What is true is that Luther did write his document which called for an open discussion on the issue of indulgences. His Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, the real name of the document purported nailed to the door, was never intended to be a manifesto on what are today the fundamental tenets of Protestant theology. No mention is made of justification by faith alone or sola scriptura. Those ideas evolved much later.
A second truth remains that Luther had valid concerns. In his neck of the woods (this wasn't a global practice) there were many abuses by some preachers over the use of indulgences. Think of it as a church bake sale run by the late Ken Lay, CEO of Enron. While no indulgences were actually sold, people were told that if they contributed money to a charitable cause, in this case the construction of the Vatican, an indulgence would be given. With just a little slick hucksterism, a superstitious mentality developed among many that they could buy their way out of Purgatory. Some were even sold the proposition that they could plan ahead and gain indulgences for sins they hadn't yet committed. All of this was contrary to Church teaching on indulgences; was never a practice endorsed or encouraged by the Pope; and was definitively derided at the Council of Trent.
Today, a new band of snake oil salesmen have emerged to hawk a new indulgence. It's called the carbon offset. The idea is that one can remit the temporal punishment one has inflicted upon the planet with one's shameful lifestyle by paying money to a collection of various companies who promise to put things right again, though few of these organizations come under any real regulatory control. This planetary penance allows one to find some comfort, to assuage the guilt of their existence that they have been sold is harmful to mother earth.
Within this mentality exists a darkness over the sanctity of life itself. The Daily Mail in London did a feature story a few days ago about a twenty-seven year old woman who had herself sterilized because she had bought into the notion that having children was a selfish act harmful to the environment. In essence the Gospel of Al Gore holds that a sure way to reduce one's carbon footprint is to prevent one from producing any more footprints in the form of offspring. The very existence of man is an infectious problem for the planet. While Planned Parenthood would have women believe that a baby in the womb is a parasite despite the preponderance of the evidence that proves otherwise, the eco-warrior extends this way of thinking to include humanity in and of itself as being a cancer on the surface of the earth.
It's hard not to imagine a diabolic origin for this movement. While the pitch holds that one becomes green for the betterment of the planet, it's all directed towards an inward gratification of ego. That can be said. God is never mentioned, and contraception has been introduced as a means of saving the environment. Never mind that the countries who produce the vast amount of allegedly harmful products already have a near zero population growth. Most of the world's population growth happens in third world countries that produce far less pollutants.
And indeed, if the professors of this wisdom believed the message they preached, if humanity is actually a new form of pollution, would not committing suicide be the most responsible thing for them to do to reduce their own carbon footprint? Don't look for any self-immolation here as the carbon released in such a fire would be a shameful display to their brethren. No, a simple adding of hemlock to the Kool-Aid they've gotten used to drinking would suffice.
Of course the above is outrageous. And yet it sells just as people bought hook line and sinker that one could buy his way into Heaven. And just as the wayward preachers of old stood to gain vast sums of money if they could convince the population of their idea, the motive of the champions of green leaves a money trail easily followed. It is a path that leads away from God and proposes to put man in the driver's seat of that which is created by the Divine. It presumes that man is more than a steward of the planet. Rather, it places man as definitively directing its course.
The Devil wins when he can distract one into saving anything except one's soul. One must listen carefully and discern the source of anyone preaching salvation, especially when it does not include the mention of God or our Lord Jesus Christ.
Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
This news article appeared today in Australia that fully supports the notion that eco-warriors want to reduce carbon emissions by preventing people from existing.