quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, April 18, 2008

Questions of the Flesh

Why, if sin corrupts our nature and even the very substance of our nature (a la Flacius), is righteousness/justification decided forensically from afar with no effect on the flesh of the human person? Does not the salvation of the incarnate Lord affect both body and soul?

This is a question that arises in my mind because of the vocal insistence of the presence of sin in our nature, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a justification decided "from afar" which is "for us" but which does not really seem to affect the flesh of the person until the Last Day. This does not seem to fit with the Scriptural data that clearly includes the salvation of the body and which includes the scriptural understanding of the sacraments. In other words, it seems that I am hearing that sin affects both body and soul while salvation affects only the soul (and maybe later the body).

If I have heard wrong or phrased the questions wrong let me know. Either way your corrections and/or feedback is appreciated in handling an ongoing question.


Randy Asburry said...

Good questions, Tim!

Check out AC IV, where it says "...that we receive forgiveness of sin *and become righteous* before God by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith...." (AC IV:1; Tappert, 30) I think it safe, even necessary, take that to mean that not only are we "declared justified/forgiven," but we also, because of God's forgiveness in Christ, spend all of life "becoming righteous," that is growing in His grace and mercy, being renewed in the image of His Son.

We can also remember Luther's statement on growth in holiness:

“This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way; the process is not yet finished, but it has begun; this is not the goal, but it is road; at present all does not gleam and glitter, but everything is being purified.” (“A Defense and Explanation of All Articles," AE 32:24)

On the matter of soul and/or body, you may also want to check out Luther in his Large Catechism, on the Sacrament of the Altar:

"We must never regard the sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but as a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine which aids and quickens us in *both soul and body.* For where the soul is healed, *the body has benefited also." (LC V:68; Tappert, 454)

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

Thank you! I appreciate how the quotes you provide show a unity between the declaration and the "becoming righteous" in Christ, that is, in the Sacrament.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Here are some Orthodox prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion that refer to both soul and body:

I thank Thee, O Lord my God, that Thou hast not rejected me, a sinner, but hast granted me to be a communicant of Thy holy Things. I thank Thee that Thou hast granted me, unworthy as I am, to partake of Thy pure and heavenly Gifts. But, O Lord, Lover of men, Who didst die for us and rise again and bestow upon us these Thy dread and life-giving Mysteries for the wellbeing and sanctification of our souls and bodies, grant that these may be even to me for the healing of my soul and body, for the averting of everything hostile, for the enlightenment of the eyes of my heart, for the peace of the powers of my soul, for unashamed faith, for sincere love, for the fullness of wisdom, for the keeping of Thy commandments, for an increase of Thy divine grace, and for familiarity with Thy Kingdom; that being kept by Them in Thy holiness I may ever remember Thy grace, and never live for myself but for Thee our Lord and Benefactor. And so when I have passed from existence here in the hope of eternal life, may I attain to everlasting rest, where the song is unceasing of those who keep festival and the joy is boundless of those who behold the ineffable beauty of Thy face. For Thou art the true desire and the unutterable gladness of those who love Thee, O Christ our God, and all creation sings of Thee throughout the ages.

O Thou Who givest me willingly Thy Flesh for food,
Thou Who art fire, and burnest the unworthy,
Scorch me not, O my Maker,
But rather pass through me for the integration of my members,
Into all my joints, my affections, and my heart.
Burn up the thorns of all my sins.
Purify my soul, sanctify my mind;
Strengthen my knees and bones;
Enlighten the simplicity of my five senses.
Nail down the whole of me with Thy fear.
Ever protect, guard, and keep me
From every soul-destroying word and act.
Sanctify, purify, attune, and rule me.
Adorn me, give me understanding, and enlighten me.
Make me the habitation of Thy Spirit alone,
And no longer a habitation of sin,
That as Thy house from the entry of communion
Every evil spirit and passion may flee from me like fire...

P.S. I love your blog, which I've just discovered, mainly because you think things out so clearly and carefully -- and gently. (I always envy the gentle!)

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

Thank you for these beautiful prayers for after Holy Communion from the Orthodox tradition. They do show the work of the Sacrament. Also, welcome. I have visited your blog a number of times after reading your comments on blogs of mutual acquaintances and friends. Although blogging is not the best way to do it I have been learning bits and pieces about the Orthodox faith from posts like the prayers you leave here. Thanks again!