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Web Question: Martin Luther and Indulgences

September 1, 2012

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1529)

Below please find the first set of web questions, written by your classmate Aaron Ahdut. If you choose to respond to these questions, click on the comment section below this post and remember to write a response of at least one paragraph. And you might want to take a look at the “web comment guidelines” before writing as well. So here we go:

Why did Martin Luther have such a big problem with indulgences? Do you think the Church was within its rights to grant them in exchange for monetary payments or was the practice simply motivated by greed?

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Irena Pergjika permalink
    September 2, 2012 9:37 pm

    Why did Martin Luther have such a big problem with indulgences?

    As a practicing German monk, Martin Luther had plenty of time to think about Catholic Church’s teachings and policies. He strongly believed that by paying the Church money in order to be forgiven by God for the sins they have committed was not the right approach. In his testaments, Martin Luther argued that the right path towards heaven was not by paying money to the Church, but by following the path of Jesus Christ.

    Do you think the Church was within its rights to grant them in exchange for monetary payments or was the practice simply motivated by greed?

    From a moral perspective, the Church was not within its rights to grant indulgences because the Church went against their own teachings. By granting the right to go and commit sins, the Church ignored the main tenants of Catholicism and committed one of the deadly sins: greed. But from a business perspective they had every right to set up a system that would best benefit them, as in a club which charges admission fees, or event fees to the club members. And since the Catholic church was the only way to reach heaven, people at the time would not question the indulgence system.

  2. aaron ahdut permalink
    September 3, 2012 2:30 pm

    I think the reason Martin Luther had such a big problem with the church using indulgences, is because they overused their authorities and their power for their own personal reasons ( bringing money into the churches treasury ). He thought that the church was not in their rights to give out forgiveness for the sins people have done, and that the power to do so only belonged to god himself. So when the church was using indulgences , in his mind the church was greedy and unfair to the people it was deceiving .

    In my opinion I agree with Martin Luther in witch the church had no rights to deceive anybody to thinking that their sins would be pardon just by giving money to the church . I think it was greedy, immoral , and wicked for anybody , especially the church to do such a thing. The power the church had in those days were so great that any thing they would say , the people would do . This power could have been used for good and bad , so when the church used this power for monitory motives ( with indulgences ) it is obvious that what they did was only for greed.

  3. Fabiola Ramos permalink
    September 4, 2012 11:37 am

    Martin Luther had a problem with indulgences because he felt that the church authorities were trying to take a power that didnt belong to them. According to Luther, the only one who has the power to remove and forgive sins is God. Therefore he believed that having people give money to excuse them from doing penance was the church authorites way of demonstrating greed. I agree with Luther when he accuses the Roman Catholic Church of ” greed, hypocrisy, and moral rot”. The Catholic church and its members are suppose to be serving a God who they believe will free them of their sins based on the indivuals actions not based on the money the individual gives the church. The problem here is not the fact that individuals are giving money to the church, its the reason why they are giving money to the church. The idea that by making a payment you will be facilliating your way into heaven is ridiculous when the church officials know that inorder to make your way into heaven you need to follow Jesus.

  4. Joseph DeAngelo permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:45 pm

    In recognition of the Church’s greedy and hypocritical actions, Martin Luther despised indulgences due to its violation of penance’s original intent. Penance was, in the eyes of Luther, supposedly a transaction of admittance and forgiveness between one and God. It is a sacred bond and, therefore, should not be complicated or polluted with any type of monetary payments. Paying for indulgence is religiously inappropriate and irrelevant to the process of penance as a whole. Luther thereby strongly disagreed with sale for indulgences because it was a self-benefitting exercise for the Church–who was obsessed with money and vanity. The Church was motivated by greed, in the light that if they had more money they could pay for better resources (e.g., the reconstruction of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome). No where in the Bible does it mention the penance for sin must have dollar sign next to it. The Church was out of its rights and acting immorally for extraneous reasons that true Christianity cannot justify. By and large, Luther posted his *Ninety-Five Theses* which called out the church publicly; its large distribution and concurrence symbolized his bravery in speaking for the people.

  5. Vera Orlando permalink
    September 4, 2012 5:42 pm

    The main purpose for indulgences in the early 16th century was to make people believe they were guaranteed a spot in heaven once they passed away, but in reality was mainly to collect money into the church. Martin Luther believed that these indulgences were nothing but “signs of greed, hypocrisy, and moral riot” to the church. In other words, he considered them a huge contradiction because the Roman Catholic church was all about teaching to make morally correct decisions in order to be a better person, meanwhile they were manipulating people with the sale of these indulgences. He believed no one had the power to decide who would enter heaven and it was up to God alone. I do not believe that the church had the right to sell these indulgences for money because the people were lied to and manipulated by people they looked up to as their religious leaders. It was an unfair way of treating them all. It is understandable that the church needed money to maintain itself, however i strongly believe the way they tried to get that money gave a very negative view to the catholic church as a whole, at the time.

  6. Norbert Fital permalink
    September 4, 2012 10:30 pm

    I believe Martin Luther had a problem with indulgences because it this act is does not follow the bibles teachings since people were paying for sins literary with money rather than spiritually. The Catholic Church had full control of people’s thoughts and lives which made then brainwashed to believe whatever the priests say. The clergyman would use that to their advantage and would make a lot of profit for exchanging money for cleansing sins. Martin Luther disliked the clergy mans actions since this action is not moral nor is it in the bible’s teachings. The Clergyman definitely displayed a thirst for money which displayed signs of greed. Another reason why Martin Luther was against indulgences is because “greed” is one of the seven deadly sins of Christianity, which was definitely displayed by the Roman Catholic clergyman.

  7. Ebru Oktayer permalink
    September 5, 2012 12:44 am

    Martin Luther felt that indulgences were a blatant overstep of power by the Church. Their actions showcased their willingness to deceive for personal gain. He felt that they had no right, or authority, to grant such pardons and that only God could do so. They abused their power and Martin Luther challenged their actions, which resulted in one of the largest religious reformations in that time period.

    I agree with Martin Luther, the actions of the Church were deceptive and fueled by greed. They felt that the benefits outweighed the negatives and continued giving indulgences regardless of its immorality.

  8. Shayna Wolf permalink
    September 5, 2012 12:54 am

    There is a joke told about indulgences that ends with the punch line ‘ pay me, go do some more sins, and come back tomorrow’. That’s the problem with indulgence. People think that paying will leave them with a clean slate for tomorrow and then they could just start again. Like others have said, it doesn’t work that way. However, the church set up and taught this system to their members. Since they had so much power in that time,they could have done whatever they wanted, and that’s what they did. If they had a problem with someone, they would just excommunicate them, like they did with Martin Luther. since everyone in those days feared the church, this was an actual threat. So people had to follow the rules and customs of the church. The church would take advantage of this fact and use indulgences. Like Locke wrote about tyranny, “this is making use of the power anyone has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it… when the governor, however entitled, makes not the law, but his will” ( the second treatise of government, 199 – shaping page37). This is exactly what the church did, they acted as tyrants and for that reason Martin Luther found what to complain/write about.

  9. Seon Samuel permalink
    September 5, 2012 1:53 am

    For starters Martin Luther had such a big problem with indulgences because the church was taking on a role/power that only belonged to God. Which was, only God had the power to forgive humans of their sins and then grant them permission into heaven if they were worthy enough. This goes on to add to the point that he believe that this was an act of hypocrisy on the part of the church, because these people who were offering indulgences knew that in the Holy scripture it was clearly stated that on God has the ability to forgive one of their sins. I personally agree with Luther on the fact that the church was motivated by greed in its actions because as the text states the selling of indulgences were used as a way to raise und for the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Also it was a way of bringing large sums of money in the church’s treasury

  10. Omar Algamoos permalink
    September 5, 2012 2:35 am

    Martin Luther was a German monk who was very well educated in the Christian faith. He witnessed indulgences being sold to the people for money and thought it was morally wrong that the catholic church was trying to play gods role of forgiving and erasing sins. Martin Luther believed that true forgiveness can only come from god and by following jesus’s way. I think the catholic church was way out of place and was more like a kings castle than a place of worship. The church is supposed to be the place for guidance, instead, it’s a place where the wealthy is granted more forgiveness. If the church needed money, than they could of just asked the people for charity. Charity is mandatory by the Christian faith but only god alone can decide if a person can be forgiven. It’s also very ironic that the people running the catholic church are the ones who are in need of forgiveness due to there major sin of greed.

  11. September 5, 2012 9:11 am

    Martin Luther had a problem with indulgences because they were an excuse made by the Roman Catholic church in order to get money from people. Martin Luther wanted a more direct connection with God and with the Roman Catholic church peoples connection to God was through the chuch and the indulgences they were selling. The Church had no right in selling indulgences. It was all done for the point of greed. The act played on peoples beliefs and the desire to reach heaven. Believers want an assured passage to heaven after death so they would be willing to buy indulgences. This would mean that people could commit sins, pay the church for entrance into heaven, and then do it again which defeats the purpose of anything being a sin. Its like saying that a serieal killer who payed the church no longer a sinner.

  12. Peter Fiorentino permalink
    September 5, 2012 12:51 pm

    Martin Luther was against indulgences for many reasons, but mostly because they were considered greed, hypocrisy, and moral rot in the Roman Catholic church. Luther was against the church’s highest officials spoiling themselves with material goods and food. Luther made a list of all the things that he found wrong in the church. It is commonly believed that the list had been nailed to the door of the church as Luther’s way of sending a message, but this is not true. In his list of complaints includes how he did not think the church should be accepting monetary payments in exchange for granting people indulgences.

  13. Andrew Laperuta permalink
    September 5, 2012 12:53 pm

    Martin Luther thought that indulgences were signs of greed, hypocrisy, and moral rot in the roman catholic church. Luther despised the pretentiousness of church authorities who arrogated to themselves powers that belonged properly to God alone: no human being had the power to absolve individuals of their sins and grant them admission to heaven, Luther believed, so the sale of indulgences constituted a huge fraud perpetrated on an unsuspecting public.

    I believe that the church started out for the indulgences to raise money for St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. I also believe that they did have the point of view for the indulgences to encourage individuals to reflect piously on their behavior. But i beliee that once the church saw how much money they were pulling in through the indulgences that greed did take over and they kept selling them just to make money.

  14. Jotty T. Francois Fils permalink
    September 5, 2012 10:20 pm

    In the medieval age, the catholic church was supreme. From the pop comes all the decisions concerning people’s lives, He has decreed the indulgences in exchange with the atonement of sin. Based on the bible, Martin Luther, German monk, was disagreed with the indulgences practice. He considered them as a false doctrine from the catholic church. He believed that the christian does not need the intervention of the church to have access to divinity. In moral sens It was unethical, a lack of piety from the church.In his writing, he even stated that the salvation of the soul is a free gift from God. For Luther ,it was a shame for the church to stole people’s money and lead them into error. The spiritual life of the people was at stake and Luther wanted to enlighten them.
    The church wasn’t in its rights, it was simply motivated by greed, because it was a lie from the church overlooked the people, the catholic church took advantage of people ignorance and wanted only satisfy its need. As a church, it supposed to guide people to the truth.

  15. Sundes Ambreen permalink
    September 8, 2012 5:47 pm

    Martin Luther was a man who stuck by the true teachings of the Bible. He believed that indulgences were wrong because no human can grant pardon to anyone. The only One who can forgive and grant you access to heaven is God. No amount of money can buy you a seat in heaven. Indulgences were against Christian teachings because no where in the Bible has it been stated that you can pay your way into heaven. That does not even make sense because then you can commit adultery, murder, rape, etc. during the day and pay a huge amount of money at the end of the day to the Church and viola! You are forgiven! The person can do this everyday and be forgiven everyday?
    I believe that the Church was motivated by greed. Man is a weak creature. He can be easily tempted and being tempted by money is a huge test that many fail. They collected the money and used it for their own purposes, such as, decorating the church.

  16. Richard Lu permalink
    September 10, 2012 11:14 pm

    From what I know about indulgences, they were something the catholic church created to pardon sins. The indulgences were a really great way to make money for church after people started rebelling against them. I believe that Martin Luther had a problem with indulgences because he knew that the church was corrupt, and people actually believed that it was going to serve its purpose. From a personal perspective on the churches indulgences, I believe that the church used this method simply motivated by greed. The church had more than enough money and also they even had enough money to build st. Peters basilica. 

  17. Ezra Pichotto permalink
    September 11, 2012 9:25 pm

    Martin Luther was a German monk who though to reform Christianity. Luther was unhappy by how large, lavish and power full the Catholic Church became. During the 15 and 16 century the church was the central institution in Europe. Luther believed that the church was becomming too greedy and corrupt. During this time when people wished to repent for their sins they gave money to the church, this practice was called indulgences. Martin Luther wanted to put an end to this he saw this as greed and manipulation by the church. Luther believed that ever Christian has the right to connect to gd directly. The money that was collected by the church via indulgences was used to finance the completion of many classical renaissance painting and to build some of the largest and fanciest sculptures and buildings in Europe.

    Personally I think that donating money to a religious institution is a great way for some to repent for their sins, this is because people are extremely attached to their money. HOWEVER in order to be forgiven the person also has to be sorry for sinning and work on that aspect that he is flawed in. While the institution that’s is receiving the money should not refuse someone confession just because he can not pay the donation, perhaps they should make him donate something else such as his time to a worthy cause such as community.

    In his work the “ninety five thesis” Completed in 1517 Luther explains what he sees wrong with the church. He wished to translate the bible from Latin to the regular vernacular that the everyday people spoke, he also wantedn to shut down the monastaries and end the power of the church and the pope.

    Luther was later excommunicated by pope Leo X in 1520 and his teachings spread and became popular throughout Germany and Switzerland.

  18. Winine Fu permalink
    September 14, 2012 10:55 pm

    Martin Luther didn’t believe that the church had the ability to acknowledge and forgive sins by having people buy their way into the heavens. The bible was the only “book of law” and Martin Luther believed strongly if anyone was to be accepted into the heavens they need to live by the Bible. God is the only one who can accept those who have or haven’t commit sins within heavens and the church had no right to excuse those who have sinned in the name of God. The church used the ignorance of people and their power in having them believe they were god’s messengers and their words were the word of God. The church was not within any rights to grant anything in the name of God, indulgence was a movement caused by greed. There’s no other way to explain how the church’s hierarchy can believe they can excuse people’s sin in the return of a sum of money. Providing the church an amount of funds should be done without any thoughts of return. Of course I’m not stating that the church could have functioned without any funds, but to use people’s ignorance so the church itself can perform a sin of greed was already wrong. Martin Luther knew how a church was suppose to be and he lived by the Bible and saw the wrong doings of their actions. His publication had made people who were willing to listen see how the church was abusing their powers and how the people’s faith in the church was being abused as well.

  19. Rehman Muzaffar permalink
    September 29, 2012 9:14 pm

    Why did Martin Luther have such a big problem with indulgences? Do you think the Church was within its rights to grant them in exchange for monetary payments or was the practice simply motivated by greed?

    Martin Luther had an issue with the indulgences because they were all a lie to make money out of people. People thought they would go strait to heaven with an indulgence because at the time the church would be the closest to God, and anything that they said would be easily accepted. Martin Luther believed that nothing but the Bible was reliable, that included the church.
    I think that the church had no right to grant indulgences to people for their reasons, it was all because of greed. The church is a symbol of religion and their only path should be to teach the right things. Instead trying to make quick money for reasons that do not exist should be punishable by God.

  20. shahid khan permalink
    September 30, 2012 11:53 pm

    Martin Luther had a big problem with indulgences because as a well educated German mock, he saw that indulgences was being used in a wrong way that people had to pay to the church to forgive their sin so that they can go to heaven after their death. The people did not have a direct connection with God. They were told by the church authorities that the only way God can forgive them was by giving them money and forgive their sins. Martin wanted a direct connection with god and not has to pay the church anything. I totally agree with Martin Luther because people do not need to go to church to ask god to forgive their sins. The people need to first forgive themselves. The God is within you. I believe the only person who can forgive you is yourselves and the person who you do wrong to. It is wrong to rip off people for your own greed. The church might have done some good for the people at that time but overall they did it for their own benefits.

  21. Xiarra-Diamond Nimrod permalink
    October 9, 2012 11:42 pm

    Based on prior knowledge of the 16th century, indulgences were basically pardons that were created by the Catholic Church in order to free people of their sins. Martin Luther felt that indulgences were “signs of hypocrisy, greed, and moral rot in the Catholic Church”. I believe that he was against it so strongly due to the fact that it was a major discrepancy in the church’s morals. Martin Luther believed that this was a slick and shameful way for the church to collect money , because it came across as believers of indulgences felt that they could buy their way into heaven.

    Im impartial towards the idea of whether the church was determined by greed , or they felt that this method could really help people. I somewhat mostly agree with Martin Luther because in order to be forgiven by others you must first forgive your self because truth comes from within. You shouldn’t feel like you need any one else’s approval besides GOD , or else your not being true to yourself.

  22. Victoria Karcz permalink
    December 18, 2012 10:07 am

    The selling of indulgences was the Church’s method of earning money, and the sinner’s belief that he or she could be forgiven for sins by monetary means. This signified the greed of the arrogant Church, and is basically a sin committed by the church itself. Martin Luther was outraged by the selling of these indulgences because he believed that in order to be forgiven for god, and to go to heaven, is something that has to be done through the faith in God, rather than through an immoral dealing of forgiveness, as done by the Church. Would these people go to heaven after paying for God’s forgiveness? No. The greed of the Church has not only lead to these desperate measures, but has also employed the belief that you could commit sins and be forgiven through the purchase of an indulgence. What if someone commits murder? Are they also “forgiven” by the church by paying the price for “forgiveness?” A sin is an immoral doing that a person can seek forgiveness from God from, and only God. The bible does not include a monetary value per degree of sin, the bible includes the act of repenting for your sins, and praying to be forgiven.The church had absolutely NO right to sell these indulgences, and those who bought them were just as morally wrong. The indulgences were clearly a result of the Church’s greed, who at the time wanted to expand on its architecture and art. Together, the sinners who did not want to achieve forgiveness from God the right way, and the Church whose greed corrupted it, exchanged in the selling of the indulgences, an act Martin Luther believed was absurd.

  23. Richard Cabral permalink
    December 18, 2012 1:56 pm

    As a religious man Martin Luther would have a problem with the way the church was doing things. Using money to forgive one sins is obviously not the way of god as one would need time to reflect on their actions, do prays and all the other required things. However with the way the system was, one could basically kill someone( excluding holy wars and if they didn’t get caught.) pay the church and they are forgiven. This act was only possible through human avarice, because God doesn’t need the money nor want it. The church would probably use the money to gain more power or bribe government officials.

  24. Caryn Rosario permalink
    December 20, 2012 12:25 am

    Martin Luther had an issue with indulgences because he saw them as a sign of greed, hypocrisy, and moral rot in the Catholic church. He despised the idea that church authorities gave themselves power that belong solely to God. He did not believe that any human had the right to absolve sins and send an individual to heaven. Luther strongly believed this was fraud and spoke out against the wrong doing of the church. I agree with Martin Luther. I do not believe anyone whether involved in the church or not has the right to cleanse someone of their sins for money. This practice was just an act of greed because I do not see how possible that someone could believe this idea to be true.

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