Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The 95 Thesis, by Martin Luther

Have you ever read the document that started the protestant reformation? On October 31st 1517 a man by the name of Martin Luther nailed 95 propositions for discussion to the Wittenburg Door. It was a common practice to nail letters to this door to spark debate and conversation. Luther had grown tired of the abuses going on in regards to selling indulgences and wanted to bring attention to the problem. The funny thing is, Luther thought that what he was doing would please the pope because Luther at the time still held the pope and the Roman Catholic Church in high esteem and simply sought to reform some of its practices. Luther believed that the pope would be glad that someone would draw attention to the practices that took glory away from God. Little did Luther know when he nailed the 95 thesis to that door that this would be the beginning of the Protestant reformation and lead to his excommunication.It's quite interesting to see how Luther's theology changes from when he wrote the 95 thesis to the time he wrote "The Bondage of the Will." Luther like all Christians who seek after God's heart continued to grow in his knowledge of the word of God. Luther became a Scripture quoting, highly theological weapon that would call people back to the word of God and away from the traditions of men. It's clear when reading the 95 thesis that at the time he wrote it Luther still held much love for the roman church and the pope in his heart. It would not be long until his eyes were opened to just how deep the corruption in the church had gone. Luther would take a stand on God's word along with others like him that the world still feels today. Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, to the Glory of God Alone.Here is what started the Reformation:

1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of penitence.

2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to penitence in one's heart; for such penitence is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.

4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward penitence) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven.

5. The Pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law.

6. The Pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases reserved to his discretion. Except for these cases,the guilt remains untouched.

7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same time, making humbly submissive to the priest, His representative.

8. The penitential canons apply only to men who are still alive, and, according to the canons themselves, none applies to the dead.

9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the Pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case.

10. It is a wrongful act, due to ignorance, when priests retain the canonical penalties on the dead in purgatory.

11. When canonical penalties were changed and made to apply to purgatory, surely it would seem that tares were sown while the bishops were asleep.

12. In former days, the canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution was pronounced; and were intended to be tests of true contrition.

13. Death puts and end to all the claims of the Church; even the dying are already dead to the canon laws, and are no longer bound by them.

14. Defective piety or love in a dying person is necessarily accompanied by great fear, which is greatest where the piety or love is least.

15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, whatever else might be said, to constitute the pain of purgatory, since it approaches very closely to the horror of despair.

16. There seems to be the same difference between hell, purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and assurance.

17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased.

18. Moreover, it does not seem proved, on any grounds of reason or Scripture, that these souls are outside the state of merit, or unable to grow in grace.

19. Nor does it seem proved to be always the case that they are certain and assured of salvation, even if we are very certain ourselves.

20. Therefore the Pope, in speaking of the plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean "all" in the strict sense, but only those imposed by himself.

21. Hence those who preach indulgences are in error when they say that a man is absolved and saved from every penalty by the Pope's indulgences;

22. Indeed, he cannot remit to souls in purgatory any penalty which canon law declares should be suffered in the present life.

23. If plenary remission could be granted to anyone at all, it would be only in the cases of the most perfect, i.e. to very few.

24. It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty.

25. The same power as the Pope exercises in general over purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in his bishopric and priest in his parish.

26. The Pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them).

27. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.

28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.

29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, Pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful).

30. No one is sure if the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness.

31. One who _bona fide_ buys indulgence is a rare as a _bona fide_ penitent man, i.e. very rare indeed.

32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means if letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.

34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental "satisfactions" decreed merely by man.

35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins.

36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.

37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.

38. Yet the Pope's remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, form as already said, they proclaim the divine remission.

39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue.

40. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men's consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties.

41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love.

42. Christians should be taught that the Pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy.

43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences.

44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties.

45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the Pope's pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God.

46. Christians should be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they are bound to retain what is only necessary for the upkeep of their home, and should in no way squander it on indulgences.

47. Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.

48. Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the Pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.

49. Christians should be taught that the Pope's indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.

50. Christians should be taught that, if the Pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.

51. Christians should be taught that the Pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.

52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters if indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the Pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.

53. Those are enemies of Christ and the Pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.

54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.

55. The Pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The treasures of the church, out of which the Pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.

57. That these treasures are note temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the Pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.

59. St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.

60. We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.

61. For it is clear that the power of the Pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.

62. The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

63. It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of the indulgences are the nets to-day which they use to fish for men of wealth.

67. The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favors, are seen to be, in fact, a favorite means for money-getting.

68. Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence;

70. But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the Pope commissioned.

71. Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences.

72. On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and license of the pardon-merchant's words.

73. In the same way, the Pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences.

74. It is much more in keeping eith his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth.

75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God.

76. We assert the contrary, and say that the Pope's pardons are not able to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned.

77. When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could grant a greater grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the Pope.

78. We assert the contrary, and say that he, and any Pope whatever, possesses greater graces, viz., the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as is declared in I Corinthians 12 [:28].

79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross with the papal arms are of equal value to the cross on which Christ died.

80. The bishops, curates, and theologians, who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without let or hindrance, will have to answer for it.

81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult for learned men to guard the respect due to the Pope against false accusations, or at least from the keen criticisms of the laity;

82. They ask, e.g.: Why does not the Pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter's church, a very minor purpose.

83. Again: Why should funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continue to be said? And why does not the Pope repay, or permit to be repaid, the benefactions instituted for these purposes, since it is wrong to pray for those souls who are now redeemed?

84. Again: Surely this is a new sort of compassion, on the part of God and the Pope, when an impious man, an enemy of God, is allowed to pay money to redeem a devout soul, a friend of God; while yet that devout and beloved soul is not allowed to be redeemed without payment, for love's sake, and just because of its need of redemption.

85. Again: Why are the penitential canon laws, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves,-why are they, to-day, still used in imposing fines in money, through the granting of indulgences, as if all the penitential canons were fully operative?

86. Again: since the Pope's income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers?

87. Again: What does the Pope remit or dispense to people who, by their perfect penitence, have a right to plenary remission or dispensation?

88. Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the church if the Pope were to bestow these remissions and dispensations, not once, as now, but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever.

89. What the Pope seeks by indulgences is not money, but rather the salvation of souls; why then does he not suspend the letters and indulgences formerly conceded, and still as efficacious as ever?

90. These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the Pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy.

91. If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the Pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist.

92. Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace.

93. Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ's people, "The cross, the cross," where there is no cross.

94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells;

95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.

October 31, 1517

Source: Dillenberger, John. Martin Luther: A Selection From His Writings. Garden City: Doubleday, 1961.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Distinguishing Mark of a True Believer

Over at Erik Raymond's blog, Irish Calvinist, he posted just a short devotional thought. I appreciated it and so I though I'd offer the link here.


God bless,


Friday, October 19, 2007

Baptism Debate Developing Details

Garret Boyer and I spoke yesterday for a couple of hours. During that time we worked out some details for the debate, and then we had some friendly conversation about the subject matter of baptism (and a bit off track we also talked about election, human will, limited atonement and eternal security). All in all it was a helpful conversation for me to gain a better idea of where Mr. Boyer will be coming from. I'm equally certain it was beneficial for him.

The date of the debate is officially set for November 10, 2007 at 2:00 pm. The question that is under debate will be: "Is baptism a necessary condition for salvation?"

Garret Boyer is a part of the Church of Christ and will be defending the position that baptism is a necessary condition for salvation.

Jacob Allee (me) is a reformed Southern Baptist and will be refuting baptism as a necessary condition for salvation and affirming that faith alone is necessary for salvation.

This is the format we will be following:

20 min. opening statement -Garret Boyer

20 min. opening statement -Jacob Allee

10 min. rebuttal -Garret Boyer

10 min. rebuttal -Jacob Allee

2nd 10 min. rebuttal -Garret Boyer

2nd 10 min. rebuttal -Jacob Allee

(Short break)

15 min. cross-examination -Garret Boyer (asks Q's)

15 min. cross-examination -Jacob Allee (asks Q's)

20 min. closing statements -Garret Boyer

20 min. closing statements -Jacob Allee

Audience questions.

For those who might be able to attend, I would plan on being there until about 5 pm. I would love for everyone who can be there to be there. Mr. Boyer is an intelligent individual who is sure to put a good argument on the table, the debate is sure to be a good one. I hope to see you there!

I'm trying to make arrangements for both audio and visual recordings of the debate so I can make them available as a resource from Reformation In Progress for those who are unable to attend.

God Bless!!!!!!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Caricatures of Calvinism

One thing that strikes me as interesting when non Calvinists talk about Calvinism is how rarely they represent what we actually believe as Calvinists. I had a prof in one of my classes a while back explain what Calvinists believe about election (at least this is what he thinks).

"It's like God is in a boat and there are people drowning all around Him and He chooses to save a few of them and let the rest of them drowned."

I didn't keep my mouth shut at that point.... I know imagine that. What a horrid straw man of what the reformed faith actually believes about God's free choice to save. Think with me for a moment about what this example above leaves out of the equation.

Mankind has profaned, rejected and blasphemed God. They are not innocent people drowning, they are people intentionally breathing in the water because it is what they want to do. God didn't throw them in the water, they gave God the proverbial "finger" as they jumped off the boat, cursing Him all the way down to the water. Each of them deserves to drowned and the last thing they deserve is for God in the boat to pull their worthless souls out of the water.

I take horrid offense to an example of election that makes God a divine bully. It is purely the graciousness of God that anyone receives salvation since no one deserves anything but death and Hell.

Another caricature I hear all to often is that election means that even if you live your whole life believing in and loving Jesus, serving Him and sharing Him with others, if you're not elect your going to hell. As if you could truly do those things if you weren't regenerate. This is clearly false because the Scripture teaches that our works are proof of our justification, this is what James 2 talks about.

It would be nice for just once if someone wanted to take issue with what Calvinism believes that they would actually take issue with what Calvinism believes. It seems to me that building straw men arguments against Calvinism is about all that the Arminian position can effectively offer, because the real deal is so entrenched in Scripture it's inarguable.

These caricatures have been very effective, I'll admit, in keeping people from accepting the doctrines of grace because they have been taught that what Calvinist's believe is unscriptural, and the pictures that they paint like the ones above, are unscriptural.

So come on people, you want to argue Calvinism, argue Calvinism.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

My First Debate is in the Works!

Well it looks like I'm going to have the opportunity for my first live, moderated debate. My opponent will be Garret Boyer, a sophomore at Tabor College. We don't have an exact thesis for the debate yet, but basically the debate will be over the issue of whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. Mr. Boyer will take the affirmative and I will of course take the negative.

I'm excited for this opportunity to defend the gospel of Christ in a public, acedemic setting. This issue is an old debate amongst various denominations of protestants and Roman Catholics. I'm glad to stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ and declare that salvation is by God's grace through faith alone.

There are still a lot of details to be worked out like when and where, finding a moderator, agreeing on the format of the debate and so on. I appreciate your prayers as I begin to study the issue in depth and prepare for this defense of the gospel.

I'll inform you of the details as they come together.

God Bless,


Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, October 1, 2007

Remember that John MacArthur Clip on Yoga?

A while back I posted a clip on John MacArthur's response to "Christian Yoga." The other "pastor" that was featured in that clip.... here is the "Church" that he "pastors." Just click on the link and be afraid... be very afraid.


I found this link at www.barrydean.wordpress.com. Barry has some good stuff on his blog.


Mark Driscoll Sums Up Reformed Theology

"People suck, and God saves us from ourselves."