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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
XI. That in reserved cases, not only canonical punishment, but also the guilt ought to be reserved in the case of one who is truly converted.
Pulling It Together
At the time of the Reformation, part of the concern was that people were instructed in certain cases, they could purchase their pardon. In these reserved cases, persons had only to go through the motions of confession, but without either contrition or faith in God to forgive. All they had to do was pay a willing confessor to absolve them. This makes the Church of God a market place, where people no longer not only buy and sell sacrificial animals, but instead purchase the sacrifice itself. Their purchasing power would become the power of absolution.
The Lutherans, on the other hand, confessed that the power of the keys was the authority of Christ spoken by any confessor, and dependent upon two things: contrition and faith. First, a person had to actually be sorry for sin, not merely go through the motions, ex opere operato. Second, that person must have faith that God forgives for Christ’s sake, not because enough money was in-hand to leverage forgiveness.
Prayer: Give me faith, O Lord, to trust in your forgiveness. Amen.
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