11 February 2006

On Collects and Such...

I couldn't help but notice. At the first Mass for Septuagesima, which we celebrated this evening, the LSB collect struck me as a bit odd. I went and checked it against TLH and other sources. This is what I discovered:

LSB: "O Lord, graciously hear the prayer of Your people, that we, who justly suffer the consequences of our sin, may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness to the glory of Your name; through Jesus..."

TLH: "O Lord, we beseech Thee favorably to hear the prayers of Thy people that we, who are justly punished for our offenses, may be mercifully delivered by Thy goodness, for the glory of Thy name; through Jesus..."

TLH offers a rather precise translation of the Gregorian original, except for the phrase "by Thy goodness" (added by Cramner at the time of the Reformation).

I find the transformation of "justly punished for our offenses" into "justly suffer the consequences of our sin" to be a bit of weaking of the bite of the original. The one confesses that God actively punishes; the other confesses that He permits us to suffer the consequences of our sins. Both could be argued biblically. Still, why the change? Surely there is nothing wrong in saying that we ARE justly punished for our offenses, is there? It is the "darkness" of the original which makes the petition so bold: "that we may mercifully be relieved...to the glory of thy name!"


cheryl said...

This is a very real issue in protestantism in general...at least that has been my experience.

The thought is, is that we are not ever actually punished for our sins, but that Christ took that punishment so that we don't have too. It's the penal substitutionary atonement taken to the extreme. And it's something I find to be somewhat unbiblical.

By contrast, the biblical portrayed seems to be that we were already punished, through Adam, as we were already dead in our sins. Christ came to bring us up out of the grave ect (to relieve us of that punishment as I think you mentioned).

The only time I think it works, scriptural to say that we are not punished, (at least from a spiritual point of view, although not temporal), because Christ has taken on that punishment is post-coversion, Christ by keeping us in his grace, preserves us from suffering a second death (Rev 2:11), literally.

William Weedon said...

Good thoughts, Cheryl. I have never understood how this misunderstanding, though, took root in Lutheranism, since the Symbols very clearly confess that there is still temporal (that is, in this world) punishment that we experience for our sins - for instance, the thief on the cross had his sins forgiven, but he still died as a thief!

Check out the Apology XII:150ff. on this matter. "As a rule, these troubles are punishments for sin." Yet, of course, "afflictions are not always punishments or signs of wrath.... troubles are not always penalties for certain past deeds, but works of God, intended for our profit, that the power of God might be more manifest in our weakness." The point being that in the people of God, these afflictions always serve the purpose of loving discipline - no matter how unpleasant they are at the time (as Hebrews has it).

Yet even these temporal punishments can be mitigated: "It is wholesome to teach our common evils are mitigated by our penitence and its true fruits, good works done from faith." Then the Ninevites are pointed to: "By their penitence - we mean the whole process of penitence - they were reconciled to God and saved their city from destruction."

cheryl said...

Yet even these temporal punishments can be mitigated: "It is wholesome to teach our common evils are mitigated by our penitence and its true fruits, good works done from faith."

Hi Pastor,

I think alot of people would be aghast at this. But I think the difficulty lies in the fact that alot of these same individuals see God's punishments erroneously. As I think you implied, we are to look at God's judgment and see his love, as much as his disapproval. There is a real danger in christianity I think of believing that we ought to avoid God's punishment, not solely because we love him, and fear him (in the right way), but almost as if it is something of negative value in and of itself, ie something that Christ must come and save us from. It really disturbs me how we as lutherans contend that we are saved by sin, death, the devil, and the wrath of God.

I think it's right to say that our punishments can be mitigated by good works, true repentance ect. Not because they've earned it...but because these are the things for which God's punishments are intended to push us toward. My very real fear is, is that our soteriology lies in part, in the idea, that we have cast the responsibility from ourselves to Christ, but the essential premise is the same; that instead of believing that we need to earn God's acceptance by our own good works, we contend that it is Christ who has earned it for us, by his own good works. And not that I want to take anything from Christ mind you, but I do feel that this is an extremely distorted view of God period. I think in addition to other things, it can create an unhealthy fear of God, that is only satiated by the intervention/mediation of another. Similiar to a father, who if it weren't for the intervention of his wife, would be constantly angry at his children. His wrath subsiding only insomuch as she has been able to placate (appease) him.

Whether or not this is what many lutherans/protestants intend to advocate...it's how their teaching has always struck me. And I find that disturbing.