Offering pardon for future sins

The pope needed funds to rebuild St. Peter’s Chuch in Rome. So he authorised a preacher named Tetzel to see ‘indulences’ throughout Germany. Tetzel said, ‘No sooner do the coins clink in the money chest than the souls of a loved one flies out of purgatory.’ ( Luther, Works of Martin Luther, The Philadelphia Edition, trans. C. M. Jacobs, vol. 1: Letter to the Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), p. 26.)

One day a young man asked Tetzel if the purchase of an indulgence could obtain pardon for any sin.  “Absolutely!” responded Tetzel.  “What if the sin hasn’t yet been committed, but is being contemplated by a person?” the man asked.  “It makes no difference,” Tetzel assured him.  “No sin is too great.”  With that, the young man eagerly purchased the indulgence.  After Tetzel had completed his rather lucrative session in that village, he packed up his wares and journeyed toward the next town.  On the way, he was confronted by a band of thieves who robbed him of all he had, including the money from that day’s sale of indulgences.  The grinning leader of the thieves was none other than the young man who had purchased an indulgence that afternoon in contemplation of a future sin – robbery.

David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up, 3rd ed., Scroll Publishing Company, Tyler, TX, 1999, p. 144.

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