19 October 2012

On Sanitive

Just a thought: there is a breed of modern Lutheran that is rather allergic to the sanitive lingo for salvation despite its use in the Symbols and throughout Church history and much of the history of Lutheran preaching. They oppose to it the death/resurrection language instead.

It occurred to me that the key is to proper use of the sanitive image is to recognize the severity of the illness: it is unto death. I think of the marvelous way that the Preface from the old Swedish Mass put it:

...for all Your benefits and especially for that one Thou didst unto us when we were in so bad a case that nought but death and eternal damnation awaited us and no creature in heaven or on earth could help us, then Thou didst send forth Thine only-begotten Son, who is of the same divine nature as Thyself, didst suffer Him to become man, born of the Virgin Mary, and didst lay on Him our sin, giving Him into death that we might not all die eternally.

So bad a case indeed. There is NO cure, NO human remedy, NO angelic solution. NO hope, NO treatment, NO future.

Apart from Christ. Apart from the Great Physician. For this Physician defeats the sin in us that is unto death and the death in us that is the growth of sin. His "healing" of us is more than a little help so feel better!  His healing of us is literally bringing us out of the shadow of death and into a life that never ends - the life that IS communion with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


WM Cwirla said...

Ah choo!

Emmanuel Lutheran Church said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev. Jacob Ehrhard said...

{{Sorry, I was signed into the congregation's account on the previous post -JWE}}

Are you referring to sanative language, meaning language that speaks of healing, or sanitive justification, meaning a stepwise approach to ever-increasing justification/sanctification in the life of the Christian.

Sanative language is all over the place, but sanitive justification is in opposition to the Lutheran confession of justification, at least as Dr. Nagel taught it to me.

I think this WELS essay highlights it pretty well. http://www.wlsessays.net/files/ZarlingJustification.pdf

We traditionally define "justify" as "to declare righteous." Hence the Lutheran Church has historically
viewed justification in a forensic sense, a judicial declaration of God. There are those who disagree. Many view
justification in a sanitive sense. They feel God is in the process of giving us grace to help or heal ourselves. Our
life becomes a process of making ourselves righteous before God. I needn't inform you that this is Rome's basic
approach, employing gratia infusa and the whole realm of semi-Pelagianism."

The problem with sanitive justification is that it reduces the means of grace to only giving part of the gift at a time.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure, but it looks like the excerpt from the Swedish mass looks like it lifted some portions of the anaphora prayers from the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.--Chris

William Weedon said...

I'm sorry for lack of clarity. I wasn't speaking of a sanitive treatment of justification; but of the use of sanitive language when speaking of salvation as a whole. As when Luther said: "This life is not health, but healing..."

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard said...

Thanks for the clarification. After searching for this some more, I've found I've jumped into the middle of a conversation, and I'm glad for your response. I can't find any definition of the word "sanitive," which I thought to be different from "sanative." I thought sanitive referred to the upward progression of justification/sanctification, whereas sanative referred to things having a healing quality. But it's more than likely that I'm wrong on that.

I don't think that the objection is to the using of "healing" language, but to the progression of health, that is, tomorrow I'll be a little healthier than I am today. This implies that the gift of Absolution or Sacrament that I received yesterday didn't quite do the trick, so I need a little more today.

Contrast to Jesus' (physical) healing in the New Testament where the ill didn't just begin to get better, but "immediately," and, "at that very moment" (Matt 8). In the same way the gracious Word of God speaks and bestows full righteousness and complete holiness, even though it's not empirically evident due to the sinful flesh still clinging to us.

William Weedon said...

I probably just spelled it wrong. Yeah, we've had LONG discussions on this blog about progress in sanctification, which is something I most certainly DO believe in and affirm. Not the gift isn't given whole, but our appropriation of the gift is weak, partial, struggling. And thus while it is ours, we "grow in grace" (which is the exact opposite of "grace growing in us")!

William Weedon said...

And this says it best of all. Just read it in Kleinig:

"Luther, therefore, does not envisage the spiritual life as a process of gradual self-development, but as a process of ongoing reception from the Triune God. It turns proud, self-sufficient individuals into humble beggars before God."

That's it!