But that isn’t how they were marketed in Luther’s lifetime. Otherwise, Luther would have had no need to post the 95 Theses and launch what would become the Reformation. Luther’s entire challenge to Rome’s authority began over the abuse of indulgences. To say that indulgences were abused is one thing, but to say that Protestants just made all the abuses up and that historians are just making it all up to bash Catholics is quite another.
Tell that to Albert of Mainz:
In briefing the vendors Albert reached the pinnacle of pretensions as to the spiritual benefits to be conferred by indulgences. He made no reference whatever to the repayment of his debt to the Fuggers. The instructions declared that a plenary indulgence had been issued by His Holiness Pope Leo X to defray the expenses of remedying the sad state of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and the innumerable martyrs and saints whose bones lay moldering, subject to constant desecration from rain and hail. Subscribers would enjoy a plenary and perfect remission of all sins. They would be restored to the state of innocence which they enjoyed in baptism and would be relieved of all the pains of purgatory, including those incurred by an offense to the Divine Majesty. Those securing indulgences on behalf of the dead already in purgatory need not themselves be contrite and confess their sins.
Bainton, Roland H… Here I Stand . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.