The spark that lit the reformation fire in 16th century Europe was the continuing theological debate over indulgences.
What Are Indulgences?
The Roman catholic system of theology is based around the supposed duel nature of punishment- eternal and temporal. The eternal punishment due for sin is washed away at baptism, but sinners are still subject to the temporal consequences of sin – either in this life or after it in purgatory. The Pope has the special power to offer remission of this temporal guilt by offering grace for acts of special religious significance – taking pilgrimages, visiting relics, and performing other special acts of devotion. The belief is that saints of old merited far more positive merit with God that demanded for their salvation. This abundance of merit is treasured up in heaven, available to be dispensed by the Pope as a reward for special acts of obedience.
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