Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Indulging in Indulgences

Many people believe that the indulgences of the Roman Catholic Church are a scam to fill the coffers of the Vatican with gold by convincing people they can buy their way out of hell. Well, those people are dead wrong. It's purgatory, not hell they're buying their way out of.

We must keep in mind that purgatory is not hell. According to the Roman Catholic Church doctrine, purgatory is "an intermediate state after physical death in which those destined for heaven "undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven". Is there such a thing as Purgatory? If one believes that the bible being the word of God is the ultimate authority on redemption, salvation, and sanctification then the answer is no. The concept of purgatory is an ancient pagan belief, and is not found in the bible.  

In every religious system, except that of the New Testament, the doctrine of purgatory after death and prayers for the dead have always found a place. In ancient and modern times, we find that paganism leaves hope after death for sinners, who, at the time of their departure, are unrepentant, and consciously unfit for heaven. For this purpose a "middle state" was invented in which guilt could be removed in the future world by means of purgatorial pains.
In Greece the doctrine of a purgatory was taught by the very chief of the philosophers. Thus Plato, speaking of the future judgment of the dead, holds out the hope of final deliverance for all, but maintains that, of "those who are judged," some must first "proceed to a subterranean place of judgment, where they shall sustain the punishment they have deserved." - Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons
So we have an imaginary place of pagan origins that somehow got tied to entry into heaven. How did this thing get part of church doctrine? That came from the Council of Trent. The concept of Purgatory has been around as long as the concept of paganism, With a stroke of the pen the Council of Trent took the pagan concept of purgatory and made it part of the Roman Catholic pantheon of beliefs and blamed it all on the Holy Spirit:
The Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Spirit and in accordance with sacred Scripture and the ancient Tradition of the Fathers, has taught in the holy Councils and most recently in this ecumenical Council that there is a purgatory and that the souls detained there are helped by the acts of intercession (suffragia) of the faithful, and especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar. 
Therefore this holy Council commands the bishops to strive diligently that the sound doctrine of purgatory, handed down by the Holy Fathers and the sacred Councils, be believed by the faithful and that it be adhered to, taught and preached everywhere.  
But wait - it gets better! If you refuse to follow this false doctrine you're damned, cursed and/or excommunicated thanks to  Canon 30 from the Council of Trent's Decree on Justification (Sixth Sesssion, 1547):
If anyone says that after the grace of justification has been received the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out for any repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid, either in this world or in the other, in purgatory, before access can be opened to the kingdom of heaven, anathema sit ["let him be anathema"]
So does that mean that since there's no mention of temporal punishment required by the bible then the author of the bible, God, is damned? (These are the questions that get you smacked by a nun with a ruler in a Catholic school. I know. Believe me, I know.) The catholics claim that temporal punishment is scriptural but every verse they use to justify this claim is Old Testament (Numbers 20:12, 2 Samuel 12:13-14), like most things in the Catholic doctrine temporal punishment hammers home the fact that the Roman Catholic Church considers the saving atonement of Jesus Christ to be completely insufficient. The Catholic Encyclopedia claims that "...temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God" 

So how do you get out of temporal punishment? You suffer through it, and when you die you still suffer through it in purgatory, I suppose until the pope lets you out. Purgatory is a strictly Roman Catholic and pagan construct. The Catholics claims that the Orthodox churches agree with them but this is a patent falsehood. Although the Orthodox churches do not speak with a unified voice they do speak with common sense when they consider:
...Purgatory to be among "inter-correlated theories, unwitnessed in the Bible or in the Ancient Church" that are not acceptable within Orthodox doctrine, and hold to a "condition of waiting as a more apt description of the period after death for those not borne directly to heaven. This waiting condition does not imply purification, which they see as being linked to the idea "there is no hope of repentance or betterment after death." Prayers for the dead, then, are simply to comfort those in the waiting place. 
So for all those souls in time in Purgatory for sins like eating a pork chop on a Friday, one of their hopes is to receive an indulgence. The Roman Catholic Church has a "treasury," composed of the "superabundant merits of Christ and the saints," which the Church, through the exercise of the "power of the keys," can transfer to the benefit of those who are due temporal punishment. These merit points, or indulgences, are meted out to folks here on earth and those in purgatory to reduce their time in purgatory.

According to the Catholic church, even after sinners are forgiven of their sins in the confessional and perform the penance assigned to them (generally in the form of a specific number of prayers, mostly repetitions of "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys"), even if they go over the head of the priests bishops, archbishops, cardnals, and pope and repent and confess their sins to God Himself, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory before they can enter heaven. 

The indulgence come in exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages. When a Catholic receives an indulgence it reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no ceremony or sacrament. Cool! And there's several flavors of indulgences too - the partial indulgences which reduces purgatorial time by a specified number of days or years, and plenary indulgences which completely eliminates all purgatory time - until you sin again.

The Roman Catholic Church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567, but you can receive one in exchange for a "charitable contribution" However this is exactly what was going on before 1567 and was the fuel for the reformation in the first place, So if you don't want to donate to Catholic Charities or the PBRF (Pope Benedict Retirement Fund) you can gain partial indulgences for saying the sign of the cross, reading "sacred scripture" for a half hour, say the rosary, pray, and follow the pope on twitter. (Seriously!!!)

So rather than God's free gift of grace being bestowed by the most high on those who repent and declare the Lord Jesus Christ to be their master and savior, for the Catholics that grace has been locked up in a "Treasury of Merit" where it is handed out incrementally by mere men in exchange for works and cash. 

In response, the word of God is quite clear
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)


  1. I wouldn't cite Alexander Hislop for anything. He had most of his claims wrong, and did a whole lot of asserting and speculating. His book has been discredited by real historians for almost a century. The only people who really hang onto him are KJVOs and those who are really bigoted against Catholics.

    You might find my article "Unbiblical Catholic Sin, Purgatory and Indulgences" to be of interest.

    1. Thank you for the input and the link. I was unaware of the liberties that Hilsop took with history. And thank you for the link, researching the liberties that the Roman Catholic Church has taken with the word of God and the power they have assumed is terrifying and at the same time satisfying because I can more clearly see the grace and beauty of the lord when compared with the horrors of the legalities I was subjected to for so long