Please explain indulgences to this Protestant.

Is this in scripture somewhere and I missed it?

A search of the CAF will lead you to many threads on this very subject.:slight_smile:

Please check out this Primer on Indugences.

Sometimes when people die they are not ready for heaven and need to be prepared for it. By doing good works on Earth people can be prepared for Heaven. It is also possible to help prepare someone else for Heaven, most simply by praying for them, most obviously by preaching to them, but also in many other ways.

Giving money to the Church is a good work. Indulgences are a formalisation of that for those who want an assurance that their good work will have the benefits they intend.

Thanks I will read the primer. :slight_smile: I didn’t search other threads because most of them are not explaining it to protestants and reading some of them is what made me ask.

First of all it’s related to the concept of purgatory.

There are hints at Purgatory in scripture certainly - Christ’s statement that ‘you will be handed over to the judge, the judge will hand you to the jailer, and you will not get out of prison until you have paid the last penny’. And Paul talks about a man’s works being tested as by fire, and that if they are unworthy they will be burned up though he will survive.

It’s all very well to believe that we pay off on earth the ‘debts’ we owe due to our sins but what happens when someone repents on their deathbed (a la the good thief) and has no time to do so?

We know that nothing imperfect can enter heaven, and someone who hasn’t paid every penny of the debt they owe for their minor sins is still lacking in perfection, no?

So it stands to reason that there is an intermediate process of purgation. And also that we can, by our acts and prayers here on earth, shorten or eliminate altogether this process. Indulgences are just a more formalised recognition of this, and a statement that particular prayers or works will earn partial or complete remission of the debt due our sins.

This is the part I don’t get… how do you know those prayers or works help this way?

Well all prayers and good works do, of course!!! Not all of them are formally listed is all.

The listing comes back to the old chestnut of the Church’s power to bind and loose, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It’s rather like canonisation - all the souls in heaven, and many on earth as well, are saints, but God points out some in particular to be rolemodels for us and those are canonised as capital-s Saints. :slight_smile:

So he points out some prayers and good works so that we can have some guidance and certainty when we’re looking for prayers to say and works to perform.

Well I still don’t get it… You are saying that the churches power to bind and loose is enough so that the Church can just decide if someone has been prayed for enough to get out of purgatory? I thought that was only up to God.

You’re grabbing the wrong end of the stick. I edited the previous post to hopefully explain a bit better.

It’s comparable to canonisation of capital-s Saints, or the canonisation of the Bible for that matter.

The first step is God revealing, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who he wants to be declared a Saint (by the evidence of miracles), which books he wants included in Holy Scripture, or which prayers definitely have these benefits attached.

The Church doesn’t make up these things off the top of its head, and then bind them in heaven, rather God reveals what he wants bound or loosed and the Church complies.

Ok, this makes more sense. thanks for you time in answering. :slight_smile:

So what about the Blood of Jesus? ?

Pleasure :tiphat: it’s a useful way to sort these things out in my own mind too

  • or at least learn how to usefully express them.

I’m not sure precisely what you’re referring to about the Blood of Jesus.

Matthew 18:18, in the context of Jesus teaching the apostles about forgiveness and the power of prayer: whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven. Ergo, the Church, as successor to the apostles has the authority to remit the temporal punishment due to sin. He goes on to explain why their prayer is efficacious.

probably a difference again, but the Blood of Jesus is what saved us. Like the song Washed in the Blood of Jesus

If we are washed in His Blood, He paid the penalty for sin. Why would we do penance? He did already, I thought that was the point of Him dieing on the Cross?? :confused:

Well the prayers of the righteous help because they are interceding for them and asking God (actually pleading for God) to lessen their “time” in purgatory (even though they are in eternity).
You see, even though our sins are forgiven by God when we repent of them and He remembers them no longer, doesn’t mean that the temporal effects of those sins don’t remain nor that we don’t have to give some recompence to what we have done.
In 2 Samuel 11-12 King David has an affair with Bathsheba after indirectly murdering Uriah. Bathsheba has a child and then in chapter 12 verses 13-14 we read…

"Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan answered David: “The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.”

Notice that Davids sins are forgiven since he genuinely repented of them, as it says "the Lord on his part forgiven your sin"
however, since David spurned the Lord by this [bad] deed, the child must surely die. And what David did is shown in verse 16-17…

“David besought God for the child. He kept a fast, retiring for the night to lie on the ground clothed in sackcloth. The elders of his house stood beside him urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor would he take food with them.”

David fasted in sackcloth, a sign of his morning over his sin and the lose of the child because if his sin.

Also, as an example suppose I deliberately smash my neighbors window in their house because I am angry with them. After some time the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin, so I repent of it, ask God to forgive me and go to my neighbor and ask them also for forgivness for my sinful act. My neighbor kindly says I’m forgiven, yet I am still obligated to pay for the broken window, and or help repare it also because their are temporal consequences or effects of my sin.
This is the way sin works with God. When we sin against Him even the smallest of sins, we still do injustice against a Holy God, so what we need to do is fully repent and make reparation for doing that injustice. If we die without being fully and completely sanctified, that is being fully repententant of every sin and do penance for our sin as did David (which makes us fully and completely repentant) we hold on to some temporal effects of that sin after death. This sin keeps us from being fully and completely sanctified, and heaven can’t allow and effects of sin Rev 21:27, therefore we are purged and saved as though what Paul calls “fire” in 1 Cor 3:12-14 and this is what Catholicism calls purgatory. It is a state or place for those who ARE on their way to heaven but aren’t completely sanctified. :slight_smile:

I do understand better now, But I still don’t agree. Indulgences do make sense if you believe in purgatory, though I think it’s presumptuous to declare the heart of a person clean or unclean in such a way.

Jesus’ perfect death on the cross was fully sufficient for our sins; His death redeemed us but His sacrifice on the cross didn’t take away all sin for people still sinned after and now. If it did, then God would have been obligated to save everyone (what’s known as universalism) and God owes no one anything. Jesus death on the cross redeemed us, it allowed Gods grace to flow down on those who believe. And how we apply His sacrifice in our lives and suffer with Him depends on how willing we are to unite our suffering with His and suffer along with Him.
Col 1:24…“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church,”

Now is anything lacking in Chirst’s afflictions? No not from Him, but what is lacking is our cooperation and uniting our sufferings with His sufferings. And Paul says he suffers on behalf of the body of Christ, which is the church so he (Paul) is filling up with what is lacking, that is suffering with Christ’s afflictions.
2 Tim 2:12 "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:" (KJV)

David in 2 Samuel 11-12 says his sins were forgiven by God, yet he also did penance for them and their was a temporal punishment for those sins.

Also, in Mt 6:1-6 Jesus says to “give alms” and “fast” Jesus says when you give alms…when
"(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Verse 17 reads…
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Jesus says when you give alms, pray, and when you fast.

That’s fine. Purgatory is actually the final step of ones sanctification. Not everyone is completely free from ALL sin when they die, in fact most people haven’t given their complete will to God in love all things, so God in His love (which is what purgtory actually is, it is God’s love for us) burns “as though fire” the attachments to sin we didn’t give up in this life, what Paul calls in 1 Cor 3:12 wood, hay, or straw. Since Rev 21:27 says no unclean thing shall enter heaven and we all die with attachments to sin there needs to be a purgation of sorts that either happens in this life or the next, this is what Catholicism calls purgatory. :slight_smile:

Presumptuous? No more so than declaring that heaven and virtue or hell and sin really exist, and that fidelity to one’s spouse is really a virtue or murder really a sin. It’s not like we’re declaring particular individuals unclean.

If it was a perfect death and fully sufficient then how is it lacking in any way? Its like that ole thing “you cant be a little bit pregnant” Gods not obligated to save anyone what-so-ever, not one. Because He LOVES us, His desire is that ALL be saved. Wouldnt Jesus go for the lost sheep, didnt He heal on a Sabbath? Then say man was made for the Sabbath not the Sabbath for man. Thats Grace.

And how we apply His sacrifice in our lives and suffer with Him depends on how willing we are to unite our suffering with His and suffer along with Him.

Jesus warned us it wouldnt be easy, because the world hates Him so it will hate you, it goes with the territory, theres no contest however to pick up extra suffering He didnt get the first time. If it was a perfect sacrifice accepting to God by this standard it seems it wasnt. :frowning:

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