Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Satisfaction" and Trent Session 14, section 8 and 9

Over on TWeb, I spotted a post which cited a post that says the doctrine of Purgatory is being "clarified". Now, since I don't subscribe to the RC dogma of papal or magisterial infallibility, I usually see "clarification" as a rewrite of a previous position held by the RCC which they no longer want to defend. In any case, what is being developed is what "temporal punishments" we have to make "satisfaction" for. Now, in RC theology, when the priest absolves you, the eternal consequences of your sin are done away with, but the temporal punishments remain. So, I may lie about my neighbor, repent and be forgiven, but I will still be punished for the sin I committed, maybe because I was cought lying, or my neighbor had his reputation damaged etc. But Fr. Kimel writes

The language of punishment is retained, yet note the insistence that this "must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin." It is sin that brings with it, by divine ordination, its own punishment.

Unfortunately, this seems to contradict Trent Session 14, section 8:

[T]he holy council declares that it is absolutely false and contrary to the word of God, that the guilt is never remitted by the Lord without the entire punishment being remitted also. For clear and outstanding examples are found in the sacred writings, by which, besides divine tradition, this error is refuted in the plainest manner. Indeed the nature of divine justice seems to demand that those who through ignorance have sinned before baptism be received into grace in one manner, and in another those who, after having been liberated from the servitude of sin and of the devil, and after having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, have not feared knowingly to violate the temple of God and to grieve the Holy Spirit. And it is in keeping with divine clemency that sins be not thus pardoned us without any satisfaction, lest seizing the occasion and considering sins as trivial and offering insult and affront to the Holy Spirit, we should fall into graver ones, For without doubt, these satisfactions greatly restrain from sin, check as it were with a bit, and make penitents more cautious and vigilant in the future; they also remove remnants of sin, and by acts of the opposite virtues destroy habits acquired by evil living. Neither was there ever in the Church of God any way held more certain to ward off impending chastisement by the Lord than that men perform with true sorrow of mind these works of penance. Add to this, that while we by making satisfaction suffer for our sins, we are made conformable to Christ Jesus who satisfied for our sins, from whom is all our sufficiency, having thence also a most certain pledge, that Neither is this satisfaction which we discharge for our sins so our own as not to be through Christ Jesus; for we who can do nothing of ourselves as of ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of Him who strengthens us....

It [the council] teaches furthermore that the liberality of the divine munificence is so great that we are able through Jesus Christ to make satisfaction to God the Father not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by ourselves to atone for sins, or by those imposed by the judgment of the priest according to the measure of our offense, but also, and this is the greatest proof of love, by the temporal afflictions imposed by God and borne patiently by us
(Trent 14,8, 9--emph. added)

Now, at first I thought "Hey!, they are saying that God forgives the sin and the punishment! Well, tat is not so bad." But then I re-read the passage and realized it says just the opposite, it does not say God forgives our sins and our punishment, it says that unless we make satisfaction, i.e. are punished, our sins are not forgiven. Not only that, it seems to me that, contrary to Fr. Kimel's claims about the "development" of this doctrine, the council clearly calls the "effects" punishments. i.e. they are not "accidents of sin" as it were, but punishments inflicted by God, or ourselves. But the worst part of this is that we can have no confidence our sins are forgiven unless and until we have made enough "satisfaction" for our sins. Who can know when he has made enough satisfaction? Perhaps the RC will say that what ever the priest/bishop etc. say is satisfaction, satisfies. I, however, like when Pr. Nuss says "In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen!" And it is so. The Roman system, even if "temporal punishment" has "developed" to mean the effects of sin, will tend to put our focus on ourselves or the satisfaction imposed by the priest. The Lutheran and Apostolic doctrine is that our sins are forgiven, because we cannot add to the satisfaction of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

1 comment:

Rusty T said...


I thought I'd give your blog some action.

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