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A Comparison of The Early Church Indulgences with the Modern Practices of Faith. A Modern Indulgences

Modern Indulgences

Modern Indulgences seeks to replace the article of faith in the work of the Cross. We can trace several church Doctrines that promise, deliverance, victory, healing, prosperity and safety by certain traditional practices so as to obtain the desired aspect of salvation

The word indulgence etymologically originates from a Latin indulgentia, from indulgeo, which means to be kind or tender). Originally meant kindness or favor; However, in the post-classic Latin it came to mean the remission of a tax or debt. Furthermore in the Roman law and in the Vulgate of the Old Testament (Isaiah 61:1) it was used to express release from captivity or punishment.

In theological language also the word is sometimes employed in its primary sense to signify the kindness and mercy of God according to the Catholic Tradition. But, in the special sense in which it is here considered, an indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, the guilt of which has been forgiven. Among the equivalent terms used in antiquity were pax, remissio, donatio, condonatio.

In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, an indulgence is "a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins" which may reduce either or both of the penance required after a sin has been forgiven, or after death, the time to be spent in Purgatory.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes an indulgence as "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints

By the late middle Ages we witness the abuse of indulgences, mainly through commercialization, had become a serious problem which the Church recognized but was unable to restrain effectively. Indulgences were from the beginning of the Protestant Reformation a target of attacks by Martin Luther and all other Protestant theologians.

Eventually the Catholic Counter-Reformation curbed the excesses, and indulgences continue to play a role in modern Catholic religious life. Reforms in the 20th century largely abolished the quantification of indulgences, which had been expressed in terms of days or years. These days or years were meant to represent the equivalent of time spent in penance, although it was widely taken to mean time spent in Purgatory.

Indulgence was a way to pay for one’s sins and to even transfer one’s relative from Purgatory to Heaven. The Principle of Indulgence was first of all a Tradition it was not scriptural even though it can be argued that it was scripture because the Pope was equivalent to scripture. From a Scriptural Theology Indulgence can be said to be an extra biblical Church Tradition which governed the system of the Early Catholic Church.

Having said this there was a need of a reformation and hence the raise of Martin Luther. Reformation hatched a New Christian Movement or Institution which believe in Salvation being through Grace by Faith in Christ Jesus.

The 21st Century Church is as a result of the Reformation and other spiritual movements which propelled transformation and reformation the Church at large.

In comparison to this Modern Church the same practice of Indulgences can be seem in partiality not in the exact form and practice but in principle. It is true that we can trace within the body of Christ, devotional practices that offers salvation by works or practices of the church and not relying on the Grace of Christ and is not scriptural and hence a Tradition.

The Modern Indulgences

For the sake of this presentation it refers to a Tradition that is hold by the Church of Christ that is not biblical, but passed down by Church Authorities as Dogma and Revelational Doctrine that seeks to offer salvation apart from Grace.

The term Salvation is simply defined as being saved, but, what are we saved from, self or the Devil? Salvation comes from a Greek word σωτηρία – sōtēria which means deliverance, preservation, welfare, prosperity and safety. The Greek word σῴζω transliterated sózó is largely used in conjunction with sōtēria to further define salvation as sózó which means I save, heal, preserve, and rescue.

Modern Indulgences seeks to replace the article of faith in the work of the Cross. We can trace several church Doctrines that promise, deliverance, victory, healing, prosperity and safety by certain traditional practices so as to obtain the desired aspect of salvation.


Furthermore the practices are noticed simply because they have been commercialized by the Clergy. This is the same reason that gave birth to the period of Reformation, corruption and simony was at the centrality of the Catholic Church.

 The Prophetic Movement for instance ask believers to buy an anointed article so as to receive a healing, prosper or to at least contribute certain amount to bring the grace of God to be activated in one's live. This is Modern Indulgence!

What Qualifies A Practice to be a Modern Indulgence
1) The Dogma and Doctrine which is being practiced does not carry scriptural authority and it is as a result of a Church Tradition which does not have basis in the Scripture. 

The only authority that exists is a referral point which is embedded in Church Tradition or rather a person who is the Overall Authority of the church. However, not being Christ or having a Direct instruction from Christ.

2) It starts as a way of showing kindness and an action of faith. Just like the Indulgence of the Early Catholic Church but at the end becomes a commercialized practice of faith which seek to enrich the Church Fathers and proponents of the Doctrine.

3) It involves payment in the form of money or services or goods. The early Church Indulgence was a tax in form of money and the money was given to the Priest so as to use his Priestly Power of Forgiving sins and hence escape from eternal punishment in Hell. 

The same can be seen in the Modern Church believers are paying amounts of money to receive or activate the Priests special Powers to obtain that which presently Christ paid for and futuristically hope for something that God worked through Christ on the Cross, and is to be accessed by Faith in Him through Grace. 

Across the world we have church members who are taught to pay for salvation in this case salvation is indeed a complete package of prosperity, healing, protection and deliverance and not to receive it by faith for it to be by Grace.

The Salvation of believers were paid by Jesus Christ once and for all and can be accessed by faith through Grace in Jesus Christ. Are you accessing your Salvation, walking in the truth of its fulfillment?

 Grace is given to all man, but beware of this Modern Indulgences, practices that seeks to move the church from Grace to go back to the Law and works being the focus of redemption and not faith in Christ and Grace. 

In Principle are we not practising traditions that replaces faith and the place of Grace for works and laws by man? Is the church in need of another Reformation ? 

Indeed there is a shade of Truth in saying there is a raising concept and ideology which can be referred to in Principle the Indulgences of the early church which removed faith and grace for articles and taxes to obtain salvation.We are saved by Faith through Grace in Jesus Christ.




Copyright © Tonderai Goncalo
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