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Downhome Christian


Not long ago the subject of con artist preachers came up. It was a rather enlightening conversation with several saying they are not interested in Christianity because of dishonest preachers.

Cons and cover ups under the guise of Christianity are certainly nothing new. Neither are charlatans. This made me think that perhaps a summer series of articles exposing these false teachings might be beneficial. This week I’ll reach way back in time.

The early 16th century CE was a time of deep spiritual darkness. In 1513, the last non-priest was elected pope. He was born as Giovani di Lorenzo de Medici and took the name of Pope Leo X.

The Medici family was one of the wealthiest families in the world during this time. Giovani simply bribed influential Cardinals to become pope. His great desire was to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Although he was extremely wealthy he wanted to find a way to have others pay the cost and increase his wealth at the same time.

He is known for his saying, “how profitable that fable of Christ has been to us and our companie” (Pagent of Popes by John Bale, p. 479). His reign is filled with “aspersions of murder, impiety, debauchery, atheism and implied homosexuality” (The Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth by William Rosco, p. 464).

To raise the necessary funds he came up with the idea of selling indulgences. An indulgence granted full forgiveness for sins not yet committed, sort of like a get out of hell free card. Leo then appointed Johann Tetzel as Grand Commissioner for the sale of Indulgences.

Tetzel was known for his personality and speaking ability. He even came up with a clever saying allowing the release of souls already in a place called purgatory. The saying was, “As soon as the gold in the coffer rings, the rescued soul to heaven springs” ( Johann Tetzell, by Henry Ganse, p. 539). Together, the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica was built and all parties made a huge amount of money.

Kind of sounds like the “plant a seed, meet a need,” “name it and claim it” sayings of today’s con artist preachers, doesn’t it? Remember, Satan always tries to ridicule and counterfeit what is real.

God bless.


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