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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mother Mary Comes to Me: The Beatles and Catholicism

Though Catholicism didn't take with any Beatle, Catholic culture and Marian images permeate a number of Beatles songs.
Reprinted from Crisis magazine. Used with permission. 

There is no lovelier hymn to Mary in modern English than "Let It Be," the Beatles song written in 1969:

When I find myself in times of trouble, 
Mother Mary comes to me,
Speaking words of wisdom: 
Let it be. 



Those pellucid lyrics by Paul McCartney, who, with John Lennon, composed the plaintive melody, stand out as peerless against the backdrop of the saccharine Marian hymnody of today's Catholicism, where such chestnuts as "Immaculate Mary, Your Praises We Sing" still reign supreme. 

To find an equal to McCartney's song, you have to go back 600 years, to this:

He came also still
There his mother was
As dew in April
That falleth on the grass.

Indeed, the 15th-century carol and the 1969 Beatles lyric both concern the Annunciation, when Christ came to be Mary's son in the quietness of a spring evening. "Whisper words of wisdom: Let it be," wrote McCartney in his second verse. The words are those of Mary's fiat to the angel Gabriel in Luke's gospel: "Let it be done unto me according to thy word." 

Of course, when I first heard "Let It Be," when it was released on the album of the same name in 1970, I was a cheerfully benighted lapsed Catholic, and I didn't make the connection between the Annunciation and the Beatles. Or even realized that "Mother Mary" was the same Mary whose May altars I had constructed out of shoeboxes and birthday candles when I was a child at parochial school. I thought she might be a personage from Eastern spirituality. "Let it be"--that sounded like Buddhist resignation. Many of us in those days, Beatles included, were way beyond Christianity; we were somewhere between California and nirvana. 

The Beatles are currently enjoying a huge revival. We now can hear "Let It Be," along with 26 more of their top-of-the-chart hits, in glorious re-release on the new "Beatles 1" CD. Their first movie, "A Hard Day's Night" (1964), is also in re-release. "The Beatles Anthology" (Chronicle) has been a best-seller since its publication last October. Listening to a Beatles song now, however, turns out to be a very different experience from that of listening to it 30 or 40 years ago. 

Catholic Liverpool

When the Beatles burst onto the American pop music scene in 1963, it was their brash, upstart quality, driven by the thrumming percussion of the underappreciated Ringo Starr, that caught the instant attention of young people like me bored with Fifties pieties. The Beatles had steeped themselves in American rhythm-and-blues in their native Liverpool, and even tried to Americanize their dense Lancashire accents. 

Now, more than three decades later, it is difficult to listen to a Beatles song without hearing...Liverpool. Many of the songs are specifically infused with the Catholic culture of Liverpool, which, as a port on the Irish Sea, has more Catholics than any other city in England because it has more Irish. They came in droves to flee starvation during the potato famine of the 1840s, they lived in densely populated slums and worked the docks in the years when Liverpool was England's busiest shipping entrepôt, and they stayed on when the shipping in Liverpool died after World War II, still in the dense slums but as often as not on the dole. 

McCartney, who was Irish on both sides of his family, and George Harrison, who had a devoutly Catholic mother, were baptized in the Church and raised as Catholics. Lennon was Irish on his father's side, but he was never baptized, as his father deserted the family after his son's birth. Catholicism didn't take with any Beatle, and Lennon, by the time he was shot to death in 1980, was truculently nonreligious, usually oscillating between Marxism and Maoism. 

Nonetheless, the bedraggled Catholicism of the beaten-down Liverpool Irish permeates a number of Beatles songs. They treated Catholic culture sardonically:

Lady Madonna, children at your feet,
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.

They treated it with sadness: 

Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear,
No one comes near....

And as they were on the verge of breaking up forever, making the last album they would ever make as a foursome, they treated Catholicism as offering an iconography of hope and comfort. 

The Beatles weren't very Christian, and their music often seems to mock Christian belief. Yet art has a life of its own that outlasts its creators' intentions. Now, finally, it's easy to see that in nearly their last song together, the Beatles were celebrating the ancient faith of the ancient city where they were born, the faith that was itself born when a woman said yes to an angel:

I wake up to the sound of music;
Mother Mary comes to me,
Speaking words of wisdom: Let it be.



SOURCE: http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/2001/05/mother-mary-comes-to-me-the-beatles-and-catholicism.aspx

The Vatican’s Nostalgia for the Beatles by Phillip Mericle

The Vatican effusively praises the Beatles documentary

On September 15, 2016, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano released a review of Ron Howard’s documentary “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” focusing on the early years of the Beatles. By producing this review and commenting on the band that greatly influenced the tumultuous ‘60s, the newspaper allowed itself to be swept up in a radiant admiration for a band that literally advocated for some of the worst vices of man. 

With rose colored glasses, L’Osservatore Romano takes the documentary as an opportunity to engage in Beatles nostalgia. The newspaper makes no condemnation of the immorality preached by the young men of Liverpool nor any attempt to elaborate on the rock band's controversy. Rather, the Vatican newspaper basks in admiration for its musical works and highlights the growth and change of the individuals that took place over time. The article reflects on their “incredible” personalities, as well as their “gift” for music. 

One would think that such admiration seems more appropriate for the personal opinion of a diehard fan rather than an organ of the Catholic Church. Considering the controversy surrounding the Beatles, their impact on society and how they embodied their personal “values,” this review leaves the Vatican even more open to criticism for this problematic praise. 

From an historical perspective, the “Fab Four” of Liverpool played a vanguard role in the Cultural Revolution that rocked Western Civilization to its very core. Hardly would the ’60s, the era of hippies, free-love and anarchy, be the same without these four young men preaching to their followers through their songs. Taking the stage, the Beatles would literally sing the praises of sex, drugs and rebellion and then retire from the performance to be chased by crazed mobs of girls ready to tear them apart limb from limb in their excitement. 

Their fame coincided perfectly with a generation of disaffected youth that, following the dictates of the modern world, felt a burning need to break with the “stifling” mold of their parents. It was an appeal to the twin pillars of pride and sensuality – and the results were insanity.

As the ‘60s exploded into an orgiastic festival of self-indulgence, flagrant and degrading promiscuity, and mind-destroying narcotics, the Beatles rode the wave of their rising star. In many ways the legacy of the ‘60s opened the door to the problems facing society today: rampant divorce, children born out of wedlock and the ever advancing front of the homosexual militants. 

An era of free love & drugs unleashed by the Beatles; below, introducing Hinduism with guru Maharishi
What kind of legacy is this for the Vatican to praise? As an exercise in reason and to alleviate the scandal caused by such admiration, perhaps the writer for L’Osservatore
Romano should stop to comment and condemn what these four young men were beckoning their listeners to do when they sang words like “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” and “I Get High with a Little Help from My Friends.” Sadly, these lyrics are but a scant few chosen out of the filthy sea of demeaning verses to come from the Fab Four. 

To them the human body was nothing more than an instrument, a tool by which maximum degrading and destructive pleasure could be derived. Even their initial clean and suited appearance was adopted only because they were paid better to do so. Soon their look would become as dirty as their songs. 

Rather than considering the lifestyle and message of the Beatles, the Vatican newspaper chooses to praise their well-performed music and the feel-good appearance exuded by their smiling faces. Their music could be pleasant, appealing even, but it is designed to be so. Well-arranged chords do not redeem a song if it is written with the express purpose to induce youths to sin, just as nice words do not redeem a man if his intention is to seduce another man’s wife. 

The musical genius of the Beatles, if it truly was genius, was put to an evil use, leading youth to liberate their unruly passions from all sense and rational control. How many souls are in Hell because they were swept up in the mindless orgy of love, sex and drugs advocated by these singers from Liverpool? 

It is true that the Vatican article does try to maintain a vague semblance of impartiality. By reporting on the movie and not the Beatles themselves, L’Osservatore Romano attempts to avoid the onus of judgment. But, should not the newspaper report on the immoral and sometimes outright anti-Catholic behavior of the Beatles? The infamous comment by John Lennon that he was more famous than Jesus Christ needs no elaboration, yet the Beatles scorn for the Catholic Religion goes deeper. 

Various sources demonstrate that the Beatles were not just indifferent, but harbored outright hostility towards Christianity. Several works have pointed out the satanic elements in their musical careers. What can be said of their experiments with mind-altering narcotics and Eastern occultism? The drug-induced revolution of the mind compliments the sex-glutted revolution of the body. 

To summarize: The Vatican newspaper notes with relish that “Eight Days a Week – the Touring Years” bypasses the controversy surrounding the Beatles legacy. On this pretense, the article then waxes into a nostalgia clouded panegyric of the Liverpool four, omitting criticism and proffering outright praise. 

What this constitutes in essence is the Vatican's journal honoring a band of four deviant musicians that advocated for the complete obliteration of an upright command of the intelligence, will and senses in favor of a sensual explosion engaging in all the deranged and hedonistic vices of man. How many of these Beatle fans, following the utopic dreams of the Cultural Revolution, have ended in the burnt husk of the withered and drugged up old hippie? 

A note to my readers: Many attempt to defend the Beatles because they were popular or because of their so-called musical skill. I ask you, instead, to look at them and what they said, to see what they stood for. Is this really something worthy of our admiration? I ask you to use reason, and not defend them based on the pleasantness of their music or the nostalgia they evoke. Rather, judge them for who they were and what they preached. What did the Beatles stand for? What message did they spread? What kind of life did they call their followers to lead? 

Judge them for their ideas, not for their popularity. Judge them for their actions and by the fruits of their actions, rather than follow subjective emotions. They are a band that literally preached in favor of casual and degrading sex. Their lyrics are indisputably riddled through with obscenities and smut. They led appallingly deranged sex lives. They participated in substance abuse and their example became an occasion for thousands more to experiment with dangerous narcotics. 

At least two of the ‘Fab Four’ thought they were the greatest persons to grace the planet. and in the end the gang broke up because they couldn’t even stand each other. After the split they proved they had little individual talent. 

Can one, thus, look at the Beatles with intellectual objectivity and deem them worthy of veneration and praise? 


A boasting quote that reveals the intent behind the rock revolution

SOURCE: http://www.traditioninaction.org/Cultural/D060_Beatles.htm

The Beatles and DRUGS





Drugs

The use of drugs (which includes alcohol as well as other narcotics) is perhaps the most easily identifiable theme in the work of both artistic groups. Anyone who is only vaguely familiar with (the image of) the Beat poets will know that they are (in)famous for their drug use and the way this plays a role in their works, both in the production process and the content. Writers and drugs have always been in a close relationship. According to John Long, the majority of the American Nobel Prize winners for literature were alcoholics. He writes in his introduction to Drugs and the ‘Beats’: The role of drugs in the lives and writings of Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg, “it is expected that one would find traces of drugs in literature”, attributing this to the fact that humans have always known “a certain desire to get out of themselves” (7). The Beat writers, however, took this liking towards drugs to a whole new level. In almost every single one of their literary texts, drugs play a (major) role, as illustrated by key works such as Howl (“looking for an angry fix”, “with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls”), On the Road (“You could smell tea, weed, I mean marijuana, floating in the air”) or Naked Lunch (about every page). The Beats experimented with many aspects of life, drugs being an important one. Since many of their works are at least partly autobiographical, these personal explorations find their way into their texts. However, not only did they write about drugs, at times they also wrote under influence of narcotics, making drugs influence their works on two levels. Kerouac is a famous example. As Long relates: “[w]e know by his admission that [amphetamine] was often freely circulating in his brain when he was writing [On the Road]”. Ginsberg, similarly “was experiencing the ecstasies and horrors of mescaline at the time of writing [Howl]” (13). These are just a few examples that illustrate the big role drugs played in the writing (process) of the Beats.

If we take a look at the Beatles, we can find similar patterns in both their personal lives and their music, albeit to lesser extremes than in the case of their American predecessors. This similarity is no big surprise, if we are to believe John Long, who continues his argument about writers and drugs by saying that the wish to change consciousness “is often highly developed in artists, whatever their calling: music, theatre, literature, etcetera” (Long 4). A claim that, even if not applicable to every case, probably holds a fair amount of truth.




Mark Hertsgaard devotes almost an entire chapter of his A Day In The Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles to the Beatles’ drug use. He describes them as a relatively innocent or even naïve group of musicians in their first years of global fame, but argues that this changed in the second half of the sixties. He also claims that it was none other than Bob Dylan who got the Fab Four hooked on marijuana, by introducing it to them after a concert in New York in 1963. It was their first meeting and Dylan could hardly believe the group had never smoked weed before. “We’ve got a lot to thank him for”, McCartney later acknowledged (qtd. in Hertsgaard 193). From then on, drugs – first soft ones and later psychedelic ones too – began to play a big part in the Beatles’ daily lives. They served both as a means to cope with the pressures of the mid-sixties’ Beatlemania, and aided their creativity. “It just opened up this whole other consciousness”, and “it started to find its way into everything we did” are just two quotes the band members (George Harrison and Paul McCartney, resp.) are reported to have said (qtd. in Hertsgaard 192, 195).
This change from ‘innocent’ boys and starting musicians to an experimental and rebellious group of men is also reflected in their music, according to several Beatles academics, who often divide the band’s successful years into different ‘stages’. Coupe elaborately lays out, in his case three, different periods, based on previous scholarship by the musicologist Wilfrid Mellers. According to them, the group’s preoccupations change from “innocence and dream” (up until the movie A Hard Day’s Night in 1964) to “experience and social reality”, or “human relationships and responsibilities” (the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), to the third and final period which “sees a renewal of the first period in the light of the second”, and involves a search within themselves for answers to external pressures (137-8). Coupe then compares the last period to the “beatific” vision of Kerouac and Ginsberg. Hertsgaard argues that part of these changes in style were due to the group’s use of drugs:

The crucial catalyst for the Beatles’ transformation from lovable moptops to high-minded rebels was their involvement with consciousness-raising drugs, specifically marijuana and LSD. No one liked fun more than the Beatles, but for them drugs were not simply about having a good time. Marijuana and LSD were also and more profoundly tools of knowledge, a means of gaining access to higher truths about themselves and the world. Indeed, it was above all the “desire to find out”, as Harrison later put it, that lay beneath their involvement not only with mind-expanding drugs, but with Eastern philosophy as well. (Hertsgaard 191)




Whereas it does not require detective skills to find the references to drugs in Beat literature, it might take a little more digging to pinpoint them in the lyrics and music of the Beatles – although examples are still ample; some more subtle than others. A few will be examined here in some more detail.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and Strawberry Fields Forever are two famous examples of songs that are often believed to be about drugs. The first letters of the words in Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds correspond to LSD, and in drug slang, ‘strawberry fields’ stands for the very same drug. Even the innocent sounding Penny Lane, the other side of the Strawberry Fields Forever single, is said to be connected to drugs. Wilfrid Mellers argues:

[Both songs] relate the LSD experience to childhood memory and a new Eden discovered within the mind; both, if they can hardly ‘justify’ the drug experience, demonstrate its relevance to the Beatles’ development. (qtd. In Coupe 140)

The in 1965 recorded song Day Tripper plays with the dual meaning of the word ‘tripper’. Lennon cunningly said in an interview: “Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right?” (Sheff 177). McCartney however has said the song is indeed about drugs, and “a tongue-in-cheek song about someone who was […] committed only in part to the idea” (Miles 209-210). In Happiness Is A Warm Gun the lyric “I need a fix” is repeated, a phrase that anyone who read the Beat writers’ works will recognise. And there are countless other examples of these ‘Beatdom-echoing’ lyrics, which have been excluded here for lack of space.




The Sgt. Pepper’s album was “the biggest barrier-breaker of them all”, according to Hertsgaard (195, 196). In fact, so barrier-breaking that the BBC banned the song A Day In The Life from public radio, arguing that it might promote drug use. Interestingly, however, until that moment the world had not known about the Beatles members’ own experimentation with narcotics. Only after the BBC ban did their fans learn of the Beatles’ actual drug-taking, which caused an immediate uproar. However, as Hertsgaard relates, it was hard to convincingly argue for its negative effects on the Beatles, for their newly released, “acid-soaked” album was “widely recognised as the most impressive achievement in popular music for many years” (196). Nevertheless, “the Establishment” was shocked by the revelation. An even bigger surprise, therefore, must have been the Beatles’ announcement, barely a month after the BBC ban, in which they said they were now completely giving up drugs. They replaced it with a new fascination, however: spirituality… Read the whole article by CLICKING HERE

This is just a part of the article entitled The Beats and the Beatles: two sides of the same coin.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Roman Catholic church in Guam sued over CHILD SEX


A group of former altar boys have filed lawsuits against the Catholic Church in Guam seeking damages for historic child sex abuse allegedly committed by clerics in the Pacific territory.

Four men lodged separate claims in the Guam Superior Court on Tuesday, three of which accuse Archbishop Anthony Apuron of molesting them when they were children.

Apuron, who denies any wrongdoing, has stepped aside from his duties while he awaits a canonical trial in Rome.

The allegations, which emerged earlier this year, date back to the 1970s when Apuron was a parish priest.

The fourth lawsuit is from another ex-altar boy who alleges he was abused by former priest Louis Brouillard in the 1950s.

All the court cases are seeking unspecified damages from the Church.

"The lawsuits will cause the Church to remove the cancer caused by these paedophile priests and restore the Catholic Church to its rightful glory," said lawyer David Lujan, who is handling all four cases.




Lujan told reporters it would help the plaintiffs by providing "healing of decades-old feelings of fear, embarrassment, shame, hatred and blaming oneself".

Guam's government in September lifted the statute of limitation in relation to sex abuse cases allowing the victims to take their cases to court.

Senior Catholic officials in Guam had argued against the move, saying it could lead to a flood of claims that could bankrupt the church.

But Lujan said there was no threat to the church's survival on the deeply religious island.

"The lawsuits will not cause the destruction of the church," he said.

"After all, the church has outlived every empire and civil government known to man. The church will reform itself and become even greater."

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, who was sent to Guam from Rome to run the Agana archdiocese on an interim basis, said no date had been set for Apuron's trial.

He confirmed the Vatican had nominated a US cleric, bishop Michael Byrnes, to take over his duties at the end of the month.

Byrnes, from Detroit, is technically a "coadjutor archbishop", meaning he serves alongside Apuron, although Hon said he may take over in the long term.

"Coadjutors have successions rights when bishops resign retire or are removed. This appointment suggests a more permanent solution," he told reporters.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Halloween, Innocent Fun and Games or Ancient Satan Worship? By Pastor Steve Harmon Th.G., B.S., Th.M., Th.D.

History


The Celts and Druids:

The Celts lived more than 2,000 years ago in the area from Great Britain to Germany. The Celtic Vigil of Samhain, named after their God Samhain, the lord of the dead, is the source of the present day Halloween celebration. Their new year began on November 1. They believed that Samhain gathered all the souls of those who had died in the past year. These souls had been confined to the bodies of animals to atone for their sins. At the New Year, the sins of these departed souls were considered atoned, and they were freed to go to the Druid Heaven. Human beings and animals were sacrificed as part of the rites. The human sacrifices were usually criminals. They were locked in wicker and thatch cages which were set afire by priests to roast the victims alive. This practice continued until 61 A.D. when it was outlawed by the Roman government; the Romans had conquered the area in 43 A.D. After the outlawing of human sacrifice the Druids, Celtic priests, would put black cats into wicker cages and burned them. Cat sacrifices grew out of the conviction that these animals were the familiars of witches, perhaps even witches themselves. As late as 400 A.D. in Britain, horses were still being sacrificed at the feast of Samhain. Even after the Christians had taken over the pagan temples and consecrated them to the worship of the Christian God (in Britain), oxen continued to be sacrificed on Hallowmas, sometimes being led down the church aisle to the alter.

The Romans:

After Rome conquered Britain, two of their Roman festivals were combined with the Celtic Vigil of Samhain. The first of these is called Feralia, which was held in October to honor the dead. The other honored Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Apples probably became associated with Halloween because of this goddess.

The Catholics:

All Saints' or All Hallows' Day is November 1, which according to Jewish tradition starts at sundown on the evening before. This is a festival for the dead, it was made into a celebration of all the known and unknown saints and martyrs of the Catholic Church by Pope Boniface IV in the seventh century. It was originally celebrated on May 13, but was moved to November 1, by Gregory lIl in the eight century. It would seem consistent that the Catholic celebration for the dead would coincide with the Witch's or Occult celebration for the dead. All Saints' Day was followed by All-Souls' Day, November 2, unless that was a Sunday then it was November 3, this was another Catholic adaptation of pagan festivals for the dead. Prayers for the dead are an integral part of the traditional All Saint's Day services, which are scheduled in Catholic churches on November 1, and on the next Sunday. Halloween gets its name from the Catholic holiday, it is a Hallowed evening, because it precedes All Hallows' Day. Thus: Hallow'en.

The Irish in America:

In Ireland people begged for food in a parade that honored Muck Olla, the sun god. The leader of the parade wore a white robe and a mask made out of the head of an animal. In the 1840's large numbers of immigrants arrived in the United States from Ireland and Scotland, the customs of Halloween were introduced to the general public at that time. Until the 1840's Halloween was not much celebrated because of the strict biblical views of the fundamentalists in the United States.



Modern Halloween:

There has arisen a grave danger to the "trick-or-treator's." There are many reports of candies, marshmallows, apples, etc., having razor blades embedded in them, dope, articles of filth, etc. why should we allow our children to be subjected to this type of horror? Some children have been enticed into dens of dope pushers and sex maniacs on this dark night of mischief.

The Witches:

Modem witches celebrate eight main holidays, the most important of these is Samhain (Halloween). These celebrations include: 1. Oimelc- February 2. 2. Ostara (spring equinox) - March 21. 3. Beltane - April 30. 4. Summer solstice (the longest day of the year) - June 22. 5. Lughnasadh - July 31. 6. Autumn equinox - September 21 7. Samhain (Halloween) - October 31. 8. Winter solstice (the longest night of the year) - December 22.

Samhain is considered the most important because the veil between the world's of the living and the dead is at its thinnest point in the year, making communication easier. The souls of the dead are reported to come to the land of the living. The Internal Revenue Service has given tax exempt status to the church of Wicca (the official church of Witchcraft). Their financial gifts are tax deductible just as your tithes would be to this church!

Anton LeVey, Satanist:

Anton LeVey head of the worshippers of Satan, said that he was glad the Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. This is something to make us think; is it not?

Customs



Costumes and masks:

The Druids adorned themselves in frightening masks to scare the evil spirits away and protect them from being snatched into the world of the dead. Archbishop of Canterbury, England set punishments for "those who goeth about in the masque of a stag of bull-calf ... those who by their craft raise storms ... sacrifice to demons ... consulteth soothsayers who divine by birds." The Roman Catholic church, staged many pageants, with their participants dressing up as patron saints and guardians. Those who did not play a part of a 'holy one' played the parts of devils. Their dressing in these costumes are considered and alternative history for the costuming of the trick-or-treator's.

Jack-o'-lantems:

An Irish man named Jack who was notorious for drunkenness and for being stingy, one evening at the local pub, was faced with the Devil, come to claim his soul. Jack convinced the devil to have a drink with him, then when time came to pay he asked the devil to turn into a gold coin for the price, he could later turn back and the drinks would have cost nothing. Jack took the coin and placed it in his pocket with a silver cross which kept the Devil from turning back into himself. When the Devil promised to leave Jack for another year, Jack released him. At the end of the year, as the Devil returned, Jack tricked him into climbing an apple tree for an apple. He quickly carved a cross in the tree so the Devil could not climb down. Jack finally let the Devil down after promising never to return for Jack's soul. Jack's body finally wore out and he went to the gates of Heaven, where he was refused entrance because of his stingy and drunken life. Jack proceed then to go to Hell where he was again refused entrance. Jack was then forced to walk the earth until judgment day with his only light a burning ember from Hell's fire caught in a tumip. In the United States the use of pumpkins replaced the Irish use of turnips and beets.

Trick-or-Treating:

Groups of pheasants, wearing masks, went from house to house, led by Lair Bhan (which means white mare) a leader wearing a white robe and a horse head (the horse was sacred, a symbol of fertility, to Muck Olla), went begging for money for which to buy luxuries for a feast. Also demanding that fatted calves and black sheep be prepared for the feast. These contributions were requested in the name of Muck Olla, the sun god of the Druids. Prosperity was assured liberal givers, and threats were voiced against those who were stingy.

Apple Bobbing:

Apples have long been a token of love and fertility. Early Hebrew women who wanted children washed themselves in water mixed with the sap of an apple tree. "Etemal Youth" was said to come to the Norse gods by the eating of apples.



What does the Bible say?

God commanded those who practice witchcraft to die.
Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Micah 5:12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:

You are defiled if you try to communicate with spirits.
Leviticus 19:31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.



God cuts you off from among the people if you turn to mediums for help.
Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

God commanded capital punishment for any who called up spirits.
Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. 2 Kings 23:24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

God condemns witchcraft, fortune-telling, crystal reading, necromancy, astrology, and palmistry as part of spiritism.
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. Joshua 13:22 Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.

God destroyed the Canaanites for their back magic related practices.
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits. or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

Saul likened rebellion to witchcraft, to show how serious it was.
1 Samuel 15-23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

King Saul when, faithful to God cleared all the land of spiritual mediums.
1 Samuel 28:3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

King Saul later sought a medium because his sin kept God from answering him.
1 Samuel 28:6-7 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

God judged and killed Saul for his dealings of spiritism.
1 Chronicle 10:13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it;.

Wicked King Manasseh's sins Included consulting with spirits, mediums, fortune tellers and sorcerers.
2 Chronicles 33:6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

God rejected Israel because they practiced magic and communicated with evil spirits.
Isaiah 2:6 Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.

It is insulting to God to consult the dead when you could Inquire of Him.
Isaiah 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

A fortune teller may be possessed with devils.
Acts 16:18 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and Cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

True Christians have nothing to do with black magic and its related practices.
Acts 19:19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

Sorcery is included in the works of the flesh listed in the Bible, and those who practice it cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatlana 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

There is no place in Heaven for the practice of sorcery.
Revelation 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Teachings of spiritism are doctrines of devils.
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

The devils are subject to God's greater power and tremble before Him.
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

The increased following of this spiritism is a sign of the end times and God's coming judgement.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

The Use of enchantments and witchcraft anger the LORD.
Leviticus 19:26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.

Numbers 24:1 And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.

2 Kings 17:17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

2 Kings 21:6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

2 Chronicles 33:6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

God's people are always better than the devils.
Daniel 1:20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

Isaiah 47:12-15 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall bum them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it. Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.

There can be no peace as long as there is witchcrafts.
2 Kings 9:22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many? Nahum 3:4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Written in 1992
by: Steve Harmon 
Maineville Baptist Church 
57 East Foster-Maineville Road 
Maineville, Ohio 45039 
(513) 683-6708 
E-Mail: drsteve@iglou.com


Bibliography

Cavendish, Richard, Chief Editor. "Man, Myth & Magic." Freeport, Long
Island, New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1885.

Cohen, Hennig & Tristam Potter Coffin, Editors. "The Folklore of
American Holidays". Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1987.

Dobler, Lavinia. "Customs and Holidays Around the World". New York,
New York: Fleet Publishing Corporation, [nd].

Cosman, Madeleine Pelner. "Medieval Holidays and Festivals". New York,
New York: Charles Scribners Sons, [nd].

"Encyclopedia Americana", International Edition. Danbury, Connecticut:
Grolier Incorporated, 1992.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. "The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft".
New York, New York: Facts of File, 1989.

Gwinn, Robert P., Chairman, Board of Directors. "The New Encyclopaedia
Britannica". Chicago, Illinois: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1991.

"Halloween & Witchcraft". Independent Baptist Voice September-October
1990.

Hatch, Jane M. "The American Book of Days". New York, New York: The H.
W. Wilson Company, 1978.

Krythe, Maymie R. "All About American Holidays". New York, New York:
Harper & Row, Publishers, 1962.

Larson, Bob. "Should Christians Celebrate Halloween". Denver,
Colorado: Bob Larson Ministries, [nd].

Mossman, Jennifer, Editor. "Holidays and Anniversaries of the World".
Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1990.

Myers, Robert J. "Celebrations - The Complete Book of American
Holidays". Chicago, Illinois: Doubleday & Company, 1972.

Phillips, Rob & Joan Hake Robie. "Halloween and Satanism". Lancaster,
Pennsylvania: Starburst Publishers, 1990.

Walsh, William S. "Curiosities of Popular Customs and of Rites,
Ceremonies, Observances, and Miscellaneous Antiquities". Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania: J. B. Lippincott Company, [nd].

"World Book Encyclopedia". Chicago, lilinois: World Book, Inc., 1991.

Dr. Steve Harmon, Pastor drsteve@iglou.com Maineville Baptist Church
57 E. Foster-Maineville Road Maineville, OH  45039 (513) 683-6708

Monday, October 17, 2016

HELL

R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1992), pp. 285-287.

HELL by R.C. Sproul

We have often heard statements such as “War is hell” or “I went through hell.” These expressions are, of course, not taken literally. Rather, they reflect our tendency to use the word hell as a descriptive term for the most ghastly human experience possible. Yet no human experience in this world is actually comparable to hell. If we try to imagine the worst of all possible suffering in the here and now we have not yet stretched our imaginations to reach the dreadful reality of hell.



Hell is trivialized when it is used as a common curse word. To use the word lightly may be a halfhearted human attempt to take the concept lightly or to treat it in an amusing way. We tend to joke about things most frightening to us in a futile effort to declaw and defang them, reducing their threatening power.

There is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea of hell. It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.
Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?

I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probable that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols.

A breath of relief is usually heard when someone declares, “Hell is a symbol for separation from God.” To be separated from God for eternity is no great threat to the impenitent person. The ungodly want nothing more than to be separated from God. Their problem in hell will not be separation from God, it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.

No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of hell is its eternality. People can endure the greatest agony if they know it will ultimately stop. In hell there is no such hope. The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment is eternal. The same word is used for both eternal life and eternal death. Punishment implies pain. Mere annihilation, which some have lobbied for, involves no pain. Jonathan Edwards, in preaching on Revelation 6:15-16 said, “Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be that they may escape the wrath of God.” (John H. Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell [Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 1991], 75.)

Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.
Summary

1.The suffering of hell is beyond any experience of misery found in this world.
2.Hell is clearly included in the teaching of Jesus.
3.If the biblical descriptions of hell are symbols, then the reality will be worse than the symbols.
4.Hell is the presence of God in His wrath and judgment.
5.There is no cruelty in hell. Hell will be a place of perfect justice.
6.Hell is eternal. There is no escape through either repentance or annihilation.

Biblical passages for reflection: Matthew 8:11-12, Mark 9:42-48, Luke 16:19-31, Jude 1:3-13, Revelation 20:11-15.


Dr. R.C. Sproul, theologian, minister and teacher, is chairman of the board for Ligonier Ministries. He is widely known for his videocassette series on topics of theology, apologetics, and the Christian life. A graduate of Westminster College, Pittsburgh Theological seminary, and the Free University of Amsterdam, Dr. Sproul is professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Purgatory, Indulgences, the Treasury of Merit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Originally posted in /www.reformationtheology.com by  John Samson on July 21, 2013 08:51 PM

As you may have heard in the news this week, the new Pope (Francis), wishing to make use of the new social media announced that indulgences would be granted not only to those who attend the upcoming Roman Catholic Youth Day celebration in Brazil (a week-long event which starts tomorrow, July 22), but also to those who follow the event online, and especially follow his tweets on twitter. Some people seem very surprised by this announcement and yet the only thing new about it is the twitter component. The doctrine of Indulgences remains a central teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.




PURGATORY: (Latin: purgatorium; from purgare, “to purge”) - the condition, process, or place of purification. This is a place of PURGING or temporary punishment in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven.

The doctrine of purgatory is an integral doctrine to the Roman Catholic understanding of redemption. It is the place where the vast majority of even professing Christians go upon their death.

As recently as the Roman Catholic Catechism, the Church declares that if a person dies with any spot or blemish or stain on their soul – any impurity – instead of going directly to heaven they must first go to this place of purging which is this intermediate state between earth and heaven. Rome makes clear that purgatory is not hell. It is not a place of the punitive wrath of God, but it is a place for the corrective wrath of God, as it were, where the sanctifying process is continued through the crucible of fire.

A person may be there for two weeks or they may be there for two hundred million years – as long as it takes for a person to become truly righteous – inherently righteous, and once that process is completed, they can be declared justified by God and released into heaven.

I’d now like to go through all the Bible verses that teach the doctrine of purgatory ________________________.



Ok.. well that did not take long, because there are none! That’s right, we do not find either the word or the concept of “purgatory” in the Bible. It is a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church that developed over a long period of time.

In 1095 Pope Urban II declared that the Crusades were God's will for His people to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. He granted a special dispensation to those who would take up the cross (an emblem placed on the soldier’s robes and shields) in the Crusades. Their sins would be forgiven though a penance (a non-Biblical word) being carried out called an INDULGENCE (again a non-Biblical word). For those who died in the Crusades, eternal life was assured. Purgatory would be shortened and heaven would be accessed a whole lot earlier.

THE TREASURY OF MERIT (Latin: Thesaurus Meritorum) According to Rome, just a drop of Christ’s blood would contain enough merit to save the whole world. Obviously Christ shed a vast amount of blood as He was crucified. What happened to all this excess merit? God stored this merit in a treasury (think of a treasure chest) in heaven.

Mary (according to Rome) was sinless. She gained far more merit than what was needed for heaven, and so the extra merit she acquired was added to the treasury, along with the merits of saints (who again had more than enough merit to enter heaven for themselves). All excess merit was stored in the treasury. Because of this, the more sinful believers could benefit from the merit of their more saintly brethren. (Mary was a wonderful sister in Christ, yet she herself was aware of her need for salvation. Luke 1: 46 And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior’…” Mary was saved by believing in her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ the same way anyone else is saved).

According to Rome, the Treasury of Merit is placed under the charge of the Pope, who alone possesses the keys , and he can dispense merit at his discretion in what is called INDULGENCES.

INDULGENCES - The Pope grants indulgences to those who fulfill certain conditions. These indulgences grant relief from the temporal punishments of purgatory and are measured in terms of time: hours, days, weeks, months and years in purgatory. Strictly speaking, indulgencies are not sold, but still the granting of a pardon was timed to coincide with a contribution of money by the sinner or the family.

THE SABBATINE PRIVILEGE - The privilege states that those souls who keep the necessary requirements of the privilege will be released from purgatory by Our Lady the Saturday after they die. The privilege was approved by Pope John XXII, and was later confirmed by Pope Gregory XIII, Pope Clement VII, and Pope St. Pius V. In the case of the scapular (worn like a necklace around the neck), the sacred sign is the scapular itself and the spiritual effect is the protection of one’s souls through the prayers of Mary, as she promised in the vision to St. Simon Stock.

The requirements are: 1. The scapular must be worn and the wearer must be enrolled in the scapular. 2. Chastity to one's state in life must be observed. 3. One must fast from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 4. You must recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin or the rosary every day.

Blessed Claude De La Colombiere said, “I wanted to know if Mary really and truly interested herself in me. And in the scapular she has given me the most tangible assurance; I have only to open my eyes. She has attached her protection to this Scapular: ‘whoever dies clothed in this shall not suffer eternal fire?’” (Sermon Pour Les Fete du Scapuliare: Oevers. Lyon, 1701)

R.P. Laselve, O.F.M also stated, “In the same way that Jesus wished that something visible would reveal in the Sacraments the invisible effects of His grace, so also has Mary wished that the more particular protection which she accords to all those who serve Her with fidelity would be marked by an exterior sign, the Scapular.” (Haeffert, John Mathias. Mary in her Scapular Promise. Sea Isle City, N.J. 1942).

In my personal correspondence with Dr. James White, he made the following comment:

"Like so many other things, the Sabbatine Privilege is an embarrassment to some portions of the RCC today, just as Fatima is to others. But the proof is in the pudding: how many Popes preached it, practiced it, and profited by it? I have never taken the time to go back and put a list together, but it is self-evident that for literally centuries it was part of the 'sensus' of the church, practiced and accepted at the highest levels and across broad spectrums. It isn't a dogma, of course---but neither was the bodily assumption until 1950. It is still practiced, and, by all demands of logic, if you can gain indulgences from it, that requires the power of the keys."

BACK TO INDULGENCES - By Luther's time, the early 16th century, indulgences had become one of the most lucrative money raising schemes within the Roman Church. It was on the basis of the sales of Indulgences that St. Peter’s Basilica was built in Rome.



It was the preaching of this horrific doctrine that was responsible for sparking into flame the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. When John Tetzel, a Dominican monk, came into Germany selling indulgences, he so incensed Martin Luther, a devout Roman Catholic monk, that Luther lifted his voice in protest. When Tetzel would enter into a town, he would erect a cross bearing the Pope's own insignia, enter into the pulpit, and begin to harangue the congregation concerning indulgences. Here is a portion of the speech he would customarily make:

"Indulgences are the most precious and sublime of God's gifts. This cross (pointing to the emblem) has as much efficacy as the cross of Jesus Christ. Draw, near, and I will give you letters duly sealed by which even the sins which you shall hereafter desire to commit shall all be forgiven. I would not exchange my privileges for those of St. Peter! I have saved more souls with my indulgences than he has with his servants. There is no sin so great that indulgences cannot remit. And even if one should, which is doubtless impossible, ravish (rape) the holy Virgin, Mother of God, let him pay, only let his pay well for an indulgence, and all shall be forgiven him! Ye priests, ye nobles, ye wives, ye maidens, and you young men, hearken to your departed parents and friends who cry to you from the bottomless depths. 'We are enduring a horrible torment', they scream, 'a small alms from you would deliver us. You can give it now if you will'. Thus they cry to you from purgatory. The very moment that the money clinks against the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory and flies free to heaven. Now just pay off, 0 senseless people! Almost like the beasts who do not comprehend the grace so richly offered. This day heaven is on all sides of you. Do you now refuse to enter? When do you intend to come in? This day you may redeem many souls."

Again that was a distortion, but what was not a distortion was that the Roman Catholic Church then and now still has the concept of indulgences, where the Church (and specifically the Pope) has the power of the keys, TO OPEN THE TREASURY OF MERIT to shorten a person’s sentence or duration in purgatory and getting them into heaven sooner.

The more Luther heard of Tetzel’s preaching, the more he saw the evil of the practice. The famous “Ninety-Five Theses” Luther nailed to the Wittenberg church door opened got to the heart of the indulgences issue. His words still thunder through the centuries: “Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers” [Thesis 32]. “Any truly repentant Christian has a rich right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters” [Thesis 36].

Luther tacked his 95 objections in Latin hoping to initiate theological debate with his scholarly peers in the Roman Church. Some of his zealous students though (without Luther’s permission), took the words, translated them into the German vernacular and through the use of the newly invented Guttenberg printing press, these 95 theses became the talk of all Germany within two weeks.

Again, if you’ve been to Rome in our day, if you’ve been to the Lateran Church where the sacred stairs are, besides that staircase (which was supposedly the stairs Christ would have climbed as he appeared before Pontius Pilate) there is a bulletin on the wall that tells you exactly how many indulgences you can gain today by going up that set of stairs on your knees and reciting the our Father, the hail Mary, and so on. The doctrine of purgatory is still integral to the Roman Catholic Church.

In the Scriptures, we are told that it is appointed for man to die once and then the judgment (Heb 9:27). The Protestant view is that there is no intermediate state whereby somebody can improve their condition after this life. If someone is not ready to go to heaven at the time of death they won’t ever be. Again the whole difference between the doctrine of justification is that the Protestant view which was recovered by Luther is that the moment a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ, at that moment they have passed from death to life and their passing into heaven is a matter of certainty. They still go through the whole process of sanctification in this world, but when they die they will receive the benefits of the justification that they experience the moment they put their trust in Christ. Those who are justified (right now) have peace with God and access into His presence.




Later, Luther was to decry the “shameful outrage and idolatry of indulgences,” which he had come to see as a slander to the atoning work of Christ and a denial of justification by faith. The Reformation revealed the great divide between the Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church on issues as central as grace, law, justification, faith, and authority in the church, but it was the practice of granting indulgences which sparked the explosion.

Against the background of a Europe filled with the traditions of men, including priestly absolution, penances, indulgences, pilgrimages, prayer to the saints, etc., Luther and the Reformers made the bold cry of "Faith alone." This did not mean faith in isolation, or a dead faith that produced no works. This referred to a vibrant, living faith, for only a living and not a dead faith would result in justification. Faith without works is dead, and a dead faith will not save anyone (James 2:17). Sola fide (Faith alone) then was the belief that faith alone is the instrument of justification without any meritorious works of man added to it.

Rome believed (then as it does now) that justification is by grace, through faith and because of Christ. What Rome does not believe is that justification is by faith alone, or by grace alone, or by Christ alone. For Rome, justification is by grace plus merit, through faith plus works; by Christ plus the sinner's contribution of inherent righteousness. In contrast, the Reformers called the Church back to the one true Biblical Gospel: Salvation is by God's grace alone, received through faith alone, because of Christ alone, based on the Scriptures alone, to the Glory of God alone.

Source: http://www.reformationtheology.com/2013/07/purgatory_indulgences_the_trea.php
 
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