Indulgences Are Wrong

Apparently, indulgences are making a come back. I have issue with this. In the article, indulgences are described as follows:

In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament.

Now, I’m no expert in the Bible, but I have read a little. Take Romans 6:5-11 for instance:

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self [1] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free [2] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

It is by Christ’s crucifixion as how we are absolved from our sin. In fact, it relies entirely on His work, and not at all on ours. We can see that even more clearly in Hebrews 10:

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ [2] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

[emphasis mine]

Clearly there is nothing that we can do! Nothing! Jesus’ one sacrifice was all that was needed to atone for our sin.

Here’s another quote:

In recent months, dioceses around the world have been offering Catholics a spiritual benefit that fell out of favor decades ago — the indulgence, a sort of amnesty from punishment in the afterlife — and reminding them of the church’s clout in mitigating the wages of sin.

Where is the evidence for this in the Bible? Why would anyone think the church has any power to atone for sin? Isn’t the church made up of sinners? How can sinners reconcile others to God? Isn’t that why Jesus came?

Answers: it isn’t, they shouldn’t, yes, they can’t, and yes (praise the Lord!).

Justin Taylor has a good explanation of what indulgences are and how they work. In the end though, he agrees with me:

When it’s all said and done, the whole idea of indulgences comes down to the idea that Christians must undergo a process of temporal punishment before they are allowed to go to heaven. But Scripture doesn’t teach that. Rather, the punishment process was completely absorbed for us by Christ on the cross. We may receive discipline from our Father, but we will never again receive any form of punishment. Scripture no where hints that those who are united to Christ are in two categories and locations: those undergoing purificatory punishment in Purgatory and those in their heavenly home. All who die in Christ go to be with the Lord. Thanks be to God who clothes us with his righteousness and took all of our punishment.

I thank God for the Bible.

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