Full Text for Indulgences (Text)

C!tnurnrbtu lUqrnlngtrul flnut~l!J Continuing LEHRE UND WERRE MAGAZIN PUER EV.-LUTH. HOMlLETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERL y-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. V March, 1934 No.3 CONTENTS W idmung ....•....................•........•...•.. Page 161 162 164 172 Sldzze und Schriften Dr. L. E. Fuerbringers .....•.•..•• Predestination and Human Responsibility. T heo. Graebner •• Die Heilsgewissheit nach der Xonkordienformel. ] . T. Mueller The Thorough Exegetical Study of the Sermon Text the Conditio sine qua Non for Good Serrw>nizing. J. H. C. Fritz 178 The Argument of St. Augustine's "Confessions." J(. S. Sommer 185 Die Lehre von der Inspiration nach 1 Petro 1 , 10-12. W.Arndt 192 Hebrew Prophecy a Unique Divine Bestowal. W . A. Maier.. 199 Lut hers eigene Verbesserungen an seiner Bibeluebersetzung. P. E. Kretzmann li!06 Ottomar Fuerbringer. W. G. Polack ••••••••••••••••••••• Zur Lehre von der Beue. Theo. E nge\der ••••••••••••••••• Die gemaessigte Linke im sozialen Reformprogramm der B eformationszeit. R. W. H eintze .••••••••••••••••••••• The Ca techism in Public Worship. Theo. Lact.ch •••••••••• Indulgences. Theo. Hoyer •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The Practical AppUcation in the Sermon. E . ] . Friedrich. ••• 211 218 227 234 242 249 Ein Preclfcer muza IIJcht aJlein wridtft. aIIo cIaI or die 8chafe unterwei8l, wle ale reehte Ohrilltell IOlJm .In, IIODdem anch daneben dell Woelten toel'lreft • .s- lie die 8chafe DJclit aqr8Ifen und mit talacher Lehre 'feIfoIhND 1IJId Irrtmn e1n. fuehreR. - Lulher. Ea tat bin Dine. daa die Leute IIIIhr bel der JUrcbe behaelt denn cUe pta Predlgt. - Apolot1W. "'rI. II. If the trumpet lift an 1IIIcertafD 1IOIIDd. who &ball prepare hlmaelf to the battle r 1 0.,..4.& Published for the Bv. Luth. Synod of lIrtlssourl, Ohio, and Other stat. CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE, at. Louis, ][0. 242 Indulgences. Indulgences. The Sale of Indulgences in the Reformation Age. "One of the stock charges against the Oatholic Ohurch is that she sells indulgences for money. First hurled by Luther against the Dominican friar John Tetzel, authorized by Leo X to preach indul- gences, this charge has persisted to the present day. While Luther's blunt assertion that 'Totzcl sold grace for money at the highest price' has long since been disproven, the impression is still conveyed by many historians that the Ohurch at least in the Middle Ages engaged in wholesale traffic in indulgences. . .. In the minds of vast numbers of our non-Oatholic fellow-citizens, the word indulgences stands as the symbol of a mercenary traffic in spiritual favors that was wide- spread especially in pre-Reformation days and that still lingers in attenuated form in the Ohurch to-day. In their minds indulgences still carry the unsavory connotation of ecclesiastical graft and im- position upon the gullibility of simple, ignorant, and superstitious people. Let us investigate this charge." ("Oan Indulgences be Bought ~ New Light on Luther's Oharges," by the Rev. John A. O'Brien, Ph. D., Ohaplain of the Oatholic Students, University of Illinois, in Our Sunday Visitor of September 24, 1933.) It is natural that the bulk of Roman Oatholic apology, when speaking of the Reformation age, centers on indulgences. There Luther made his first public attack Very soon indulgences indeed became almost a side issue in Luther's Reformation; Grisar de- liberately misinterprets Luther when he tries to make it appear as though Luther ascribed the cause of the great defection to the un- fortunate monk Tetzel;l) but the beginning of the Reformation was indeed Luther's protest against the indulgence fraffic as then prev- alent. Indulgences are moreover so valuable an institution of the Roman Ohurch, so profitable to the hierarchy to this day, if not in money, yet as a means of establishing and mailltaining its power, that they are worth defending to the last ditch. And defense is neces- sary since for the above-mentioned reason Protestants will in their writing and preaching on the Reformation period always pay their respects to Tetzel and his campaign of selling these spiritual bond issues of the Pope. W c are so accustomed to speak of the sale of indulgences, the indulgence traffic, etc., that it may comEl with an element of surprise to hear a Roman theologian deny that indulgences were sold; "only for a relatively brief period ... indulgences were considered by some as a commodity purchasable for money." Not the Ohurch considered them such, but only "a group of men, ... ne'er-do-wells, and rolling 1) Grisar, Duther, I, 281. Indulgences. 243 stones, who found this work of roaming about from village to village just to their liking." It may be well for us to "investigate the charge" that indulgences were bought and sold. Oan the way in which indulgences were preached and distributed rightly be called a "mercenary traffic"? Was it "unsavory," and was there "ecclesiastical graft"? Let us at this time only consult such historians as are of the other camp, ranking Oatholic historians. Ludwig Pastor, in Vol. IV, 1, of his Geschichte der Paepste,2) describes the origin, the underlying cause, of the deplorable conditions at the time of the Reformation thus: The Ohurch had accumulated too much wealth; this had an evil effect on the officials of the Ohurch; they looked at the Ohurch as a V ersorgnngsanstalt; many entered the clergy only to obtain a sinecure. Qualis rex, talis grex ,. the corrup- tion seeped downward; bishops had no time for preaching or spiritual supervision of the clergy; result: religious and moral degeneration of secular and regular clergy and of the laity. "Ma.i~chen Beobachtern schienen die Missstaende so schwer, dass sie ein Strafgericht Gottes fuerchteten." Furthermore, from the ranks of the bishops came arch- bishops, cardinals, and Popes. Pastor speaks of "Ge,ldgier bei dem Klerus aZle/, Grade."3) That was the situation; it was so acute that Pastor says: "Dass der Ausbruch del' Opposition gegen Rom grade an eine finanzielle Frage anknuepfte, war keineswegs zufaellig; denn ueber nichts wurde im damaligen Deutschland mehr geklagt als ueber die Geldforde- rungen del' Kurie und die damit verbundenen schweren Miss- braeuche."4) We cannot agree with Pastor when he stresses the financial abuses overmuch as a preparatory cause of the Reformation; but for the purposes of this paper it is well to keep this in mind. That in this mad chase after riches the promising field of in- duIgences cou1d not be overlooked does not seem more than natural. Indulgence, not to enter here on the history and development of the institution, was originally a commutation of the penance which in Oatholic teaching must be performed to cancel tIle temporal punish- ment that remains after sin has been confessed and forgiven. A pen- ance imposed by a priest, deemed too severe by the penitent, could, on appeal to Rome, be commuted into another pious work. Gradually this commutation was extended beyond actual penance imposed by the priest to the accumalated mass of temporal punishment due for committed sins, which, if not canceled before death, must be borne in purgatory. The idea was particularly developed during the cru- 2) All quotations are from eds.I-4, Freiburg iill Breisgau, 1906. 3) Pastor, l. 0., 200-206. Cpo also Janssen, Gesoh. d. deutsohen Volkes, 1,601. 4) Pastor, 1. 0., 223. 244 Indulgences. sades; first, to gain recruits for these holy wars, indulgence being promised for actual participation in the war, then for furnishing a substitute; then indulgence was granted for giving alms to be used in carrying on the crusades; and thus, before the end of the crusades, indulgences developed into a method of getting money;5) and with that object in view they were not only retained, but enor- mously extended. And so developed the "mercenary traffic." "U nerlaessliche Vorbedingung zur Erwerbung jeglichen Ablasses ist del' Stand del' Gnade, bzw. reumuetige Beicht, ausserdem wurde die Verrichtung guter Werke, wie Gebet, Kirchenbesuch, Almosen und sonstige Opfer fuel' fro=e, gemeinnuetzige Zwecke, vorgeschrie- ben." 6) For the sake of argument let us admit that in the beginning, as Pastor says, the contribution of alms was merely "akzessorisch"; in a short time it became the one essential, and especially in the century before the Reformation was that the case. Without any qualification that is admitted. Almost all the com- plaints regarding the abuses connected with indulgences turn on this point, "dass die Glaeubigen nach Ablegung del' Beicht als del' selbst- verstaendlichen Voraussetzung zur Gewinnung des Ablasses noch eine ihren Vermoegensverhaeltnissen entsprechende Geldsu=e in den Opferstock legen mussten. Diese Geldspende fuel' gute Zwecke, die nul' akzessorisch war, gestaltete sich vielfach zur Hauptsache. Da- durch wurde del' Ablass von seiner idealen Hoehe herabgezogen und zu €liner Finanzoperation erniedrigt. Nicht mehr die Erlangung geistlicher Gnaden war jezt del' eigentliche Grund, weshalb Ablaesse erbeten und verliehen wurden, sondern das Geldbeduerfnis."7) Cardinal Gasquet cites the lawyer Christopher Saint-German, who "considered that the people generally were shocked at finding 'the Pope and other spiritual rulers' granting 'pardons' for the pay- ment of money. . .. That has caused many to think that the said pardons were granted rather of covetousness than of charity or for the health of the souls of the people." He is still naive enough to express a hope: "If it were so ordered by the Pope that there might be certain general pardons of full remission in diverse parts of the realm, which the people might have for saying certain orisons and prayers without paying any money for it, it is not unlikely that in a short time there would be very few that would find any fault with 'pardons.' "8) Note that he would be satisfied with "certain general pardons" that required no money payment; evidently, then, there were none of that description; all had to be bought. 5) Boehmer (Ruth), Luther in the Light of Recent Research, p.124 f. 6) Pastor, l. 0., 229. 7) Pastor, l. 0., 23l. 8) The Eve of the Reformation, p. 382 f. Indulgences. 245 Bishop Gardiner "incidentally makes use of some strong expres- sions about the granting of pardons for the payment of money .... He has been asserting that by every means in his power the devil, now in one way and now in another, attempts to prevent men from practising the good works necessary for salvation. 'For that purpose,' he says, 'he procured out pardons from Rome, wherein heaven was sold for a little money, and to retail that merchandise the devil used friars for his ministers.' "9) Oardinal OaraiIa, the later Pope Paul TV, one of a papal commission of four to draw up suggestions for the improvement of ecclesiastical discipline, submitted a document to- the Pope in which, among other points needing correction, were men- tioned the granting of indulgences for money payments and permis- sion given to traveling collectors, such as the questors of the Holy Spirit, etc., to bestow "pardons" in return for subscriptions.10) Sadolet, another cardinal on the same commission, is quoted as say- ing: "The whole of Germany has been convulsed by the indulgences granted by Pope Leo X to those who would contribute to tbA building of St. Peter's." He did not, he says, doubt the power of the Pope in granting these indulgences, but he held that "they should be granted freely and that there should be no mention of money in regard to them. The loving-kindness and mercy of God should not be sold for money." 11) Again, before we part from Gasquet, he is right when he states that not too much stress must be laid on these abuses as causes of the Reformation.12) These lay deeper, and Gasquet, too, has not found them. But our point here is to show that this par- ticular abuse of the indulgences was prevalent. Let us again hear Pastor. Boniface IX granted indulgences in unusually great number "mit dem ausgesprochenen Zwecke, auf diese Weise Geld zu gewinnen".13) In 1390 came the call for the next jubilee year, issued by Boniface IX, accompanied by indulgences granted under new conditions: "Zu den bisherigen Bedingungen kam naemlich jetzt die hinzu, dass diejenigen, welche den vollkommenen Ablass gewinnen wollten, 80 viel an Geld darzubringen hatten, wie sie auf einer Reise nach Rom ausgegeben und den dortigen Kirchen gespendet haben wuerden. Das N aehere hierueber hatten die Glaeu- bigen mit dem Kollektor zu vereinbaren. . .. 'So erhielt die gross- gedachte Idee des Jubeljahres durch das Jl,farkten zwischen Kol- lektor und Pilger so 8ehr den Oharakter eines Geschaeftes, dass missverstaendliche Auslegungen von seiten del' Kollektoren und un- 9) Ibid., 385. 10) Ibid., 385. 11) Ibid., 385 f. Sadolet is also cited by Janssen, Gesohichte des deutschen Vo~kes, II,77, note, as opposing these indulgences. 12) Gasquet, l. c., 392. 13) Pastor, l. c., 231. 246 Indulgences. richtige Auffassungen von seiten del' Pilger gar nicht ausbleiben konnten.' Von den einkommenden Geldern musste die HaeHte nach Rom abgeliefert werden."14) In 1394 a jubilee indulgence was granted to the city of Oologne. When this indulgence was proclaimed, the official representatives of the papal curia were in attendance, an abbot and a banker, which deepened the impression that the curia con- sidered the financial end the most important,15) Results could not fail. "Ordens- und Weltgeistliche scheuten sich nicht, die Gnaden geradezu zu verkaufen; um Geld erteilten sie selbst Leuten, welchen die Reue fehlte, die Absolution!" 16) And as we draw nearer to the Reformation, conditions do not improve. The successors of Boniface IX follow in his footsteps; papal bulls granting indulgences are indeed carefully couched in stereotyped phrases, demanding contrition and confession as :first requirement, but they mean nothing; "trat doch bei diesen Gnadenerweisungen die finanzielle Seite, die N otwendigkeit einer Geldspende, in aergernis- erregender Weise in den V ordergrund. Immel' mehr nahm del' Ablass die Form eines Geldgeschaeftes an." 17) Emser is quoted by Janssen: "Sogar Hieronymus Emser spricht von del' Schuld del' 'gcizigen Kom- missarien, Monich und Pfaifen, die so unverschaemt davon [von dem AblassJ gepredigt ... und mohr auffs Geld, denn auf Beicht, Reu und Leid gesetzt.''' 18) This led to trouble with the government, which objected to the steady flow of money to Rome, money that was sorely needed at home. August 1, 1446, the councilors of the electors met in Frankfort. Oar- dinal Hergel1l'oether reports: "Man erging sich in heftigen Dekla- mationen wider den roemischen Stuhl, 'del' abermals dem deutschen Schaeflein das Fell ueber die Ohren ziehen wolle, dieses Mal unter dem Vorwande des Tuerkenzehnten. Dagegen muesse man entschie- den Appelation einlegen, die Ablassverkuendiger mit leer en Haenden heimschicken, die paepstlichen Nepotcn nicht noch mehr berei- chern.' "19) Objections grew louder as the contributions to Rome increased with the increasing expenses of the papal court and the cver more arrogant demands of the Pope, who, having weathered the great Reform Oouncils with practically unimpaired powers, felt safer than ever. Leo X tried a new way of overcoming this jealousy of the princes by giving them a share in the spoil. Maximilian I re- 14) Pastor, 1. c., 232. Janssen, Banijrkt'iltS, IX, 143. 15) Pastor, 1. c., 232. 16) Pastor, I. c., 232. 17) Pastor, I. c., 233. 18) Emser, Wider das unohristenUche Buch Luthers an den tewtsohen Adel Bl. G., in Janssen, Gesoh. d. deutsohen Valkes, II,77, note. See also Grisar, Luther, I, 289. 19) Hefele-Hergenroether, Konziliengeschiohte, VIII, 90. Indulgences. 247 ceived the promise of 1,000 Rhenish florins annually, for three years, of the revenue collected for the indulgence issue granted to Albert of Mainz.20) Seebohm is authority for the statement that Leo offered Henry VIn one-fourth of what came from England; but Henry haggled and bargained to get a third!21) The Gravamina Nationis Germanicae of 1511 contain this complaint: "1 ndulgentiae novae cum 1·evocatione aut suspensione ve,terum, (laicis contTa clerum murmu- raniibus) ad cormdenda,s pecunias concedtmtuT."22) And now Tetzel. Did he "sell grace for money at the highest price"? Well, Pastor says: "Tetzel [hat] in U ebereinstimmung mit den fuel' ihn massgebenden Ablassinstruktionen wirklich verkuendet, es sei christliches Dogma, dass zur Gewinnung des Ablasses fuel' die Verstorbenen nul' die Geldspende erforderlich sei, keineswegs aber Reue und Beicht. . .. Es kann keinem Zweifel unterliegen, dass er, von dieser Voraussetzung ausgehend, das drastische Spruechlein 'Sobald das Gcld im Kasten klingt, die Seele aus dem Fegfeuer spring't' wenigstens dem Inhalt nach gepredigt hat."23) Grisar: "Er lehrte, dass solche Wirkung des vollkommenen Ablasses fuel' Tote ohne Reue und Busse des Lebenden zu erreichen sei mittels del' blossen Geldspende."24) The same statement was made in the in- structions given to the indulgence preachers by Bomhauer, Arcim- boldi, and Albert of Brandenburg.25) Grisar does not hesitate to use such phrases: "die Erwerber eines Beicht- und Ablassbriefes"; "da- fuel' erlegten sie ein Almosen". He cites Johann Lindner, a con- temporary Dominican: "Er [Tetzel] erdachte aber ungehoerte vVege, Geld auszugewinnen."26) Lord Acton says: "All the benefits available to a pilgrim visiting Rome could be enjoyed at a distance by the pur- chase of an indulgence from the friars sent round to sell them .... The extreme point was the theory that payment of a few pence would rescue a soul from purgatory."27) And regarding the confessionalia, Pastor admits: "Die sogenannten Beicht- oder Ablassbriefe konnten allerdings ohne Reue, nur durch eine Geldspende, erworben wer- den." 28) Of these ~. Paulus, the standard Oatholic biographer of Tetzel, says: "Sie bezogen sich auf zukuenftige Suenden, insofern sie die Erwerber derselben ermaechtigten, sich auch fuer spaetere 20) Pastor, I. c., 236. Grisar, I. c., 287. 21) F. Seebohm, The ETa of the PTotestant Revolution, p. 97. 22) Cited by Hergenroether, l. c., 448; quoted by Lea, Histo1·Y of Oon- fession and Indulgences, III, 295, note. 23) Pastor,~. 0., 239. 24) Grisar, Luther, I, 279. 25) Ibid., 279. 26) Ibid., 278. 27) Lectures on Modern History, p. 91 f. 28) L. c., 238. 248 Indulgences. Suenden nach eigenem Ermessen einen Beichtvater zu waehlen, und insofern sie fuer spaeter einen Ablass verhiessen, vorausgesetzt, dass man die begangenen Suenden demuetig beichten wollte."29) TheJesuit historian Maimbourg writes: "Some of these preachers [monks whom Tetzel had taken with him] ... gave the people cause to believe that they were assured of their salvation and of the deliverance of souls from purgatory as soon as they had given their money."30) And finally the Z eitschrift fu(')1' die hist. Theol. prints a letter of the Oatholic burgomaster of Goerlitz, Johann Rass, acknowledged by Grisar as "das Echo von treuen Ohrenzeugen," in which he speaks of Tetzel's indulgence-preaching in Goerlitz in 1509: "Rat 801che gratien durch deutsche Nation herdurch auffs geldt treulich ge- predigt. . . . Er were mehr den die muttir gottis zuuergebung vnd zubehaldung del' sunde; sobalde del' pfennige ins becken geworffen vnd cluenge, sobalde were die sele, dofuer er geleget gen Rymel."31) This should suffice to vindicate Luther's word; also, to show that Oatholic scholars concede it was a mercenary traffic. And if you study it at all honestly, especially that last bond issue that was to serve as security for the loan made by the Fuggers of Augsburg to the Archbishop of Mainz; when you hear Janssen call it "das un- wuerdige Geschaeft" and Pastor say: "Unter allen Umstaenden [war] doch das Ganze ein fuel' saemtliche Beteiligten hoechst unehrenvoller Randel; dass derselbe zum Rereinbruch del' durch viele andere U r- sachen vorbereiteten Katastrophe fuehrte, erscheint wie ein Straf- gericht des Rimmels"; and Grisar: "N ennt man den V organg 'diesel' Pfruendenerwerbung und des mit ihr verquickten Ablasses unwuerdig und verwerflich,' so wird es heute kaum einen einsichtigen Katholiken geben, der dies en Ausdruck zu stark finden duerfte"; and Paulus: "J edenfalls war es ein hoechst unwuerdiger Randel, und man darf es wohl als ein Gottesgericht bezeichnen, dass gerade der Mainzer Ablass die Veranlassung del' durch mancherlei Ursachen vorberei- teten Kirchenspaltung geworden ist," - how any Oatholic who values his reputation even as a student of history can deny that it was an unsavory business, that reeked to heaven with ecclesiastical graft and greed, it is hard to conceive; and that he dares to publish such a denial in a Oatholic paper is only an evidence that he still counts on the "gullibility of simple, ignorant, and superstitious people." THEO. ROYER. 29) Cited by Grisar, Luther, II, 440, note. 30) Hist. du Lntheranisme, 1681, p. 21; cited by D'Aubigne. 31) 1842, Heft 4, 173 f.