Absolution

The formal forgiveness of sins.   In the Book of Common Prayer, Cranmer made it abundantly clear that it was God alone who forgives sins, in explicit contradiction of the Roman catholic theological position which made it necessary for a priest to act as an intermediary.   Thus in the absolution in the 1662 prayer book, the minister says that God has “given power and commandment to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins: He (sc. God) pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel”.   Thus the minister proclaims the truth and actuality of what God is doing.   Liturgical revision has weakened this stance.   The Alternative Service Book 1930 has an absolution in which the minister simply prays for the forgiveness of the congregation (for which they have already prayed in their confession); Common Worship backs a number of horses (it offers 13 forms of absolution) none of which carries the assurance carried by Cranmer’s own composition.

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