Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tetzel's Rebuttal Against Luther's Sermon on Indulgences and Grace

I was happy to find a pdf of Johann Tetzel's Rebuttal Against Luther's Sermon on Indulgences and Grace available online. This is an English translation of Vorlegung wider einen vermessenen Sermon.

From the introduction:

"With this translation of his Rebuttal, Tetzel is granted a new hearing, indeed probably a first hearing for most persons. What one has heard of his own words is the infamous jingle (unfortunately, actually part of the indulgence preachers’ promotional techniques): “As soon as the penny in the money chest clinks, the soul out of purgatory springs.” ” In the Rebuttal, however, instead of the caricatured money-grubber, one hears a genuine concern for the salvation of souls, praise of God’s inestimable mercy, and a concern for the whole of Christendom. In his impassioned outcry of rebuttal 20, Tetzel foresees what tragic consequences can follow upon Luther’s ideas—the dissolution of Christianity, its shattering into fragments, the very opposite of Christ’s desire that all people might be one in him. For centuries Tetzel has also been consistently caricatured as stupid, ignorant of Latin, and unable to write his own theses. The Rebuttal provides a different witness. His presentation here is well-structured; exhibits a credible understanding of Scripture, Catholic doctrines, and the major theologians of the Christian tradition; and shows him fully as proficient as his debate opponent in Latin and in the citation of Scripture to support his arguments."

It's interesting to note that this translation of Tetzel's Vorlegung includes what appears to me to be a complete English translation of Luther's Eyn Sermon vom Ablass und Gnade (A Sermon on Indulgence and Grace) found in WA 1:243-246. This particular writing of Luther's is scheduled to be included in an upcoming English edition of Luther's Works. A partial English translation can also be found here.  Tetzel appears to include the entirety of this short writing, and responds to it point by point.

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