lieve that if they have purchased letters of indulgence they are sure of their salvation; again, that so soon as they cast their contributions into the money-box, souls fly out of purgatory.” And then, “Thus souls committed to your care, good Father, are taught to their death.” In this statements Luther is advancing his rhetorical argument by implying that by the Church convincing people that they can buy their way into heaven they may actually be being their way into hell, as true salvation cannot be achieved through such means. In this regard, Luther’s intention is to make an injunction in papal policy that will save these people from eternal damnation.
Luther also considers the practical aspects of allowing the sale of indulgences, indicating that he believes it will have a deleterious effect on an individual’s spirituality. Luther writes, “works of piety and love are infinitely better than indulgences, and yet these are not preached with such ceremony or such zeal; nay, for the sake of preaching the indulgences they are kept quiet.” Even as Luther understands that salvation can only be achieved by accepting God and asking him for forgiveness, he still indicates that pious behavior and love are great elements of spirituality. In promoting the sale of indulgences, preachers have disregarded these tenants of spirituality and have instead shifted focus to the promotion of these indulgences. Luther’s argument is that in order to effectively sell the indulgences, preachers have adopted an approach to spirituality that emphasizes redemption through money, rather than piety and belief in God. An even worse sin however is the willful disregard for the scripture. Luther writes, “Christ never taught that indulgences should be preached. How great then is the horror, how great the peril of a bishop, if he permits the Gospel to be kept quiet, and nothing but the noise of indulgences to be spread among his people!” Here it seems as if Luther is ...
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