Tetzel Selling Indulgences
About the time that Martin Luther began to study the New
Testament and was amazed at its simplicity-- when he was grasping the
great Bible Truth of justification by faith--he encountered Tetzel. The
effect was to convince him the more that great errors had gradually crept
into the faith and spirit of the Church. Tetzel was selling Indulgences
under the Pope's authority. The proceeds were to be used in completing St.
Peter's Cathedral at Rome.
Tetzel may or may not have exceeded his authority, but
the record is that he preached, not the merit of Christ's sacrifice, but
the power of the Pope, and of himself, his agent, saying, You have friends
in Purgatory, suffering there for various sins. The Pope has the power to
release them; I am his agent. Those who donate to this fund drop their
money into this box, assured that the moment they do so their friends will
be released from Purgatorial suffering.
Catholic though he still was, and a believer in
Purgatory, Luther could not tolerate such a commercial proposition as that
the grace of God should be purchased with money. He denounced Tetzel
So far as we are aware, the public sale of Indulgences
has been stopped in most civilized lands, but until recently in Mexico
many Church tables were spread with Indulgences, specifying various sins
and crimes, and bearing fixed prices.
Protestants, and some Catholics, have assumed that these
Indulgences are permits to sin. The Church of Rome, however, claims that
they never issue permits to commit sin, but merely so much remission of
Amongst Bible students today, there seems to be a
growing conviction that the Bible teaches that there is no consciousness
in death--that the awakening moment in the Resurrection Morning will
connect up with the dying thought. The proof- texts for Purgatory they
apply to saints in this life, to the world's "stripes" in the
next Age, and to the "time of trouble."