29, 2010

What a Danger

A portion of a letter by Martin Luther to Cardinal Albrecht against the sale of indulgences, one of the biggest money making schemes ever invented by religious men. Forgiveness of sins were promised on the payment of money into the coffers of the Roman Catholic Church. Roland Bainton called the sale of indulgences "the bingo of the sixteenth century." With much grace and humility Luther pleaded for this practice to cease. This letter was written on the same day that Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, October 31, 1517.

The first and only duty of the bishops… is to see that the people learn the gospel and the love of Christ. For on no occasion has Christ ordered that indulgences should be preached, but he forcefully commanded the gospel to be preached. What a horror, what a danger for a bishop to permit the loud noise of indulgences among his people, while the gospel is silenced, and to be more concerned with the sale of indulgences than with the gospel!

Luther's Works, Vol. 48, Letters I, edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Fortress Press, letter # 16, p. 47.

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