Tetzel on 7 Years in Purgatory for Every Sin

Cranach | 9/14/2017 | Staff
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I came across a sermon from Johann Tetzel, the indulgence peddler who provoked Luther’s 95 Theses. Part of his sales pitch had to do with the popular, though unofficial, teaching that Christians must suffer 7 years in the fires of Purgatory for each sin they have committed. Doing the math reminds us of what it was like to be a western Christian in 1516.

Though Christ died for the sins of the world, according to classic Roman Catholicism, His sacrifice erases the penalty for original sin and for sins committed up to the time of Baptism. After that, Christians have recourse to the penitential system to deal with their sins. Catholics believe that even Christians can go to ****, if they commit mortal sins. These can be forgiven, though, through the sacrament of Reconciliation, involving private confession before a priest, acts of penance, and absolution. That removes the eternal punishment that the sin deserves. But all sins, including the more minor venial sins, require temporal punishment. Earthly suffering can count for this, but most of the temporal punishment–which is necessary even for sins that have been forgiven–happens after death in Purgatory.

Tetzel - St - Francis - Rome - Christians

So if Tetzel and St. Francis of Rome are right–as many if not most Christians believed in the medieval church–let’s do the math. Assume that seven years in purgatory are required for each sin. Say you are a very good person and only commit one sin per day. That comes to 2,555 years in purgatory for one year of sinning. If you live to be 70, you would be facing 178,850 years of suffering.

This would be for sins that are forgiven!

Church - Administers - Treasury - Merits - Heaven–have

Also, the Church administers what was called “the Treasury of Merits.” Saints–defined as those whom we know are already in Heaven–have built up more merits than they need for salvation. These...
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