The Pope has recently spoken about indulgences. How do you understand this? (Part 8)
In the previous parts of this series, we discussed many concepts taught by the Roman Catholic church, related to their doctrine of indulgences. We saw that indulgences are required, according to Catholic tradition and theology, to ensure that help and assistance is given in Purgatory (a place that doesn’t exist and has no validity from Scripture), so that humans can go to Heaven (which Scripture clearly shows is not the place for the dead, nor is Hell, as commonly understood in orthodox Christianity!) We also pointed out that the idea of indulgences applies in different ways: It addresses those who are in “Purgatory” and for whom prayers and “indulgences” are given by the living or the “saints in Heaven”, so that they can be freed from Purgatory; and it can apply to people in this life who give indulgences (for themselves and others) so that they do not have to suffer in Purgatory (or Hell) for as long as they otherwise would have to.
We also discussed the concept of partial indulgences (removing part of the “temporal” punishment due to sin), and of plenary indulgences (removing all temporal punishment due to sin).
Let us look at a further explanation in the following Catholic website: https://douglasbeaumont.com/2019/04/01/indulgences-explained/
“Indulgences are not ‘Get Out of Hell Free’ cards, nor can one gain enough indulgences to earn entrance to Heaven. Rather, indulgences have to do with avoiding the sufferings of Purgatory for temporal sins prior to entering Heaven. Scripture supports the theology of indulgences in seed form, even though (like many doctrines) it is not stated as such. Finally, the Church has clarified the requirements for – and rewards of – indulgences throughout its history and tradition. By understanding this teaching more clearly, the animosity generated by 500 year-old misunderstandings can be avoided.”
In this short summary, we can glean the following information:
Entrance to Heaven, as we have proved, is not the reward of the saved. As Purgatory is a false supposition, avoiding the sufferings there “for temporal sins prior to entering Heaven” is a non-starter. Scripture does NOT support any theology of indulgences in any form. The requirements and rewards of indulgences are a figment of man’s imagination with no Scriptural basis whatsoever. As this teaching is not supported by Scripture, any “misunderstandings” are just not applicable.
For those dead and in Purgatory, as is believed, it reduces the time spent there before entering Heaven. As we have proved previously, neither Purgatory nor people going to Heaven are biblical concepts, but as Catholics believe in these, they believe that they can pray for the dead and have an effect on the time they will spend in Purgatory.
A vital part of understanding is that an indulgence, if it was true (which it is not), would also negate for those alive, the sowing and reaping principle which we have already reviewed but is worth reiterating: We read in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” In such circumstances, how would we ever learn lessons that God has in store for us?
Let us review the example of king David when considering the false concept of indulgences for the living. David became guilty of a terrible crime by committing adultery with Bathsheba and then having her husband, Uriah, killed. We can learn about this in 2 Samuel 12 where we read the story given by Nathan the prophet and king David’s confession (verses 13-14). There were consequences to David’s action and the child died. The sowing and reaping principle was shown to be in action very quickly. Cause and effect cannot be negated just because someone undertakes some action. Had the child lived, it could have been misconstrued that it was perfectly fine to commit such an appalling action with no consequences, as David was the king and a man after God’s own heart, and that God condoned such outrageous behaviour. Of course, God did not, and the reaping and sowing principle remained intact and is still applicable today in spite of Catholic indulgences giving a different and wrong impression of what can happen. In fact, David was punished further in that he would have wars until the end of his life, and in that he was humiliated publicly by the actions of his rebellious son Absalom who slept with David’s concubines in plain sight of the people.
We read in Leviticus 26 the promise of blessing and retribution, and in Deuteronomy 28, blessings on obedience and curses on disobedience are listed, showing that blessings would be given for living God’s Way, and curses for actions if they were disobedient. There is no hint that indulgences, or anything similar, would negate any wrong behaviour by the children of Israel. It was cause and effect; it was sowing and reaping. As we explained, sincere repentance of a person or a nation can avoid punishment and can lead to God’s supernatural intervention to diminish or abolish a certain effect, but “indulgences”—prayers for one’s self or others without any true repentance—cannot do that. And even with true repentance, some effects will still take place, as we saw in the case of David who truly repented and was sorry for his crimes, but they were so egregious that God would not abolish the effects and the punishment. No amount of indulgences could have changed that. Another example is Moses who sinned against God by dishonouring Him before the people, and God told him that because of that, Moses would not be able to enter the Promised Land. Moses pleaded repeatedly with God for a change of His mind, but God did not abolish the punishment.
In 1 Corinthians 10 we read about Old Testament examples showing that we are not to follow that wrong way and that “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (verse 11). Ecclesiastes 8:11 advises: “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Some may be encouraged to sin if they see others doing wrong if they feel that there will no punishment for the evil committed. Without question, sowing and reaping is a principle that is fully operational and indulgences to mitigate their effect are unbiblical and unworkable.
There is no Scriptural evidence about indulgences being available or that someone, in this case, the Pope, could make them available as and when he thinks it is appropriate. It is all founded on a lie and, unfortunately, so many are “taken in” by such pronouncements.
As you will recall, this series of Q&As came as a result of the following quote from one of our Updates:
“Pope Francis invited everyone to receive the ‘Pardon of Assisi’, which can be obtained from the evening of 1 August until midnight on 2 August… ‘It is a plenary indulgence that may be received by partaking of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist and visiting a parish or Franciscan church, reciting the Creed, the Lord’s prayer and praying for the Pope and his intentions,’ the Pope pointed out. He recalled that the indulgence can even be obtained for a deceased person…
“The ‘Pardon of Assisi’ dates back to 1216, when Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and angels appeared before St. Francis. The apparition took place in the tiny Portiuncula, the chapel Francis had built in the Italian town of Assisi. When Jesus asked him [what] he desired for the salvation of souls, St. Francis asked for God to grant a plenary indulgence for all those who enter the chapel. The indulgence was later extended to anyone who visits a parish or Franciscan church on 1 August or 2 August.”
Our comment was: “This is so blasphemous and idolatrous”.
We have endeavoured to cover the original question with other inter-related doctrines and beliefs. We know that at the end of this current age, a great false church will exercise much power.
We have shown in this series that we don’t have an immortal soul; that the soul is the person; that the spirit in man goes back to God at death but that it does not have any consciousness when the person dies; that people don’t go to Purgatory, Heaven or Hell when they die; and that indulgences are simply a plan concocted in the mind of man under Satanic influence.
Further, “Catholic Answers” opines as follows:
“Catholics… recognize that the true ‘rule of faith’—as expressed in the Bible itself—is Scripture plus apostolic tradition, as manifested in the living teaching authority of the Catholic Church, to which were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly.’ We read in https://amazingdiscoveries.org/ : ‘The fact that Scripture and Tradition belong together accounts for two rules that direct the way the Church approaches God’s revelation. The first of these rules is stated very simply by Vatican II in these words: It follows from what has been said that the Church does not draw its knowledge of all that God has revealed from holy Scripture alone. That is why both (Tradition and Scripture) must be accepted and respected with equal affection and honour. Secondly, the unbreakable bond between Scripture and Tradition accounts for the fact that for Catholics, Tradition is the context within which the Scriptures are interpreted, just as Tradition itself has to be understood and lived with reference to Scripture.”
This further shows they believe that “Tradition” is on a par with the Bible which is ridiculous, but such an approach certainly enables them to inculcate into their religious system non-biblical beliefs.
In the last Q&A, we quoted Christ’s condemnation that we worship Him in vain when we teach traditions and as doctrines the commandments or concepts of men (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:9), while at the same time rejecting God’s Word and His commandments.
Let us finish this series quoting from our booklet “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”. In chapter 20, “The Fall of Babylon the Great – Revelation 18,” we state:
“While in Revelation 17 the religious nature of the last resurrection of the Roman Empire is vividly depicted, Revelation 18 focuses more, but not exclusively, on the economic nature of that last resurrection.
“Let us quote again these interesting comments by the Ryrie Study Bible, in their annotation to Revelation 17:5: ‘In chapter 17 Babylon represents the false religious system that will center in Rome… In chapter 18 it represents more the political and commercial aspect of the revived Roman Empire…Thus the term stands both for a city and for a system (religious and commercial) related to the city (much like “Wall Street,” which is both a place and a system).’…
“God warns His people not to participate in this Babylonian system, by accepting the mark of the beast and becoming RICH thereby (compare Revelation 18:3–4…) Its merchandise even included ‘the bodies and souls of men’ (Revelation 18:13). Also in it, the blood of the saints was found (Revelation 18:24), and through its false teachings and sorcery all the nations were deceived (Revelation 18:3, 23).
“Lehman Strauss comments on modern Babylon’s wealth and religious persecution, as follows: ‘The wealth of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations combined adds up to many billions of dollars (p. 298)… The unscriptural doctrines of purgatory, the last rites, and masses for the dead have brought untold wealth into the treasury (p. 310)… Sir Robert Anderson, of Scotland Yard fame, estimated that Rome was guilty of the death of 50,000,000 Christians (p. 299)… She will be judged because of the untold number of victims whom she slaughtered in the inquisition and in St. Bartholomew’s Massacre. She must pay for those shocking murders and for the many bloody persecutions which followed (p. 314)’ [and which still will occur in the near future].
“God will destroy the modern city of Babylon (Revelation 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21) ‘in one day’ and ‘in one hour’ (Revelation 18:8, 10, 17). God will totally wipe out that city, as well as the religious, economic, political and military system it represents, to become a habitation and prison for demons (Revelation 18:2).
“The warning and the lesson for God’s people is very clear: ‘Come out of her, My people,’ God says. Have nothing to do with her. Be and stay separate, and don’t touch what is unclean. Don’t participate in other men’s sins. There are always some who think that they need to remain within an apostate religious system and perhaps try to ‘reform’ it. It never works—and it is against God’s specific instructions!
“We will observe, very shortly, the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire in Europe. A most powerful world-ruling Empire will emerge, attempting to impose its religious and military ‘values’ on everybody. As we know these things, we ought to take very seriously Christ’s warning in Luke 21:34–36: ‘But TAKE HEED to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to ESCAPE all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man [at His return].’”
It will serve as a fitting conclusion to repeat what we said at the very beginning of this series, namely:
This series on indulgences and underlying concepts is focusing on just one example to show how incredibly unbiblical certain Roman Catholic teachings are. It is so sad that millions upon millions of people believe these ideas without even realizing the absolute absurdity contained in them. Very soon, the Roman Catholic Church, which is described in the Book of Revelation as a fallen church which has rejected God’s Truth, will impose the “mark of the beast” on people readily willing to accept it. This will be the culmination of satanic blasphemy. Protestants have for a long time identified the Catholic Church as the “Babylon” of the book of Revelation, without fully realizing that they are thereby including themselves in that description, as the fallen church is depicted as the “mother church” which has “daughter churches” or “harlot daughters.”
We have much more information on that famous mark of the beast. If you are interested, please read our free booklets, “Europe on Prophecy,” “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”; “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire,” and “Obeying God Rather Than Men.”
The purpose of this series has been to speak out for the Truth. We are not fighting against flesh and blood or any human organization, but against Satan, the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air, who has found an easy target in Roman Catholic and Protestant concepts which are really nothing else but pagan ideas which have been given a “Christian” mantle.
Satan has deceived the whole world, which does not know that it is deceived—for otherwise, it would not be deceived anymore. But God has opened your eyes and ears if you have read this series with understanding. Then, God expects your response in turning to Him with your whole heart and embracing His Word, while leaving behind the false ideas, concepts, doctrines and traditions of men.
Lead Writers: Brian Gale (United Kingdom) and Norbert Link