I have received an e-mail from a blog reader that wanted me to expound on a particular theological issue, which I am more that happy to do. This is the e-mail in its entirety:
"I am confused. My studies in particular are confused by the sacrament of last rights or extreme unction. It almost appears that they use this as one means to absolve sins. I cannot go along with that. I firmly believe that the choices we make in life, we pay the price for in this life (ex.- health or family problems) and are responsible to answer for in the afterlife, when we face God. How can we be "prayed" into heaven? Either I am misinterpreting what I am reading and researching or there is more to it than this. Could you maybe do a Costly Grace exert to help those of us who do not understand?"
On first read, the e-mail seems to want an theological explanation of last rights. Upon further reading, I realize that this e-mail touches on a whole host of theological topics that are tied together. One is obviously the sacrament of unction. Others involve absolution of sins, judgment, and life after death (which in itself brings up the topic of purgatory and merit and justification and sanctification and all that.) Another element touched upon is the issue of praying to and for the dead.
Needless to say, these are some serious and in depth topics that have generated much argument and bad feelings within the Body of Christ over the years, particularly in the Reformation period. One of my Lenten disciplines is therefore going to be to attempt to do a series of blog posts discussing these issues.
Stay Tuned...I have no doubt this will generate discussion.