Friday, March 7, 2014

95 Theses of the Restoration



I know someone who had a spiritual experience that led him to give up a promising career in order to serve in a church leadership position.  A few years into his calling, he started to see things going on in the church that bothered him regarding church finances and the issuing of recommends.  He thought it must be a local problem that the top church leadership would disapprove of it were made known.  So he sent a message about it to the church leader who supervised over him.  In the message, he pointed out what he saw that seemed wrong, and asked for confirmation of what he understood to be the real doctrine of the church.  To his surprise, the other church leader forwarded his message on the prophet, and he was soon called in for a disciplinary council.  Meanwhile, he posted his message in a public forum and it went viral.  His ideas resonated with other members throughout the church, and those members were dismayed to learn that he was later excommunicated, and that he had to go into hiding to avoid being executed.

If you hadn’t figured it out before that last word or from the title of this post, you should now know that I’m not talking about someone alive today, but about the great reformer (and my namesake), Martin Luther.  All right, so I was cheating a little on some of the words, like “prophet” instead of “pope”, but the description is otherwise fully accurate, and the analogy reveals parallels between Luther’s situation in the Catholic church of the early 16th century and the situation of our LDS faith almost 500 years later.  For instance, the invention that allowed Luther’s message (known as his 95 theses) to go viral was the printing press, invented just a few decades earlier.  We see a similar story playing out within the LDS church today with bloggers exposing problems in the church, the recent invention of the internet enabling their words to spread to a growing audience, and some of them being excommunicated (no executions yet, thankfully).

Let’s continue to explore the parallels between Luther’s story and our situation today.  Martin Luther was a Catholic Monk before he was a Lutheran (he never called himself a Lutheran, but later said the only acceptable term for himself and other believers was “Christian”).  He was still very much a devout Catholic when he wrote his famous 95 theses, which, as I said, started out as a letter to his priesthood leader hoping to get some good theological shake-out of his ideas.  He had been disturbed by a visiting Friar who was aggressively selling indulgences – letters of pardon from God’s punishment granted for donating money to the church – and wanted to draw a line on what was and wasn’t appropriate.  The text of the 95 theses pulses with a feeling of Martin asking his local authority – “This is what we really believe, right?  These people selling the indulgences are crossing a line that the Pope would not approve of, right?”  

Okay, so I’ve probably lost some of you on my analogy already.  After all, you say, there is nothing so blatantly unscriptural as indulgences and letters of pardon in the LDS church.  I hear you, but hang with me for just a minute and consider a few other points.  Catholics don’t think of indulgences as “forgiving sins”.  They actually think of them more like the “good works” without which, faith is dead.  And they are good works, aren’t they, because the money is used to build churches and other good stuff.  Furthermore, Catholics believe that indulgences cannot take away the need for Christ’s grace to be forgiven and enter heaven, but they do believe that indulgences can take away the need for temporal punishment imposed by the church, evidenced by the granting letters of pardon.  Starting to sound a little bit like tithing and temple recommends to anyone else, or is it just me?  Here’s how you might have heard it explained in Sacrament meeting: “Don’t let a failure to pay tithing be the obstacle between you and the blessings of God’s temple, including the privilege of seeing your loved ones get married.  God doesn’t need your money, but when you pay tithing, it is a good work demonstrating your faith which allows God to open the windows of heaven to bless you.”  Hmm, sounds like at least some people are paying tithing to avoid a temporal punishment of not seeing their family members get married.  Now, Luther wasn’t actually opposed to indulgences in and of themselves; his problem was that he thought they were being over-applied and over-emphasized for less than Christlike motives.  Wow, that’s exactly how some of us feel about tithing in the Church today!  Yes, tithing is a true principle, but lately, something sure seems off.

So now I want to get to the main point of this post, which is to present my modern LDS analogy for what is actually in the 95 theses.  When I read them for myself this week, I was even more amazed by the parallels that I found.  Granted, about a third of the 95 theses were too steeped in Catholic doctrine to be applied to our situation, but for the rest of them, finding a modern analogy was almost too easy, and didn’t require much extrapolation.  Here is a breakdown of how many of the theses fell into each of a handful of themes that I identified in my analogies:

·         Too Catholic-focused to be applicable (31)
·         Repentance (5)
·         Current Temple Recommend ≠ Forgiveness (16)
·         Tithing ≠ Fire Insurance (3)
·         Tithing ≠ Charity (12)
·         Tithing is on Interest (Surplus) (4)
·         Tithing should be transparent (3)
·         The poor are more important than tithing (8)
·         Misuse of tithing is hurting the church (5)
·         Why is tithing a temple recommend question? (3)
·         We should embrace reform (5)

So, I will start out with a summary of the most interesting of the analogies, and then at the end, I will give you my full side-by-side comparison with the original version.  Any words that I have changed from the original are indicated by italics.  Also, in the full comparison, I have highlighted my non-trivial changes in green.  Enjoy.

Oh, just a few last things before you jump in:

I wanted to point out that much of Luther’s language is conciliatory, as he seemingly trips over himself to distance the pope from the abuses going on (wishful thinking).  I have noted where I perceive this conciliatory language in the full comparison.  

Also, I make reference to tithing funds being misused today, which some would claim is not true because certain church projects are done with funds separate from tithing.  I respond that there are no church funds that are not tithing, since everything was originally derived from tithing at some point.

Last thing – for the record, my wife didn’t think that the points under “Current Temple Recommend ≠ Forgiveness” rung true for her.  In her experience, she has never noticed in herself or others the feeling that a temple recommend can be equated with an assurance of salvation.  In my experience, however, I have felt that message was at least on some level being taught and believed by some members.  Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments section below. 

 

Summary

Current Temple Recommend ≠ Forgiveness

24
It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of our members are deceived who think that a current temple recommend automatically qualifies them for the Celestial Kingdom.
32
They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have a current temple recommend.
36
Every truly repentant latter day saint has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without a current temple recommend.
37
Every true latter day saint, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without a current temple recommend.
75
To think a current temple recommend so great that it could absolve a man even if he had suffered a beggar to put up his petition in vain -- this is madness.

 

Tithing ≠ Fire Insurance

27
It is the doctrine of man and not God to say that so soon as the penny jingles into the tithing envelope, the soul becomes fire-proof.
28
It is certain that when the penny jingles into the tithing envelope, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of not being burned at the second coming is in the power of God alone.
30
No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

 

Tithing ≠ Charity

42
The latter-day saints are to be taught that the prophet does not intend the paying of tithing to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
43
The latter-day saints are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than paying tithing;
44
Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but it is possible to pay tithing and not grow in love, though more worthy of a temple recommend.
45
The latter-day saints are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for tithing, opens not the windows of heaven, but purchases the indignation of God.
54
Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on tithing than on helping the poor and needy.
79
To say that the tithing envelope, emblazoned with the official church logo, which is handed out [by the preachers of tithing], is of equal worth with acts of charity, is blasphemy.

 

Tithing is on Interest (Surplus)

46
The latter-day saints are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on tithing.
47
The latter-day saints are to be taught that the determination of what is surplus to be tithed is a matter of personal conscience, and that tithing is a lesser law we should strive to replace by collectively embracing the law of consecration.
50
The latter-day saints are to be taught that if the prophet knew the exactions of the tithing-on-gross-preachers, he would rather that the newest temples under construction should go to ashes, than that they should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
51
The latter-day saints are to be taught that it would be the prophet’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom many leaders and members cajole tithing-on-gross, even though the Salt Lake Temple might have to be sold.

 

Tithing should be transparent

56
The "tithing funds of the Church," out of which the prophet builds shopping malls, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
57
That they are not often used to help the poor is certainly evident, for the presiding bishopric does not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gathers them.

 

The poor are more important than tithing

59
A saint once said that the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
65
Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
66
The treasures of tithing are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
68
Yet tithing in truth is the not very important when compared with the importance of helping the poor and needy.

 

Misuse of tithing is hurting the church

82
To wit: -- "Why does not the prophet use more than 1% of tithing funds for humanitarian causes, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of people suffering from famine, war, and disease, if he collects enough tithing to invest for the sake of miserable money with which to build a 1.5 billion-dollar luxury shopping mall? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."
84
Again: -- "What is this new piety of God and the prophet, that for money they allow tithing to be spent on a luxury shopping mall that is worldly and the essence of Babylon in order to keep beggars away from Temple Square, and do not rather, because of a beggar’s soul's own need, feed it with tithing money for pure love's sake?"
86
Again: -- "Why do not mission presidents, whose wealth tends to be greater than the riches of most members, pay for gifts and housemaids with their own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"
90
To repress these arguments and scruples of the membership by excommunication alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the prophet to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make the latter-day saints unhappy.

 

We should embrace reform

92
Away, then, with all those voices who say to the people of Christ, "All is well in Zion," when all is not well in Zion!
93
Blessed be all those voices who say to the people of Christ, "Awake, awake," when there is no one awake!
94
The latter-day saints are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through loving their neighbor and helping the poor;
95
And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through true charity, than through the assurance of peace from paying tithing and receiving a current temple recommend.


Full Comparison

Original Text
(October 31, 1517)
LDS Analogy
(March 7, 2014)
Theme / (Notes)
1.
Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when he said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, from the Latin translation, was talking about repentance in the sense of changing one's internal state of mind, indicating that repentance is a continual process that we work on throughout our lives.
Repentance
2.
This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
Repentance in this sense cannot be understood to only mean confession to the Bishop and making restitution.
Repentance
3.
Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
Yet, repentance is more than just an inward feeling, because our inward feelings should lead us to outward actions.
Repentance
4.
The penalty, therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Repentance requires us to continue to put off the natural man, which is true inward repentance, and which continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Repentance
5.
The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
The bishop does not intend to remit, and cannot remit our need to feel sorrow for our sins and make restitution, but he may issue a temple recommend or advise us when to start taking the sacrament again, by his own authority outlined in the Official Handbook of Instructions.
Current Temple Recommend (CTR) ≠ Forgiveness
(Conciliatory)
6.
The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
The bishop cannot forgive our sins, but he can testify of Christ’s power to forgive; though, to be sure, he may grant a temple recommend in cases reserved to his judgment.  If his right to grant a temple recommend in such cases were not respected, the guilt of not having a temple recommend would remain entirely.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
(Conciliatory)
7.
God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
When we repent, God forgives us, and at the same time, we are humbled in all things.  The Handbook says we are subject to the bishop for confession of more serious sins.
Repentance
(Conciliatory)
8.
The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
N/A
9.
Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
N/A
10.
Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
N/A
11.
This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
N/A
12.
In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
N/A
13.
The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
N/A
14.
The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
N/A
15.
This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
N/A
16.
Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
N/A
17.
With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
N/A
18.
It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
N/A
19.
Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
N/A
20.
Therefore by "full remission of all penalties" the pope means not actually "of all," but only of those imposed by himself.
Therefore, by “current temple recommend holder”, the prophet means not actually “free of all sin”, but only able to worthily answer the temple recommend interview questions.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
21.
Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
Therefore, those are in error who preach that anyone with a current temple recommend will go to the Celestial kingdom.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
22.
Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
N/A
23.
If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
N/A
24.
It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.
It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of our members are deceived who think that a current temple recommend automatically qualifies them for the Celestial Kingdom.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
25.
The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
N/A
26.
The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
N/A
27.
They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
It is the doctrine of man and not God to say that so soon as the penny jingles into the tithing envelope, the soul becomes fire-proof.
Tithing ≠ Fire Insurance
28.
It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
It is certain that when the penny jingles into the tithing envelope, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of not being burned at the second coming is in the power of God alone.
Tithing ≠ Fire Insurance
29.
Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
N/A
30.
No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
Tithing ≠ Fire Insurance
31.
Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
N/A
32.
They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have a current temple recommend.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
33.
Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
Men must be on their guard against those who say that the bishop’s temple recommends are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
34.
For these "graces of pardon" concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.
N/A
35.
They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
N/A
36.
Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
Every truly repentant latter day saint has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without a current temple recommend.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
37.
Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
Every true latter day saint, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without a current temple recommend.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
38.
Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
N/A
39.
It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.
It is most difficult, even for the very keenest Mormon scholars, at one and the same time to commend to the members the safety of a current temple recommend and [the need of] true contrition.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
40.
True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
True contrition seeks and loves making restitution, but current temple recommends that last for 2 years could relax the perceived need for restitution and cause it to be neglected, or at least, furnish an occasion [for neglecting it].
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
41.
Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
Current temple recommends are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
42.
Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that the prophet does not intend the paying of tithing to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
Tithing ≠ Charity
43.
Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
The latter-day saints are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than paying tithing;
Tithing ≠ Charity
44.
Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but it is possible to pay tithing and not grow in love, though more worthy of a temple recommend.
Tithing ≠ Charity
45.
Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for tithing, opens not the windows of heaven, but purchases the indignation of God.
Tithing ≠ Charity
46.
Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on tithing.
Tithing is on Interest (Surplus)
47.
Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that the determination of what is surplus to be tithed is a matter of personal conscience, and that tithing is a lesser law we should strive to replace by collectively embracing the law of consecration.
Tithing is on Interest (Surplus)
48.
Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that the prophet, in authorizing bishops to grant temple recommends, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money their recommends bring (through encouraging the payment of tithing).
Tithing ≠ Charity
49.
Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that current temple recommends are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
50.
Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that if the prophet knew the exactions of the tithing-on-gross-preachers, he would rather that the newest temples under construction should go to ashes, than that they should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
Tithing is on Interest (Surplus)
(Conciliatory, wishful thinking)
51.
Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
The latter-day saints are to be taught that it would be the prophet’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom many leaders and members cajole tithing-on-gross, even though the Salt Lake Temple might have to be sold.
Tithing is on Interest (Surplus)
(Conciliatory, wishful thinking)
52.
The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
The assurance of salvation by a current temple recommend is vain, even though the bishop, nay, even though the prophet himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
53.
They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
They are enemies of Christ and of the prophet, who bid scriptures about helping the poor and needy be altogether silent in some Meetinghouses, in order that tithing may be preached instead.
Tithing ≠ Charity
54.
Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on tithing than on helping the poor and needy.
Tithing ≠ Charity
55.
It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
It must be the intention of the prophet that if tithing, which is a very small thing, is celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel of loving our neighbor and helping those in need, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
Tithing ≠ Charity
(Conciliatory)
56.
The "treasures of the Church," out of which the pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
The "tithing funds of the Church," out of which the prophet builds shopping malls, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
Tithing should be transparent
(All church funds derive originally from tithing)
57.
That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
That they are not often used to help the poor is certainly evident, for the presiding bishopric does not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gathers them.
Tithing should be transparent
58.
Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.
N/A
59.
St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
A saint once said that the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
The poor are more important than tithing
60.
Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ's merit, are that treasure;
Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ's merit, are that treasure;
The poor are more important than tithing
61.
For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
N/A
62.
The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
The poor are more important than tithing
63.
But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
N/A
64.
On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
N/A
65.
Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
The poor are more important than tithing
66.
The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
The treasures of tithing are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
The poor are more important than tithing
67.
The indulgences which the preachers cry as the "greatest graces" are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
N/A                                              
68.
Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
Yet tithing in truth is the not very important when compared with the importance of helping the poor and needy.
The poor are more important than tithing
69.
Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
Bishops and Stake Presidents are bound to admit the visiting General Authority, with all reverence.
The poor are more important than tithing
70.
But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach tithing more frequently than they preach about charity.
The poor are more important than tithing
71.
He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
N/A
72.
But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
He who guards against the over-emphasis on and misuse of tithing by church leaders, let him be blessed!
Tithing Should be Transparent
73.
The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
The prophet justly thunders against those who, by any art, say that tithing is not a true principle.
Tithing ≠ Charity
(Conciliatory)
74.
But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
But much more does the prophet intend to thunder against those who equate tithing with charity.
Tithing ≠ Charity
(Conciliatory)
75.
To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God -- this is madness.
To think a current temple recommend so great that it could absolve a man even if he had suffered a beggar to put up his petition in vain -- this is madness.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
76.
We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
We say, on the contrary, that a current temple recommend is not able to remove the very least of minor sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
CTR ≠ Forgiveness
77.
It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
N/A
78.
We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
N/A
79.
To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
To say that the tithing envelope, emblazoned with the official church logo, which is handed out [by the preachers of tithing], is of equal worth with acts of charity, is blasphemy.
Tithing ≠ Charity
80.
The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
The bishops, stake presidents and church scholars who allow such talk to be spread among the latter-day saints, will have an account to render.
Tithing ≠ Charity
81.
This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
This unbridled preaching of tithing makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the prophet from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the membership.
Misuse of tithing is hurting the church
(Conciliatory)
82.
To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."
To wit: -- "Why does not the prophet use more than 1% of tithing funds for humanitarian causes, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of people suffering from famine, war, and disease, if he collects enough tithing to invest for the sake of miserable money with which to build a 1.5 billion-dollar luxury shopping mall? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."
Misuse of tithing is hurting the church
83.
Again: -- "Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
N/A
84.
Again: -- "What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul's own need, free it for pure love's sake?"
Again: -- "What is this new piety of God and the prophet, that for money they allow tithing to be spent on a luxury shopping mall that is worldly and the essence of Babylon, in order to keep beggars away from Temple Square, and do not rather, because of a beggar’s soul's own need, feed it with tithing money for pure love's sake?"
Misuse of tithing is hurting the church
85.
Again: -- "Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?"
N/A
86.
Again: -- "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"
Again: -- "Why do not mission presidents, whose wealth tends to be greater than the riches of most members, pay for gifts and housemaids with their own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"
Misuse of tithing is hurting the church
87.
Again: -- "What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?"
Again: -- "What is it that tithing remits, and what temple participation does it grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and temple participation?"
Why is tithing a temple recommend question?
88.
Again: -- "What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?"
Again: -- "What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the bishops were to do a hundred times a day what they now do once, and bestow on otherwise worthy members who can’t afford to pay tithing a temple recommend?"
Why is tithing a temple recommend question?
89.
"Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?"
"Since the prophet, by his temple recommends, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the temple recommends granted heretofore, if a member can’t afford to pay tithing?"
Why is tithing a temple recommend question?
90.
To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
To repress these arguments and scruples of the membership by excommunication alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the prophet to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make the latter-day saints unhappy.
Excommunicating members who question hurts the church
91.
If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
If, therefore, tithing was preached according to the spirit and mind of the scriptures, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
We should embrace reform
92.
Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace!
Away, then, with all those voices who say to the people of Christ, "All is well in Zion," when all is not well in Zion!
We should embrace reform
93.
Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
Blessed be all those voices who say to the people of Christ, "Awake, awake," when there is no one awake!
We should embrace reform
94.
Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
The latter-day saints are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through loving their neighbor and helping the poor;
We should embrace reform
95.
And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through true charity, than through the assurance of peace from paying tithing and receiving a current temple recommend.
We should embrace reform

24 comments:

  1. This was very intersting, because my husband and I just got done watching a video on the life of Martin Luther. We were joking about what would happen if someone tacked a 95 theses of reformation on the church doors. Thank you for your thought provoking post.

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  2. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

    Man in authority: "Dr. Martin, if you leave the Christian to live only by faith, if you sweep away all good works, all these glorious things you dismiss as mere crutches..what will you put in that place?"

    Martin Luther: "Christ! Man only needs Jesus Christ."

    Homeschool Mom

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  3. Homeschool Mom,

    Thanks for the feedback. I loved the quote!

    I have thought about what might happen if a bunch of us printed copies of this (or something similar) and taped them to church building doors all on the same day. It would have to be pretty widespread to get any notice I think. But it could be fun!

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  4. Would you like another quote from the movie? I guess I'm not really leaving you with a choice am I? (Ha, ha). Martin Luther-"I will tell you what I think. I have the right to believe freely, to be a slave from no man's authority. To confess what appears to me to be true. Wether it is approved or disapproved, wether it is spoken by Catholic or heretic. In matters of faith I think that neither council nor pope nor any man has power over my conscience. I deny Pope and council and all. A simple layman armed with scriptures is greater than the mightiest Pope without it. Heresy? So be it! It is the Truth." Do you think the church has security cameras to identify the theses hangers? Homeschool Mom

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  5. Okay, I've got to watch that movie! Looks like history repeating itself again.

    Who needs security cameras with most members faithfully serving in the unofficial calling of thought police? I'm sure my permanent record will be marked up in no time if/when I go public with my identity (assuming Google hasn't already sold me out to the strengthening the members committee). No, I flatter myself. I'm going to have to shake things up a lot more before I'm on their radar.

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  6. Here is a link to the movie on you tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5tcikrF7eA My husband loves it when I pause and rewind the movie so I can write the quotes down! Definately worth the watch!
    Homeschool Mom

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  7. Homeschool Mom,

    I watched the movie during church yesterday and it was fantastic. (I was home with sick kids :-) Thanks so much for sharing. Your quotes only scratch the surface of how much the corruption of the Catholic church mirrors our situation today. It also appeared that the movie was very accurate historically.

    The movie also got me thinking about faith and good works. I'm starting to wonder if we don't focus too much on good works in the church. Wow, I'm starting to sound a lot like a protestant. I better stop for now.

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  8. Whenever I read or watch things about the Reformation, I feel my blood catch on fire and think "Yeah! yeah! I know how they felt!"
    I have a "Heretic" book that I write these quotes down in. This book would NOT be one I use for church lessons or talks.
    I am glad that you enjoyed the movie.
    Homeschool Mom

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  9. Martin Harris,
    I keep mixing up your name, and I apologize for that.
    My husband comes from a long line of Lutheran ministers, so I find this really . . . unique to think about. When he became LDS his relatives said, "how can you leave the one true church?"
    Later, they had all left. Wow.

    Anyway, this is really engrossing, and I need more time to read it and to share with my Lutheran Mormon.

    :)

    Thanks for the work!

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  10. Homeschool mom,
    What is the title of the movie on Martin Luther? We aren't very much 'into' new movies, though we do watch those we feel are good--

    I know we would both be interested in it--

    We tend to like foreign films made in the 40s and 50s. Odd, I know.

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  11. oh, you already gave it--
    on youtube; I wasn't quick to catch that--

    :)

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  12. @LDSDPer

    That's very interesting about your husband's Lutheran background. I am somewhat surprised to hear that Lutherans also consider themselves the "one true church". I guess most churches feel that way, but I've always thought protestants were less hung-up on it. Maybe it has to do with Luther's belief that he never really left the Catholic church, but it was they who had strayed from the original teachings of Christ.

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  13. My husband and I recently watched another reformation movie on youtube. It is called "God's Outlaw-William Tyndale ". You might enjoy it.
    LDSDper- did you get to watch the Martin Luther movie?
    Homeschool Mom

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  14. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-h2espvbB0 Here is the link. I love the dinner conversation at 13:53 especially at 16:24 "The Pope! The Pope, whom God has set on earth!.... it would be better to do with out God's laws than the Pope's!" Just change a few words and this is exactly what I have heard said by some church members.
    Homeschool Mom

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    1. I finally got time to watch the William Tyndale movie, and it didn't disappoint. I've never really appreciated (until recently) what the reformers went through. There were some courageous people back then. Makes our little attempts here to shake up the LDS establishment pale in comparison.

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  15. Homeschool Mom,

    Keep sending me the reformation movies! I just watched the clip you referred to, and now I can't wait until I have time to watch the whole thing. They don't often make movies like they used to. I guess it has to do with our shrinking attention spans.

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  16. LDSDper,

    I wanted to tell you that I was personally grieved by the way you were treated by commenters on Rock's blog. I would have said something over there, but I didn't want to stir the pot after Rock had already put the smack down on the rudeness.

    I had been planning to read the letter to the CES director, but the way the author treated you made me lose all interest in it. By their fruits ye shall know them, right? I'm not afraid to confront truth where it is to be found, but I am much more likely to take seriously the words of someone whose actions demonstrate a desire to emulate Christ. From what I know of you, that's the kind of person you are!

    Keep posting, because I (and others) need to hear what you have to say.

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  17. Really liked this.
    Where I now live, 99% of members think that having a Temple recommend secures their place in the CK. Members think that they only have to pay tithing, attend meetings, and get their recommend and that is all they need to do. It is implied in lessons by some who are giving the lesson. Hugh Nibley said not many LDS will make it to the CK and many will be surprised where they will end up.
    Members think that because they have the recommend it is alright to not be Christlike. They have their golden ticket. Members act like people in mainstream Christian churches: no need to repent or to ask for forgiveness, no need to really follow the commandments, no need to try and be Christ like at all times, because once save always saved.
    I mentioned to a lady in my ward that her husband would be good for a certain calling (my memory fails me what the calling was, sorry - but I do remember her answer). She said no, her husband would not take that calling because he was a High Priest and High Priests are above certain callings in the church. No lie. I was bowled over. I walked away shaking my head. I have some good stories of what leaders (and some people) in my ward have pulled. Unbelievable.

    Where I live the members put a lot of emphasis on status of callings. And who they are related to. The members of my stake are horrible about this mindset - one is favored by God if one gets a high calling, and is better than those who never get high callings. (Actually, where I live the high callings are given to friends and relatives of the ones who are in power and so friends and relatives are always in power and keep getting called to high positions from each other). Also the status quo and culture rule. I really think that in areas where LDS are in the majority this junk goes on (the stuff I mentioned above). I was raised in a small town where the LDS were very much the minority and there was never any attitude of anyone thinking they were better because of their calling or who they were related to. I was the only LDS kid my last two years of high school and there were no LDS kids my age. There was one girl two years older than me, and one girl four years younger than me. So really, each kid pretty much went through high school being the only LDS kid. The members where I grew up did not take the church for granted the way it is taken for granted in densely LDS populated areas. Like where I live now.

    To LDSPer: I too was going to say something about the comments on Pure Mormonism. Then Rock said something. Over a year ago you helped me and I will never forget it. And like you and your family, me and my family have been treated badly by our ward and stake. Thank you again.

    (Also I am upset about what is happening to Rock. I fail to understand why. I fail to understand why people like Phillips and those other two who sued Pres. Monson have not been excommunicated yet. They are all Atheists now. )

    I do enjoy this site, and what you write. I do not blame you for staying anonymous, I wish Rock would have done his blog anonymously, but I admire him greatly.

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    1. Raised here in Happy Valley, Utah and lived here my whole life. Mid 30's now, but I'll never forget a seminary class my sophomore year of High School. Every so often we'd have a chance to 'share'--testimony, a thought, whatever. One day, a new guy, he'd been there about 2-3 weeks, got up. He'd moved from Wisconsin. He chastised us like I'd never heard before. He spoke of the language he heard in the halls, the jokes in the locker room, the clothes worn, just to name a few things....Where he came from, he was the ONLY mormon. If he acted like the rest of us did, no one would have ever known it. He taught us that day what it really meant to live our religion, and how to be Christlike by his example.
      It is sad, because the Church really is different in Utah. My husband is not a member, and I doubt he'd ever join in Utah. We spent some time visiting some family in Oregon, and were amazed at how different the church is. My husband smokes. He may as well go outside in a red suit with horns on his head. The looks, and sneers and snubs he has experienced is shameful.
      We grow up teaching our kids that smoking or drinking is bad, but never really teach them that good people might partake of these. Then they grow up and are actually faced with the Devil Smoker, and it's like they don't know what to do, other than walk on by with noses in the air. Proving to themselves they are better than the 'sinner'. We've lived in the same home 13 years. I've had 3 home teachers that I've known. 1 was faithful and actually made an impact on my husband, but was reassigned 10 months later-they are still friends. Another, came for about 3 months, after which time we don't know if he was reassigned or just stopped coming. Our current HT will ask me (when he sees me at church) if he can 'stop by sometime this week'. I tell him to call me at home so I can just double check my calendar. He never calls.
      I know I'm far from perfect, and I do not mean to sound so negative, but this IS NOT the church Joseph set up. At least not where I live. Until we can stop putting ourselves above our neighbors.
      But it will happen. The 'scary' part is thinking about what things we will have to suffer to humble us enough to bring us down to the same level and really band together and become unified. Once we are one, we can begin to be Zion.
      -Miranda

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    2. Thanks for sharing your experience Miranda. I have experienced church both inside and outside of Utah. It's a much better experience for me on the outside, though I know many wonderful people who attend Church in Utah.

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  18. Silkworm,

    Thanks for your comment. I've found that I enjoy church a lot more since I moved away from Utah, though you can't escape all of the cultural baggage no matter where you move.

    At some point, I think the Church will have to confront the kind of problems Rock is blogging about, and when that time comes, they will be much better off if they haven't ex'ed all those who are working to bridge the gap to help people stay faithful in spite of the problems.

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  19. @Martin Harris Luther,
    Thank you. I'm all right. It is probably good that I was away from a computer for a week. LOL!
    I feel concern for those two; one is obviously a young man; the other (Mayan Elephant) possibly. I have a son who is nearing 30, and he is cognitively impaired and not able to function at any kind of 'normal;; he wasn't able to serve a mission, and he is no longer involved in the church, though he still reads his scriptures and 'loves God and Jesus' (his words). But it is so hard when you have a special child who falls through the cracks, and then you see intelligent young men squandering their gifts and not being kind. I suppose that is part of the test, though. I'm glad you started a blog, Martin Harris Luther. :)

    @Silkworm, I'm so glad I helped you!!! Wow! I feel terribly unused in my own ward. The ward my family is now in has been a huge challenge and trial, but I expect we'll be compensated someday if we show charity ourselves. Right?
    That IS what I believe with all my heart.

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  20. Wow, this an extremely thoughtful analysis. Fascinating. The parallels are downright creepy (as in, give me the heebie geebies). As far as the temple recommend issue you bring up, I think the huge emphasis on keeping a current recommend can sort of send that message. Certainly becoming complacent once we have our recommend goes against the idea that we need to be searching and repenting continually. At the same time though, I don't know if it should be de-emphasised because the temple should be a place where we gain added insight into what we could be doing better and are (hopefully) taught more directly from God/the Holy Ghost. I think the issues of tithing being more transparent and of caring for the poor being more important than just routinely paying tithing are huge issues though.

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  21. Maybe my problem with the way we deal in temple recommends is one of ends and means. I think we might do better to view the temple more as a means for spiritual growth, and less as an end reward for the near-perfect. There is a somewhat recent convert in my ward who has been valiantly trying to overcome an alcohol addiction, and he has made a ton of progress, though he can't seem to get to 100%. He feels (and is actually considered) unworthy to go to the temple, although he is one of the nicest, most sincere people I know. Why shouldn't he be allowed? Many of us carry far worse sins into the temple that are less visible because they are hidden in our hearts.

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