May 23rd, 1916
Received by:James Padgett
I am here, Luther.
I came tonight in the hope that I may write my message of which I spoke to you a short time ago. Well, if you feel that you can receive the same, I will proceed.
In my day, the members of the Church - I mean the Roman Catholic Church - were dependent entirely upon the priesthood for all information as to the contents of the Bible, and the interpretation that should be given such contents, and very few of the laymen were able to possess the Bible, and scarcely any could read it, as it was written in the Latin tongue; and the inhabitants of my section of Europe were not acquainted with that language. (Martin Luther lived from 1483 to 1546.)
The consequence of this was that all the people were dependent entirely on the priests for any knowledge of the will of God, and that only as the priests saw proper to convey the same to these people.
Many things were taught by these officials of the Church in such a way as to convince the people that the Church was the divine institution of God; and that, in every particular, as to the conduct of men, what the priests said and declared to be the will of God must be accepted without doubt or hesitation, and that the penalties of disobedience of these teachings of the priests would be in the form that they should prescribe, and that the wrath of God would fall upon all who should disobey these teachings of the Church.
The spiritual enlightenment of men was not attempted to any degree, and the requirements of the Church were that men should strictly obey the dogmas and tenets which should be declared to them by these instructions of the priests. Duty was the principal thing to be observed, and the utmost obedience to the commands of the Church must be performed, unless the Church itself should release the people from the performance of these duties.
Every violation of these commands was a sin, to which a penalty was attached which could not be avoided unless the priests should give to the believers an indulgence, and then to the extent of the indulgence the penalty was taken away. But in order to obtain this indulgence a compensation would have to be made to the coffers of the Church, depending upon the ability of the one receiving such indulgence to make.
At a time when these indulgences were most prevalent, and when the Church was becoming rich from the revenues paid for the same, I commenced to revolt from the claims of the Church and declared my want of belief in the dogma that the Church could grant such indulgences, and absolve men from the penalties which their sins brought upon them.
You all know the history of the Reformation and its results upon the power of the Church of Rome, and how men were freed from the superstitions of the Church and how the reform grew in many of the Catholic countries, and new churches and beliefs were established. Well, I will not further recite any of these things, but merely say that what I have written is intended to be only preliminary to what the object of my writing is.
As men of thought, convinced of the false claims and superstitions of the Church and of the necessity of making known to mankind the truths of the Bible, I and several others, in our zeal, refused to recognize and accept as a part of the teachings of the reform belief many things which were contained in the Church's dogmas or teachings that were really true, or in a manner true, when relieved of their appendages which the Church had attached to the kernels of truth. As a consequence, we rejected many principles that we should have made parts of the beliefs and teachings of the new beliefs.
Well, I am sorry that you do not feel in condition to receive more at this time, but it is best to postpone the remainder. I will soon come and finish what I desire to write.
So, with my love and best wishes, I am
Your brother in Christ,