I do hope the story about the Pope offering indulgences to people to follow him on Twitter is untrue. It really does remind me of why I object to the whole concept of Purgatory. We had a big session on this back in May, and I don’t want to rehearse it again, as clearly folk have positions which they hold and which aren’t going to change; but stories like this seem, at least to me, to show an undue laxness about the idea.
If there really is a place where we have a chance to work off our sins when we die (and I can’t see why one would be needed when Christ has paid the price for all our sins), then the idea you can get time of for tweeting seems plain silly; it seems to devalue the idea. Now it may be, as appears to be the case, that this Pope is one of those excitable conversationalists who speaks first and thinks later (if at all), but has the man no one to help him out?
If there is a Purgatory, I can’t see why God would let you off some time in the jug because you were fortunate enough to live in a country where you had access to one of the biggest wastes of time imaginable. Indeed, I dislike the whole idea that if you do x and y you get time off in advance – what on earth is that about when push comes to shove?
I’d have thought that if you need to do serious time after death, that’s what you need to do, not pay it off in advance like a discount for early booking. To my Protestant frame of mind there is something fundamentally wrong with such a way of thinking. It’s like the old idea that if you built a chantry chapel and paid for clerks to say masses for your soul, you could make it out of the jug sooner. The God I know is not a respecter of earthly rank and privilege. I can’t see St Peter checking his notes and going: ‘Yes, you are Sir Geoffrey de Sales, and we have a note here that chantry priests are putting in a mass a day for you, so, in place of the 200 years we had you down for, with the discount, and the indulgences you already have, that’ll be fifty, thanks very much.’ And then: ‘Ah, you are Geoff Sales, the poor ploughman. Yes, I can see that was a pretty nasty life, but unfortunately you didn’t pay for any masses and indulgences, so you get no discount whatsoever.’ If that is parodying it, then I apologise, but I need someone to explain why it is a parody.
I prefer the God I have been brought up with and known all my days – the one who paid the price for our sin and requires of us love and repentance, who counts not the cost, and who desireth not the death of the sinner, but that all might live. I can understand how men came to another view – that really seems far too generous. BUt our God told us the parable of the Prodigal. The Prodigal was prepared to pay a heavy price for merely being fed – his father remitted all; as ours does.
So, I don’t have to go on Twitter 🙂