ab-so-lu'-shun (translation of verbs luo, "loose," etc., and aphiemi, "release," "give up," etc.):
Not a Biblical, but an ecclesiastical term, used to designate the official act described in Matthew 16:19: "Whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven," and Matthew 18:18: "What things soever ye shall loose," etc., and interpreted by John 20:23: "Whose soever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them" (see KEYS, POWER OF THE). The Roman church regards this as the act of a properly ordained priest, by which, in the sacrament of Penance, he frees from sin one who has confessed and made promise of satisfaction. Protestants regard the promise as given not to any order within the church, but to the congregation of believers, exercising its prerogative through the Christian ministry, as its ordinary executive. They differ as to whether the act be only declarative or collative. Luther regarded it as both declarative and collative, since the Word always brings that which it offers. The absolution differs from the general promise of the gospel by individualizing the promise. What the gospel, as read and preached, declares in general, the absolution applies personally. See also FORGIVENESS.
H. E. Jacobs
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