The 95 Theses by Martin Luther (25-27)

Theses 25 to 27:

25. The same power over purgatory which the pope has in general, is possessed by every bishop and curate in his particular diocese and parish.

26. The pope does well in giving remission to souls, not by the power of the keys (he has no such power) but through intercession.

27. Those who assert that a soul straightway flies out (of purgatory) as a coin tinkles in the collection-box, are preaching an invention of man (hominem praedicant).

As I commented at the onset, the fundamental question is who has the power to forgive sin? The pope and/or priests can declare absolution, however, that does not mean it is. For Luther, the heart of Christianity is the doctrine of justification alone by faith alone. In his Table Talk:

All heretics have continually failed in this one point: that they do not rightly understand or know the article of justification. If we had not this article certain and clear, it would be impossible for us to criticize the pope’s false doctrine of indulgences and other abominable errors, much less be able to overcome greater spiritual errors and vexations. If we only permit Christ to be our Saviour, then we have won, for He is the only girdle which clasps the whole body together, as Saint Paul excellently teaches. If we look to the spiritual birth and substance of a true Christian, we shall soon extinguish all deserts of good works; for they serve us to no use, neither to purchase sanctification, nor to deliver us from sin, death, devil or hell.

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