Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Penance (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)
AS AN EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN the idea of doing penance is a little foreign to me, but after reading Martin Bucer's thoughts in his 1538 Reformation handbook, "This Little Book" [Now released as Concerning the True Care of Souls], he makes a good argument for the continued use of penance. He writes,
If we had the practice of penance in our churches, there would be greater aversion to sin. Who is lacking in understanding of the things of God and of human ways and follies as not to be able to recognize this? When grosser transgressions were subject to earnest penance . . . there was brought about in the children of God a more earnest aversion and detestation of sins and a very different zeal of true Christian living from that which, sadly, we discern among ourselves now. . . .This is how the ancients describe penance and satisfaction: satisfaction is rooting out the causes of sin and closing the doors to the incentives of sin. (pp.130-131)
I think he's got something there, "closing the door to the incentives of sin."  Maybe sometimes (?) we continue to make sin look more attractive than living righteously.  I suppose that's part of our responsibility, to continue to show sins destructiveness, while at the same time showing even more clearly the benefits of righteous living.  Maybe making sin "hurt" a little within the context and life of the church would help create a deterrent to returning continually to our old life. (Galatians 4:17-32)

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