Coaches must be more than just coaches*

This blog post will look at the responsibilities of a sport’s coach – more specifically in this instance a football (soccer) coach – and how the coach can come to exercise a much greater influence over the players that are in his* care†. Here you will see how to make an impact as a role model that is different from the worldly stereotypes everyone looks to copy.

We will look at the definition of a “coach” from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary who is defined as “one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy”, as can be read from this extract:  

2 [from the concept that the tutor conveys the student through examinations]

a : a private tutor • hired a coach to help her daughter prepare for the test

b : one who instructs or trains • an acting coacha birth coach; especially: one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy • a football coach; a pitching coach; a gymnastics coach ~ ©Merriam-Webster Dictionary (since 1828)

However, a coach is also one who teaches individuals, as well as the team collectively, and therefore can also be seen as a teacher or tutor. From a football coaching perspective, the players are instructed and put through their drills during their weekly practices, and the test as to what they have actually learnt and how well they can execute their skills and the game plan (team strategy) is then performed during their team matches. You will often hear from a coach after a match when the plan was not executed so well – which is most often – that, “At the end of the day, we must go back to the drawing board” which in essence, by that common cliché, the coach is saying, “We have to rectify our problems.”

A coach’s arsenal does not only consist of coaching manuals that deal with fitness exercises, skill techniques, game strategies, the laws of the game, and the like, as well as the tangible things like the kits, balls, beacons, and other equipment, but part of his arsenal is also how he presents himself and conducts himself around his young players, the young boys and girls who are impressionable and have learning minds. The players writer is specifically referring to in this article are those in the U6 through U17 age groups. Often coaches do not realise that they leave many a lasting impression upon the youngsters that are in their care and it is common, but not a hard rule, where parents have advised their child on certain aspects of the game and a common comeback by their child is: “But my coach says I should . . .” or “But my coach says . . .” [fill in the blank]! At times it appears that the “coach” knows better and holds a higher authority than the parents! This might well be concerning the qualifications and experience in coaching the sport, but not necessary when it comes to life skills and spiritual matters. It would therefore be common cause to ask yourself some searching questions concerning the coach:

  • When a coach speaks, what is his world view? and what is he actually saying?
  • Can he be trusted in what he speaks about? and what life skills is he teaching the players?
  • And morally, how does he impact upon his students?

Bill Shankly

This treatise will put all in perspective when one considers one of the “greatest coaches” Bill Shankly, a Liverpool manager on Merseyside from 1959–1974, who is quoted as saying: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” It is sad to think many, many coaches hold to this world view, of which I too was one of them. But my world view has changed, and I can assure you football is not much, much more important than life and death. Coaching football has far greater lessons to be learned than just honing football players’ God-given talents. On Tuesday 29th September 1981 at the age of 68 when the socialist William “Bill” Shankly passed into eternity, he was assured that football is not “much, much more important” than life and death. Shankly died precisely on time, and scripture records it plainly:

27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: ~ Hebrews 9:27

[A Gospel Tract: My Friends Are Dying And, Though They Be Alive, They Are Dead Men Walking ~ A Message of Hope ~]


A quote by John Wooden (a past American basketball player and UCLA head coach who won 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period, including an unprecedented 7 in a row), reads as follows: “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” This is true in many respects, but I will further elaborate and add, that, A truly great coach will strive to win souls. Even if it is just one soul won, this is a far greater perspective for a coach than just changing “a game” or “a life.” In the physical realm, lives can be changed when a person’s lot or circumstances in life changes for the better. But a soul won spiritually has eternal rewards that far outweigh the physical here and now. There is wisdom in winning souls. The Holy Bible records it as follows, for it is written,

30  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. ~ Proverbs 11:30

Whilst most coaches teach from a secular world view, and in some cases they might even throw in some religious mumbo-jumbo, it is imperative that coaches aspire to train children and coach with a Biblical world view or they are bound to fail in this life. Many championships, accolades, trophies, medals, certificates and the like might be won, but without a God-centred Biblical world view every achievement will waste away and be nothing but dross! Following on from here is the reasons why a God-centred Biblical world view is imperative and non-negotiable.

In order for the above Proverbs 11:30 scripture verse to be applied, the person (in this case a coach) would have to be righteous before GOD, and the only way he can be righteous is by being a born again Christian – a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, a child of GOD! Jesus said, “. . . Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.~ John 3:3. The word “verily” comes from a Greek word [281]†† amēn, am-ane, of Hebrew origin [543]†† that means trustworthy, surely as an interjection meaning so be it. In the Hebrew [543]†† âmên, aw-mane’, means sure; abstract faithfulness; adverb truly – Amen, so be it, truth. Jesus Christ, Who is truth (see John 14:6), is emphasising the trustworthiness of His statement, the very essence of truly, truly, amen – so be it! There is no other way to get into the Kingdom. If a person is not born again of the Spirit of the living God, that person cannot see the kingdom of God. To be a true believer you need to know the KING of the Kingdom or there is no access! For access is through having eternal life which in the words of Jesus, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.~ John 17:3. That would leave every person that is excluded from the kingdom of God a condemned rebellious sinner who is headed for hell and the lake of fire come Judgment Day (see Revelation 20:14,15). Jesus taught and preached the kingdom of God, and so must truly born again Christians teach and preach the kingdom of God, HIS Kingdom! Not this worldly kingdom, for it is fast wasting away!

In the Holy Bible God gives born again Christians a mandate to be ambassadors for Christ who have the ministry of reconciliation, to represent the kingdom of God here upon the earth. Just as any ambassador from a country, say South Africa, would find himself in a foreign land, say England, that South African ambassador represents South Africa in England upon English soil. So God has His believers as ambassadors representing His Kingdom here on earth for His glory and purposes alone in the ministry of reconciliation, which is the work of an evangelist reconciling sinners back to God, as we can read from God’s Word in context, for it is written:

17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 
20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 
21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Be Biblical, a Biblicist Therefore, to be truly a “great coach”, one must be truly a born again Christian as the Bible defines a believer. However, the “great coach” does not define the believer, but the Great GOD whom he serves in that capacity as an ambassador for Christ! “He [JESUS] must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ John 3:30 [insertion by writer]. For many of the young players have never read the Bible, but the only “Bible” they will ever read may be the coach’s lifestyle: watching your every action, listening to your every word, and observing your morality. We read about this in scripture, for it is written,

2  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 
3  Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:2,3

If a coach is a true disciple of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, he will stand for truth, for Jesus Christ is truth! He would not want to lie and be a false witness, but speak truth in love at all times. He would want to be Christ-like in word, thought and deed. Jesus prayed to God the Father, “16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:16,17). Therefore, truth comes from God, and there can be only one truth. Truth is not subjective, one truth for one person and another truth for another person. Truth is 100%. If there is but 0.1% untruth mixed in with 99.9% truth, the 0.1% untruth will render the whole untrue! Truth will always be 100% or the portion of untruth will render it a lie, deception or a man’s fabrication (opinion)! Truth is objective – there is only ONE truth, and Jesus Christ IS that truth! He said, “6 I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.~ John 14:6,7.

We are also warned in Colossians 2:8, as we read, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Therefore, if any man as a coach comes in his own stead and strength, he is lacking the truth of God in Christ Jesus. If he comes preaching and teaching with the doctrines and traditions of men, holding to vain babblings of a secular nature and man-made religious practices that are contrary to the Holy Word of God, The Bible, then he is a false teacher, a deceiver, an enemy of God. This will only lead to deception with vain words. However, a true child of God, who teaches as an oracle of God, will hold to the following instructions as to who he is in Christ Jesus, for it is written,

1  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 
2  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 
3  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 
4  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 
5  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 
6  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 
7  Be not ye therefore partakers with them. ~ Ephesians 5:1-7

Dear coach, what are you teaching the children, your players in your care? Are you a reflection of Christ in word, thought and deed? Or do you speak as the world? think as the world? and act as the world? “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1), and the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3), wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” ~ James 4:4. Being a coach are you a friend of the world? And are you teaching and training your players to love the world and what it has to offer?

As a coach you should also guard against having a covetous spirit and making football an idol. There is a fine divining line between playing the game for God’s glory and playing the game for self glory. Also, if a coach and/or the players and/or the parents know more about football than about their Creator God, or they place Truthfootball ahead of their Creator God, then football has become an idol in their lives and football is their god. This goes for anything in life. If  possessions, money, property, cars, music, sport, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, career, cell phones, social media, partying, friends, family, religion, etcetera, etcetera, takes precedence in your life over, above and before God, then you are an idolater. God warns in the First and Second of the Ten Commandments, for it is written,

3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 
4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 
5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 
6  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. ~ Exodus 20:3-6 (see also Deuteronomy 5:7-10)

As can be seen in verse 5 here above, idolatry which is idol worship is hatred of God.

In order to win souls for Christ by teaching and preaching the kingdom of God, the coach must not only be His ambassador, but he needs to know what the constitution of the kingdom of God says and teaches. The constitution by which we are to live is the God-breathed Holy Bible scriptures, and not man-made constitutions, customs and traditions, confession of faiths and catechisms, or false religious writings, all that blaspheme and promote sin against the Creator God YHVH, for we read, as it is written, YHVH

16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16,17

To win youngsters over and teach them Truth, coaches must first and foremost have a relationship with the God they profess to teach about, for their teaching will be an act of worship and praise to the God of Creation. That is why we are warned in scripture to not “give heed to fables” (1 Tim. 1:4), to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7), and we are encouraged by the apostles “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

A coach also needs to be extremely watchful and guard what comes out of his mouth, “34 . . . for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. . . . 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34,36,37). By way of an example, whilst writer was one Saturday afternoon assisting with an U10 match, an U8/U9 coach committed blasphemy by using the Son of God’s name Jesus Christ to show disgust at his team missing an opportunity to score a goal. Writer immediately rebuked the U8/U9 coach in front of other parent spectators, including a Muslim man standing within ear shot. In a very short period of time the team scored and the said coach retorted that he had “invoked” Jesus’ name and that is why they had scored. He made light of his sin and tried to justify his blasphemy. However, the terminology of the word “invoked” is a ". . . We ought to obey God rather than men." ~ Acts 5:29 Roman Catholic (RC) word that fits with the RC’s doctrine and dogma teachings. The words “invoke” or “invoked” are not found in the Holy Bible scriptures. In the RC Catechism #969 you can read, quote: “. . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."510. This is false teachings as the Holy Bible says there is only one Mediator, as can be read, for it is written in God’s Word, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Timothy 2:5), and the only Advocate we have in scripture is found in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”. For what is sin? We read, for it is written, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4). And Jesus Christ came to fulfil the law, as we read, for it is written in God’s Word, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17). And the ONLY Advocate Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, not Mary!

Now how can this coach teach children, if he ever did, about the God-Man Jesus Christ when he blasphemes Him by using His Holy Name in vain to show disgust towards his young players? The said RC coach cannot be a true witness of truth when he violates the Third of the Ten Commandments, which reads, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7). As a Roman Catholic he is teaching another gospel holding to the teachings of the pope-induced man-made catechism that is contrary to the Word of God as can be seen under the example here above dealing with the word “invoked” which is a heresy. Cursed are all that preach any other gospel and would pervert the gospel of Christ, for it is written,

6  I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 
7  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 
8  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 
9  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 
10  For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 
11  But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 
12  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ Galatians 1:6-12

ReligionsTherefore, as can be seen from what has been said above, coaches are more than just coaches. It is dangerous ground when a coach has a flawed world view and conveys his message to his players that they are to respect all religions, when God makes it known that there is only ONE Truth, for God is intolerant! God does not tolerate sin and neither should Christians! Coaches need to avoid secular philosophies and false religions that violate truth. God reveals, for it is written,

22  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. ~ Isaiah 33:22

8  I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. ~ Isaiah 42:8

17  They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. ~ Isaiah 42:17

10  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
11  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. ~ Isaiah 43:10,11

15  I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. ~ Isaiah 43:15

25  I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. 
26  Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. ~ Isaiah 43:25,26

6  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. ~ Isaiah 44:6

8  . . . Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. ~ Isaiah 44:8

6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 
7  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
~ John 14:6,7

3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. ~ John 17:3

9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 
10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 
11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11

In closing, coaches need to have their “. . . repentance toward God, No greater joyand faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21), not just any ‘Jesus’ of their own choosing, before they can even consider being used of God to win a soul for Christ. If not, they might impact upon a child’s life by either changing “a game” or changing “a life” in this present evil world, but that child will still remain an enemy of God through wicked works! We read about the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry, for it is written,

34  And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
35  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
36  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
38  Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
~ Mark 8:34-38

Dear coaches, if you are not serving the one and only true God in your coaching, you are wasting your time. And you will be accountable for your every action, every word, and every thought come the day of judgment. Today is the day of salvation. Repent and believe before it is too late . . .

Soli Deo Gloria______________________


* The male gender reference to the “Coach” is also applicable to the female gender. However, in this context women can witness for Christ, but women are not allowed to be public teachers in the church usurping authority over men (see 1 Timothy 2:11-15).

† A coach exercises a great sphere of influence upon players in their care just as a school teacher would do the same in education. However, it should be noted that the parents have a God-given responsibility to teach their child/ren about God and the Bible. We are instructed in Scripture, for it is written,

6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

In the event that the player’s parents are not true Christians, the Christian coach should teach and preach Christ Jesus to both parents and child/ren.

Teach Your Son

†† Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance Expanded Edition, Copyright 2004 by AMG Publishers: James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D. Edited by Warren Baker.


On This Day in History

The 95 Theses 31 October 1517 – Martin Luther nailed The 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg.

This is the 500th anniversary (1517-2017) of the event that ignited the reformation further against roman Catholicism and the papacy.

The 95 Theses

Concerns that had been growing since his visit to Rome in 1510 led Luther now to make a formal objection to the abuses of indulgences. On All Saint’s Day (1 November), people would be coming from far and wide in order to view the more than 5,000 relics exhibited in the Schlosskirche, which had been built specifically for the purpose of housing this massive collection. So, on 31 October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses against indulgences on to the door of the castle church. He also posted a copy to the Archbishop of Mainz.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) These Theses created such a sensation that within 2 weeks, they had been printed and read throughout Germany. Within the month, translations were being printed and sold all over Europe.

The 95 Theses begin with the words: “Since our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ says: ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’ (Matthew 4:17), He wants the whole life of a believer to be a life of Repentance.”

Luther maintained that no sacrament can take away our responsibility to respond to Christ’s command by an inner repentance evidenced by an outward change, a transformation and renewal of our entire life. Luther emphasised that it is God alone who can forgive sins, and that indulgences are a fraud. It would be far better to give to the poor, than to waste one’s money on indulgences. If the Pope really had power over the souls suffering in Purgatory, why would he not release them out of pure Christian charity? (Source: Martin Luther – Captive to the Word of God –

Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the Schlosskirche door

The 95 Theses in English (Source)

  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
  3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
  4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
  5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
  7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
  10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
  11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
  12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
  14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
  15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
  17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
  18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
  19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
  20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words “plenary remission of all penalties,” does not actually mean “all penalties,” but only those imposed by himself.
  21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
  22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
  23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
  24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
  25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
  26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
  27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
  28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
  29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
  30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
  31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
  32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
  33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
  34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
  35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
  36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
  37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
  38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
  39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
  40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them — at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
  41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
  44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
  45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.
  46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
  47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
  49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
  51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
  52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
  53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
  55. It is certainly the pope’s sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
  59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
  60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
  61. For it is clear that the pope’s power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
  62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
  63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
  66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
  67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
  68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
  70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
  71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
  72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
  73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
  74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
  75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
  76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
  77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
  78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
  79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
  80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
  81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
  82. Such as: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and 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 reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
  83. Again, “Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
  84. Again, “What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit 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 the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love’s sake?”
  85. Again, “Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?”
  86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
  87. Again, “What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?”
  88. Again, “What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?”
  89. “Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?”
  90. To repress these very sharp arguments 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.
  91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
  92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer. 6:14)
  93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
  94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).Soli Deo Gloria
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