Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Repentance should not be confused with penance"

"The prolific second-century lawyer and Christian church leader from Rome, Tertullian, (c. A.D. 155-230) stated, 'In Greek, the word for repentance is formed - not from the confession of a sin - but from a change of mind.' Tertullian explains that repentance does not necessarily imply that one's actions were sinful or otherwise wrong, rather it indicates a change from a prior purpose. This change can even be the proper response to a change in circumstances. God is said to have repented several times in the Scriptures.

Repentance, therefore, should not be confused with penance. Penance is a punishment or discipline to which we must submit in order to be worthy of receiving forgiveness. We perform actions of penance to bring about a sense of spiritual restoration. Unlike penance, repentance does not begin with an action but originates within the mind and heart. Nonetheless, repentance prompts us to action, even to the point, on occasion, of great personal sacrifice. It drives us to reverse, insofar as this is possible, the consequences of our inappropriate actions against other persons."

Larry D. Ellis

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