Rome’s Teaching on Indulgencies.



This contents of this written document will take quotes from books no longer covered by the copyright protection and is considered public domain.

This article is not about Roman Catholic People but about Roman Catholicism.

An examination of Rome’s claims on the
teaching of indulgencies.

Rome would prefer any evangelical should not look to its core and fundamental teachings, cannons or dogmas because they are all contrary to the teachings of the Orthodoxy of the protestant evangelical church, to keep most evangelicals ignorant giving them the illusion that the Church of Rome has changed that they can secretly undermine evangelical Christians foundational beliefs bringing us under Rome’s authority, for this reason we must examine the claims of indulgencies Rome fundamentally believes and to provide a sufficient reason why we must remain separate from the Roman Catholic Church.

What are Indulgencies?   

Indulgencies are the teaching in the RCC that a payment of penance is given for “remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”. (CCC 1471)

This means that there are two types of consequences when a person has sinned these are temporal sins (Mortal Sins) a person’s commitment to the act of sin and Eternal Sins (Venial sin) this is turning away from God, according to Rome for this to be dealt with it is done here on earth or after death they enter into purgatory, this is referred to a temporal punishment, this is not a total rejection of God it is not eternal and can dealt with over time even if the sin is forgiven the attachment sin has on a person may still remain.

The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the ‘old man’ and to put on the ‘new man’. (CCC 1473)

The question is does this agree with scripture?

No roman catholic can profess how much they give in penances as they do not know even if they do give if it is enough to benefit for the souls of the people they had acquired, this takes away any assurance that a person can be forgiven through Christ atoning sacrifice alone, the Catechism of the Catholic Church number 1473,

is a blatant rejection of Christ and the scriptures, the bible teaches in Colossians 2:13 – 15 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it..

All this does is give a person uncertainty in other words a person by the offering of indulgencies will not guarantee whether or not a soul will be realised from purgatory this removes the whole point of Christ’s death on the cross for full and complete forgiveness of sins through the purchase of his blood.

(Modern Romanism Examined PP 289) Dr. Bagshawe he writes “The authority of the church in the remission of punishment is without any restriction, but it does not follow therefore that we can, in practice, tell what amount of remission we have received. We may obtain an indulgence for a certain number of days or years, but we do not at all know what portion this may bear to the punishment awarded by Almighty God for our sins” Again “To gain a plenary indulgence, there are certain conditions required before they can fully take effect, about which we cannot ever feel very sure.”

Rome teaches we can never know whether a soul is sincerely forgiven this means we cannot have our salvation assured however the bible says we can 1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 

Some other scriptures that mention that a person has all their sins forgiven, include Romans 10:13, John 3:16, 1 John 5:11-13, Romans 8:1, Romans 10:9 it is clear from Rome’s concept of what forgiveness actually is would be in direct conflict to these passages, if we can never feel sure how many indulgences can fully take effect then it puts little doubt that any one has gained any indulgences we can conclude that any Roman Catholic who has spent all there time putting their faith, Prayers, energy and money in a manmade system, by doing so you cannot put your faith and trust in Jesus who is our tender and compassionate saviour, it is through him we have direct access to him in receiving a full pardon for sins.

Indulgences are really unnecessary, why are they really needed anyway?

Rome places a strong emphasis on the bases that we can never know if any indulgence has been obtained for any soul.

Modern Romanism Examined PP 290 Dr Bagshawe states: “We are constantly incurring fresh liberties, and therefore ought to appreciate the constant opportunities in which are granted to us of easily obtaining the remission of temporal punishment. He also suggests another reason: “It may appear surprising that so many indulgencies should be granted. You must remember how imperfectly we understand the awful depths of Gods justice. ‘The Lord thy God is a consuming fire’ (Deuteronomy 4:24) Thy judgements are a great deep (Psalm 36:6) We ought never, therefore, to be satisfied that we have done enough to discharge the debts we owe to his terrible justice.

Our Brief Against Rome. PP.99

Another reason for Rome’s fallacy is that there is no doctrine of the Roman Church is more difficult to understand than the granting of indulgences. There can be little doubt that at the time of the Reformation, indulgencies were greatly abused, and were equivalent to a ‘a licence to sin with impunity,’ as is stated in the petition of the Roman Catholic Princess of Germany in 1522, address to Pope Hadrian VI. For the remedy of a ‘Hundred Grievances of the German nation.’ They go on to assert the vendors of the Bulls of Indulgence ‘declare that, by means of these purchasable pardons, nor only are past and future sins of the departed this life and are in the purgatory of fire, provided only something to be counted down… Every one, in proportion to the price he had expended in these wares, promised himself impunity in sinning. Hence came fornications, incest’s, adulteries, perjuries, homicides, rapine, usury, and a whole hydra of evils.

For what wickedness will mortals shudder at any longer, when they have once persuaded themselves that licence and impunity can be had for money, however extravagant the sum, not only in this life but after death also, by means of these marketing’s of indulgencies? Then the speaking of ‘Reserved Cases,’ the Princes add : ‘But if anyone have the means of praying, not only are present breaches of these constitutions allowed, but by the indulgence he has permission to transgress them with impunity for the future. (Impunity means “exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines”.)

Whence it happens that they who have got such a dispensation lay hold of it as a handle for committing perjury, murder, adultery, and similar atrocities, since any common priest can give them purchasable absolution by virtue of the indulgence.’

Handbook to the Controversy with Rome PP 213 

Indulgences is also followed after a penance is given (Penance: is an An act of self-mortification or devotion performed voluntarily to show sorrow for a sin or other wrongdoing, this follows includes contrition, confession to a priest, acceptance of punishment, and absolution. Also called reconciliation.), it is a further Catholic transformation of penance is brought about by an indulgence. In its general signification, as its name of Latin origin indicates, it means some sort of remission, whether of sin or of punishment. In all cases where there is a punishing authority there must, owing to the imperfection of human justice and its occasional conflict with what is fair, be also of absolute or partial pardon.

The explanations that Rome uses to justify its position for indulgences removes any faith that your salvation is assured, the very essence of scripture is rejected concerning the gospel giving Rome the excuse that the ecclesiastical authority has every right to change the biblical authority whenever they want to and that the Church of Roman can place itself above scripture.
“The Pope has the power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, even the precepts of Christ. The Pope has the authority and often exercised it, to dispense with the command of Christ.” (Decretal, de Tranlatic Episcop. (The pope can modify divine law) Ferraris’ Ecclesiastical Dictionary)

“The authority of the Church could therefore not be bound to the authority of the Scriptures, because the church had changed the Sabbath into Sunday, not by command of Christ, but by it’s own authority.” (Canon and Tradition. page 263)

“The doctrines of the Catholic Church are entirely independent of Holy Scripture.” (Familiar Explanation of Catholic Doctrine. Rev. M Muller, page 151)

Is this true according to scripture this is not the position of God himself as he had never consented to anything that is stated by Rome.

Matthew 4:4 …’But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’

1 Peter 1:25 …’But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.’

Hebrews 4:12 …..’For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’

Rome teaches in its dogma that it has the right to sell Gods forgiveness rejecting anyone’s right to receive assurance of salvation through faith in Christ alone, this is not what the scripture teaches and it rejects any opportunity to receive Gods forgiveness directly, the Bible refutes Rome’s dogma and teaches we have the ability to receive Gods forgiveness directly as a free gift to anyone that believes Jesus Christ had paid the price for all our sins (Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—).

  • “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).
  • “If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.” (Canon 14).

Rome will never accept that eternal life is in Christ Jesus Romans 6:23 that we cannot earn God’s forgiveness Eph 2:1-10 that it rejects the biblical premise that Justification is by faith alone.

Our Brief Against Rome PP 111

there was even a book called the Taxes of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, which contained a regular tariff for the absolution of all kinds of sins, even murder and other heinous crimes. Thus the price of absolution for the murder of a father, mother, brother, sister, or wife, if the murderer was a laic, was one ducat and four carlini ; if more than one murder has been committed, only half the rate was charged for all over the first.

Even Popes themselves, especially on the occasion of the so-called jubilees, declared that their indulgences were for the remission of sins. Boniface VIII., on the first issue of a jubilee, declared: ‘We grant not only full, and larger, but most full remission of sins’ and Clement VI. declared that the recipients of his indulgence should obtain ‘ most full ‘The words of the bull of Boniface VIII.
Are contained in the part of the Corpus Furis Canonici known as Extravagantes Communes, “We, by the mercy of Almighty God, & relying on his merits and authority and in the fullness of our Apostolic Authority, will and do grant to all who, in the present year 1300, beginning with the feast of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ just past and every following hundredth year, reverently come to the basilicas themselves, not only full and greater, but indeed must full pardon for all their sins, provided that those who desire to be partakers in this indulgence, granted by us visit the aforesaid basilicas, if they are Romans, at least on thirty consecutive or non-consecutive days, and at least once each day, but if they are strangers or foreigners, on fifteen days in like manner.”

This Bull was issued by Boniface on the occasion of the first Papal Jubilee. The jubilee period was afterwards reduced by Clement VI. (5th) to fifty years, and by Sixtus IV. (4th) to twenty-five years.

Pardon of all their sins,’ and Sixtus IV, (4th) called them ‘indulgences or remission of sins.’
No wonder , then, that Dr. Hirscher, Professor of Theology in the Roman Catholic University of Freibourg, writes as follows: ‘Say what you will, there it remains : the people understand by indulgences the remission of sins. Explain to them that not the sins, but only the penalties of sin, are affected by indulgencies; very well, it is the penalty, and not the guilt of sin, which the people regard as the important thing ; and whatever frees them from the punishment of sin frees them, so far as they care about it, from the sin itself.”

In strict theological language an indulgence is a remission of the punishment which is due to sin after sacramental absolution; this remission, being valid in the court of conscience and before God, is made by an application of the treasure of the Church on the part of a lawful superior.’ This indulgence is applicable to the dead as well as the living, but strictly speaking only ‘by way of suffrage’; this is, that ‘the Church humbly entreats God mercifully to remit the whole or a portion of the pains due to souls suffering in purgatory.’ This is the language of the Catholic Dictionary, and of all those who in the present day seek to ‘minimise’ those Roman doctrines which are most unscriptural.

To say that indulgences are not part of the Church of Rome as some seem to think because it is not seen practiced today is untrue, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins.” The Church does this not just to aid Christians, “but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity” (CCC 1478).

This means a Catholic is not allowed to reject them, because its teaching on Indulgences is considered infallible and carry equal weight of importance and as essential as the doctrines of the trinity are.

It was Pope Paul VI said: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain defined conditions through the Church’s help when, as a minister of redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions won by Christ and the saints” (Indulgentiarum Doctrina 1).

By rome’s own authority they completely misrepresent scripture and does not give any distinction between the Levitical system and the new covenant, in the old testament an offering had to be given for sin and that payment was done during the sacrificial system of the blood of goats that were offered in the Book of Hebrews chapter 9 we find the new testament teaches contrary to the Vatican on its use of the scriptures to justify the magisterium that there is to be no more sacrifice for sins what so ever, nor are we told in the Bible concerning Christ who paid with his blood for all sins that was any more payment needed, Rome is teaching that Jesus death on the cross is not sufficient, in the new testament it teaches that all sin is sin and there is no distinction between temporal or eternal sins we know that in Gen 3:16  Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

On the other hand Eve was deceived and took the fruit as the result of her sin she did not listen to her husband, God told her he would multiply thy sorrow in spite of this God showed the plan of salvation and forgiveness women are saved through childbearing 1 Timothy 2:15 is obviously speaking about the birth of Christ because of Salvation came by grace being saved by faith and it is nothing of what we do Ephesians 2:8-9 would prove that all indulgences are pointless based on this scripture, it was the promise of the seed through the woman that gave us Christ who is our saviour.

it was death that came into the world through Adam and faith in Christ that reconciles us to God to bring us life, Catholicism does well to quote scripture the problem is it relates to the Priesthood of the old testament and so it does not demonstrate its belief in the new covenant of the Cup of Christ that the through the law we cannot be justified in trying to appease God through purchasing his mercy and forgiveness it is freely given Ephesians 1:6-8.

It is the scriptures and the Gospels alone, according to the Bible are fundamental to the faith of a biblical evangelical who only follows Christ, it is by the authority of the bible alone that it teaches any sinner can be saved and his salvation is assured, all they have to do is put their faith and trust in the finished work of Christ who died for us and gave his blood as a sacrifice for the sins of many Hebrews 9, from this receive the free gift of eternal life the bible says in John 5:24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The Bible teaches that it is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

The bible states that it is not only the sacrificial offering of the blood that can give us Gods direct forgiveness, no amount of scripture Rome uses to justify its position of Indulgences will ever make a person justified or free indeed, nor does the bible recognise such a teaching, it is clearly shown in scripture concerning the subject of forgiveness and sins would show Rome rejects the blood of Christ as sufficient for the cleansing of sins and more importantly the word of God itself.

By Miguel Hayworth 2014

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