Ah, but Prophet Muhammad was Sinless!

I was recently talking about slavery in Islam on a social media network when the report of African immigrants being dehumanized Saudi Arabia was trending.

Several Muslims responded to me in that thread, with a few challenging me to prove my stance and I proceeded to document not only the legality of slavery from Islamic sources, but also highlight the fact that in almost every instance where the hadiths make references to Muhammad’s slaves, they were either Jews or Africans.

This unearthing of bare bone facts didn’t (expectedly) go over well with our Muslim friends who resorted to their well-worn tactics when confronted with ugly truths about their prophet:

  1. Dismiss the quotes from the hadiths as “weak narrations.”
  2. Allege that the statements or deeds quoted were fabricated by the Jews or “the west.”
  3. Claiming that the opponent is maliciously quoting the source out of context to paint Islam or its prophet in a bad light.

When one of them realized that his trump cards weren’t bringing out the best result, he told me as a matter of fact that dehumanizing non-Muslims wasn’t really bad, after all, they were thinking and planning bad stuff against the powerful prophet:

“It was dehumanizing for the enemies, yes. You wanted them to be honoured after wanting to kill the Prophet? Even though they were enemies when they were prisoners of war, they were treated like eggs by the Muslims, they were fed like children and were allowed to earn their freedom.”

This line of thinking is quite problematic. First, it trades on a circular argument (“our prophet said he believed that his victims wanted to kill him so I believe it too”) and accepts the accusations and performative violence without any objective proof.

Second, he’s trying to find a moral justification for capturing, enslaving, torturing, dehumanizing and sexually assaulting other people as long as they are labelled as “enemies.”

This is similar to the excuses of most hardened criminals (“I raped her because she made my blood heat up” or “We beheaded them because they deceived our parents.”)

The most striking part was his egregious lie. Where in their hadiths were slaves “treated (carefully) like eggs”? None.

Even in his desperate bid to defend the indefensible, he contradicted himself. How on earth do you admit that slaves owned by Muslims were dehumanized and in the next sentence claim they were treated with care and “fed like children”?

You see, none of these lurid accusations levied against Muhammad’s enemies were documented, Muslims have had to invent most of them because they needed to uphold an underlying tenet of their religion: the alleged sinlessness of prophet Muhammad.

Muslim scholars are of the opinion that prophets are either sinless or at least free from all major sins or faults. One scholar wrote:

“All the prophets of God were men of good character and high honor … Their honesty and truthfulness, their intelligence and integrity are beyond doubt. They were infallible in that they did not commit sins or violate the Law of God.” (Abdalati Hammudah, Islam in Focus. American Trust Publications: Indianapolis, 1975, p. 27)

If a Muslim should admit that Muhammad actually committed acts of wickedness by enslaving, raping women, or assassinating people, he would also be admitting that he sinned, and that ultimately destroys his belief in isma (impeccability) and the other Islamic lies that go with it. It’s like a chain; it’s only as strong as its weakest link.

“Yeah, he was sinless,” said my Muslim opponent, “name one sin [he committed],” he ordered.

This is like someone challenging me to prove that the sky is blue. It’s a philosophical paradox that it’s easier to prove the ominous than to prove the obvious. It’s easier to prove that angels are real than to prove that grasses are green.

If a person is demanding evidence that zebras have stripes, you will wonder if his eyes and brains are functioning right. It’s just the same as someone who has refused to see enslaving others as sin but is now asking me to name a sin his guru was guilty of.

The fact is, the burden of proof is not on us to prove that Muhammad was a sinner, it’s rather on the Muslims to prove to us where the Quran or Hadiths ever stated that Muhammad was sinless.

When we look into these sources, we see that Muhammad was just like every other man – he sinned.

In Sura 18:110, Allah commands him: Say (O Muhammad): “I am no more than a human being like you; one to whom revelation is made…”

Muhammad was simply a man like his followers, the fact that he received a revelation doesn’t make him infallible.

Sura 40:55 says “So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [Allah] with the praise of your Lord, morning and evening.”

Sura 48:1-2 say: “Indeed, We have granted you a manifest triumph. That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future and complete His Favor on you and guide you on the Straight Path.”

Sura 47:19 says: “So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest.”

The only way a Muslim can successfully weasel his way out of these passages is to argue that Allah was wrong to ask Muhammad to ask for forgiveness because he had nothing to forgive! A damning admission, that one.

Yet, Muslim translators have dug into their bag of tricks to work some “abracadabra” on these passages.

The Arabic word “dhanb” or “thanb” was used in the texts, which according to The Hughes Encyclopedic Dictionary of Islam means, “a sin or a crime, or the charge of such.” The word is used in several other places and rightly translated as sin or crime (see Suras 3:11, 16, 31; 5:18, 49; 6:6; 7:10 etc).

But Muslim translators cannot allow Muhammad to be a sinner or criminal as their book says, so in those passages where dhanb was used, they deliberately rendered it as “fault” – a minor mistake or mild error that can be overlooked.

One English translator even smuggled in the words “attributed to you by Meccan polytheists” in parenthesis after “your sins” in Sura 48:2. His doctrinal presupposition was so strong that he had to bring up a sledgehammer and beat the text into conformity with it.

The doctrine of isma was actually a later innovation in Islam. It was first formulated in the creed known as the Fiqh Akbar II where it was stated that:

“All the Prophets are exempt from sins, both light and grave, from unbelief and sordid deeds. Yet stumbling and mistakes may happen on their part.” (Arent Jan Wensinck, The Muslim Creed: Its Genesis and Historical Development, p. 192).

Even the hadiths which attempted to don Muhammad with a legendary clothing tell us the same thing: that he was a poor sinner in need of forgiveness and redemption:

The Prophet used to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from laziness and geriatric old age, from all kinds of sins and from being in debt; from the affliction of the Fire and from the punishment of the Fire and from the evil of the affliction of wealth…”(Bukhari 8.379:  Narrated ‘Aisha)

The fact that Muhammad kept praying for forgiveness and seeking refuge from the punishment of the fire of hell is proof that he was a sinner, his sins were indeed serious, and he knew their consequences were awaiting him beyond the grave.

The Prophet used to invoke Allah with the following invocation: [Arabic translation] “O my Lord! Forgive my sins and my ignorance and my exceeding the limits of righteousness in all my deeds and what you know better than I … Forgive my sins of the past and of the future with I did openly or secretly.” (Bukhari 8.407:  Narrated Abu Musa)

What do you say in the pause between Takbir and recitation? Muhammad replied, I say, “O Allah, set me apart from my sins as the East and Westest are set apart from each other and clean me from sins as a white garment is cleaned from dirt. O Allah! Wash off my sins with water, snow and hail.” (Bukhari 1:711 Narrated Abu Huraira)

The Prophet used to say frequently in his bowings and prostrations, “O Allah! Our Lord! All praises are for You. O Allah! Forgive me.” (Bukhari 1:781 Narrated ‘Aisha)

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to him in repentance more than seventy times a day.” (Bukhari 8:319, Narrated Abu Huraira)

Muhammad’s wife, Aisha records that the early Muslims didn’t regard Muhammad as sinless (but rather as one whose sins were forgiven).

They said, “O Allah’s Prophet! We are not like you. Allah has forgiven your past and future sins” (Bukhari 1:19).

“The Prophet entered my house when a Jewess was with me and she was saying: Do you know that you would be put to trial in the grave? The Messenger of Allah trembled (on hearing this) and said: It is the Jews only who would be put to trial. Aisha said: We passed some nights and then the Messenger of Allah said: Do you know that it has been revealed to me: “You would be put to trial in the grave”? Aisha said: I heard the Messenger of Allah seeking refuge from the torment of the grave after this.” (Muslim 4, No. 1212, Narrated Aisha)

If Muhammad was only guilty of minor mistakes and little faults, why did he tremble and why was he earnestly seeking refuge from the torment of the grave?

These narrations give a lie to the fantastic claims of Muhammad being “cleansed” by angels as a baby or being untouched by Satan at birth.

In the hadith Mishkat al Masabih (1990 ed.), Aisha said Muhammad used to say: “O God, I seek refuge in Thee from the evil of what I have done…” (p. 525)

Indeed, Muhammad did many evil acts – raiding, gruesome murders, and sexual depravity.

In the same hadith, Abu Musa al-Ashari quotes Muhammad saying:

“O God, forgive me of my sin, my ignorance, my extravagance in my affairs and my frivolous sins, for I am guilty of all that; O god, forgive me my former and my latter sins, what I have keep secret and what I have done openly.” (p. 529)

Ah, but Muhammad was sinless! No he wasn’t. In fact, his religion and rituals failed to cater for his own sins much less the sins of his followers.

But as the centuries ensued, many Muslims who realized from the Bible that Jesus Christ is absolutely sinless and their guru was inferior, in ways more than one, tried to tailor their prophet along that line by attributing miracles to him and adopting isma, but the skeletons keep falling out of the cupboards.

Jesus didn’t have to pray for forgiveness or seek refuge in fear from the fire of hell, for he had declared: “For the prince of this world [Satan] is coming. He has no hold over me” (Jn. 14:30). 

We invite our Muslim friends to come to Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who has the power to save one from sin and deliver one to the uttermost.

 

 

 

A Dialogue on Christian Theology

The following was an inbox dialogue I recently had with a friend named Uche on Facebook. We frequently chat on various issues and this is one discussion that I feel needs to be read by other Christians. I have his express permission to publish our exchange.

One of the purposes of Christian apologetics is to help Believers deal with their doubts and others issues they are struggling with in their journey of faith.

This is a conversation that brings out the reason why Christian leaders should ensure that they are feeding their congregation with the solid meat of God’s Word. They should also watch out for wolves in sheep clothing who shipwreck the faith of young Believers with false teachings and reasonings that pit them against God’s Word.

***

Uche: I’ve got just one question for now.

Victor: Yes go ahead.

Uche: The Old Testament writers never had a true understanding of our Father in Christ and sometimes mistook his personality with that of an angel. Yes/No.

Victor: No, I won’t call that a lack of “true understanding.” The Hebrew word translated as “Angel” in the OT is malak. When the Lord Jesus manifested to them, it’s rendered as “THE Angel of the LORD” meaning “the Messenger of God,” and He received worship.

This manifestation of Christ is called “Theophany” – before He came in the flesh. But when it was otherwise, it’s rendered “AN Angel of the LORD.” This distinction was preserved in the Revised Standard Version, but not in the King James Version, so it can be a bit confusing. But again, an angel never receives worship

Uche: So you mean God tempts humans. Genesis 22:1 [And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am]?

Victor: God tested Abraham’s obedience. [“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.” NIV]. He didn’t tempt him.

God tested him to know where his loyalty lies, whether he loved Isaac more than Him. And Abraham passed the test. He obeyed God perfectly. Temptation however is different. It’s aimed at leading a person into sin.

But because God is holy – that’s one of His attributes – He doesn’t tempt. Also, the obedience of Abraham modelled and foreshadowed the relationship of Jesus to the Father and the substitute sacrifice He made for us at the cross.

Uche: My version reads “tempt.” Why would a God who has a foreknowledge of everything, knows the beginning and end of the specimen he created still tempt/test them if he knows their end product?

Victor: Sorry what Bible version do you use?

Uche: KJV.

Victor: KJV is not a very accurate translation. I’ve documented that in at least 2 articles (one/two). In fact, if you are going to have a clear understanding of the Bible, you will need to read a modern English Bible. The 17th century [Elizabethan]  English of the KJV has a way of confusing a modern reader.

Now, God has foreknowledge of the future (Acts 15:18) but He is not the cause of what He foreknows. That God foreknows a thing doesn’t mean He made it happen.

Foreknowledge is not the same as predestination. There is one ability of choice God has given man and it’s called free will. Man must choose to obey God. God cannot compel man to love Him or obey Him.

As a teacher, I know which of my students are smart and when I pose a certain question to them, I know they will give a correct answer. But the onus still lies on them.

If they know it and pretend not to, or refuse to study in order to give the right answer, I cannot be blamed for that. Even though God knows the future, He still tests (not tempt!) our hearts.

Uche: You said temptation leads into sin. Test leads to what? Because I know it has two sides. Temptation also worketh patience if rightly approached [paraphrasing James 1:3].

Victor: Tests can either come out positive or negative. Abraham passed the test and He was blessed by God as a result. There’s no promotion without examination.

There’s no servant of God in Scripture that God didn’t test in one way or the other. Even temptation is a reality. When we succumb to it, we sin, but when we stand, we gain more strength. The Bible says God will not allow us to be “tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Again, that James 1:3 you quoted is from the KJV and that’s why you are still being confused. It reads:

“Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (to verse 4, NIV).

Uche: Why will you perform an experiment you already have inference to?

Victor: That’s why it’s called a test. If I wanted to test for the presence of Carbon (IV) oxide in a solution, I know the experiment to conduct and my inference, whether it’s positive or negative. What I get tells me the final answer I need to know.

God uses life’s situations, experiences, challenges and oppositions to test us and try our hearts. He says this to the children of Israel:

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8:3-4).

Uche: So you mean Jesus tested Abraham … Vs. 11 and 12 “thine only son from me?”

Victor: Exactly. Read those two verses again

Uche: Hmm. In Job 1:6, what was Satan doing in the presence of God?

Victor: Now, the events of the time of Job is the earliest in history and this was the first mention of Satan. He had access to heaven and could accuse the people of God (see Rev. 12: 9-12). So when the angels were before God, he too was there.

From the use of the term “present themselves before the LORD” in Job 1, it indicates that the angels were in worship (1 Kgs. 22:19-22; Isa. 6; Dan. 4:25-26)

Uche: I thought the name Satan was given to him as a Rebel. Originally = Lucifer? I think I get your point. Are you saying he was a rebel who was still an angel of God. Accusing brethren till God finally cast him down?

Victor: Yes. The name Satan means adversary. Lucifer means “light bearer.” He was an anointed cherub (a higher order of angel) who rebelled and made many other angels to rebel and side with him. He still has access to the heavens until his final casting down to earth.

Uche: Okay. What do you say about the bad/evil attributes about our God in the old testament.

For example when Elijah sent down fire from heaven to destroy those soldiers. Does it mean God is not interested in the salvation of their souls rather than wasting their lives. Is our God capable of doing everything thing including bad things?

Victor: I have a problem with your usage of the term “bad/evil” for God. Sounds like you are sitting as a judge over God (something many atheists do).

Before I answer your question, I must ask you, what have you been reading/soaking in of late?

Uche: Actually nothing, but just the Bible. I’m just confused, it’s looking like the Jesus came in flesh to introduce the real attributes of his father and that the old testament guys were a little bit biased because as I understood the scriptures were initiated to them by the Holy spirit through revelations and visions which they interpreted with their mortal brains.

In summary their definitions of God was a holy, untouchable, fearful and a being that can do virtually everything, but Jesus introduced a Father who is loving and caring and can do only righteous things.

Victor: Your allegation of bias against the writers of the OT and interpreting events with their mortal brains indicate that you have rejected (or rejecting) the inspiration of the Old Testament.

I am certain you didn’t get those conclusions from the Holy Spirit. From the questions you’ve raised so far, the alarm bells keep ringing in my spirit that you have changed – and I mean on the inside – your thoughts are being negatively influenced by something and you need to get rid of it. For your own good; and seek to be reconnected to the Lord.

Now, with that being said. Let me state that there are attributes of God laid out in Scripture: love, mercy, justice, holiness, faithfulness etc. These attributes work together and there’s no justification for isolating one out of the rest.

All through the Bible, we see that God is holy just as He is loving. He created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden but when they sinned, He sent them out.

God in His holiness hates sin and cannot look upon sin no matter how little it is (Habakkuk 1:13). His justice demands that He judges sin wherever it is found.

When the people of Sodom and Gomorrah became exceedingly wicked, He judged them, but spared the righteous Lot and his family. There, we see God’s justice + mercy.

When the world in the time of Noah veered into wickedness, He judged them but spared Noah and his family. That’s His justice + mercy/love.

He judged the wicked nations inhabiting the land of Israel and gave it to His people. But when the nation of Israel committed the same sins, He judged them as well and sent them into captivity.

Yet in all His dealings, we see His justice and mercy side by side. That’s why Genesis 18:25 says God doesn’t destroy the righteous with the wicked. Unto the righteous He shows His mercy and onto the wicked, His judgement.

Uche: I’m forever on the Lord’s side, #Never_Turning_Back. I’ve been changed by Jesus and the change is from the inside, so you need not to be worried about any negative change. Thank you for your answers, you’ve cleared my confusion.

Actually the problem is the new president of my fellowship. This guy blows my head everyday with all these questions, teaching that those are the tenets of the Gospel, and I’m scared because most of the fellowship members have been infected with his doctrines. I now have some truths to see if I can be of help.

Victor: I knew it. I sensed you were receiving some inputs from somewhere. Anyway, I feel sorry for the people in your fellowship and the state of your president.

This is why there needs to be proper accountability and oversight in Christian fellowships.

There needs to be a spiritual cover from mature Christian leaders assessing what is being taught to the members. We live in an age of dangerous doctrines and we all need to be sharpened and grounded in the Word.

Uche: We also have a pastor who is more matured but I guess they are all [nonchalant] …. God help us.

***

Victor: Even when Jesus came, He had to take our penalty justice demanded for our sins so that we could have fellowship with God. At the cross we see the revelation of the justice and mercy of God.

And Jesus – as compassionate as He is – also whipped the people out of the temple, warned against Hell and spoke of His second coming during which judgement would be executed on the unrighteous (see Luke 19:1-23). God never tolerates sin and He will always reward righteousness. There’s no neutrality in the attributes of God.

The major difference between the servants of God in the OT and the NT was that in the former, God used them more as instrument of judgement, but in the latter as instrument of mercy.

In Luke 9:51-56, when the Samaritans refused to accept Jesus, His disciples (James and John) asked if they should command fire to come from heaven and destroy them like Elijah did, but Jesus rebuked them, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

He didn’t deny that Elijah called down fire on his enemies. Nor did He question that the disciples might have been able to do the same. Instead, He reminded them that they were in a period when God was using His servants in a different way.

They were called to be instruments of God’s mercy, rather than His judgement. Just as the Bible presents God to us as our loving Father, it also presents Him as a consuming fire (see 2 Cor. 1:3-5 and Heb. 12:29).

In addition, Romans 11:22 says:

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

Again, we see the two sides of God: His sternness and kindness. We must have both in mind in our relationship with God. Both are equally real.

There’s a delusion nowadays that the God of the OT is violent, fierce and harsh but the God of the NT is tender, merciful and loving. This is a form of modern Gnosticism (championed by Marcion in the early church), it’s a deadly heresy that ignores God’s dealings of judgement in the NT e.g on Ananias and Sapphira, Elymas the sorcerer and the execution of God’s wrath on the wicked at Christ’s second advent.

Indulgences, Abstract Treasures and Fraud

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In a recent homily, Pope Francis said:

We evangelize not with grand words, or complicated concepts, but with ‘the joy of the Gospel,’ which ‘fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. For those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.”

He spoke of the “widespread individualism” that has divided Christians (a veiled reference to Protestantism) and added:

The desire for unity moves the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, the conviction that we have an immense treasure to share...” (Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples, July, 7, 2015).

The warp and woof of Catholic theology is plagued with the very “grand words” and “complicated concepts” the pope speaks of. These are the dried bones in Rome’s cupboard that can hardly be termed as the “treasures we share.”

This is a key reason why we cannot join Roman Catholicism to evangelize to the world: we do not believe the same Gospel.

The doctrine of Indulgence is one of these complicated “ugly family secrets.”

Indulgence is defined as a remission before God of the temporal punishment for sin the guilt of which is already forgiven which a Catholic obtains under certain and definite conditions through the Catholic church.

In other words, when a Catholic sins after baptism (which takes place at infancy), he is forgiven through penance, but there is still a debt of temporal punishment attached to such sins which must be discharged off either here on earth or in purgatory.

Indulgence is the means of discharging that debt on earth. This is believed to be made possible through the treasury of merits that the Catholic church has which consists of the merits of Christ, the virgin Mary and the good works of all the Catholic saints combined (Vatican II Council, 1:67-70).

This leads to the first point i want us to note: Catholicism denies the sufficiency of Christ’s work at the cross.

Since Jesus Christ “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,” His blood “purifies us from all sin,” there is no way the merits of Mary or the ‘saints’ can add to His completed work at Calvary (1 John 2:2; 1:7).

“For as one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).

One is not made righteous before God by the good works of Christ + Mary + the “saints.”

Every true Christian has been cleansed, sanctified and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1Cor. 6:11).

In contrast, Rome says indulgence is a kind of pardon that removes both the penalty (poena) and the guilt (culpa) of sin.

Through it, the good works of others is credited to one’s account by the Church when one does certain works. This is a rejection of the Biblical Gospel.

Can Grace be Earned?

There are two types of indulgence – the plenary (full) and partial. They both have their requirements.

In 1300 AD, Pope Boniface gave out indulgence to those who made a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s in Rome. An estimated 2 million people came that year and deposited so much treasure on the so-called tomb of Peter that priests were kept busy all day and night raking them up.

In 1456, recitation of a few prayers before a church crucifix was said to earn a pardon of 20,000 years for everyone who repeats it.

Even today, you can get 7 years of indulgence off purgatory for climbing the Sacred Steps in Rome. The Vatican II Council document on the Revision of Indulgences (Vol 1, 77) stated:

The faithful who use with devotion an object of piety (crucifix, cross, rosary, scapular or medal) after it has been duly blessed by any priest can gain a partial indulgence. But if this object of piety is blessed by the Pope or any bishop, the faithful who use it with devotion can also gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith using any approved formula…

So a Catholic can reduce his time in purgatory by using a certain object blessed by a certain man on a certain day with a certain formula!

What kind of “God” would bend His justice for such silly contrivances, measuring out “grace” or pardon depending on whether a deed was done on a certain feast day and whether a priest or bishop has “blessed” the so-called sacred object?

During the 700 year anniversary of the Holy Door to the Cathedral of Maria Collegmaggio, indulgence was also offered:

“To receive this ‘perdonanza’ indulgence, it’s necessary to be in the Cathedral between 18:00 (6 P. M.) 28 August and 18:00 (6 P. M.) 29 August, to truly repent of one’s sins, and to confess and go to mass and communion within 8 days of the visit” (Inside the Vatican, April 1994, 55).

In July 2013, Pope Francis extended indulgence to Catholics who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the Catholic World Youth Day in Brazil through TV, radio and the social media.

So with the click of the mouse, you can shorten your “burning time” in purgatory. This announcement triggered so much criticism from Protestants that Claudio Celli, the Vatican spokesman, had to re-paint the order: “You can’t obtain indulgence like getting a coffee from a vending machine.” Typical Vatican irony.

The whole idea of the Catholic church dishing out “graces necessary for salvation” to people when they perform certain works leads to a second point: you can’t merit grace because grace, by its very nature, cannot be earned.

Biblically, all one must do to receive God’s grace is to believe His offer in the Gospel and accept His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

Man is “justified freely by his grace” through the redemption in Christ (Rom. 3:24). Grace is a gift of God that is received “through faith; and that not of yourselves” (Eph. 2:8).

If you are earning a “grace” then its not grace. A man “is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16).

Nowhere does the Bible use the term “grace” in plural because it can’t be funnelled like a magic potion. Grace doesn’t come in pills. It’s received by faith.

Biblical grace comes from God on the basis of what Christ has done, while in Catholicism, “graces” come from God (through Mary) in response to what a devout Catholic does. Big difference.

The origin of indulgence is pagan. Pagan religions believed that the recitation of formulas, infliction of pain, sacrifices to the gods or pilgrimages to shrines are merits than can influence the gods in one’s favour.

In Catholicism also, the saying many Hail Marys, kissing a crucifix, repeating a formula is said to reduce purgatorial sufferings which Christ’s sacrifice on the cross could not reduce, and this indulgence can also be applied to the dead.

Selling Salvation to the Sheep

A Catholic blogger once mocked some televangelists who ask people to send in money to them in exchange for healing oils, aprons, pendants etc.

I would join him to denounce such modern-day Balaams who love “the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Pet. 2:15), but Roman Catholic leaders have done far worse – accumulating great wealth by claiming to sell salvation to people all through the centuries.

Pope Innocent VIII (1484-92) granted a 20 year indulgence. For a sum, people would purchase the privilege of eating favourite dishes during Lent or other times of fasting.

So fasting can be also credited into your account while you indulge yourself in the best of foods. The proceeds from this religious enterprise built the bridge over Elbe.

Under pope Leo X (1513-21) specific prices for sins like murder or adultery were published, to be paid to the Catholic church for absolution from each crime. Once the pardon has been purchased in this way from the Church, the culprits could no longer be prosecuted by civil authorities (Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast, Harvest House, 1994, 185).

In 1450, the Oxford chancellor, Thomas Gascoigne pointed out how indulgences had made more people sinners:

“Sinners say, I care not how many or how great sins I commit before nowadays God, for I shall easily and quickly get plenary remission of any guilt and penalty whatsoever by absolution.”

Ironically, the men offering the indulgence were themselves great sinners. People would obtain remission by offering them a game of tennis, money, beer, a prostitute and sex (Lib. Ver. p. 123).

In Spain, the papal Bull (document) had to be purchased for the indulgence and absolution from sins to be granted. No one could be buried without the current Bull in the coffin.

Will Durant wrote: “Large sums were devoted to this purpose by pious people either to relieve a departed relative or friend, or to shorten or annul their own purgatorial suffering after death” (The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1952, 6:24)

In this system, only the rich would inherit the kingdom of heaven. Yet when Simon tried to offer money to Peter to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, he rebuked him: “Thy money perish with thee because thou thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:20).

Apostle Peter warned about false teachers who “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2Pet. 2:3).

This offering of money in exchange for Mass and indulgence still goes on till date in Catholicism, though in more disguised forms.

When Cardinal Cajetan complained about the sale of indulgences and dispensations in the 16th century, Catholic leaders roared, accusing him to trying “to turn Rome into an uninhabited desert, to reduce the Papacy to impotence, to deprive the pope…of the pecuniary resources indispensable for the discharge of his office” (J. H. Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council, London, p. 307-8).

You see, the whole stuff wasn’t about the souls of the people, but about their loyalty to Rome and the money.

It was this grabbing scheme that prompted Martin Luther to nail his 95 theses at the door of the castle church of Wittenburg. Inside the door of this church were relics which were said to offer 2 million years indulgences to those who venerated them according to prescribed rules.

The church which ought to be a place of prayer became a den of thieves; a market for money changers and dove sellers.

Has the Catholic church ever apologized for having led millions of souls astray in this manner?

Has she returned the money she grabbed from desperate people who thought they were buying salvation?

How can they even apologize to the souls now in hell for selling them a bogus ticket out of a mythical purgatory?

When a person is saved, he has “passed from death to life” (Jn. 5:24), he doesn’t need to go back to “working off” his time in purgatory which doesn’t exist.

The pope publicly talks of the Gospel bringing freedom from sin, sorrow and emptiness, but the very gospel his religion teaches is a false gospel that has not freed the people from sin or its penalty.