Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's The Difference?

On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, opposing the Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences. To commemorate this historical moment I would like to highlight his very first thesis.
1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
This reminded me of something I wrote about the difference between confession and repentance:
Confession and repentance are no doubt related, but they are in fact, very different. Confession is the acknowledgment of a wrong while repentance is the sorrowful turning away from the admitted wrong. Too often in Christian circles we accept/offer confession without repentance. This leads to pattern behavior and passive justification of the wrongs repeated. One starts to think, "Well I continue to confess how cruel I am, so I need not make any adjustments. At least I'm confessing to being a cruel person." Without repentance we are merely self loathing parrots who repeat practiced lines that get us crackers in the form of pity while never changing the dirty newspaper in our tiny cage.
In light of what Martin Luther started with in his 95 Theses, it should not surprise us that 500 years later the Catholic church still emphasizes confession over repentance. You do not go to your Catholic priest to repent, you go to confess. While the Catholic church no longer sells indulgences, the heart of the matter remains: Confession vs Repentance. Martin Luther was right to start with a life of repentance in his refutation.

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