Definition:. A remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, the guilt of which has already been forgiven. Catholics are given a clean slate through the sacrament of Baptism. Baptism removes both the guilt and punishment for sin. For all sin committed after Baptism, a temporal penalty remains, and must be paid for on earth or in purgatory. The Pope has been given the office of doling out indulgences from a heavenly bank account known as the Treasury of Merit. This treasury consists of the righteousness of Jesus, plus the excess righteousness of Mary and the Saints. Indulgences are provided for the benefit of the living, who can then transfer them to family and friends in purgatory if they wish. A plenary indulgence remits all existing penalties for those alive. A partial indulgence pays for only part of the accrued penalties. Since only God knows the exact amount of punishment due to those in Purgatory, a plenary indulgence is more in the nature of a petition rather than an assurance of complete payment. The pope’s jurisdiction only extends to the living. Typically, the Pope offers indulgences for taking a pilgrimage, for using a particular sacramental (such as a rosary or medal), or for performing penitential activities such as fasting or abstinence.
Discussion: Indulgences deny that Jesus paid the entire penalty for sin (Heb. 10:10). By faith and repentance a person is permanently reconciled to God (Rom. 5:1). Salvation is not on the installment plan whereby the Church dribbles out “capital infusions.” There is no “treasury of excess merit,” since God requires perfection (Lk. 17:10,Mt. 5:48). All who trust in Jesus receive the same amount of righteousness imputed to their account, because it is the infinite righteousness of God, not their own righteousness (Mt. 20:1-16, Rom. 10:4). Indulgences, Purgatory, and the Treasury of Merit are Roman Catholic fictions that provide false hope and at the same time deny the finished work of Jesus.
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Article by John Ankerberg – Roman Catholic Beliefs About Indulgences