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95 Theses, Commented

Ben Carmack has asked to go through the 95 Theses, so even though that's a Lutheran document, and he's not Lutheran, I'll try to keep the snarky chuckles and jokes about the allegedly perspicuous Scriptures to a minimum. Let's just do 5 for now, eh?


When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. My comment: This appears to completely unobjectionable. We agree that lives are to be entire, marked by a continuing awareness of our need for God's mercy.
The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy. My comment: This is objectionable. The greatness of the New Covenant is in the power of the sacraments to confer grace ex opere operato, that is, by the fact of it being performed. What a joy, if I go to Confession, whether with small burdens or large ones, that Christ, as the true minister of all sacraments, pardons the penitent who seeks him in good conscience! St. Thomas said previously in essence that this sacramental economy distinguishes the New Covenant from the Old. (Ironic, that the Protestant position turns the clock back on redemptive history.)
Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh. My comment: This could be Catholic, but given his known position that the will is in bondage, it cannot be understood in the Catholic way, that a man participates in his own redemption by not only assenting to the truths of faith, but bearing fruit in holiness of life and works, testifying that his faith is formed by agape.
As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward repentance) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven. My comment: It depends on what he means by "hatred of self." If he means hatred of sin, fine. If he means total depravity, the Church has never said that the man by nature is incapable of good, as Luther may be implying.
The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law. My comment: I don't understand why this is here. Yes, the pope's jurisdiction is limited by collegiality, and the legitimate recognition of the jurisdiction of others. But "his own discretion" is pretty broad, since he is the head of all the successors to the Apostles, and Luther knows it. In short, the Pope can remit any penalty, since he holds the keys.

Come back for more (heretical) fun with Luther!



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