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Embracing The ‘True Relic’ Of Christ: Suffering, Penance, And Private Confession In The Thought Of Martin Luther

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the connection between Martin Luther's reformation of the late medieval penitential system and his effort to develop a new understanding of suffering in the life of the Christian. It begins with theological distinction that was absolutely essential for the late medieval Church's understanding of suffering: the guilt or debt of sin versus the penalty or punishment for sin. The debt of sin referred to the burden of guilt human beings incurred initially as a result of the Fall, and then subsequently as the result of each post-baptismal sin. Penance regularly included acts of suffering willingly embraced in order to pay off the penalty God had justly imposed for sin.

Keywords: Confession; Martin Luther; Penance; sin

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