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The Truth About Indulgences, Purgatory, and a Man Named Tetzel

According to the History of the World in Christian Perspective, third edition by A Beka Book, indulgences are “certificates from the pope that excused a person from doing penance and shortened the required stay in purgatory before going to Heaven.” Purgatory, according to the Catholicism Under the Microscope by Greg Litmer, is a “state in which those suffer for a time who die guilty of venial sin, or without having satisfied for the punishment due to their sins.” A man by the name of Johann Tetzel was allowed by Pope Leo X to sell indulgences to help pay for what we now know as St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.

The word purgatory and its meaning is not found in the Bible. Some refer to Matthew 12:32, which says, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the next age to come,” as an excuse for allowing Purgatory. This scripture reading does not mean that the next age means after death , it simply means in the next generations to come. One must be careful on reading into things not there.

Another scripture used is 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 which says, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” This scripture is referring to life not death because in Hebrews 9:27 it clearly states, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement.” It does not say you will suffer and make atonement for your sin before going to Heaven. It does say die ONCE and after that JUDGEMENT. Purgatory is make believe and not supported in the Bible.

Yet, Pope Leo X allowed Johann Tetzel to sell this concept. The website at using the source of states, “In 1517 Pope Leo X made a Dominican monk named Johann Tetzel commissioner of indulgences for all Germany. The Vatican was in dire need of money to pay for its extravagant building and art projects. Tetzel soon toured around the country selling papal indulgences to the masses. He created a little rhyme which translates as “When a coin in coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.” Tetzel is famous (or infamous) for having even created a chart documenting how much it would cost to receive an indulgence for various sins, and even boasted that the indulgences he sold could secure forgiveness for the heinous sin of violating the Virgin Mary. An indulgence is simply a pardon of the temporal punishment due for sins committed. In other words, a person who purchased an indulgence would supposedly escape the punishment merited by his sin.

Another paralleling thought on Tetzel was, according to the same website above but using the source of states, “A Dominican Monk by the name of Johann Tetzel entered the village as an ambassador of Pope Leo X, the head of the Roman Catholic Church. This was Tetzel's latest stop on a tour of selling "indulgences" for the Pope. An indulgence is a certificate which by papal authority promises the removal of punishment and suffering for sin.[1] Leo authorized the selling of them to help raise money to pay for the completion of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The History of the World in Christian Perspective says that the Pope owed a reimbursement to Albert of Brandenburg for the buying of a German church office and also says, “Tetzel was clever, as he sold the indulgences he did not mention that Albert would receive any of the money. He also carried the idea of indulgences to new extremes. Any buyer, said Tetzel, would immediately be released from all punishment for his sins, and any friends in purgatory would be immediately freed to go to heaven.” It further reads that this is where that slogan of “coin in the coffer rings” was born.

How brazen to step in our Lord’s shoes and say who is and who is not going to Heaven and more so for paying a price to any man walking on this earth. That is God’s place alone! And to no avail, money from lies building the very churches that supposedly people went to hear about God and truth. Indulgences based on Purgatory was, and is, wrong and the man Johann Tetzel cheated many people, basically stealing their money for unrighteous gain.


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