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DOCTRINE OF INDULGENCES
 
ROMAN CATHOLIC DOCTRINE:
 
God is fair and he punishes sin.
 
He forgives sin. But we still owe him some amendment afterwards. It is good for us to do good in place of the evil we did.
 
He demands this amendment and we call it temporal punishment. It is temporary punishment. It is the punishment due to sin even after it is forgiven.
 
The saints did a lot of good works and suffering to atone for sins. There is a surplus. We can draw on this surplus to cancel our debt of temporal punishment.
 
To draw on it we obtain something called an indulgence.
 
INDULGENCES
 
Temporal punishment makes no sense and is a denial of the forgiveness of God. Instead of forgiving, God deems you must still be punished but less. 
 
When John Tetzel was selling Pope Leo Xís indulgence to free the souls in Purgatory to raise money to build St Peterís, the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, was so angry that he incited a rebellion that led to the formation of Protestantism.

Today this is the dogma of indulgences.

Merits are the rewards you deserve.

All merits that please God have been won by his grace. Merits gained without grace deserve no reward from the Lord so if any act deserves a reward it is because of God.

The Church says that Jesus and the saints accumulated more merits than they needed for they did so much good. They were so good that they won rewards that they cannot have for they have their fill so they can give them to us or to the souls in Purgatory.

These merits can be used by us to pay our debt of temporal punishment and can be distributed to the living and the souls in Purgatory to cancel out demerits, the punishments deserved. The Church claims that even after sin has been forgiven it ought to be punished. The punishment is called temporal punishment.

This punishment has to be paid for by the sinner or by others in her or his place.

The pope and the Church have the authority to give out these merits any way they like. The Vatican decides how these merits are to be distributed. Partial indulgences are remission of some of the debt of temporal punishment and a plenary indulgence gets rid of the whole lot.

All of them can only be obtained under conditions other than mere desire and repentance. For example, you can get a plenary indulgence if you visit the Holy Land.

The Church used to give indulgences for 300 days and 40 days and so on. This is popularly thought to mean that 300 or 40 days would be knocked off your Purgatory but it just means that if you were doing penance on earth every day all day, you would have to do 300 or 40 days less of it (page 327, The Studentís Catholic Doctrine). Gaining 300 days for a soul in Purgatory might reduce its penance by a day or a week for a day or week in Purgatory might be as terrible as 300 or 40 days torture in this world.

Since the merits of others that we get give us the pleasure of letting another earn our redemption from temporal punishment availing of them is called gaining an indulgence.
 
The Church offers indulgences to make sure sinners get off lightly. The hurt they brought to others is not taken seriously. When did saving one's own skin become a virtue?
 
There is no right and wrong or righteousness or unrighteousness. What you have is good and less good. To accuse people of being capable of evil is just excoriating them. To accuse somebody of sin or to say that sinners deserve Hell is really saying you hate them at some level. The hate is real no matter how much you pretend its not there. For the Church to condemn sin as very very serious and to make an abomination of it and then to let them off lightly with it shows its good training for somebody that wants to trivialise suicide bombings etc. The intention to trivialise is there in both cases.

BIBLE, TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT AND INDULGENCES
 
The doctrine of indulgences is not in the Bible. Not only that but it is irreconcilable with it.

When Jesus told the apostles and disciples that whatever they bind on earth is bound in Heaven he was promising them the infallible inspiration necessary to give the truth to the world. Whatever error they tied up to keep it from spreading on the earth would be tied up in Heaven. In the originals he said whatever they bind shall have been bound in Heaven not whoever.

We canít get an indulgence unless we have temporal punishment to undergo or unless we are getting the indulgence for somebody else and not ourselves Ė giving it away in effect. But if I do not get rid of that punishment by penance which is better than doing nothing until I manage to win an indulgence I am committing a sin. It is a debt that must be paid fast. It is a sin to wait for an indulgence. Temporal punishment is supposed to be about healing the personís preference for things other than God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1472). It is not needed when an indulgence earned for you by somebody else can get rid of it and simply forces people to sin more. The Church is lying.

Moses was still allegedly still punished by God after he was forgiven for sinning but that could have been because he reversed his repentance or did not fit in with Godís purpose because of what he had done (Deuteronomy 4:21) so this episode does not prove temporal punishment. Moses explained that God could not undo what he decided to do over Mosesí sin on account of the people. It could be that God decided to punish Moses by doing X but when Moses repented he still had to do X but for a different reason. To harm Moses for a different reason would not be punishing him Ė the motive makes a difference.

1 Kings 21:29 does not prove temporal punishment for God merely promises to ensure that Ahabís repentance will lessen the evil he will send or more accurately, permit. Ahab did terrible things and would still have to deal with the results of his actions but the results would be lessened when he changed his ways and treated other people better. Nothing in that implies anything about temporal punishment. 2 Samuel 12:14 says even though David has repented and been forgiven by God his child will still die. But that might have been for deterrence or to avert the possibility that the child would grow up and thwart the divine plan.

The Bible insists that salvation is by faith alone. Indulgences are no good.

INDULGENCES REFUTED
 
Indulgences say that forgiveness from God does not take away all the punishment due to sin. Sin should not be punished after sin is forgiven for God does not need to do this. When somebody else can pay for your sins it proves this. It is unfair to make A offer atonement for what B has done. Moreover the Church claims that Jesus paid in full for our sins so that we owe him some penance, payment for sins, in gratitude for this (page 159, Whatever Happened to Heaven?). You donít need to be doing penance to be grateful. When your mother forgives you, do you hit yourself to demonstrate your gratitude? But that is opposing justice which is about preventing too much penance for a crime. Indulgences contravene justice and effectively deny that right and wrong exists.

But supposing indulgences are really good, then it is cruel of the Church not to make indulgences more available. It is forcing people to pay for their own sins when they have been paid for. The merits are offered by the saint for them but the Church wonít let them be applied to the person except under close restrictions. That is downgrading both to the saints and to the sinners.

There is no evidence that the sinner canít decree his own indulgences. The limitation of the power to the papacy smacks of power-lust.
 
To imagine God giving indulgences because men have told him to, the way the Church treats them like her property and not his, is impossible for God is king. Jesus said that whatever his apostles bind on earth will be bound in Heaven. The bound things in the gospel are not her refusal of indulgences for when they are found in Heaven it means that God approves of her refusal which is impossible for the Church does not claim to be infallible when it comes to giving indulgences.

And if mortal sin is infinitely bad because God hates it infinitely which he must if he is infinitely good then how could there be surplus merits? It takes them all to atone a single mortal sin. Indulgences imply that sin is not infinitely bad which implies that God must be sinful for he is certainly not all-perfect. The sinister implications of the doctrine of indulgences clearly show that the Church must have made them up to get money and power for it must have been desperate and it is certain that that was the reason the Church started indulgences off.

The concept of a plenary indulgence is contradictory. You can only get one if there is no trace of sin in you for one sin defiles all you do (ie if you do good while you have a sin in your heart, you are saying that you will do good when it suits you and not because it is good which is worse than an outright sin for it soon happens that you see your evil as good) and it is a sin not to pay your debt to God promptly. But if you were really sinless you would prefer to make your own atonement to express your sacrificial love for God instead of being sinfully lazy. You would want to add more surplus merits to increase the things that please God. And you would not have any temporal punishment debt to pay. Unpaid debts are sinful and so you would not have them if you could obtain a plenary indulgence. Plenary indulgences are hoaxes.

If you are sinless and God really forgives (indulgences imply that he partly pardons which is not pardon at all) you cannot get an indulgence of any kind for you have nothing to atone and if you have a sin you canít get one either because you are really just informing God that you will sin or not sin when you want to regardless of what he wants.

Why does the Church not empty Purgatory with indulgences instead of people feeling compelled to pay to have masses said? Both doctrines make money for the Church.

Why not let God administer the indulgences himself without a heap of ecclesiastical red tape? He should be doing it himself for he is the one that is all-wise not the Church. Our own hearts deceive us so much that it is unacceptable for anybody to claim to have received a partial or a plenary indulgence.
 
If God did it himself, instead of leaving it to the Church with its bizarre red tape and its profitable selling of scapulars and medals and prayer books with which to gain indulgences that would be kinder and better. The Church can sell indulgences under the pretext that almsgiving is a good work that helps pay off temporal punishment. This is logical. When you pay the priest at mass or dig into your pockets to help build a Church your sacrifice shortens your temporal punishment or when you buy a book on how to win indulgences the indulgences make money for the Church. The Church really and truly does still sell indulgences. Its condemnation of selling them does not make the Church better but worse. The Church says that earning your own release is not an indulgence but it is for paying to the Church is thought to be better than paying the same amount for the poor because the things of God and in other words religion come first.

The indulgences doctrine makes getting rid of the guilt of sin Ė that is, God forgetting that you sinned Ė less important than getting rid of the punishment due to sin. It is easier to get rid of the sin than it is to get rid of the punishment which makes it more important to deal with the punishment. When you have got rid of the sin you have to do something more to end the punishment. Indulgences mean that it is easier to get the responsibility for sin remitted than it is to avoid the punishment.
 
The indulgences doctrine leaves you more worried about the punishment than the sin. So it has you not caring so much that you did wrong and maybe hurt somebody when you sinned but that you face punishment. If sin is considered less important than the punishment then how could you get valid forgiveness from God with such a malicious and base attitude? By asking for pardon you are really asking him to let you use him like some kind of worthless object. He cannot do that. You are more concerned about the punishment than the sin. Indulgences are the expression of an irreverent attitude.

The doctrine of indulgences in not in the Bible. Paul meant that he had to suffer to spread the word, a suffering that was lacking in those of Christ (Colossians 1:24,25). He plainly said he was suffering to spread the gospel. When Jesus told the apostles and disciples that whatever they bind on earth is bound in Heaven he was promising them the infallible inspiration necessary to give the truth to the world. Whatever error they tied up to keep it from spreading on earth would be tied up in Heaven. In the originals he said that whatever they bind shall HAVE BEEN bound in Heaven and whatever not whoever (page 11, Roman Catholicism Ė What is Final Authority?).

In Difficulties (page 79) Knox claims that it is untrue that plenary indulgences can result in carelessness. It is like somebody saying that giving out guns will not lead to anybody being wrongly shot. Human beings abuse everything.

Indulgences inevitably lead to sin for you seek them for they are mostly incompatible with the moral doctrine of self-sacrifice. God canít command or permit them.

Knox agreed with what he believed to be official doctrine and with Cardinal Lepicier that affection for even one venial sin makes it impossible to gain a plenary indulgence so you only get a partial one (page 78). Knox thinks it is extremely difficult to achieve the right state to receive a plenary indulgence (page 78) Ė a position that shows all indulgences to be superstition if it is correct as we have seen.

The Church permits you to try and gain an indulgence for specific dead people but Difficulties tells us that it is up to God if the persons receive it or not (page 78). He has the right to give the indulgence to somebody else. Knox has not noticed that if God does that then one should not be asking God to give an indulgence to oneís departed grandmother but to whoever he wants. It is a sin to ask God to do what he may not wish to do.
 
The Church says that sins have terrible consequences built into them and claims that this is why indulgences are needed. Thus if you find those you hurt hate you its your own fault. This contradicts the doctrine that if you fail to forgive enemies then you are being bad. Another example is the homosexual who ends up with AIDS. The AIDS is seen as a consequence of the sin. But if the person gets forgiveness and a plenary indulgence the AIDS will not go away. In fact it will get worse. And God has no needs as he is perfectly invulnerable. So he of all beings does not need us to carry on being punished after we are forgiven for our sin. He is just being vindictive. Religion may say being forgiven and making amends afterwards for the sin though it is pardoned is good for us. But that presupposes that if you sin it takes ages to undo the spiritual damage you have done to yourself. That is only an assumption and is nonsense. A person can fall and pick themselves up again quickly. And if if it is is true that it takes time then indulgences are really attempts to say to God, "Hey it will take me years to remove all attachments to sin that I have developed through committing adultery. Give me and indulgence now so that will not matter. Treat me as if I do not need help to overcome all the residue of sin." Thus indulgences are sins. They contradict those who say that sin is its own punishment as virtue is its own reward. They say you get punished merely by consenting to sin for that is degrading. If they are right then indulgences is a vindictive doctrine. 
 
CONCLUSION
Indulgences are absurd. They are superstitious.
 
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BIBLE VERSIONS USED
The Amplified Bible