In week 3, we learned about the medieval practice of indulgences. Indulgences were more complicated than just selling forgiveness. Receiving absolution from the priest after confessing your sins removed your guilt for those sins, but you still had to make satisfaction for those sins through prayers and good works. Since very few people could do this satisfactorily, most Christians at the time expected after death to end up in Purgatory, a place of suffering to make satisfaction for sins. And they expected to be there for a very long time (potentially millions of years) before entering into paradise. The selling of indulgences offered a easy route to reducing or eliminating this time in purgatory for yourself or a loved one (including those already in Purgatory). And it made for a compelling fundraiser for the pervasive politics and corruption in the medieval church.
Join us on October 8 as we learn how the conflict between Luther and the medieval hierarchy began to move from a debate over the sale of indulgences to a larger debate over the very nature of salvation and the Christian life.