Monday, June 23, 2014

95 Theses IX: The Heresy Strikes Back

41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love. My comment: Everything in Sacred Theology should be preached with caution, and due reverence, by the nature of the case. Yet it must be said that everything that pertains to it should be preached at one time or another, and certainly not denied. Moreover, every action ought to be motivated by supernatural love, so the juxtaposition here is the mark of faulty thinking.

42. Christians should be taught that the pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy. My comment: I think doing the work required to obtain an indulgence is a work of mercy. Sure, it's not the only one, but once more, we see the hardening of a false dichotomy, the fruit of Luther's ecclesial Nestorianism.

43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences. My comment: This is monstrously false. There's an implicit naturalism here, one whose full fruit will be seen in the Social Gospel. We have no idea the spiritual weight of our actions, and it's probably for the best. (Lord, have mercy!) In any case, works of a spiritual nature are better than corporal works, though both are good and necessary.

44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties. My comment: On the contrary; Christians should be taught that they will escape all penalties of either kind only by means of agape. Holy Mother Church intercedes ever and always with agape as her driving force. Once more, we see a false dichotomy.

 45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the pope's pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God. My comment: I'm inclined to sympathize with this comment, but only if supernatural charity, inspired by the Holy Spirit, dictates that a physical need is more pressing in any one case. To make a blanket statement like this smacks of the same naturalism above. Suppose my father needs an indulgence more than a particular poor man needs my money? Judas thought the money could be better spent, too.

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