"Why are we bringing it back?" asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move [to revive the practice of indulgences]. "Because there is sin in the world."

Paul Vitello, reporting on the pope's decree of indulgences to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the apostle Paul's birth ("For Catholics, a Door to Absolution Is Reopened," The New York Times, February 9, 2009). Until this June, Roman Catholics were able to receive credit up to full (plenary) exemption from purgatory in fulfillment of various good works.

The practice of indulgences is based on the ruinous error that anything short of the perfect righteousness that God requires and gives freely in his Son can satisfy God's holiness. The situation would surely have been hopeless had the very majesty of God not descended to us, since it was not in our power to ascend to him. Hence, it was necessary for the Son of God to assume our flesh. He fulfilled all righteousness for us, bore our sins—all of them—and rose triumphant for our justification. For all who trust in Christ, there are no debts left on the ledger at death. Christ, not the church, possesses and dispenses the treasury of merits.

Christ Sufficient

We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is "of him." If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain. If ...

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To commemorate the 500th birthday of John Calvin in 2009, Christianity Today published a bimonthly column adapted and paraphrased from Institutes of the Christian Religion. It was ghostwritten by Michael Horton, professor of theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine.
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