Applying Luther’s thoughts on indulgences to today

R.C. Sproul on the application of the Reformation to the contemporary church:

“[Luther] wondered, why is it that people are still spending their money on indulgences and on what Luther called the Pope’s second-hand junk? He said, ‘The Pope is like a decoy duck, sitting on a pond with a great bag of tricks, seducing people with this nonsense. He wondered why it is that people ignore the Word of God and exchange it for Joseph’s pants…’

What relevance does that have for us today? We don’t see the evangelical church of our day rushing to depositories of sacred relics. Nobody’s looking for Joseph’s pants. Rather we have invested our time, our energy, and our money in more contemporary ways to improve the gospel.

We look to programs, to Madison Avenue methodologies, to entertainment, to pop psychology, even to the establishment of Starbucks in the church to improve the gospel. Why do we do this? I think people in the church today are looking for exactly what they were looking for in sixteenth-century Germany. They went to Trier, they went to Aachen, they went to these relics because they believed that the relics had power. Every pastor wants to have a powerful ministry. And so we look to the latest program, to the latest method to give us a powerful ministry, forgetting where the Lord God omnipotent has put the power in the first place.” ~R.C. Sproul

Thanks to Pastor Matt for the quote.

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5 Responses to Applying Luther’s thoughts on indulgences to today

  1. Gregory says:

    My hope in this time is that the spirit and sentiment contained in the quote from Stanley Hauerwas in the links, guides us.


    • me says:

      I took a quick look through the articles. In general, they contain much error, and display a lack of understanding of protestantism. For one thing, don’t confuse Luther’s idea of reformation with that of Calvinism.

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  3. Steve Martin says:

    Atta boy, R.C.!

    Thanks, Alden!

    I hope you are well, my friend.

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