Friday, June 25, 2010

Indulgences, Part II

This is morning five at Mission Work Camp at the Calvin Center.  This will most likely be my last post from the porch of the Knox Lodge.  Our cabin where we are staying is the Geneva Lodge, but there is no wi-fi signal there.  We wrapped up our 3-day project yesterday fixing up Ms. Moiselle's house.  She was so much fun to be around and everyone loved helping her out.  Today we are building a wheelchair ramp for someone else.  We have just this one day to complete it, which should not be a problem.  We head back to Germantown tomorrow.  It will be nice to be in my own bed again.

Calvin notes in the beginning of today's reading that Pope Leo the Great wrote, "the righteous have received, not given, crowns."  This is a clear contradiction to the doctrine of indulgences.  Pope Leo the Great was also known as Pope Leo I.  It was Pope Leo X that was in power during the beginning of the Reformation.  Augustine wrote, "though as brethren we die for our brethren, no martyr's blood is shed for the forgiveness of sins."  Calvin adds his two cents to what these others have said by emphasizing, "He [Christ], he alone, deserved to be preached; he alone set forth; he alone named; he alone looked to when there was a question of obtaining forgiveness of sins, expiation, sanctification."  We should never insult Christ by mingling the blood of the martyrs with the blood of Christ.  He alone was the perfect sacrifice.  It is Christ alone that saves.

The Roman church used Colossians 1:24 as their "proof text" for the doctrine of indulgences.  It reads "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church."  These sufferings that Paul speaks of here are not beneficial for the salvation of anyone.  Christ fulfilled all that was necessary for the salvation of His people.  Paul is referring to the daily sufferings of the church.  These sufferings are for the church's upbuilding.  Tertullian (I think) said "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."  This is what Paul is speaking of here.  The sacrifices by the members of the body help to grow the church, not aid in any one's salvation.

Calvin asks the question, "who taught the pope to inclose (sic) in lead and parchment the grace of Jesus Christ, which the Lord willed to be distributed by the word of the gospel?"  Calvin indicates either the true gospel of Christ or the doctrine of indulgences must be incorrect.  He then calls Paul as a witness by stating, "Paul testifies that Christ is offered to us through the gospel, with every abundance of heavenly benefits, with all his merits, all his righteousness, wisdom, and grace, without exception."  Calvin theorizes that the doctrine of indulgences must have come from severe penance imposed by priests.  The people of the church were looking for some relief from oppression from the church, and the church capitalized on this opportunity to cash in.

Tomorrow's (probably Sunday's) reading: 3.5.6-3.5.10

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