A common liturgy for Catholics & Lutherans on Reformation Day

Catholics and LWF Lutherans have released a common liturgy to be used for joint services, with both a Catholic and a Lutheran celebrant, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 1517.  (Both conservative Lutherans and conservative Catholics will find unity in the response of being appalled.) [Read more…]

Still praying for the souls of the Fuggers

There were the Robber Barons, the 1%, and those the Democrats demonize as “the rich.”  But they are Salvation Army bell ringers compared to Jakob Fugger, the 16th century money man who was one of the founders of the banking system and a prime mover in many of the royal schemes, shady investments, and bribery conspiracies in the late-Middle Ages and early Renaissance.

It was the Fuggers who lent the money used by the Archbishop of Mainz to bribe the Pope into appointing him to various church offices, with the three-way agreement that the loan would be paid back through the sale of indulgences in Germany.  A venture that led a certain monk to post 95 theses.

The Fugger fortune is long gone, but Jakob set up an endowment to provide housing for poor people, on the condition that they would pray each day for his soul’s release from Purgatory.  This is still going on!  The cost of the rent has not gone up for 500 years and comes to just $1.23 per month.  And the beneficiaries are still praying for him, which suggests that he must still be in Purgatory after 500 years. [Read more…]

Indulgences for the Jubilee Year

Nearly 500 years after the 95 Theses, Roman Catholics still believe in indulgences that will free you or someone else from the punishments of Purgatory.  A big one is offered in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as initiated by the Pope when he opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s basilica last Tuesday.

If you go through this door or one of other designated doors in churches throughout the world and fulfilled some other conditions (not paying money–the Counter Reformation accepted Luther’s arguments about that), you will be given a plenary indulgence that will give you complete remission of punishment for your sins up to that point.  You may receive one plenary indulgence per day for subsequent sins or to release others from Purgatory.  (But I thought souls want to be purged from their sins in Purgatory, according to modern Catholic and even some evangelical apologists for the doctrine!  And if you can pay for others’ sins, why can’t Christ pay for all?)

Anyway, see how the plenary indulgence works, from a Catholic website, after the jump. [Read more…]

Luther and Religious freedom

The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent account by Joe Loconte on Luther, the Reformation, and its precursors.  He ends up crediting Luther, who insisted that faith is not something that can be coerced, for the Western concept of religious freedom.  He then wonders if Islam can ever have such a reform.  Read it all, but I’ll quote some of his final paragraphs after the jump. [Read more…]

Reformation website

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has put together a web site in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which will take place in 2017.  (So this year it’s the 498th anniversary.)  The site includes lots of resources, including videos.  It also announces a hymnwriting competition!

After the jump, I have posted an excellent video from the site, featuring LCMS president Matthew Harrison, great shots of Wittenberg, and the theme, “It’s Still All About Jesus.” [Read more…]

The Reformation of the church

Tomorrow is Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses against the sale of indulgences.  I keep reading online about how tragic the Reformation was, how unneeded it is now, and how it’s wrong to celebrate the breaking up of the church.

But does anyone think that the medieval church did not need to be reformed?  Can anyone say that the sale of indulgences was a good thing?  Can anyone defend the corruption of the Renaissance popes–their selling of church offices, their bribes, their mistresses, their illegitimate children whom they made cardinals, their inquisitions, their wars?  The great medieval authors–Dante, Chaucer, Langland, and many others–all criticized these abuses in the church.

Even the Roman Catholic Church came to admit these evils.  Luther’s Reformation provoked the Counter-Reformation, which finally the moral and financial corruption.  It also set in stone some theological issues that were not all that clear when Luther first proposed his reforms.  [Read more…]