More about SANCTIFICATION, the Church Term of the Week!

The full definition of Sanctification is pretty darn long, too long for the bulletin… so here is the whole thing!


A theological term which derives from the Latin sanctus, “holy.” In its proper sense “holy” refers to the holiness of God, but in a derived sense it applies to all those who are made holy. By extension it thus refers to all those who, in Christ, participate in the holiness of God through baptism. In the western or Latin theological tradition sanctification refers to the process of becoming holy through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. At the time of the Reformation controversy arose about whether sanctification was to be considered a change made in a person, a process begun and continuing on through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, or whether sanctifying grace was to be limited to the grace received at initial justification. Lutherans have tended to limit sanctification to the work of justification, while Calvinists have been willing to speak of sanctification in terms of obedience.


Anglican formularies have tended to speak of sanctification as the process of God’s work within us by means of which we grow into the fullness of the redeemed life. In the 1979 BCP, sanctification has been closely associated with the Holy Eucharist, as in the prayer of thanksgiving: “Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom” (Eucharistic Prayer A, BCP, p. 363); and: “We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Eucharistic Prayer B, BCP, p. 369).

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