Praying for Trespasses or Debts?

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by kevin.carroll, Sep 16, 2009.

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  1. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    I have been trying to get at the heart of the question of why Presbyterians so doggedly pray "forgive us our debts" when everyone else prays "forgive us our trespasses."

    I've come acrosss some theories on the subject (two of which sound like sanctified urban legends to me):

    1. It was pure Scottish stubborness. The English prayed "forgive us our trespasses" so praying "debts" was just a way to stick it to the English.

    2. The Scotts were often debtors to the English (who were the landholders), so their preference reflected their situation.

    3. The Scotts in their uber-animosity towards both the English (seems a common thread) and Catholics, deliberately chose not to use words found in the Book of Common prayer, which they deemed popish.

    Anyone know the actual skinny on the subject?
  2. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Don't know but did you want us to pray for the answer since you put your thread under the prayer forum? :lol:

    -----Added 9/16/2009 at 05:29:00 EST-----

    Well, I meditated on this and was led to tell you that the Scots had it right bc of their superior knowledge in most everything......I'm Scottish/Irish....I know these things.
  3. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    @ Josh: Yes, I know, I'm more interested in the "why" of it all.

    @ Sarah: You crack me up on a regular basis! :)
  4. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    "debts" comes from Wycliffe's translation; "trespasses" from Tyndale's. The Book of Common Prayer used "trespasses", and the King James used "debts".

    Debts or Trespasses?
  5. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Renamed for better searching and moved to more appropriate forum.
  6. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Re: new thread title

    Maybe "Praying About Trespasses or Debts?" would be better.
    Having enough of both on my own, I pray neither for trespasses or debts!

  7. historyb

    historyb Puritan Board Junior

    When I was a wee lad I learned it with debts, I first heard trespasses when I was a teenager
  8. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps I too am dense regarding the subject, but why would it be significant to use one word as opposed to the other? Is there a theological impact that I am failing to see?
  9. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    I don't think this is a uniquely Presbyterian practice. As a Baptist, I know "debts" is the word employed when Baptist recite the Lord's Prayer (and sometimes hang it on the sanctuary wall). Why? That's how the King James says it. I don't think its any more complicated than that.
  10. 21st Century Calvinist

    21st Century Calvinist Puritan Board Junior

    I too would imagine it's probably from the KJV. No need to automatically blame the oppressed Scots.:p
  11. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I always thought it was determined by the Bible translation predominant in the particular church. I didn't know there was a denominational distinction.

  12. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Yes, there is a clear denominational distinction between Anglicans/Piskies (trespasses) and Presbyterians (Debts).

    And the urban legend is that it was caused by the English gentry being concerned about their land, and one of the greatest sins being trespassing and poaching, and the Scots being tight with their money and being considering failure to repay a debt to be a great sin.

    I think the actual answer is as stated above - choice of verses and translations.
  13. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, but the KJV uses trespasses as well in Luke 11.

    -----Added 9/17/2009 at 12:10:39 EST-----

    So bottom line, human tradition?
  14. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Why not? Don't you know that the Scots are the root of all evil?

    I grew up on "debts" in the Baptist church but our current senior pastor uses "trespasses." Since I'm guilty on both scores, either word works for my wretched soul.
  15. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    I read somewhere that Jesus spoke Aramaic and debt and sin are the same word in Aramaic.
  16. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Not so brother, Note:

    So, "sins" and "indebted" are the words used here.
  17. jawyman

    jawyman Puritan Board Junior

    The word "debt" is true to the Greek text. I am probably not answering the question, but here is the original Greek text:

    καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·

    The definition of ὀφειλήματα according to Louw-Nida is to release a person from the obligation of repaying what is owed - 'to cancel a debt, to forgive a debt.
  18. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    No, I don't think so. And for that matter, apparently neither did Christ. In Matthew 6 our Lord used the word for "debt" in the pattern prayer, but immediately applied it to what was translated in the KJV as "trespasses."

    Mat 6:12: And forgive us our debts (ὀφειλήματα--opheilēmata), as we forgive our debtors.

    Mat 6:14-15: For if ye forgive men their trespasses(παραπτώματα--paraptōmata), your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
    But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
  19. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I grew up Catholic-ish, and we said "Trespasses." (Actually, then I grew up Baptist-ish, and we also used trespasses. I still have to think about what to say next when praying in Presbyterian churches or while teaching my son.

    I don't know theologically which is more accurate, but the ESV translates it to debts, and that's what Bible our church uses, so I think it is right to use that word. If our Bible translation of choice used trespass, then I think we should use trespass.
  20. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    That is truly the most awful font I have ever seen! :lol:

    -----Added 9/17/2009 at 05:53:54 EST-----

    Funny. I said that without even looking at Luke 11. So much for assuming. I can't look at the Greek right now because some [insert appropriate imprecation here] person broke into the church on Thursday and stole my laptop while I was out. I am working at home and, of course, my Greek NT is at the office.

    All trespasses are sins, so I suspect that point is moot. I think the question then really is, why do we say debts instead of trespasses (or sins, if you prefer)?

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