Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Indulgence Reinstated

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma

A Roman Catholic practice, which gave rise to Martin Luther's reformation in the 16th century, has surfaced again as a topical issue 500 years later. Pope Benedict XVI has promised the approximately 800,000 participants of the current World Youth Day in Cologne, total indulgence, provided they confess their sins, repent and receive Holy Communion. Non-participants may receive partial indulgence if they pray earnestly for a courageous Christian testimony at the mass event. The idea of indulgence is tied to the Catholic teaching of purgatory. In short, it means that temporal punishments for sins in the hereafter can be avoided or shortened by repentance and good deeds in this life. Luther protested not only against the malpractice but also against this Catholic teaching in principle, as the leading bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, Hans Christian Knuth, points out. Lutherans cannot accept purgatory and indulgence, even in a reformed modern Catholic understanding, as the bishop emphasized in an interview with the evangelical news agency "idea". The teaching of purgatory and indulgence is, in his words, neither in keeping with the Bible nor the central articles of the Christian faith. The wages of sin cannot be removed by any human action, but only by the grace of God and through faith in Jesus Christ. Neither can His redemption be supplemented with good deeds. (From Crosswalk)

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