The Third Sacrament

Holy Trinity 2011, Volume XX, Number 3

Table of Contents

(A feature article from the journal: The "Third Sacrament:" Confession and Repentance in the Confessions of the Lutheran Church by Werner Klän)

 The Third Sacrament

The Third Sacrament

In recent years the subject of forgiveness in its theological context has again become a topic of discussion. [1] This discussion has concentrated on the forgiveness that takes place between individuals, [2] without neglecting totally the divine dimension of forgiveness. [3] So it is appropriate to recall this divine dimension as it is presented in the Confessions of the Lutheran Church and summarized in the Book of Concord of 1580. [4]

For Luther, confession and repentance are “signs.” [5] Their effect is similar to that of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. God the Holy Spirit desires “that in this Christian community we have the forgiveness of sin, which takes place through the holy sacraments and absolution.” [6] Especially in the context of an afflicted Christian life, the sacraments serve in the exercise of lived faith, that is, faith which lives out of forgiveness. This is especially true of confession and repentance, [7] which Luther can clearly call the “third sacrament.” [8]

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