Thursday, April 19, 2012

School and Thoughts on Vocation

Well, one down and one to go! I finished one class yesterday, my class on Sacramental Treatises. It was interesting, as we read Tertullian, Augustine, Cyril of Jerusalem, Aquinas, and then Trent. My paper was: An Examination of Three Early Writings on the Sacrament of Penance by Martin Luther from 1517-20 in Their Historical and Theological Context." (Long titles do sound more scholarly, don't they?) I think I did okay on it. We'll see when the grade and evaluation comes in . . .  :-)

In other news, I was also thinking about vocation the other day. I often make a distinction between who a person is and what a person does. It seems that in our world today, the emphasis and value is on what a person does - what they can give back to society, and who they are matters little. Yet with God, it's the other way around - who a person is (a child of God, by grace through faith) matters more than what a person does. From this we see that all people, no matter their age or ability, are important and valuable to God.

Yet it occurred to me the other day that there are some places where these two things meet, or are at least much closer together. For example, the vocations of mother and father. That is both who you are and what you do. Husband and wife would be the same. They are quite different than, for example, computer programmer - that's a vocation I used to do, but it was not who I was. So it seems that not all vocations are created equal. Not that some are more important than others (though maybe they are), but there seems to be an intrinsic difference. What say you? Any good thoughts on this?

That also led me to thinking about being a pastor. Even how I phrased that gives you a clue to how I think of this vocation - that being a pastor is not only what I do, but who I am. In that regard, it falls into the realm of vocations like parents, not computer programmers. But there are pastors who do not agree with me on this, and think of being a pastor strictly as what he does, but not who he is. I think that matters. I'll have to think about this some more . . . Can you think of other vocations where being and doing are tightly connected? Does it matter? Am I off my rocker?  ;-)


Anonymous said...

Interesting title for your paper ... What was Dr. Luther's definition of a sacrament? Confirmation taught that a sacrament is
1) ordained by God,
2) has visible means,
3) gives or imparts forgiveness of sins.
Some define a sacrament in other ways thus expanding the number of acts that qualify as sacraments. How did your paper define a sacrament?

Is there a difference between penance and confession and absolution?


Pastor Peasant said...


In the second half of 1520, Luther wrote his treatise entitled "The Babylonian Captivity of the Church" where he took exception to the sacraments of the Roman church and by the end said that, strictly speaking, there were only two: Baptism and the Supper. Before 1520 (the focus of my paper) he was using the term as he had been taught in the Roman church. So at this point, he is still calling Penance a Sacrament, hence the title of my paper.

After 1520, Luther will still often, but not always, call private absolution a sacrament, but with the understanding (I believe) that it is lacking a visible means - one of the criteria you point out. For Luther, what was important was not so much the label as what was going on. That's also why he changed the name he used from "penance" to "absolution" - penance put the emphasis on what the person was doing, absolution puts the emphasis on what God is giving. Far more important!

So, the term penance is really the Roman term and the term "private absolution" is really a Lutheran term.

Hope that makes sense! Thanks for reading and asking.