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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: pr dtp on February 18, 2011, 12:47:23 PM

Title: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 18, 2011, 12:47:23 PM
Came up on another thread, about Luther being challenged by it falling into disuse.  It seems it has fallen into disuse...but stats are better. 

For discussion - should be restore it - how have you seen it restored?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 18, 2011, 01:36:53 PM
Confession and Absolution
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Michael Slusser on February 18, 2011, 01:49:12 PM
This prior thread from a few months ago may help with this question: "Individual Confession and Absolution"
http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3486.msg190389#msg190389 (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=3486.msg190389#msg190389)

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 18, 2011, 02:44:24 PM
Confession and Absolution

I take it that means that even though it's a brand new thread with only one response so far, you aren't going to re-launch it with a title that actually includes the words "Confession and Absolution"?

pretty much!
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Evangel on February 18, 2011, 02:52:22 PM
Got an intermediate answer that perhaps you can add to the poll.

Offered and rarely used.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 18, 2011, 03:04:40 PM
Still interested in any who restored it - as to how you did, and the efficacy of your restoration
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on February 18, 2011, 05:01:37 PM
I offer the office on a regular basis, and call it "Individual Confession and Absolution."

Here's my schedule, which is announced at worship and in printed materials--
Saturday 10:00am--12:00pm (Consistently, throughout the year)
Monday, Wednesday (and Saturday) 10:00--12:00am (in Lent and Advent)
Other times available by appointment.

I have had varying levels of usage by the congregation throughout the years...  Confession is held in a chapel we have adjacent to our Sanctuary.  We use the LBW rite which is reproduced in a individual folder.

I cannot see offering the office as a set feature of my pastoral ministry from here out...

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Pastor, Cross of Grace Lutheran Church, Hurricane, WV
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: peterm on February 18, 2011, 05:18:54 PM
I offer it to folks in the nursing home I serve and have some takers.  I have found it to be particularly helpful to those who have made the decision to go into Hospice care.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Mike Bennett on February 18, 2011, 05:36:52 PM
Has never been announced in our congregation ("never" meaning not in my 18 years as a member).  Under the prior pastor (10+ years ago) I requested it two times and was accomodated.  He told me that one other member had also utilized private c & a during his 20 years as pastor.  

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Mike Bennett on February 18, 2011, 05:37:51 PM
Came up on another thread, about Luther being challenged by it falling into disuse.  It seems it has fallen into disuse...but stats are better. 

For discussion - should be restore it - how have you seen it restored?

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, the suject of what you want to discuss could actually be spelled out instead of reduced to initials? Must all Lutherans make a false idol of acronyms for everything?


What's a suject?

Mike Bennett
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: BrotherBoris on February 18, 2011, 07:00:32 PM
As a non-Lutheran follower of this Forum, I'd like to make the following comments about Individual Confession and Absolution, from a Russian Orthodox perspective:

1.  No one "likes" individual confession and absolution.  Its a rather bitter and unpleasant pill to swallow for the sickness of sin.   However, it is remarkably effective in its curative properties.  My godmother describes it this way:  "Its kind of like throwing up all over yourself. There is no graceful way to do it. Nevertheless, I always feel better after I've done it."

2. If it is made optional, almost no one except the uber-pious will avail themselves of it.

3. You have to make it MANDATORY in order to get people to do it. (This alone is going to make it exceedingly difficult for Lutherans to do, because in my experience Lutherans don't like rules and requirements. Such rules are usually dismissed with a wave of the hand and talk of the "freedom of the Gospel.")

4.  When and if you make it mandatory, you have to be willing to stand your ground in regard to Eucharistic discipline, otherwise no one in the parish will take you seriously and you'll be viewed as "Pastor Milquetoast."  You have to decide how often your people are going to confess, and what you are going to do if they don't.  (Again, for Lutherans, this is going to be exceedingly difficult because you don't have bishops that priests have to obey.)  A Russian Orthodox priest doesn't have to be the "heavy" in regard to confessional frequency.  If his bishop demands a minimum of once a month confession to partake of the Eucharist, then he simply announces that and enforces it.  The people can't fire him. They didn't hire him.  The bishop is his boss and he will obey his boss.  If his people approach the Chalice without having gone to Confession, he will politely turn them away and tell them they are not prepared.  But, he has his bishop to back him up in that regard. A Lutheran pastor has no such backup. 

5.  As long as American Lutheranism has congregational gov't (and I don't ever see that going away), I don't think private confession and absolution will ever be revived here.  American Lutherans just don't have the support structure to keep it in place. 

Nevertheless, I think it is good that Lutherans teach people about the value of private confession and absolution, and that some Lutherans do avail themselves of it. But I don't ever see it becoming widespread amongst Lutherans unless Lutherans make LOTS of changes in their church governance, and I just don't see that happening.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 18, 2011, 07:34:24 PM
As a non-Lutheran follower of this Forum, I'd like to make the following comments about Individual Confession and Absolution, from a Russian Orthodox perspective:

1.  No one "likes" individual confession and absolution.  Its a rather bitter and unpleasant pill to swallow for the sickness of sin.   However, it is remarkably effective in its curative properties.  My godmother describes it this way:  "Its kind of like throwing up all over yourself. There is no graceful way to do it. Nevertheless, I always feel better after I've done it."

2. If it is made optional, almost no one except the uber-pious will avail themselves of it.

3. You have to make it MANDATORY in order to get people to do it. (This alone is going to make it exceedingly difficult for Lutherans to do, because in my experience Lutherans don't like rules and requirements. Such rules are usually dismissed with a wave of the hand and talk of the "freedom of the Gospel.")

4.  When and if you make it mandatory, you have to be willing to stand your ground in regard to Eucharistic discipline, otherwise no one in the parish will take you seriously and you'll be viewed as "Pastor Milquetoast."  You have to decide how often your people are going to confess, and what you are going to do if they don't.  (Again, for Lutherans, this is going to be exceedingly difficult because you don't have bishops that priests have to obey.)  A Russian Orthodox priest doesn't have to be the "heavy" in regard to confessional frequency.  If his bishop demands a minimum of once a month confession to partake of the Eucharist, then he simply announces that and enforces it.  The people can't fire him. They didn't hire him.  The bishop is his boss and he will obey his boss.  If his people approach the Chalice without having gone to Confession, he will politely turn them away and tell them they are not prepared.  But, he has his bishop to back him up in that regard. A Lutheran pastor has no such backup. 

5.  As long as American Lutheranism has congregational gov't (and I don't ever see that going away), I don't think private confession and absolution will ever be revived here.  American Lutherans just don't have the support structure to keep it in place. 

Nevertheless, I think it is good that Lutherans teach people about the value of private confession and absolution, and that some Lutherans do avail themselves of it. But I don't ever see it becoming widespread amongst Lutherans unless Lutherans make LOTS of changes in their church governance, and I just don't see that happening.




Boris,
Having grown up shuttling between Eastern Rite and Franciscan parishes, I know the law as you state it pretty well.  The priests came to our parochial school every friday afternoon. ( I still laugh because it was friday night through sunday morning when the most 'grievous of sins would occur - at least according to our nuns.

However, using C&A in this manner is something I would never do as a Lutheran.  It may have been tradition, but forcing people to be absolved is simply not going to do it.  We made up things, we told of sins we never committed, and often in more abundance, rather than dealing with the sins that truly bother us.   And I believe it would be so among the Eastern church as well.

Rather, I would prefer to see it as it usually happens here.  People come and say - Pastor - you told us we could always talk to you when something bothers us.. and so it begins. Using the Rite, or sometimes simply taking them through the passages.Handing them a cross is usually part of my practice - to grasp onto while we pray....

When receiving the(a) sacrament is made a duty and obligation, I wonder if it is truly then grace.  At least growing up catholic, it was not.  It was duty and law and hell if you didn't. Not an unmerited rescue from hell if you did. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 18, 2011, 08:40:42 PM
As a non-Lutheran follower of this Forum, I'd like to make the following comments about Individual Confession and Absolution, from a Russian Orthodox perspective:

1.  No one "likes" individual confession and absolution.  Its a rather bitter and unpleasant pill to swallow for the sickness of sin.   However, it is remarkably effective in its curative properties.  My godmother describes it this way:  "Its kind of like throwing up all over yourself. There is no graceful way to do it. Nevertheless, I always feel better after I've done it."

2. If it is made optional, almost no one except the uber-pious will avail themselves of it.

3. You have to make it MANDATORY in order to get people to do it. (This alone is going to make it exceedingly difficult for Lutherans to do, because in my experience Lutherans don't like rules and requirements. Such rules are usually dismissed with a wave of the hand and talk of the "freedom of the Gospel.")

4.  When and if you make it mandatory, you have to be willing to stand your ground in regard to Eucharistic discipline, otherwise no one in the parish will take you seriously and you'll be viewed as "Pastor Milquetoast."  You have to decide how often your people are going to confess, and what you are going to do if they don't.  (Again, for Lutherans, this is going to be exceedingly difficult because you don't have bishops that priests have to obey.)  A Russian Orthodox priest doesn't have to be the "heavy" in regard to confessional frequency.  If his bishop demands a minimum of once a month confession to partake of the Eucharist, then he simply announces that and enforces it.  The people can't fire him. They didn't hire him.  The bishop is his boss and he will obey his boss.  If his people approach the Chalice without having gone to Confession, he will politely turn them away and tell them they are not prepared.  But, he has his bishop to back him up in that regard. A Lutheran pastor has no such backup.  

5.  As long as American Lutheranism has congregational gov't (and I don't ever see that going away), I don't think private confession and absolution will ever be revived here.  American Lutherans just don't have the support structure to keep it in place. 

Nevertheless, I think it is good that Lutherans teach people about the value of private confession and absolution, and that some Lutherans do avail themselves of it. But I don't ever see it becoming widespread amongst Lutherans unless Lutherans make LOTS of changes in their church governance, and I just don't see that happening.



A Lutheran pastor can't require private confession and absolution.  If he did, he would cease to be a Lutheran pastor. 

That said, it may be that confession was required by Lutherans before communing; but I remember reading that Luther would sometimes commune without confessing in order to not allow the devil to harangue his conscience.

I am not sure I revived individual confession and absolution here in the best way.  I simply started offering it before Vespers one Lent.  I think one person came that year.  I make myself available to hear confession in the church every Saturday from 6 pm to 6:30.  I also offer it on Wednesdays in Advent and Lent after vespers.  I think that no one has ever come during stated hours on Saturday.  I have had a few people come by appointment, and a few who have come more repeatedly.  Many people go once and then never come back again, which tells me that people feel the need to confess but tend to think of it as something that is valuable only for "big"  sins, instead of a gift of grace that pronounces us clean again and again.

I think it will change though.  I preached about it during Advent.  I am preaching on it during Matins in the school.  I make catechumens go to private confession during class and go through the rite, but do not allow them to confess specific sins, hoping that eventually they will ask me to let them confess the sins that trouble them (i got this idea from someone else.)  I regularly mention it in adult catechesis and Sunday morning Bible class.

I sort of agree with Boris that there will be a lot of people that don't go if it's not compulsory.  Certainly the old people who were usually told that they could confess privately if something troubled them--and often weren't even taught then--probably will never go.  But my hope in sitting alone for a half hour each Saturday is that the kids will grow up knowing that it is a normal part of life in a Lutheran church, rather than something you have to make an appointment to do. 

But I wouldn't want to force people to go.  The reality is that it is not commanded by God, but as I said in the other thread, it is a church tradition that is pure Gospel.  And it would be wicked to allow traditions that give the Gospel so clearly to fall into disuse.  Just as in Luther's day, communion was offered weekly, and the pastors preached that people should commune often, even though on most Sundays only the uber pious communed, so we do best when we extol the benefits and the gift of absolution, rather than forcing people to go and making a law out of it.  If you don't want to receive Christ's body and blood, and I force you to go once a year, I pervert the gift.  You are showing that you do not believe when you never desire the Lord's Supper, so should I require you to go when you don't desire it?

With private confession and absolution, the situation requires a little more patience.  We are not dealing with people who were familiar with the practice but simply used their Christian freedom as an excuse to treat the forgiveness given there with contempt.  We are dealing with people who were essentially taught that Lutherans don't do this, and we don't have to because we can confess our sins directly to God and receive forgiveness.  The problem is that people have not been taught about this gift, and it requires time to overcome the years of prejudice against it.  Rather than force sinners to receive a gift they don't want, we have to preach and teach in such a way that they hunger and thirst for the free pardon that God is giving there.  They stay away because of prejudice and because they focus on the confessing, their shame and humiliation in front of the pastor, their fear that he will judge them or look down on them.  When they are more focused on the free gift of pardon that God wants to give them in the absolution, then we will see if not the whole congregation there, at least a great many of them.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 18, 2011, 09:19:19 PM
I offer private confession and absolution at 5 p.m. Saturdays before the 6 p.m. liturgy.  Most folks, though, who use it make an appointment during the week.  I have a number of folks who use it quite regularly; some who use it only once (for dealing with a particular sin that is troubling them).  I found for myself that in the first years I offered it (in my first parish), not a soul came.  I think that was good.  God was protecting them. For I hadn't been to confession myself.  After I began to make confession myself, I found that people began showing up for confession!  Speaking of which, Lent is coming and I've not been to confession for some time.  I need to make one of those appointments! 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on February 18, 2011, 09:24:32 PM
And yet, many can remember...especially among those with LCMS blood in their veins... the requirement to "announce" one's intent to recieve the Sacrament (of the Altar) to the Pastor on the Sunday before Holy Communion was to be celebrated.  And one of the topics to be covered between the Pastor and the soon-to-be-communicant was an examination of the conscience and Pastoral guidance on matters ethical and spiritual.

Remarkably like Individual Confession, and one of the reasons I keep Saturday confessional hours.  Not that I can "compell" a confession, but the idea of preparing one's self to recieve the Sacrament, as Luther says, believing that the Sacrament truly conveys God's mercy for our sins; given and shed for us.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 19, 2011, 01:37:46 AM
A little less than 1/3rd at this point use Confession and Absolution...

That's without breaking it down to "TradWo," "CoWo", "liberal" or "conservative"

Still pretty indicative of the efficacy of catachesis.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 19, 2011, 01:49:34 AM
A little less than 1/3rd at this point use Confession and Absolution...

That's without breaking it down to "TradWo," "CoWo", "liberal" or "conservative"

Still pretty indicative of the efficacy of catachesis.

How?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 19, 2011, 10:11:21 AM
A little less than 1/3rd at this point use Confession and Absolution...

That's without breaking it down to "TradWo," "CoWo", "liberal" or "conservative"

Still pretty indicative of the efficacy of catachesis.

How?

Really?  You don't see how effective a generation or two of catachesis is, when one of the chief parts is fallen into such disuse?

Likewise, when people don't see their need and settle for 2nd and 4th?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 19, 2011, 11:06:03 AM
By now I am sure that you are aware of the $1.99 phone app being offered by iPhones tobe used as a confessional aid for those preparing for the Sacrament of Reconcilation in the RCC.
Last week, my home congregations pastor (Ascension, Deer Park ny) utilzed it as a basis for his sermon ( video available on congregations website btw). Just today in the largest daily newspaper on Long Island ( NY Newsday) in the weekly Saturday section entitled "asking the clergy" the topic was offered for comments.
Now I don't have the app...as I only recently found out what a phone app was......but do find it to be an interesting tool. My pastor, BTW, did get the app.
How could this tool help Lutherans in their understanding of the need for private Confession and Absolution?
And yes, I do intend, once ordained as presbyter, to offer the third Sacrament in the congregation I serve.
Pax,
PiTe
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: BrotherBoris on February 19, 2011, 12:01:45 PM
As a non-Lutheran follower of this Forum, I'd like to make the following comments about Individual Confession and Absolution, from a Russian Orthodox perspective:

1.  No one "likes" individual confession and absolution.  Its a rather bitter and unpleasant pill to swallow for the sickness of sin.   However, it is remarkably effective in its curative properties.  My godmother describes it this way:  "Its kind of like throwing up all over yourself. There is no graceful way to do it. Nevertheless, I always feel better after I've done it."

2. If it is made optional, almost no one except the uber-pious will avail themselves of it.

3. You have to make it MANDATORY in order to get people to do it. (This alone is going to make it exceedingly difficult for Lutherans to do, because in my experience Lutherans don't like rules and requirements. Such rules are usually dismissed with a wave of the hand and talk of the "freedom of the Gospel.")

4.  When and if you make it mandatory, you have to be willing to stand your ground in regard to Eucharistic discipline, otherwise no one in the parish will take you seriously and you'll be viewed as "Pastor Milquetoast."  You have to decide how often your people are going to confess, and what you are going to do if they don't.  (Again, for Lutherans, this is going to be exceedingly difficult because you don't have bishops that priests have to obey.)  A Russian Orthodox priest doesn't have to be the "heavy" in regard to confessional frequency.  If his bishop demands a minimum of once a month confession to partake of the Eucharist, then he simply announces that and enforces it.  The people can't fire him. They didn't hire him.  The bishop is his boss and he will obey his boss.  If his people approach the Chalice without having gone to Confession, he will politely turn them away and tell them they are not prepared.  But, he has his bishop to back him up in that regard. A Lutheran pastor has no such backup. 

5.  As long as American Lutheranism has congregational gov't (and I don't ever see that going away), I don't think private confession and absolution will ever be revived here.  American Lutherans just don't have the support structure to keep it in place. 

Nevertheless, I think it is good that Lutherans teach people about the value of private confession and absolution, and that some Lutherans do avail themselves of it. But I don't ever see it becoming widespread amongst Lutherans unless Lutherans make LOTS of changes in their church governance, and I just don't see that happening.




Boris,
Having grown up shuttling between Eastern Rite and Franciscan parishes, I know the law as you state it pretty well.  The priests came to our parochial school every friday afternoon. ( I still laugh because it was friday night through sunday morning when the most 'grievous of sins would occur - at least according to our nuns.

However, using C&A in this manner is something I would never do as a Lutheran.  It may have been tradition, but forcing people to be absolved is simply not going to do it.  We made up things, we told of sins we never committed, and often in more abundance, rather than dealing with the sins that truly bother us.   And I believe it would be so among the Eastern church as well.

Rather, I would prefer to see it as it usually happens here.  People come and say - Pastor - you told us we could always talk to you when something bothers us.. and so it begins. Using the Rite, or sometimes simply taking them through the passages.Handing them a cross is usually part of my practice - to grasp onto while we pray....

When receiving the(a) sacrament is made a duty and obligation, I wonder if it is truly then grace.  At least growing up catholic, it was not.  It was duty and law and hell if you didn't. Not an unmerited rescue from hell if you did. 


Dear J&S:

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I seem to remember you mentioning once before that you grew up Roman Catholic. I didn't know you attended any Eastern Rite parishes growing up.  I would be interested in hearing more about that.  Although I've been Orthodox for 15 years now, I've never attended an Eastern Rite RCC parish (although I have watched videos of some).  There are simply none in my area.  It would be interesting to see how Rome interprets and celebrates Chrysostom's liturgy.  I would think they'd at least abbreviate it quite a bit - the Sunday liturgy at my Russian Orthodox church takes a good 2.5 hours.  I can't imagine people that are used to 45 minute masses tolerating that for very long.

I can't really say that the Russian Orthodox church 'forces' people to be absolved.  The frequency of confession is, to a large degree, left up to the discretion of the individual. No one has ever forced me to go to confession and I've been Orthodox for well over a decade. But our people are taught not to approach the Chalice casually, without proper preparation and some good old-fashioned 'fear of God.'  That's why if you attend a Divine Liturgy in an Orthodox Church, a significant portion of the people might not approach the Chalice to commune on any given Sunday.  Protestant visitors to an Orthodox Church are usually bewildered by this practice, but to us it actually makes some sense.  There is a real fear of partaking unworthily, without proper preparation, and a strong fear of merely receiving the Eucharist  just to be "going through the motions."  Perhaps this is a version of Orthodox pietism or a bit of folk piety, but I actually like it because it forces us to come to terms with our spiritual lethargy and laziness.  In the stricter Russian tradition one does not commune unless he has:

1.  fasted from meat and dairy products on Wednesday and Friday of the preceding week
2.  prayed daily during the preceding week using the Church's set rule of prayer (about 20 minutes each day)
3.  read the appointed Epistle and Gospel lessons for each day of the preceding week
4.  made peace with all and not harboring unresolved anger or hatred against anyone
5.  attended at least Vespers on Saturday evening preceding to be liturgically prepared
6.  made a Sacramental Confession with a priest after Vespers
7.  totally fasted from all food and drink from Midnight the evening before, so that the Eucharist will be the first food and drink of the day.
8.  gotten to church on time, participating in the prayers with due reverence and attention, listening closely to the Gospel reading and paying close attention to the sermon.

It isn't as though we "earn" the right to be worthy to partake of the Eucharist. We will never be worthy.  It is always a gift to us. But at the same time, since it is the very Body and Blood of Christ, we cannot approach it casually, flippantly or mechanically.  I hope this better explains things.

As an aside, all Orthodox are not as strict about Eucharist preparation as the Russian Orthodox are.  The Greek Orthodox, for instance, are almost "Lutheran" in their treatment of the Sacrament of Confession.  They generally leave it totally up to the individual to determine how often he should go.  I've met some Greek Orthodox who are actually surprised to learn that Confession is a Sacrament and who told me "Why I thought only Catholics did that!".  In fact, I would venture to day that private confession among the Greek Orthodox is almost as rare as it is amongst the Lutherans.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Jeff-MN on February 19, 2011, 12:03:53 PM
You have to get the kids going to C&A early in their life and it could become something they would avail themselves to for the rest of their lives.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau on February 19, 2011, 12:44:43 PM
Quote from a life-long Lutheran layman:  Catholics beleive the priest saves them.  We believe you got to save yourself! grabau
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: lthayer on February 19, 2011, 12:55:30 PM
Why are you so obsessed with being as "almost Roman Catholic" as possible? If anyone were to click on the link to view all of your posts at once, and read them going back over all of the time you've been posting here, one would get the impression that what you really want most in life is to be a Roman Catholic Priest, and you're only "settling" for being a Lutheran pastor. I'll admit that might not be what you truly want, but if that impression isn't true, one would not discover the error of that impression from reading your posts. From the content of your posts, you make it seem like you regard being a Lutheran pastor as nothing more than a consolation prize. Why do you have such disdain and contempt for being a Lutheran pastor that you cannot even use the word "pastor" to describe your vocational objective?

George, you may be one of the most active posters and frequently make contributions of value, but at times you have a ways to go with respect to courtesy, much less thread drift.  Your comment above was entirely unnecessary and snarky, and did not contribute in any positive way to the conversation of the thread. . . and neither does my response to you.

That said, I am deeply appreciating the thread and do not wish to see it sidetracked.  Confession and absolution has not been offered at any Lutheran Church with which I have been affiliated or employed with the exception of one, Christ Church, York, PA, Pr. Patrick Rooney, STS.  My associations with the pastors of Susquehanna Chapter and now Florida Chapter are treasured in part because of their offering of and participation in "the third Sacrament."  This cantor and layperson has been blest to receive it from them.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 19, 2011, 01:00:44 PM
In 59 years, the only Lutheran I ever knew who wanted a Private Confession and Absolution was my wife, who only converted to Lutheran after more than 50 years of being a Roman Catholic.

In confirmation classes in the ULCA and LCA, we were taught that, as it says in the Order for Public Confession in the Service Book and Hymnal, "we poor sinners confess unto thee, that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against you by thought, word, and deed." We were taught that Matthew 5.28, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart" teaches us that we cannot hope to enumerate all of our individual acts of sin. And, we were taught that there was no ranking order of sins, as if there was some sort of ecclesial categories equivalent to misdemeanors and felonies of various grades or degrees. Therefore, there was no need or benefit for individual confession or absolution of the really big sins, as the issue was our general sinful nature.

In the Augsburg Confession it says in Article XI: Of Confession.

1] Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession 2] an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.

Could anyone please explain in their own words why there is a need for private confession if an enumeration of all sins is not necessary? What's the point of a private confession and absolution if a public confession that "we poor sinners confess unto thee, that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against you by thought, word, and deed"? What's the point?


Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 19, 2011, 01:08:03 PM
Why are you so obsessed with being as "almost Roman Catholic" as possible? If anyone were to click on the link to view all of your posts at once, and read them going back over all of the time you've been posting here, one would get the impression that what you really want most in life is to be a Roman Catholic Priest, and you're only "settling" for being a Lutheran pastor. I'll admit that might not be what you truly want, but if that impression isn't true, one would not discover the error of that impression from reading your posts. From the content of your posts, you make it seem like you regard being a Lutheran pastor as nothing more than a consolation prize. Why do you have such disdain and contempt for being a Lutheran pastor that you cannot even use the word "pastor" to describe your vocational objective?

8th Commandment in play........thanks for reminding me why I need the Third Sacrament George.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 19, 2011, 01:20:41 PM

Dear J&S:

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I seem to remember you mentioning once before that you grew up Roman Catholic. I didn't know you attended any Eastern Rite parishes growing up.  I would be interested in hearing more about that.  Although I've been Orthodox for 15 years now, I've never attended an Eastern Rite RCC parish (although I have watched videos of some).  There are simply none in my area.  It would be interesting to see how Rome interprets and celebrates Chrysostom's liturgy.  I would think they'd at least abbreviate it quite a bit - the Sunday liturgy at my Russian Orthodox church takes a good 2.5 hours.  I can't imagine people that are used to 45 minute masses tolerating that for very long.

response:  Fransiscan masses weren't 45 minutes - they were more 90 minute range - and the Maronites - were usually 2-2.5 hours plus.  To be honest I don't remember - but it was a full service.  The service wasn't as elaborate as my best friend's Greek Orthodox church, but I never really saw it as a long service - probably why I find my 75-80 minutes short.  (and if we didn't have our chinese congregation coming in 90 minutes after i start.... o well)

I can't really say that the Russian Orthodox church 'forces' people to be absolved.  The frequency of confession is, to a large degree, left up to the discretion of the individual. No one has ever forced me to go to confession and I've been Orthodox for well over a decade. But our people are taught not to approach the Chalice casually, without proper preparation and some good old-fashioned 'fear of God.'  That's why if you attend a Divine Liturgy in an Orthodox Church, a significant portion of the people might not approach the Chalice to commune on any given Sunday.  Protestant visitors to an Orthodox Church are usually bewildered by this practice, but to us it actually makes some sense.  There is a real fear of partaking unworthily, without proper preparation, and a strong fear of merely receiving the Eucharist  just to be "going through the motions."  Perhaps this is a version of Orthodox pietism or a bit of folk piety, but I actually like it because it forces us to come to terms with our spiritual lethargy and laziness.  In the stricter Russian tradition one does not commune unless he has:

1.  fasted from meat and dairy products on Wednesday and Friday of the preceding week
2.  prayed daily during the preceding week using the Church's set rule of prayer (about 20 minutes each day)
3.  read the appointed Epistle and Gospel lessons for each day of the preceding week
4.  made peace with all and not harboring unresolved anger or hatred against anyone
5.  attended at least Vespers on Saturday evening preceding to be liturgically prepared
6.  made a Sacramental Confession with a priest after Vespers
7.  totally fasted from all food and drink from Midnight the evening before, so that the Eucharist will be the first food and drink of the day.
8.  gotten to church on time, participating in the prayers with due reverence and attention, listening closely to the Gospel reading and paying close attention to the sermon.


response - but if you say they don't come to the Eucharist unless the following has been done, you either have to legislate that, or spend a lot of time explaining why each of those disciplines is beneficial (and for me - scriptural) and working hard not to develop a attitude  where these works even to the most minimalistic thought - "prepare you" for the sacrament.)

It isn't as though we "earn" the right to be worthy to partake of the Eucharist. We will never be worthy.  It is always a gift to us. But at the same time, since it is the very Body and Blood of Christ, we cannot approach it casually, flippantly or mechanically.  I hope this better explains things.

response - I get that is the ideal - but in your words there still is a way tat says - this is the way we avoid that.   And for this ex-roman catholic who dreamed of being a priest - those are man made disciplines.   Personally I like Luther's comment about bodily preparation is cool - but one is really prepared who knows and trusts in the words, "given and shed for you".  
I have seen to many turned away from the grace of God for man-made reasons - and  while I am not saying all my brothes in the RCC and OCA are pharisees, there is an imminent danger in marking your preparation as more full than simply looking at adoration at the invitation to the altar rail and knowing this is given and shed ofr my sin.


As an aside, all Orthodox are not as strict about Eucharist preparation as the Russian Orthodox are.  The Greek Orthodox, for instance, are almost "Lutheran" in their treatment of the Sacrament of Confession.  They generally leave it totally up to the individual to determine how often he should go.  I've met some Greek Orthodox who are actually surprised to learn that Confession is a Sacrament and who told me "Why I thought only Catholics did that!".  In fact, I would venture to day that private confession among the Greek Orthodox is almost as rare as it is amongst the Lutherans.

response - and that is a shame.  At my last church, I catechised two ladies, one a SW, the other a Psychotherapist.  They kept bouncing between my church and the local Rcc Parish.   The kicker was two things - my congregation then did not weekly commune, and they didn't like Marian adoration.   THy stuck with us, after we talked about the Ministry of Reconciliation/ aka Absolution.  Both were amazed at the freedom that came with being absolved, and the PsyD indicated that she would lose 70 percent of her clients if they knew about this.....   (she smirked when I said I wold be gald to teach them!)

Again, the issue for me is that this gift, this charis, this grace is so incredible, that it is a shame that we ave let it slide away, even as we amp up the discussion about who is being faithful to the liturgy...
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 19, 2011, 01:28:54 PM
Why are you so obsessed with being as "almost Roman Catholic" as possible? If anyone were to click on the link to view all of your posts at once, and read them going back over all of the time you've been posting here, one would get the impression that what you really want most in life is to be a Roman Catholic Priest, and you're only "settling" for being a Lutheran pastor. I'll admit that might not be what you truly want, but if that impression isn't true, one would not discover the error of that impression from reading your posts. From the content of your posts, you make it seem like you regard being a Lutheran pastor as nothing more than a consolation prize. Why do you have such disdain and contempt for being a Lutheran pastor that you cannot even use the word "pastor" to describe your vocational objective?

[move8th Commandment in play........thanks for reminding me why I need the Third Sacrament George.[/move]

What does the one have to do with the other? What does the 8th commandment have to do with an observation (which I deleted after lthayer called me on it) that was not an accusation of wrongdoing? There is nothing wrong with being a Roman Catholic. There is nothing wrong with being a Lutheran. There is nothing wrong with settling for being a Lutheran pastor if one cannot qualify to be a Roman Catholic priest because one is married, or there is some other impediment. There are a great many Lutheran pastors who give the impression that they would prefer to be Roman Catholic priests if only the Roman Catholic Church would become more Lutheran. That's not an accusation of wrongness. It's a simple observation of how things are.

As for the so-called "Third Sacrament", is being given absolution by a called and ordained pastor as part of the Public Confession and Absolution any less a bona-fide absolution than one given by the same called and ordained pastor using the same words in private? Do not the words "The Almighty and merciful God grant unto you, being penitent, pardon and remission of all your sins, time for amendment of life, and the grace and comfort of his Holy Spirit", not count if spoken by a called and ordained pastor if they are not spoken one-on-one, in private? How private does absolution have to be in order for it to "take"? Does the number of people present make a difference? If I am granted absolution by a called and ordained pastor with only a few other people also being granted absolution, is that better than if I'm in a congregation with hundreds of other worshippers present?

What of all of the Lutherans over the past decades who confessed their sins using the order for Public Confession and were granted absolution by a called and ordained pastor and who never once had a Private C&A? Will they burn in hell?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 19, 2011, 01:39:47 PM
In 59 years, the only Lutheran I ever knew who wanted a Private Confession and Absolution was my wife, who only converted to Lutheran after more than 50 years of being a Roman Catholic.

In confirmation classes in the ULCA and LCA, we were taught that, as it says in the Order for Public Confession in the Service Book and Hymnal, "we poor sinners confess unto thee, that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against you by thought, word, and deed." We were taught that Matthew 5.28, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart" teaches us that we cannot hope to enumerate all of our individual acts of sin. And, we were taught that there was no ranking order of sins, as if there was some sort of ecclesial categories equivalent to misdemeanors and felonies of various grades or degrees. Therefore, there was no need or benefit for individual confession or absolution of the really big sins, as the issue was our general sinful nature.

In the Augsburg Confession it says in Article XI: Of Confession.

1] Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession 2] an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.

Could anyone please explain in their own words why there is a need for private confession if an enumeration of all sins is not necessary? What's the point of a private confession and absolution if a public confession that "we poor sinners confess unto thee, that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against you by thought, word, and deed"? What's the point?





George, I will take a stab at it.

Despite it being one of sins people might think less of, one particular sin haunted me since I was 16.  At the time, I had been working on graveyard shift, supporting my folks since a little after i turned 15.  Illegally, and at great personal cost to what I wanted.  One day, wen my mom put a curfew on me on a day off, I said to her that the house rule was whoever paid the rent made the rules and I paid the rent and walked out of the house.  Pretty brash for a 16 year old to tell to 50 year olds whose business went down the drain in 9 months.  At the same time - they were going through a spiritual crisis

Perhaps I have caused more pain in some other action - but that one still to this day, I remember. 

Sounds petty, and cruel and teenagerish, but it became something else for me.

When I joined the Lutheran Church, I confessed it to one of my mentors - who simply said to do so with any sin that weighed heavily one me.  Hearing him speak on God's behalf to that specified sin was an incredible release of a burden held too long, baggage that had a crippling effect on me for too many years.

That is why - it is not needed for every white lie, every sin of omission, but indeed, those sins that burden and terrify us.

Maybe no sin in your life you regret to that extent - Praise God.  But wen you are in the depth of depression because of your past, and Romans 7 describes where you are at.... having someone called by God to explain that Romans 8:1 is about YOU.... makes a incredible difference, and the peace that comes... is beyond description.


js


PS - I would give anything but my soul to be a priest in the RCC.  But the cost would be my soul, and therefore I am a Lutheran pastor.  I believe that is probably true for at least 5 or 6 here.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 19, 2011, 01:48:07 PM
the 8th Commandment was not in response to your post......it was may initial reaction to it.....that had to do with the 5th Commandment.....
It ain't always about you George........btw, I must have missed it......Atkins help with your obvious weight loss...lookin trim.......gettin' back to fightin' weight  ;)
FWIW, IF God had wanted/wants me to be a RC priest, He would accomplish it!
Won a consolation prize once......Coney Island, back in the day.
as to the hell question, don't really know.......I'll wait for your first hand report :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
Best to leave some questions and answers up to GOD........you can handle adding and subtracting congregations leaveing the ELCA.....no need to exercise your considerable gifts in further conversation with me on the topic at hand.
U da man George...u da man 4 sure
pax,
Bob
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Matt Staneck on February 19, 2011, 01:53:05 PM
George,

Perhaps people want to sound Catholic because Lutherans are indeed Catholic?  In addition to J&S's fine post I'd direct you to one of your own: Carl Braaten.  In his book, Justification: The Article By Which the Church Stands or Falls, he has a nice discussion on whether Lutherans are exiles from Rome, or immigrants.  The latter implies they left of their own volition and intended on setting up shop anew somewhere else.  The former implies they were forced out and are awaiting the day to return.  He settles on Lutherans as exiles, but he also is quick to point out that day is sadly not here yet, and may not be for quite some time.

Once a week Chaplain Stein at Concordia STL offers private confession and absolution.  I ought to attend myself, it is a most freeing experience to be sure!  I would hope to introduce this practice in a parish someday.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 19, 2011, 01:56:15 PM
I think the supreme benefit of the "third sacrament" as the Vicar terms it is not in the private enumeration of sins, but in the private absolution.  Yet there is benefit to the mentioning of specific sins - just not trying to count up every sin since your last confession!  

When you have named the sin that troubles you, that weighs on you, the keeps you up at night, and you have a person whom God has sent to you lay hands on your head, forgiving you that particular sin and all your sins - well, I can't even begin to describe the springtime of the soul that this brings.  "No man is so lonely as the man left alone with his sin." (Bonhoeffer) Confession itself is always painful, a bit of a death - the death of pride as you take off the fig leaves, if you will, and own up to what you are and what you've done.  But that's never the big thing.  The big thing is how God then so wondrously clothes you in the righteousness and holiness of His Son.  As absolution picks you up and dumps you right back into the joys of your Baptism, it makes the heart sing.  
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 19, 2011, 02:21:08 PM
AMEN Sem Matt and Pr Weedon
AMEN indeed....back to the sermon...I'm allowing myself to be distracted....not good...........
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 19, 2011, 02:51:05 PM
George,

Perhaps people want to sound Catholic because Lutherans are indeed Catholic?  In addition to J&S's fine post I'd direct you to one of your own: Carl Braaten.  In his book, Justification: The Article By Which the Church Stands or Falls, he has a nice discussion on whether Lutherans are exiles from Rome, or immigrants.  The latter implies they left of their own volition and intended on setting up shop anew somewhere else.  The former implies they were forced out and are awaiting the day to return.  He settles on Lutherans as exiles, but he also is quick to point out that day is sadly not here yet, and may not be for quite some time.

Once a week Chaplain Stein at Concordia STL offers private confession and absolution.  I ought to attend myself, it is a most freeing experience to be sure!  I would hope to introduce this practice in a parish someday.

M. Staneck

All Lutherans are "my own". That doesn't mean that I automatically agree with all Lutherans, even those with exalted reputations. Much more importantly, I don't see how it really makes a bit of difference if we were exiles or immigrants from Rome almost five centuries ago. Today, in the Year of Our Lord 2011, Lutherans are not Roman Catholics. We are a distinct faith tradition in the One Holy Catholic (meaning "universal") and Apostolic Church. We are evangelical catholics, with a lower-case "c". If it makes someone happy to pretend to be a pseudo Roman, and call himself "Father" instead of "Pastor", or to adopt other trappings and affectations to appear more "Roman", I see no harm in such affectations, unless one insists or implies that acting as Roman as possible is the only proper way to be a real Lutheran.

If one is going to argue that Lutheran traditions should be preserved, including Lutheran hymnody from Germany, and all the other trappings and traditions that were distinctly Lutheran from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, then one should be consistent in embracing all such traditions and trappings, and not just cherry pick the bits one likes the most. If one argues that even though Lutherans in America over the past 2 centuries have moved away from regularly scheduled sessions for private confession and absolution, we should revive the practice because the Roman Catholics do it, one should accept the argument that since many Roman Catholic churches have folk masses with music played on guitars, then we Lutherans should do that as well.

I think the supreme benefit of the "third sacrament" as the Vicar terms it is not in the private enumeration of sins, but in the private absolution.  Yet there is benefit to the mentioning of specific sins - just not trying to count up every sin since your last confession! 


But why is a private absolution better than a public absolution? Once a called and ordained pastor says, "As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", you've received the entire forgiveness of all your sins. "Entire forgiveness" sounds to me like an infinite amount of forgiveness. So, how does private absolution amplify or magnify infinite forgiveness? How much more forgiven can anyone be beyond being "entirely forgiven"?

I am not questioning whether private confession and absolution is a good thing or not, or if it is beneficial or not. It is good Christian therapy. But what theological rationale is behind attempting to revive the practice?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Revbert on February 19, 2011, 03:34:38 PM
George,

You ask what theological basis is there for reviving the place for individual confession and absolution. Let me try to answer this.

Let's begin with the Small Catechism, shall we?  In Luther's explanation of the Office of the Keys, we are reminded of the need to confess our sins (particularly those which trouble us most), but more importantly, to hear the words of absolution from the pastor to us as though the words come from God Himself. Individual confession and absolution is part and parcel of being a Lutheran (although you, like many in the 55-and-up group from my former parish) seem to forget that Luther commended it to us in the Catechism.  It is not about trying to be "Roman," rather, it is about comforting the terrified.

Forgiveness of sins is one of the gifts our Lord Jesus Christ gave to the apostles in establishing the Office of the Keys ("What you loose on earth...."). In giving to the apostles to power to loose and bind, we have the obvious call for us, poor miserable sinners we are, to seek out one with that authority to confess that which causes us pain and hear the words of blessing, absolution, and yes, admonition when necessary.

MUST one partake in individual confession and absolution? By no means! SHOULD one partake in it? I would certainly hope every Christian would, at least once in his or her lifetime, especially those who believe it's a "bad" thing. You condemn a practice about which you really know nothing, except what you think you know about it.

I hope this helps, George.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 19, 2011, 03:58:50 PM
I hope this helps, George.

It does, a little. It reinforces that Private Confession and Absolution is a good Christian therapy that makes the person doing the confession feel good. And, the absence of any scriptural reference to private versus public confession implies that there is no scriptural teaching on Private Confession and Absolution being any more effective than Public Confession and Absolution.

Or are you saying that if I were to experience private confession and absolution first hand, I would feel more forgiven than I would feel after being entirely forgiven? Wouldn't it mean that I didn't have faith if I thought that being declared entirely forgiven publicly didn't really count?

Or does it mean that when I think of the sins I am most troubled by during the public confession, I don't really believe that God knows what I'm thinking, so I have to speak them aloud to a pastor? Doesn't that also imply that I don't have faith that God hears silent, mental prayers?

I am not arguing that a Christian shouldn't partake of Private Confession and Absolution if he wants to. I'm just attempting to understand if it is a scriptural requirement or adiaphora.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 19, 2011, 04:01:28 PM
A little less than 1/3rd at this point use Confession and Absolution...

That's without breaking it down to "TradWo," "CoWo", "liberal" or "conservative"

Still pretty indicative of the efficacy of catachesis.

How?

Really?  You don't see how effective a generation or two of catachesis is, when one of the chief parts is fallen into such disuse?

Likewise, when people don't see their need and settle for 2nd and 4th?

No, I thought you were saying catechesis doesn't work.  My bad.  I agree; I think the issue is that we haven't taught people about it.

I think one of the problems is that people have often been told you only need to go to confession if you've done something huge; but when you look at Luther's sample confession in the catechism, it's run of the mill sins within the vocation that are mentioned.  How wonderful that God raises us from the dead with Christ to be a new creation, and how wonderful it is that we need not wait until we have grossly strayed from what He has made us to be to hear Him declare us new as when we first came out of the waters of baptism.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 19, 2011, 04:27:19 PM
In 59 years, the only Lutheran I ever knew who wanted a Private Confession and Absolution was my wife, who only converted to Lutheran after more than 50 years of being a Roman Catholic.


When I went to a non-denominational church, it was not uncommon for small groups to confess their sins to one another, as it says in James: "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed."  Having grown up Lutheran, I'm ashamed to say that non-denominational churches are ahead of most Lutherans on this, when we have an entire section in the small catechism that teaches Lutherans to confess privately to the pastor very plainly.

The sad thing for the nondenominational churches is that they don't know about absolution.  When they confess, they are trying to hold themselves and one another accountable.  In other words, they are trying to overcome sin by the power of the law.  As Lutherans, we should know that it is the Gospel alone that frees us from the power of sin.  When non-denominational folks confess to each other, they show that they are earnestly desiring to be free from the power of sin, but they don't know where that freedom comes from.  When Lutherans don't go to confession, they are showing either that they have never been taught correctly about absolution, or that they are unconcerned about their great need for deliverance from sin's power.

Luther had a completely different attitude toward confession and absolution than that evidenced by your experience (and mine) of how most Lutherans today feel about private confession.  He wrote:"Thus we teach what a splendid, precious, and comforting thing confession is.  Moreover, we strongly urge people not to despise a blessing which in view of our great need is so priceless.  Now, if you are a Christian, then you do not need either my pressuring or the pope's orders, but you will undoubtedly compel yourself to come to confession and will beg me for a share in it.  however, if you want to despise it and proudly continue without confession, then we must drawn the conclusion that you are no Chrsitian and should not enjoy the Sacrament either.  For you despise what no Christian should despise and you thereby bring it about that you cannot have forgiveness of your sins.  This is a sure sign that you also despise the Gospel. 

To sum it up, we want to have nothing to do with coercion.  However, if someone does not listen to or follow our preaching and its warning, we will ahve nothing to do with him, nor may he have any share in the Gospel.  if you were a Christian, then you ought to be happy to run more than a hundred miles to confession and not let yourself be urged to come; you should rather come and compel us to give you the opportunity.  For in this matter the compulsion must be the other way aroud: we must act under orders, you must come into freedom.  We pressure no one, but we let ourselves be pressured, just as we let people compel us to preach and to administer the Sacrament. 

When I therefore urge you to go to confession, I am doing nothing else than urgin you to be a Christian.  if I have brougth you to the point of being a Christian, I have thereby also brought you to confession.  For those who really desire to be true Christians, to be rid of their sins, and to have a cheerful conscience already possess the true hunger and thirst."--Large Catechism, "A brief admonition to go to confession"

Of course, Luther was speaking to people who had been taught about the benefit of private confession and who were despising it.  This is not the case with most Lutherans.  But even if it was never taught and you never knew anyone who wanted to go, I don't doubt that you have known many Lutherans who longed to be freed from the power of sin and who struggled for years with the doubt that their faith was genuine because of their failures in living a holy life.  That is just the thing that private absolution helps.

Also, from the Small Catechism: "What is confession?  Confession has two parts.  First, that we confess our sins; second, that we receive absolution from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing, that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess? "Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord's Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts."

Enumeration of sins is trying to remember every sin you've ever committed.  Luther and the confessions emphasize that the point of confession is not our act of confessing sins, as though the perfection of our confession earns God's grace.  The point is the absolution.  Christians should hate their sins and desire to be free of them, but they should not rack their brains trying to remember every sin.  The point is that they hear God's absolution spoken to the sins that their conscience reminds them of.  If we have the Holy Spirit, we are going to rejoice that Christ has given this gift to the church, that we can hear God's verdict on our sins declared through a man on earth--that is, that they are forgiven in heaven just as they are on earth by the pastor.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 19, 2011, 04:37:04 PM
I hope this helps, George.

It does, a little. It reinforces that Private Confession and Absolution is a good Christian therapy that makes the person doing the confession feel good. And, the absence of any scriptural reference to private versus public confession implies that there is no scriptural teaching on Private Confession and Absolution being any more effective than Public Confession and Absolution.

Or are you saying that if I were to experience private confession and absolution first hand, I would feel more forgiven than I would feel after being entirely forgiven? Wouldn't it mean that I didn't have faith if I thought that being declared entirely forgiven publicly didn't really count?

Or does it mean that when I think of the sins I am most troubled by during the public confession, I don't really believe that God knows what I'm thinking, so I have to speak them aloud to a pastor? Doesn't that also imply that I don't have faith that God hears silent, mental prayers?

I am not arguing that a Christian shouldn't partake of Private Confession and Absolution if he wants to. I'm just attempting to understand if it is a scriptural requirement or adiaphora.


George,

It is not a matter of "have to", it is a matter of "get to be relieved".   It is not just a matter of faith, it is getting from the surface hearing to the heart of the matter, which is why Luther thought it bad for the gift to fall into disuse.

It delivers Christ  - speaking specifically to the sins and temptations we deal with the most.  It is Christ' words - YOUR - YES YOU - the one sitting across from one of my servants - YOUR sins are forgiven.

It is difficult - for you are not saying it with 70 -1000 other people, Yet for the adultery, for the one who continues in gossip despite best efforts to stop, to the abusive spouse, and yeah - for the teenager who once dishonored his folks that burden is lifted - that sin is spoken too - the one they dared not think about in company of others.  It is finished.

Maybe you have never had a sin you hid from the world and from God.  Maybe you are one of the few who never gets Romans 7 and the despair it causes. If so, great  - I give praise for that gift of faith.

It is not therapeutic in a psych or social work way.  It is therapeutic as in cutting a cancer from a body.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 19, 2011, 04:44:26 PM
I hope this helps, George.

It does, a little. It reinforces that Private Confession and Absolution is a good Christian therapy that makes the person doing the confession feel good. And, the absence of any scriptural reference to private versus public confession implies that there is no scriptural teaching on Private Confession and Absolution being any more effective than Public Confession and Absolution.

Or are you saying that if I were to experience private confession and absolution first hand, I would feel more forgiven than I would feel after being entirely forgiven? Wouldn't it mean that I didn't have faith if I thought that being declared entirely forgiven publicly didn't really count?

Or does it mean that when I think of the sins I am most troubled by during the public confession, I don't really believe that God knows what I'm thinking, so I have to speak them aloud to a pastor? Doesn't that also imply that I don't have faith that God hears silent, mental prayers?

I am not arguing that a Christian shouldn't partake of Private Confession and Absolution if he wants to. I'm just attempting to understand if it is a scriptural requirement or adiaphora.


George,

It is not a matter of "have to", it is a matter of "get to be relieved".   It is not just a matter of faith, it is getting from the surface hearing to the heart of the matter, which is why Luther thought it bad for the gift to fall into disuse.

It delivers Christ  - speaking specifically to the sins and temptations we deal with the most.  It is Christ' words - YOUR - YES YOU - the one sitting across from one of my servants - YOUR sins are forgiven.

It is difficult - for you are not saying it with 70 -1000 other people, Yet for the adultery, for the one who continues in gossip despite best efforts to stop, to the abusive spouse, and yeah - for the teenager who once dishonored his folks that burden is lifted - that sin is spoken too - the one they dared not think about in company of others.  It is finished.

Maybe you have never had a sin you hid from the world and from God.  Maybe you are one of the few who never gets Romans 7 and the despair it causes. If so, great  - I give praise for that gift of faith.

It is not therapeutic in a psych or social work way.  It is therapeutic as in cutting a cancer from a body.

Does that mean that when the called and ordained minister standing in front of the congregation says, "As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", that isn't really true and I'm not really forgiven? Why do pastors say that to congregations if it isn't true?

I've commited plenty of acts of sin that I wish I could have hidden from God, but I know that is impossible. Are you telling me that I can hide sins from God?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 19, 2011, 04:54:21 PM
I hope this helps, George.

It does, a little. It reinforces that Private Confession and Absolution is a good Christian therapy that makes the person doing the confession feel good. And, the absence of any scriptural reference to private versus public confession implies that there is no scriptural teaching on Private Confession and Absolution being any more effective than Public Confession and Absolution.

Or are you saying that if I were to experience private confession and absolution first hand, I would feel more forgiven than I would feel after being entirely forgiven? Wouldn't it mean that I didn't have faith if I thought that being declared entirely forgiven publicly didn't really count?

Or does it mean that when I think of the sins I am most troubled by during the public confession, I don't really believe that God knows what I'm thinking, so I have to speak them aloud to a pastor? Doesn't that also imply that I don't have faith that God hears silent, mental prayers?

I am not arguing that a Christian shouldn't partake of Private Confession and Absolution if he wants to. I'm just attempting to understand if it is a scriptural requirement or adiaphora.
Luther acknowledges that private confession is not required by God.  At the same time, he writes in what I quoted above that people who despise private confession should not be regarded as Christians.  

Of course the absolution is the same in the general absolution at the Divine Service.  But the general absolution we do, when it was invented, was not intended to replace private confession.  It originally directly preceded the celebration of the Lord's Supper or came right after the sermon.  It was sort of like another absolution to fortify the conscience before receiving Holy Communion.  How it functions now is as a last ditch measure to prevent the complete loss of absolution.  Essentially as we use it now it is hardly different from what the sermon is already doing; and there were some pastors/theologians in the early days of Lutheranism who argued that the general absolution was a bad idea because it seemed to suggest that the sermon itself was not an absolution.  I think the general absolution that preceded communion was also accompanied then by a general "binding," ie. the pastor would say, "to those who repent and intend to change their life, I forgive you all your sins...etc.; and to those who do not repent, I retain your sins in the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  

Private absolution is not therapy; it is Christ's own word that does what it says; it looses and forgives the sinner from his sins.  The reason its ordinary form should be private in response to named sins is because this is the whole reason it developed.  People often listen to preaching and even go to the Lord's Supper and yet continue to struggle with the burden of guilt or to doubt whether their faith in Christ is real faith.  The absolution is spoken to the particular sins that trouble the penitent, and they are Christ's own words: "I forgive you all your sins."  If you want to confess your sins and have no one hear them, confess privately to God.  If you want to hear the Gospel without confessing your sins, go listen to the sermon.  If you want to hear Christ's own mouth forgive the sins that you know and feel in your heart, confess privately to the pastor.  

At the end of the day, since this is plainly taught in the small catechism, the only reason for putting up with Lutheran's anitpathy toward private confession is that we should be patient when people are hardened toward this tremendous gift by years and years of it being allowed to gather cobwebs in the attic of Lutheranism and because Lutheran pastors either didn't teach it or taught it wrongly.  
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Matt Staneck on February 19, 2011, 05:09:20 PM
George,

I pointed out Braaten as one of your own because you take issue when Missourians cite folks from their own particular "circle" in trans-Lutheran arguments. 

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 19, 2011, 05:25:44 PM
I hope this helps, George.

It does, a little. It reinforces that Private Confession and Absolution is a good Christian therapy that makes the person doing the confession feel good. And, the absence of any scriptural reference to private versus public confession implies that there is no scriptural teaching on Private Confession and Absolution being any more effective than Public Confession and Absolution.

Or are you saying that if I were to experience private confession and absolution first hand, I would feel more forgiven than I would feel after being entirely forgiven? Wouldn't it mean that I didn't have faith if I thought that being declared entirely forgiven publicly didn't really count?

Or does it mean that when I think of the sins I am most troubled by during the public confession, I don't really believe that God knows what I'm thinking, so I have to speak them aloud to a pastor? Doesn't that also imply that I don't have faith that God hears silent, mental prayers?

I am not arguing that a Christian shouldn't partake of Private Confession and Absolution if he wants to. I'm just attempting to understand if it is a scriptural requirement or adiaphora.


George,

It is not a matter of "have to", it is a matter of "get to be relieved".   It is not just a matter of faith, it is getting from the surface hearing to the heart of the matter, which is why Luther thought it bad for the gift to fall into disuse.

It delivers Christ  - speaking specifically to the sins and temptations we deal with the most.  It is Christ' words - YOUR - YES YOU - the one sitting across from one of my servants - YOUR sins are forgiven.

It is difficult - for you are not saying it with 70 -1000 other people, Yet for the adultery, for the one who continues in gossip despite best efforts to stop, to the abusive spouse, and yeah - for the teenager who once dishonored his folks that burden is lifted - that sin is spoken too - the one they dared not think about in company of others.  It is finished.

Maybe you have never had a sin you hid from the world and from God.  Maybe you are one of the few who never gets Romans 7 and the despair it causes. If so, great  - I give praise for that gift of faith.

It is not therapeutic in a psych or social work way.  It is therapeutic as in cutting a cancer from a body.

Does that mean that when the called and ordained minister standing in front of the congregation says, "As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", that isn't really true and I'm not really forgiven? Why do pastors say that to congregations if it isn't true?

I've commited plenty of acts of sin that I wish I could have hidden from God, but I know that is impossible. Are you telling me that I can hide sins from God?

George,

There are days where I think you are playing games, because no matter how many people say the same thing - you read something else.  Please show me where I said there was NO efficacy in General Confession and Absolution?  You have inferred it now multiple times - of multiple posters.

Yet it has not been said, something else has been clearly said.

I would love to hear from you a best construction on your deliberately closed eyes to what is written, because for the life of me, I cannot come up with one. 

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 19, 2011, 06:10:14 PM
George,

I pointed out Braaten as one of your own because you take issue when Missourians cite folks from their own particular "circle" in trans-Lutheran arguments. 

M. Staneck

I take issue when any Lutheran invokes any old theologians as some sort of magic talisman that automatically wins all arguments. Quoting from them is one thing, throwing their name out as if everyone has memorized all of their works is quite different.

George,

There are days where I think you are playing games, because no matter how many people say the same thing - you read something else.  Please show me where I said there was NO efficacy in General Confession and Absolution?  You have inferred it now multiple times - of multiple posters.

Yet it has not been said, something else has been clearly said.

I would love to hear from you a best construction on your deliberately closed eyes to what is written, because for the life of me, I cannot come up with one. 



I'm not playing games. I'm asking why X is better than Y, and the answer seems to be variations on simply "X is good" or else "X is better than Y because it is better".

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 19, 2011, 06:43:30 PM
" they are only ll kinds of people in the world".....ll kinds of people, who are they?  those who understand Roman numerals and those who don't......ok, now what about the other 9?......nine, what u talkin' about, I clearly said ll....I know what you said and so I asked after you gave ll, what were the other nine.......simple enough question, please just answer it......I did, how many times can I say ll and you still not get it?......ok, ok, this must be like the Trinity, how does l+l+l =l..............
and so it goes, another day on LFO.....almost makes me want to see whats happenin' in ubercyberlutheranofstephenthesteadfast
Have a blessed Saturday evening everyone
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Revbert on February 19, 2011, 06:54:47 PM
I hope this helps, George.

It does, a little. It reinforces that Private Confession and Absolution is a good Christian therapy that makes the person doing the confession feel good. And, the absence of any scriptural reference to private versus public confession implies that there is no scriptural teaching on Private Confession and Absolution being any more effective than Public Confession and Absolution.

Or are you saying that if I were to experience private confession and absolution first hand, I would feel more forgiven than I would feel after being entirely forgiven? Wouldn't it mean that I didn't have faith if I thought that being declared entirely forgiven publicly didn't really count?

Or does it mean that when I think of the sins I am most troubled by during the public confession, I don't really believe that God knows what I'm thinking, so I have to speak them aloud to a pastor? Doesn't that also imply that I don't have faith that God hears silent, mental prayers?

I am not arguing that a Christian shouldn't partake of Private Confession and Absolution if he wants to. I'm just attempting to understand if it is a scriptural requirement or adiaphora.


George,

I don't recall an example of corporate confession and absolution in the Gospels. In every case I can recall, Christ says to an individual that the individual's sins are forgiven.

Therefore, the model of corporate confession and absolution is the non-Scriptural one.

Wait...I can think of one, and only one, example of corporate absolution, and that came without confession...the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Art
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on February 19, 2011, 06:55:00 PM
George...  It's not "theological," but I offer this analogy for you:

You are sick...  You go to the doctor, who proscribes a general anti-biotic for you to take for an infection.  You take that anti-biotic which treats your whole body and the infection gets better.  (I know, Dave, this is an imprecise definition of what an anti-biotic actually does...)  Point is, that you are treating the "whole" body when you take such a treatment, even the parts that are not directly influenced by the infection.  That is like the "General Absolution."  It treats the whole, the parts that we know are sick as well as the parts that we are not fully aware of.  Luther says, in his teaching on Confession, that we are to confess the entirety of our guilt before God, the sins of which we know and the sins that we are not even aware of, as we do in the Lord's Prayer.

You are sick...  You go to the doctor, who says that in order to treat the infection he/she must lance an infection to drain the wound.  Without direct treatment the wound will fester and you will grow sicker.  You say you want an antibiotic, the doctor tells you that it can't hurt but that the wound will only worsen witout direct treatment.  This is like "Individual Confession."  The doctor treats the whole but is able to apply the treatment and balm directly to the affected area.  Sometimes it hurts.  But taking a broad-based antibiotic only can take you so far.  It's like taking an aspirin for a broken arm; yeah, it dulls the pain, but your arm needs direct treatment.

That's part of the difference between Corporate and Individual Confession.  And, in an ironic twist, I know of at least one Pastor who has decided to refrain from using General/Corporate Confession on a regular basis because people may have become somewhat "antibiotic resistant" from overuse and meanigless use of the Corporate Rite that has left people more convinced of their self-righteousness rather than less.  He maintains that Confession only has real meaning when an actual sin in addressed, and I think he's got something.

The Corporate and Individual Confessional Rites are meant to compliment each other and even help the penitent to seek Individual Confession and Absolution because they have become aware of their specific injury through the Corporate Rite.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 19, 2011, 07:58:42 PM

George,
I don't recall an example of corporate confession and absolution in the Gospels. In every case I can recall, Christ says to an individual that the individual's sins are forgiven.
Therefore, the model of corporate confession and absolution is the non-Scriptural one.
Wait...I can think of one, and only one, example of corporate absolution, and that came without confession...the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Art

What say you about the thief on the cross alongside Jesus......private confession and absolution.
Pax
Bob
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau14 on February 19, 2011, 08:15:36 PM
We may not have a direct "thou shalt have private confession and absolution" from the Lord but we do have am example of it in sacred Scripture, see II Samuel 12 where David confesses his sin "privately" to his pastor, the Prophet Nathan.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 19, 2011, 09:18:38 PM
I love that account.  Especially when we remember that the Lord didn't just put away his sin; he laid it on his son - on the Son of David.  "The Lord also has put away your sin.  YOU will not die." (and did David's heart catch even then?) "Nevertheless...the child born to you shall die."  Little Son of David dying the death for David's sins - a little prophesy of the BIG Son of David, dying the death for David's sins.  How often we forget that forgiveness is free to us, but costly to the Son of David!
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 19, 2011, 11:00:49 PM
I need to understand more clearly, in light of the threads topic, your quote from Hebrew Scripture. Confession and Absolution apart from the Cross?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau14 on February 19, 2011, 11:48:40 PM
No, Bob, I quote from LXX scripture.  Seriously, I quote scripture, which Luther (being an OT prof) found Christ everywhere just as Fr. Weedon did with the text.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 20, 2011, 11:04:58 PM
Help me out Matthew a little more...did not Luther refer to the hebrew Scriptures as "Scripture" and the NT as "Gospel".....seems I just read that in a book "Luther's Theology" by some obsecure Lutheran theologian.
And while I do not doubt that fr Luther saw Christ in Scripture...the whole Song of Songs...well, its not really about Christ and the Church....or is it?
So while reading back into the text, may be a way to read Scripture, it is not exclusive..so my question still stands.
Confession and Absolution without or aside from the Cross?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 20, 2011, 11:49:12 PM
Help me out Matthew a little more...did not Luther refer to the hebrew Scriptures as "Scripture" and the NT as "Gospel".....seems I just read that in a book "Luther's Theology" by some obsecure Lutheran theologian.
And while I do not doubt that fr Luther saw Christ in Scripture...the whole Song of Songs...well, its not really about Christ and the Church....or is it?
So while reading back into the text, may be a way to read Scripture, it is not exclusive..so my question still stands.
Confession and Absolution without or aside from the Cross?

Song of Songs?  Sure - just like Eph 5:21-25ish.....

As to C&A in the Old Testament - please look into what the tabernacle and temple were for... and specifically Solomon's words at the dedication of temple.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau on February 21, 2011, 12:13:22 AM
Ina history of the Wisconsin Synod private confession became a matter of controversy.  It was the norm in certain areas of Germany but not in others so when both traditions came together in a congregation it became an issue.  grabau
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 21, 2011, 12:56:14 AM
Ina history of the Wisconsin Synod private confession became a matter of controversy.  It was the norm in certain areas of Germany but not in others so when both traditions came together in a congregation it became an issue.  grabau

But at one time, I think, it was the norm in all areas of Germany, but had fallen into disuse.  Much like Lutheran hymns have today.  (Sorry, wrong thread.)
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 21, 2011, 09:58:02 AM
My question isn't about whether there was a practice of C&A evident in the OT, but rather IF there was C&A why then the Cross? God clearly responded to the sins of His Chosen People through their confession and forgave........always after repentance and penance.........but it was not sufficient......He became Incarnate and took all the sins upon Himself on the Cross......Thereafter and forever, until the Second Coming..the Cross is what Confession and Absolution stands upon.
Am I making any headway?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 21, 2011, 11:33:03 AM
My question isn't about whether there was a practice of C&A evident in the OT, but rather IF there was C&A why then the Cross? God clearly responded to the sins of His Chosen People through their confession and forgave........always after repentance and penance.........but it was not sufficient......He became Incarnate and took all the sins upon Himself on the Cross......Thereafter and forever, until the Second Coming..the Cross is what Confession and Absolution stands upon.
Am I making any headway?

Bob,

If you don't really understand the relationship to Old Testament absolution and the cross, you really shouldn't be in the pulpit.   This is freshman level theology stuff.....  (and the use of penance really shows you don't grasp it) I really am not joking on this one. It is that critical to understanding Law and Gospel in the New Testament.


Simply put, any absolution in the Old Testament is still based on the sacrifice of Jesus as the atoning factor.  Not penance (look carefully at the sacrificial system - it is not penitential), not the sacrificial system which pointed to Christ as the permanent solution.  Do a word study on cHesed, read the Book of Hebrews, read the prophets and why penance was exactly what God didn't want.  You can go through all the movements, say the right things, be an expert expositor, and liturgist, and it is of no avail unless grasp the mercy of God.  It has and always will be about the Messiah being our (as in all of humanity) deliverer, tat is why Paul will contrast work of Adam and Christ in Romans.  It is why Acts is so based in the discourse of the gospel being the light to the gentiles. 

The Jews weren't the chosen people because they had absolution (others had it as well!) They were chosen to be the pople through whom the Christ would come, and provide absolution to all who trust in Him.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 21, 2011, 11:49:17 AM
Your reply is unwarranted and highly insulting. An attempt is offered to engage in dialogue about C&A and its understanding in the OT and NT. Your response about whether I should be "in the pulpit" is offensive, not only to me but the people of God who I have been called to serve!
I think it is you who "don't get it"......this is about engagement with others on a forum for the sake of discussion and perhaps even learning.
I get this bro......Its about the Cross.....its about the Incarnation...it is about Resurrection!
So back off with the insults......if you can't engage with mutual respect for a fellow sinner/saint......perhaps you can use your left hand to take a swipe at me. Standing before you, my cheek is now turned. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau14 on February 21, 2011, 12:34:41 PM
Bob,

First off, you would do well if you read Luther for himself instead of reading books about Luther.

Second, I would encourage you to go to your library and read through volume 35 of the American Edition esp. pg. 235 and following (Prefaces to Old Testament).

Here is one tidbit to whet your appetite:

If you would interpret well and confidently, set Christ before you, for he is the man to whom it all applies, every bit of it.  Make the high priest Aaron, then to be nobody but Christ alone, as does the Epistle to the Hebrews (5:4-5), which is sufficient, all by itself, to interpret all the figures of Moses.  Likewise, as the same epistle announces (Hebrews 9-10), it is certain that Christ himself is the sacrifice--indeed even the altar (Hebrews 13:10)--who sacrificed himself with his own blood....Christ by his own sacrifice and blood, has taken away the true sin, that which in its very nature is sin.  He has gone in once for all through the curtain to God to make atonement for us (Heb 9:12).  Thus you should apply to Christ personally, and to no one esle all that is written about the high priest."  (AE 35:247-248)

or this one:  "The Psalter ought to be a precious and beloved book, if for no other reaon than this: it promises Christ's death and resurrection so clearly--and pictures his kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom--that it might well be called a little Bible. "(p. 254)


J&S,

Part of Bob's problem, I believe, is the education that he is receiving which is almost Marcion like in its attempt to describe everything in the OT as Law so to avoid the necessary study of actually seein the Christ, the second person of trinity throughtout the OT.   Once upon a time we had a thread called "differing interpretations of scripture" or something to that effect.  Bob's comments are perfectly in line with the posioned fruit of higher criticism.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Pr. Luke Zimmerman on February 21, 2011, 12:55:04 PM
My question isn't about whether there was a practice of C&A evident in the OT, but rather IF there was C&A why then the Cross? God clearly responded to the sins of His Chosen People through their confession and forgave........always after repentance and penance.........but it was not sufficient......He became Incarnate and took all the sins upon Himself on the Cross......Thereafter and forever, until the Second Coming..the Cross is what Confession and Absolution stands upon.
Am I making any headway?

Vicar Bob:

I think I understand what you're getting at. When we view time linearly and sequentially (which is what we humans bound by time do), it would seem that the sacrifices of the OT were not sufficient to bring salvation. That is true in part. In and of themselves, a lamb, goat, turtledoves, etc. cannot bring redemption. That is done through the sacrificial work of atonement that the Incarnate Word of God brings.

However, the OT sacrifices were sufficient in their time because they appropriate the merits of Christ's death and resurrection. The cosmic event of the death and resurrection of God shouldn't be seen in a linear way. What Christ would accomplish is known before it even happens, as St. Peter testifies:
"And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God." ~1Pet 1:17-21

We also confess what is proclaimed in the Book of Revelation:
"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." ~Rev 13:8

And with joy, we also know that what awaits all believers has been eternally known by the Father:
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....'" ~Matt 25:31-34


What Christ achieves in His death and resurrection has eternal consequences. His merits are not bound by time--past or future. The Father's recognition of what His Son accomplishes is not bound by time, either. Rather, Christ's sacrifice is seen, known, and considered by God the Father before it happens, as it happens, and after it happens. Christ's actions fulfill the OT sacrifices: in the Father's eyes, they are complete because of what Christ accomplishes. So even OT Confession and Absolution actually is based upon Christ's sacrifice.

Now, as for why the NT believers do not slay animals or offer grain on altars, that is explained well in the Book of Hebrews. But the main point is that what the OT sacrifices looked toward--and which gave them their power or validity--has taken place. The OT sacrifices are futile now, as St. Peter said in the quoted text above. As we stand in linear time, to offer sacrifices now would make no sense, since Christ's death and resurrection have occurred. And continuing in OT sacrifices would be a rejection of what we know has taken place, a rejection of what the Lord God has provided for us.

FWIW, that's how I understand things. Someone more profound than I can help this along or add to it.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 21, 2011, 01:15:53 PM
Your reply is unwarranted and highly insulting. An attempt is offered to engage in dialogue about C&A and its understanding in the OT and NT. Your response about whether I should be "in the pulpit" is offensive, not only to me but the people of God who I have been called to serve!
I think it is you who "don't get it"......this is about engagement with others on a forum for the sake of discussion and perhaps even learning.
I get this bro......Its about the Cross.....its about the Incarnation...it is about Resurrection!
So back off with the insults......if you can't engage with mutual respect for a fellow sinner/saint......perhaps you can use your left hand to take a swipe at me. Standing before you, my cheek is now turned. 

Bob,
Calm down - it was not meant to insult - it is simply the truth- this doctrine is too critical to overlook.  It is core to our fatih... it is the article of Justification.

The core doctrine is justification - and you are showing a major lack in understanding it, by the question you ask.  When I moved from my non-denom into the LCMS - there was a period where I HAD to step back and grasp the difference, and the necessity of understanding the doctrine of justification.  Did it mean I couldn't preach techinically?  DId it mean people didn't want me in the pulpit?  No.  It meant for the sake of the gospel ad not leading people astray I needed to step back.

Does it mean you won't return there?  No - but get through your head - it is all about Christ - and that the OT points to and depends on His atonement as the New Testament does.  Until you get that - there is a major gap - that is dangerous to your people.  This is where eschatology gets screwed up - it is where works righteousness sneaks in and is called penance., its wear you will end up with people who think they are condemned, rather than forgiven. BY the way - it is the very thing Priscilla and her husband corrected Apollos on - and he became an evangelist greater than they.

There are certain things one has t understand, before one gets into the pulpit - this is one.  Get it straight - for the sake of your people - please!

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 21, 2011, 01:32:54 PM
Matthew, if I read only Luthers writings, I would have a very poor understanding of Jews. If I read only Luther's early writtings and not his mid and latter writings, where would I be?
Your description of my theological education as being modeled and formed by a heretic.....how do you expect me to repond to such ignorance and arrogance...wait, I know, after J&S takes the swipe with his left hand.....I stand before you Matthew. here is my coat and cloak as well.....I also see we'll be traveling together for several miles........come on Matthew, the road is made straight by the Way of the Cross
I NEVER said that there was a god of the OT who differs from God as revealed in the NT....your leap is w/o merit.
As to the proper distinction between Law and Gospel......we have a a couple of thousand of years of discernment, debate, re-finement, engagement and dialogue. We will continue to have same until the Second Coming I fear, when all things will be made clear in front of The Throne of the Lamb. 
Frankly, I am saddened by both your and J&S responses.....they sure haven't been helpful for me.....who BTW has been deemed "competent" in Theological studies......that doesn't mean I done with learning....are you?
As I was about to post, I read Pr Zimmermans contribution.....THANKYOU!! Thank you for the thoughtfulness of your reply, the examples cited and the spirit in which you responded. I am grateful.  I pose then, what about the Lord speaking that He no longer desires burnt offering.....? Why, becasue He is to become Incarnate and it is upon the Cross He will ascend only to rise in 3. Salvation history is indeed complex and yet so very simple.......John 3:16. Thanks again Pastor.
Now I undersatnd you better J&S, you your faith was developed in a non-denominational tradition...that explains it! Thankfully I got my start in the RCC. Then God graced me yet again and I was embraced by the Lutheran Tradition. I stand under Christ, the real and true article of faith...justification is His way of showing us He loves us, unworthy as we are and inspite of works apart from faith.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau14 on February 21, 2011, 01:51:28 PM
Seriously Bob, just read Luther.

The scriptures are the scriptures regardless of them being OT or NT and they are all about Jesus.  See John 5:39 "Search the Scriptures, for it is they that bear witness to me."  (Scripture=OT).  See also St. Paul's directive to read the scriptures in I Timothy 4:13 or in Romans 1:2 where Paul promises that the Gospel is found in the scriptures.  The OT belongs solely to the Christian because it bears witness to the Christ who is the Word that authored it.

And as to my comments about your education, well it is based on some of your past comments esp. when you refer to the Holy Spirit as a "she".  You would do well to actually read some Luther instead of giving me some tired line about Luther and his comments about the Jews (which is a small fraction of what he wrote).
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 21, 2011, 02:46:37 PM
Seriously Bob, just read Luther.
Seriously Matthew, i will continue to do so, but not limit my readings to the Reformer
The OT belongs solely to the Christian because it bears witness to the Christ who is the Word that authored it.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy
And as to my comments about your education, well it is based on some of your past comments esp. when you refer to the Holy Spirit as a "she". 
Now there's taking a broadbrush to my theological education thus far, and coming up deficient
You would do well to actually read some Luther instead of giving me some tired line about Luther and his comments about the Jews (which is a small fraction of what he wrote).
I see Matthew, there are parts of Luther to be discarded, others read with a lens of history and yet others that are rose colored? Ok, so his looking at the Turks (Moslems) as ok conquerors is what? Then there is that messy divorce thingy, the whole peasants war...the inserting "alone" in Holy Scripture.
I get Luther, God used him in spite of his sinfulness, you and me as well....as to the breath of God..well,
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau14 on February 21, 2011, 03:15:53 PM
I challenge you to read the section I offered (AE 35: 235 ff) or for that matter any other writing of Luther.  You seem to obesse over Luther's outlandish statements yet I wonder if you have actually read those statements (and the context they were given) or have you just read books about them or perhaps just go by what your prof said about them?

Did you see the words from our Lord concerning scripture or how St. Paul calls the scriptures the Gospel?  Did you just ignore them.

Good day to you, Bob.  Now back to my snow day.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: pr dtp on February 21, 2011, 04:46:05 PM

Now I undersatnd you better J&S, you your faith was developed in a non-denominational tradition...that explains it! Thankfully I got my start in the RCC. Then God graced me yet again and I was embraced by the Lutheran Tradition. I stand under Christ, the real and true article of faith...justification is His way of showing us He loves us, unworthy as we are and inspite of works apart from faith.

Bob,

No - I grew up in Rome as well, schooled by some pretty incredible folk.  I went non-denom and was trained there. 

But you are asking questions about absolution that are as basic to our faith as it gets.  You are dividing the Old Testament form of confession and absolution from Christ - which basically denies the article of justification is present in the Old Testament.  No Catholic scholar I know of would make such a claim.  That's the point.  Not getting this leads into all sorts of possible heresies - such as dispensationalism, and a reduction in the sacraments to being works of man that enable grace, as opposed to works of God.  It denies the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice, once and for all. It creates two economies, one saved by works and one saved by Christ.  It just isn't so.

This isn't little stuff, like sinigng a modern Agnus Dei.  This is the core of our faith, the reason we can be called children of God. 

I plead with you - back away a little - spend time struggling with this.  For the people's sake.




Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 21, 2011, 09:48:37 PM
I challenge you to read the section I offered (AE 35: 235 ff) or for that matter any other writing of Luther.  You seem to obesse over Luther's outlandish statements yet I wonder if you have actually read those statements (and the context they were given) or have you just read books about them or perhaps just go by what your prof said about them?

For a 34 year old, you have a lot to say Matthew.....can't wait till you have the experience of another 23 years under your belt. Chronological age has little to do with maturity and civility in dialogue. Experience in life does help I have found. I'm stillmastering it though.Being 'steadfast" is a good thing...I suppose, provided one is on a sound foundation. I'm settled upon a very sure foundation and have faith in the Lord, in spite of my considerable shortcomings. hence Confession and absolution
As to issueing challenges, i'll see yours and up you. Did not Luther insert 'alone" into Scripture under the guise that it translated better in German? Did not the good friar lament that after he saw the carnage in the aftermath of the Peasants War that he had erred ? Did he not cast the Jews in the most negative light, after he realized that there would be no mass conversion? Did he not state that he would rather live under Moslem rule then that of "others"?Are these not true statements, which can be read and commented upon by others? How many prof's did you take at their word Matthew? Come down off your perch and experience the cheap seats

Did you see the words from our Lord concerning scripture or how St. Paul calls the scriptures the Gospel?  Did you just ignore them.
Save yourself for your confirmation class pastor. Your delivery may work with them, but then you'llloose them too

Good day to you, Bob.  Now back to my snow day.
And a very good evening to you Matthew, there is a strong wind blowing from the mid-west and it is dumping on us here in the east. It too shall pass and melt away...much like words
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Erma S. Wolf on February 22, 2011, 12:44:10 AM
   Bob, I would recommend that you read Canon and Creed by Robert Jenson.  There is an excellent discussion on how the Old Testament is the Church's Scripture, not because the Church adopted the Old Testament but because the Old Testament adopts the Church.  I think you would find it helpful. 

   And, please, read Luther, esp. the volumes being recommended here.  No one here is suggesting a "whitewash" job of Luther's many faults and sins; but do not make the mistake of seeing only his failings and refusing to recognize Christ in him and in many (not all) of his writings. 

    We are beggars, Bob.  All of us.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 22, 2011, 09:35:28 AM
Dear Erma, I thank you for contributing to the thus far limited discussion. Somewhere along the path, the posting got de-railed when I commented on the OT verses cited by two other pastors. It was an honest and sincere observation on my part to query if there is/was a distinction between confession and absolution in the OT and that in the NT.  I held up the Cross as the determining difference. As a Lutheran I have come to understand the centrality of the Cross. To my amasement, the following posts became insulting to me, questioned the very ministry in which I am engaged and that my theological studies thus far were received under heritics.
I have no idea how my comments and inquiry could result in such commentary...I was honestly stunned.
As to me citing the flaws of Luther, so what? They are well known. The ELCA several years ago acknowledged same and publically confessed them and asked for forgiveness. I am not sure how "whitewash" comes into the discussion.
I am not a follower of Luther, I am a child of God, redeemed by the Cross. I am "informed" by the sainted Martin Luther and give thanksgiving for what God choose to accomplish through his witness.
Again thanks for your comments and suggestion Erma. Now its off to pericope.....
Blessings
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau on February 22, 2011, 10:42:02 AM
Muslims would issue a fatwa on anyone who took issue with anything Mohammed  did or said.  grabau
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 22, 2011, 10:45:25 AM
Dear Erma, I thank you for contributing to the thus far limited discussion. Somewhere along the path, the posting got de-railed when I commented on the OT verses cited by two other pastors. It was an honest and sincere observation on my part to query if there is/was a distinction between confession and absolution in the OT and that in the NT.  I held up the Cross as the determining difference. As a Lutheran I have come to understand the centrality of the Cross. To my amasement, the following posts became insulting to me, questioned the very ministry in which I am engaged and that my theological studies thus far were received under heritics.
I have no idea how my comments and inquiry could result in such commentary...I was honestly stunned.

Welcome to my world (on this forum).
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 22, 2011, 11:45:52 AM
While I am most appreciative of your Biblical scholarship Brian, there are things that would make us unlikely kindred spirits....just goes to prove once again, that God works in mysterious and unsuspecting ways Brother. When 2 or more walk alongside eachother on a journey we may be surprised Who joins us along The Way.
I think we may be back on track, so I'll take another stab at the subject matter at hand.
The difference between " I declare to you the entire forgiveness of your sins +" and "I absolve you of all your sins +" This of course acknowledges from jump street the first may be used by the non-ordained, the second one for those called to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. And in the case of the latter, can one be "licensed" to absolve as it is not uncommon for one to be "licensed" to Preside at the Lord's Supper.
For the record, once again......I have declined "licensing".....save for Holy Baptism, as it has been acknowledged as a charism of a deacon (in at least the largest Tradition within the OHCA Church)
Pax,
The PiTe

Nevermind the distinction question....as I recall we have already been through it
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: racin_jason on February 24, 2011, 05:12:57 PM
So in what way is private confession and absolution a natural byproduct of the New Testament, and to what extent is it a creation of The Church?

What can be said of a faithful, lifelong Christian who has never experienced private confession?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 24, 2011, 05:36:23 PM
The Lutheran Symbols readily grant that private confession is a churchly custom and not a divine mandate: 

The Gloss admits that Confession is of human right only.  Nevertheless, because of the great benefit of Absolution, and because it is otherwise useful to the conscience, Confession is retained among us.  (AC XXV:12,13)

Yet they do not hesitate to say that it would be wicked to remove private absolution from the church (Ap XII:3); that anyone who despise private Absolution, does not understand what the forgiveness of sins is, nor the Power of the Keys (Ap XX:4); that though it is voluntary in our churches and never forced upon people (LC Exhortation 1), it is certain that those who despise it and proudly continue without it (understanding, after they have been instructed regarding its great benefits and blessings) are not Christians (!) (LC Exhortation 29).   Luther can even boldly summarize it like this:  "When I urge you to go to Confession, I am doing nothing else than urging you to be a Christian.  If I have brought you to the point of being a Christian, I have thereby also brought you to Confession." (LC Exhortation 32).

Since we face a catechetical crisis in which our people do not know the blessings or benefits of private absolution and the joyous consolation God would give them through it, the harsh statements in our Symbols should move us as pastors and teachers to proclaim more ardently to the people the comfort of this treasure so that, as the Exhortation puts it, the people will come to us and compel us to absolve them.  We are facing generations, though, of hyper-protestantized folk who simply see the private absolution as rather worthless.  They have been taught to regard the absolution as a piece of information which they already possess and don't see the need to tell a pastor what they can tell God privately only to have the pastor give them that piece of information they already have.  We need to help them understand that the absolution isn't information; it is a performative word that accomplishes exactly what it says.  Through it God actually breaks the shackles of sin and releases a person from them.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on February 24, 2011, 05:41:48 PM
...
What can be said of a faithful, lifelong Christian who has never experienced private confession?

Good question, and I provide LC - "to sum it up we want to have nothing to do with coercion, however, if someone does not follow ... our preaching ... we will have nothing to do with him, nor may he have any share in the Gospel. ... when I therefore urge you to go to confession, I am doing nothing else than urging you to be a Christian.

...If you want to despise it and proudly continue without confession, then we must draw the conclusion that you are no Christian."


I see it as a failing in teaching, and would provide my experience with those who have never experienced private confession, who suddenly understanding, find its blessings.

Our people, by and large, see public confession as meeting this need, but they know it is but a poor substitute for a thirst they have. It is as if they are living on dirty water, thirsting for a sweet wine, that they do not know exists. When I teach it, I find that as the LC says, "they run to us more often than we like, ... "compelling us" Tasted, simple water suffices no longer, except in times of great thirst, and then has the taste of something less.

When that member that has been in the Church for 70 years without private confession, and learns of its blessings, they usually tell me, "Why didn't any one ever tell me this!!! I want someone to pay for that!!! They denied me Christ!!!

So playing with the nuance of compulsion and despising, while it might provide a distinction, does nothing to repay the robbery the church has wrought on the poor sinner. At least IMHO. We have an obligation to teach and show these blessings. If we don't, we fail our call as a church, and as pastors. And it might be asked of us, "What can be said of a faithful, lifelong congregation and pastor who has never encouraged private confession?"

TV
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 24, 2011, 05:46:37 PM
Another thought:  think of forgiveness to the soul as air to the body.  You cannot possess it; you can always receive it - and thereby live. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Dave Benke on February 24, 2011, 06:00:40 PM
Just received an email from Will Schumacher of St. Louis Sem as the lead guy in a seminary team with sermons, etc. for Lent.  Note to Will - a little tardy.  However, it's a series on the Lutheran Sacraments:  Confession/Absolution, Baptism, the Lord's Supper.  How about that?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Jay on February 24, 2011, 07:32:07 PM
So in what way is private confession and absolution a natural byproduct of the New Testament, and to what extent is it a creation of The Church?

What can be said of a faithful, lifelong Christian who has never experienced private confession?

I experienced it for the first time on Monday thanks to the STS.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 24, 2011, 08:43:22 PM
Pr. Denne, would you care to share the impressions of your first experience with PC&A so that others might, perhaps, be encouraged by them? 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 25, 2011, 01:02:51 AM
All of my life I have trusted with faith that when the pastors said to the entire congregation, "As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", my sins had been entirely forgiven. I never doubted that. I never once thought that my sins were still piled on me and hadn't been removed through the Order for Public Confession.

Now, after 59 years, some of you have given me doubts about God's gift of Grace.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Jay on February 25, 2011, 08:51:02 AM
Pr. Denne, would you care to share the impressions of your first experience with PC&A so that others might, perhaps, be encouraged by them? 

I have a couple of observations -

- Following the confession, the LBW's rite for PC&A allows for "pastoral conversation, admonition, and comfort from the Holy Scriptures."  I was given wise counsel and insight with regard to a problem I've had for some time, and obviously that doesn't occur during corporate confession. 
- The words of Psalm 51 didn't just roll off my tongue without much thought given to their meaning, which unfortunately happens to me frequently when I recite them during the liturgy.  When I had just finished speaking about specific sins in my life, I was forced to confront the meaning of those words. 

   

 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on February 25, 2011, 09:48:25 AM
All of my life I have trusted with faith that when the pastors said to the entire congregation, "As a caled and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", my sins had been entirely forgiven. I never doubted that. I never once thought that my sins were still piled on me and hadn't been removed through the Order for Public Confession.

Now, after 59 years, some of you have given me doubts about God's gift of Grace.



A couple of points, George, not to undermine what you are saying, but perhaps to flesh out some of the relevant points:

-You should have confidence in the Absolution that the Pastor gives.  Yet it is interesting how you have used that Absolution as a bulwark against the very idea of personally exploring Individual Confession.  (FWIW, I eschew the notion of "private" confession, since as a Pastor of the Church "private" is a tricky notion since the words I speak are not mine, personally, but those in the place of God and the whole Church...  Instead, what we are talking about is Individual Confession, and more directly to the point "Auricular Confession.")  The whole point of Corporate Confession is to identify sins and therefore to move the faithful towards fully confessing sins and personally embracing God's grace and forgiveness.

-I have encountered those who HAVE doubted the Corporate Absolution, one of whom said directly to me "But if you knew...KNEW...what I have really done, you would not say those (the Absolution) to me..."  My response was to walk this person into the Confessional and name what they had done and specifically absolve that sin (along with Pastoral counsel).  Many, many people keep some dark sin(s) burried deep and refuse to allow anyone to truly know what is going on, doubting that the Corporate Rite (which has time for "Personal examination" but no requirement to actually name those sins) actually can touch their deep hurts and guilt.

-Finally Individual Confession is a privilidge and a benefit, not a new Law.  Even among Roman Catholics, who have the rubric strongly encouraging the use of Individual, auricular Confession before recieving the Sacrament, there is no "card check" at the Altar.  If you have no need of confessing your sins, if you are content with the Corporate Absolution, then good for you.  But for those of us who are weaker in faith, who need to hear God's Word of Absolution addressed to our specific sins, then the Individual Rite should be available.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 25, 2011, 10:48:58 AM
What is the biblical basis for private confession?

Most often when the words for "confess" are used, it is more in the sense of publicly confessing our faith, e.g., "Let us confess our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed." When there is confession of sins to another person, it is usually because one has sinned against that other person, e.g., Matthew 18. While we have the clear command in 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness," there is no indication that this confession needs to be to another person; but could be directly to God.

Note: I'm not arguing against private confession. I've stated this before: I listened to many private confessions as clients went through the fourth and fifth steps of AA at an alcoholic rehab hospital. I quoted 1 John 1:9 to them. There are good reasons and benefits for hearing a personal absolution through another person; but I'm not sure that such a rite is commanded in scriptures.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 25, 2011, 10:58:44 AM
James 5:16, Pr. Stoffregen.

George, by no means doubt the efficacy of the absolution pronounced in the Divine Service.  However, I'd encourage you to explore the joyous gift of the absolution privately administered as well.  God is so rich in grace - He has numerous ways to bring us His forgiveness and love.  It's a tremendous help in the struggle against sin.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 25, 2011, 11:04:15 AM
James 5:16, Pr. Stoffregen.

George, by no means doubt the efficacy of the absolution pronounced in the Divine Service.  However, I'd encourage you to explore the joyous gift of the absolution privately administered as well.  God is so rich in grace - He has numerous ways to bring us His forgiveness and love.  It's a tremendous help in the struggle against sin.

If God's Love is infinite, as I believe it is, and God's Grace is infinite, as I believe it is, and I recieve infinite Grace out of God's infinite love through absolution as part of the Order of Public Confession, I have a difficult time believing that anything can improve or expand upon infinite. How much is infinite + 1?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 25, 2011, 11:06:54 AM
George,

That thinking would lead a baptized person never to receive the Supper OR Absolution!  God STINKS at arithmetic.  Remember? 1+1+1=1 or the great multitude that no man can number he calls 144,000.  He's beyond all our quantifications and measurements (which are always of the law, and always us trying to get control and tell him that we don't need such a heaping helping of grace!).  Rejoice:  He gives you everything and then He gives you MORE!
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 25, 2011, 12:03:50 PM
James 5:16, Pr. Stoffregen.

What is being healed by that confession? Note that the word is ἰάομαι not σῴζω in that verse, which generally relates more to physical healing. In addition the context suggests physical healing: κακοπαθέω = suffering in v. 13; ἀσθενέω = be sick in v. 14; and κάμνω = be sick in v. 15. These verses are used to support the anointing with oil of those who are sick. There was a traditional belief that sickness is caused by sin that is not completely nullified by Jesus: "See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you" (John 5:14b, However, Jesus takes a different position in John 9).

However, 5:19-20 talk about saving (σῴζω) sinners. This "saving" is not about "absolution," but ἐπιστρέφω, turning them -- converting them. In addition, this act of "saving" is not limited to the clergy, but is the responsibility of every believer to seek to bring back those who have strayed from the truth.

Thus, while the verse is about confessing sins to another; in its context, it is something different than our practice of private confession and absolution.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 25, 2011, 01:43:44 PM
The human nature is what is being healed by confession and absolution.

In our Pastoral Care Companion, the anointing comes after the opportunity for Individual Confession and Absolution and before the prayers for healing. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 25, 2011, 02:11:12 PM
How much is infinite + 1?

Infinite + 1 = Jesus

Or, as Dr. Ngael said, "He gives you the whole lot. Then He turns around and gives you more. Absurd! A mathematical impossibility. But isn't that just like Jesus!"
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 25, 2011, 02:21:03 PM
One more thing, the Large Catechism clearly does NOT limit confession and absolution to pastors:  "The origin and establishment of private confession lies in the fact that Christ Himself has placed His Absolution into the hands of His Christian people with the command that they should above one another of their sins."  (Exhortation, 14)  When I teach on the topic, I stress this point, and also that what separates the pastor's hearing of confession and granting absolution from anyone else's is only this:  the pastor has taken a solemn vow never to reveal under any circumstances what is confessed.  FWIW.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: amos on February 25, 2011, 02:39:27 PM
George - never doubt the public absolution -- no one who supports private confession does either.  It is not something one HAS to do but something that one may WANT to do for personal or private reasons.  Hearing God's forgiveness specifically directed to a personal issue can be very healing, encouraging, and refreshing.  Over the years, I have been asked on a number of occasions to hear a confession.  It each case it was about a personal troubling issues for the one asking.  In some cases they acknowledged the knew they were forgiven but just didn't "feel" like it.  Perhaps they needed to hear God's word of forgiveness directed to a specific issue that was troubling to them in order that they could now have the confidence to forgive themselves?

Brian -- "What is being healed by that confession?"

Perhaps look at it this way, what about a broken heart, or doubt, or fear, or whatever,.. Luther was a devout believer in both public and private confession and absolution for the good done to the heart to hear specific issues confessed and absolved based on the word of God.  Seeking peace, strength and confidence to hear God's word spoken directly to you about specific issues that may be troubling to you that may be -- or personally perceived to be, different than others in the congregation. In my humble opinion -- it is a gift from God --- not a denominational mandate. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 25, 2011, 02:39:50 PM
George,

That thinking would lead a baptized person never to receive the Supper OR Absolution!  God STINKS at arithmetic.  Remember? 1+1+1=1 or the great multitude that no man can number he calls 144,000.  He's beyond all our quantifications and measurements (which are always of the law, and always us trying to get control and tell him that we don't need such a heaping helping of grace!).  Rejoice:  He gives you everything and then He gives you MORE!

I'm not talking about not taking communion, or never getting absolution. I'm only saying that Absolution is Absolution, just as Holy Communion is Holy Communion. Comparing private Confession and Absolution with Public Confession and Absolution strikes me as saying that if a small piece of bread and one sip of wine is a good means of grace, then eating an entire loaf of bread and drinking an entire bottle of wine should be better.

Basically, I'm talking about the method of Confession and Absolution, and you're replying with a comparison to the frequency of Confession and Absolution.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 25, 2011, 02:46:57 PM
Dear George,

What I'm implying that it is a gift that the Lord would bless you through; nothing more, nothing less.  Which is why Dr. Luther wouldn't let anyone take it from him - as he praised the strength and comfort it had been to him throughout his life.  I think if you asked anyone who has experienced both, they'd tell you that the private confession and absolution is different in experience than the public, and that both are treasures not to be taken lightly.  FWIW.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 25, 2011, 04:38:35 PM
Basically, I'm talking about the method of Confession and Absolution, and you're replying with a comparison to the frequency of Confession and Absolution.

No, an "infinite +1" inquiry, which you gave, raises a quantitative issue, not a qualitative one. To that we replied. If your inquiry has now changed to a qualitative one, that can be addressed too.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 25, 2011, 04:51:34 PM
Basically, I'm talking about the method of Confession and Absolution, and you're replying with a comparison to the frequency of Confession and Absolution.

No, an "infinite +1" inquiry, which you gave, raises a quantitative issue, not a qualitative one. To that we replied. If your inquiry has now changed to a qualitative one, that can be addressed too.

It was intended to make the point that the quality of Absolution cannot be affected by quantity. I wasn't raising the quantity issue, I was dismissing it.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 25, 2011, 05:34:46 PM
It was intended to make the point that the quality of Absolution cannot be affected by quantity.

And we agreed with you. Infinite + 1 = Jesus.  He gives it all to you and then gives you more. And keeps on giving. You get to receive more.

Hence, He gave it all to you in your baptism. But you get to receive more, and He keeps giving you more. Faith talk is gift talk. Faith receives the gifts. The opposite is "No, that's enough Jesus for me." Faith rejoices in the gifts.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 25, 2011, 06:09:16 PM
It was intended to make the point that the quality of Absolution cannot be affected by quantity.

And we agreed with you. Infinite + 1 = Jesus.  He gives it all to you and then gives you more. And keeps on giving. You get to receive more.

Hence, He gave it all to you in your baptism. But you get to receive more, and He keeps giving you more. Faith talk is gift talk. Faith receives the gifts. The opposite is "No, that's enough Jesus for me." Faith rejoices in the gifts.

You have now totally confused me. I do not disagree with what you are saying. I also cannot fathom what it has to do with the topic of this discussion.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 25, 2011, 06:20:28 PM
You have now totally confused me. I do not disagree with what you are saying. I also cannot fathom what it has to do with the topic of this discussion.

Yes, it seems so. The response is to your confusion as to what Private C&A is about. You wrote:

All of my life I have trusted with faith that when the pastors said to the entire congregation, "As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", my sins had been entirely forgiven. I never doubted that. I never once thought that my sins were still piled on me and hadn't been removed through the Order for Public Confession.

Now, after 59 years, some of you have given me doubts about God's gift of Grace.

You are confused because no one has suggested the above. Instead, we've stated that Jesus gives it all to you (You are forgiven of all your sins) and then gives you more. And keeps on giving. You get to receive more.

Faith talk is gift talk. Faith receives the gifts and says, "Thanks a lot." Like a little bird, we remain open to receive more and rejoice in the gifts which are beyond measure, i.e., infinite + 1. You can't get too much Jesus.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 25, 2011, 07:20:01 PM
George - never doubt the public absolution -- no one who supports private confession does either.  It is not something one HAS to do but something that one may WANT to do for personal or private reasons.  Hearing God's forgiveness specifically directed to a personal issue can be very healing, encouraging, and refreshing.  Over the years, I have been asked on a number of occasions to hear a confession.  It each case it was about a personal troubling issues for the one asking.  In some cases they acknowledged the knew they were forgiven but just didn't "feel" like it.  Perhaps they needed to hear God's word of forgiveness directed to a specific issue that was troubling to them in order that they could now have the confidence to forgive themselves?

Brian -- "What is being healed by that confession?"

Perhaps look at it this way, what about a broken heart, or doubt, or fear, or whatever,.. Luther was a devout believer in both public and private confession and absolution for the good done to the heart to hear specific issues confessed and absolved based on the word of God.  Seeking peace, strength and confidence to hear God's word spoken directly to you about specific issues that may be troubling to you that may be -- or personally perceived to be, different than others in the congregation. In my humble opinion -- it is a gift from God --- not a denominational mandate.  

I don't doubt that "healing" of broken hearts, troubled souls, guilty consciences, etc., is certainly part of confession and forgiveness. (I don't necessarily see that in James's comments about healing, though.) I am certain that confession and forgiveness is a necessary step in the healing of addictive behaviors. (I'm not sure that the addiction is ever healed, but recovering alcoholics have changed their behaviors in regards to drinking.)

I would go even further and state that the process in Matthew 18 and in 1 Corinthians 5 at the end of James 5 are about the healing of relationships not with God, but with fellow believers. In this case, the confession and forgiveness is not so much about our vertical relationship with God, but the horizontal one God has given us with each other.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 25, 2011, 07:40:20 PM
All of my life I have trusted with faith that when the pastors said to the entire congregation, "As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare unto you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", my sins had been entirely forgiven. I never doubted that. I never once thought that my sins were still piled on me and hadn't been removed through the Order for Public Confession.

Now, after 59 years, some of you have given me doubts about God's gift of Grace.

You are confused because no one has suggested the above. Instead, we've stated that Jesus gives it all to you (You are forgiven of all your sins) and then gives you more. And keeps on giving. You get to receive more.


I specifically refer to this early statement:

Quote
Despite it being one of sins people might think less of, one particular sin haunted me since I was 16. 


There is no need to post the rest. The point is that the person who posted it apparently didn't have enough confidence in the Order of Public Confession that he needed something more.

or

When you have named the sin that troubles you, that weighs on you, the keeps you up at night, and you have a person whom God has sent to you lay hands on your head, forgiving you that particular sin and all your sins - well, I can't even begin to describe the springtime of the soul that this brings. 

For a sin to trouble you, weigh on you, and keep you up st night because the Order of Public Confession doesn't do it for you, then that strikes me as meaning the person who committed the sin lacks confidence in the promise of forgiveness that accompanies the Order of Public Confession.

To me, that does not indicate anything lacking in the Order of Public Confession, it indicates a lack of confidence on the part of the person doing the confessing. I do not condemn such a lack of confidence. I do not condemn the use of Private Confession as a form of Christian therapy to correct the lack of confidence.

Those in particular, and other posts as well, are what lead me to note, "Now, after 59 years, some of you have given me doubts about God's gift of Grace." The more people keep hammering away at "Private Confession is God's Gift ...", the more the subtext of those arguments seem to be saying the implied but unspoken corollary "because sometimes Public Confession just doesn't work." No one has said that, but it appears to be the subtext or undercurrent laying beneath the surface.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 25, 2011, 09:47:01 PM
I think that George is correct.......Public Confession is good for venial sins, while Private Confession is good for mortal sins......one gets you out of purgatory, the other hell........
of course neither George nor anyone is saying any such thing. We do see however, when such a blessed gift falls into dis/mis-use, as it has for so long in the Lutheran
Tradition, it is difficult to re-claim.
George and many others never received the "benefits" of private confession and absolution and therefore refer to it as Christian therapy....I never thought of it that  way, then again, I was raised in a Tradition in which it was a Holy Sacrament. Lutheran's don't count it among the Sacraments, giving it a 'all can, some should, none must"
understanding.....such is our theological understanding of such matters.
I think I got a better understanding from where George is coming from when he referred to the Body and Blood of Christ as a small sip of wine and tiny bread..why not eat a whole loaf and get more Jesus... When centered upon the earthly elements we fail to acknowledge the transendance from the ordinary to the Divine. It is the Holy Mystery.
Good discussion
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 26, 2011, 01:40:30 AM

There is no need to post the rest. The point is that the person who posted it apparently didn't have enough confidence in the Order of Public Confession that he needed something more.

For a sin to trouble you, weigh on you, and keep you up st night because the Order of Public Confession doesn't do it for you, then that strikes me as meaning the person who committed the sin lacks confidence in the promise of forgiveness that accompanies the Order of Public Confession.

To me, that does not indicate anything lacking in the Order of Public Confession, it indicates a lack of confidence on the part of the person doing the confessing. I do not condemn such a lack of confidence. I do not condemn the use of Private Confession as a form of Christian therapy to correct the lack of confidence.

Those in particular, and other posts as well, are what lead me to note, "Now, after 59 years, some of you have given me doubts about God's gift of Grace." The more people keep hammering away at "Private Confession is God's Gift ...", the more the subtext of those arguments seem to be saying the implied but unspoken corollary "because sometimes Public Confession just doesn't work." No one has said that, but it appears to be the subtext or undercurrent laying beneath the surface.


Well, we could go even farther.  Why should we even need absolution at all, since in the Gospel when it is preached and read we are assured of the forgiveness of our sins.  The subtext to having absolution at all is that the preached Gospel isn't enough, or that a person who feels the need for it doubts the promises of the Gospel. 

Actually, when the general confession and absolution which is the norm for us now was introduced into the Lutheran liturgy, it was opposed by some theologians who said it suggested that the sermon which preceded it was not itself an absolution.

Private confession presupposes that faith is not so strong that it can do without the absolution spoken individually.  That is why Luther said that he retained it.  He couldn't get by without it. 

So yes, George, you and the majority of Lutherans in the United States should be asking yourself why your faith is so much stronger than Luther's was.  Actually, what we call firm faith is more often security.  That's why the Small Catechism presupposes regular individual confession preceded by self-examination.  If we were more actively engaged in the fight against sin, we would realize how desperately we need absolution spoken by name to our specific offenses instead of thinking we can do without it.

In other words, the fact that private absolution is not a normal, regular part of our church life should show us that we are not really the same church as the one that could say: "Private Confession should be retained in the churches" or "Before the pastor we should confess...those sins which we know and feel in our hearts." 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 26, 2011, 10:10:46 AM
So yes, George, you and the majority of Lutherans in the United States should be asking yourself why your faith is so much stronger than Luther's was.  Actually, what we call firm faith is more often security.  That's why the Small Catechism presupposes regular individual confession preceded by self-examination.  If we were more actively engaged in the fight against sin, we would realize how desperately we need absolution spoken by name to our specific offenses instead of thinking we can do without it.

In other words, the fact that private absolution is not a normal, regular part of our church life should show us that we are not really the same church as the one that could say: "Private Confession should be retained in the churches" or "Before the pastor we should confess...those sins which we know and feel in our hearts." 

The answer to that came to me last night as I pondered what Bob Rainis wrote: "Public Confession is good for venial sins, while Private Confession is good for mortal sins......one gets you out of purgatory, the other hell........ (edit) I was raised in a Tradition in which it was a Holy Sacrament. Lutheran's don't count it among the Sacraments". Luther was writing about a new concept, something that flew in the face of generations of people who had been taught that there were different classifications of sins, which required different degrees of confession and penance to receive absolution for. The Lutheran Faith tradition in the early 21st century is not the same Lutheran church that existed when Luther was alive. The Lutheran church today is not composed of 100% Roman Catholic converts, as it was in Luther's day. The membership today hasn't had a lifetime of being taught that only Private confession is adequate for the really big sins. We've had generations of teaching that sin was sin, and all acts of sin were as severe as could be.

So, I trust you'll excuse me for not embracing your insistence on how wonderful this ritual is that I've been taught for 59 years wasn't necessary, and that frankly sounds to me to me like it would be a terrifying ordeal. And, perhaps you can at least understand how I would regard the subtle message that no matter how much any pastor tells his congregation that Private Confession and Absolution is optional, there is always the subtext that something new like that (and to most Lutherans alive today who aren't converted Roman Catholics, that is a new thing) wouldn't be introduced if someone in the decision making chain of command didn't think we needed it.

So of course Luther, as a good pastor, knew that taking something away from the people in his folks at the time had relied on for their entire lives would not be good pastoral care. I cannot see how adding something that, despite all the reassurances in the world that it's a wonderful thing, seems like a terrifying negative experience to people who grew up being taught it was unnecessary is good pastoral care in the 21st century. 

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 26, 2011, 10:15:07 AM
George,

Why not ask those who have experienced it, if they found it to be a terrifying, negative experience?  To me, it is anything but.  A great joyous freeing experience - leaves me dripping wet in baptismal grace - and usually laughing and smiling from ear to ear.  Is the confession humiliating?  Of course!  But that in itself ends up being a great joy and suddenly you're inside:  "whoever humbles himself will be exalted." 

Lutheran confession was significantly different from Roman Confession, of course, for it removed the required listing of all sins since the last confession, and focused the experience chiefly upon the absolution itself.  
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 26, 2011, 10:27:28 AM
Again George responds in a most sincere manner and engages in faithful way his life long undertanding of PC&A.
For the record so as not to confuse or misinform, the venial sins/purgatory and mortal sins/hell was offered as an mis-illustration of what is accomplished in corporate over private confession and absolution. And while it is true there is an escalating scale which exists in the RCC and the punishment which accompanies unconfessed transgressions against God, it is important to note, I beleive, that the RCC teaches that the Sacramant of Reconcilation over that of Penance.
Restoring a right relationship with God is what heals, accompanied by the sure and certain absolution of whatever sins we have committed. He no longer hold these daily transgressions against us...the slate is wiped away and we are again in a relationship with the Lord....having turned away we now turn toward a forgiving and ever merciful God.
pax
Bob 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 26, 2011, 11:04:56 AM
George,

Why not ask those who have experienced it, if they found it to be a terrifying, negative experience?  To me, it is anything but.  A great joyous freeing experience - leaves me dripping wet in baptismal grace - and usually laughing and smiling from ear to ear.  Is the confession humiliating?  Of course!  But that in itself ends up being a great joy and suddenly you're inside:  "whoever humbles himself will be exalted." 

Lutheran confession was significantly different from Roman Confession, of course, for it removed the required listing of all sins since the last confession, and focused the experience chiefly upon the absolution itself.  

I have talked at length about Private Confession with Roman Catholic friends. Very, very few of them ever had anything positive to say about it. It wasn't just the need to compile a laundry list of sins that they mentioned.

I don't doubt that a Lutheran clergyman who is an evangelical catholic at heart would have a different perspective on private confession, a perspective shaped by his unique call, years of seminary training, and experience as a pastor than would an ordinary Lutheran pewsitter. Would you not agree that an individuals background, education, and related experiences wouldn't shape his perspectives on this issue? Or that those of us whose experiences are very, very different from yours might not see things differently?

Again George responds in a most sincere manner and engages in faithful way his life long undertanding of PC&A.
For the record so as not to confuse or misinform, the venial sins/purgatory and mortal sins/hell was offered as an mis-illustration of what is accomplished in corporate over private confession and absolution.

When discussing the overall perception of the majority of Lutheran pewsitters across the United States, which totalled a reported 8,263,347 people in the "Big Three" Lutheran church bodies as of 2009, the perception of most of those 8 million plus people is the more relevant point in this discussion. Your statement about the Roman Catholic pewsitter's perception of how private confession worked is consistent with what I've heard from every Roman Catholic pewsitter that I've ever talked about private confession with.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on February 26, 2011, 11:22:09 AM
I find it amusing how many things that grew up over time have occluded the Gospel...  And yet they are "the way we do it..."

For instance, how many Lutherans grew up knowing that "you're only supposed to 'take' Holy Communion 4 times a year."  Periodic distribution of the Sacrament became a reality on the American frontier because there was a paucity of Lutheran Pastors and so quarterly distribution of the Sacrament became something of a necessity.  But then it morphed...it became "special" to only celebrate the Sacrament four times a year, and so when Lutherans began to reclaim their right to recieve the Sacrament, in both kinds, as frequently as possible, many argued that somehow that "cheapened" the Lord's Supper and made it "less special."

Or how many Lutherans assume that "We don't do saints" simply because generation after generation of Lutheran clergy were either anti-catholic or just too darn lazy to bother with knowing who the Saints were or what a proper Lutheran veneration of the Saints might be.  God forbid, we only named the majority of our congregations after some Saint or another.  But here we sit, and I'll wager that if you asked your contemporaries, George, they would say "I have 59 years of teaching that Lutherans don't do saints..."

You were taught incorrectly.  Sorry about that, but your pastors failed to teach and practice the fullness of the Lutheran Confessions, George.  We (Pastors) are human, we all fail.  As proof of that, we have quoted the Confessions and Luther himself on the matter.  We have tried to reason with you on a variety of levels on the subject.  But for whatever reason you are obdurate on this subject.  Yes, the circumstances are quite different between Luther's day and ours.  Some to the worse, some to the better.  I personally am glad that much of the emnity that Lutherans used to have to anything "catholic" has largely dropped away.

I don't know what else to say...  I'm not judging you here, I'm just telling you the truth.  Individual Confession is thoroughly Lutheran, right down to the Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism.  Whether you accept that or not is up to you.  But I will remind you that you took umbrage with a vague and squishy confessional prayer in "Sundays and Seasons" not too far back.  If the (General) Absolution is all sufficient, why get upset about the confessional formula?

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 26, 2011, 11:25:08 AM
George,

Certainly that would influence it, I suppose.  But if you listen to the pew sitters (if you will) who have experienced it, I think you'll find the same experience described:  terror going in the first time; then finding out what a joy it was; and then it becomes a place you know can go to taste the good gifts of God alongside the other places (the Word, the Eucharist, public absolution, the conversation of the brothers) in a special manner, and they come back for it again and recommend it to others.  At least that's been the experience I've basically noted with folks who have ventured to receive it.  

We have a new hymn in our hymnal that celebrates how this work - I love it because it puts you into the prodigal son story:

Baptismal waters cover me
As I approach on bended knee;
My Father's mercy here I plead
For grievous sins of thought and deed.

I look to Christ upon the tree,
His body broken there for me;
I lay before Him all my sin,
My darkest secrets from within.  

Lord, may Your wounded hand impart
Your healing to my broken heart;
Your love alone can form in me
A heart that serves You joyfully.

From Your own mouth comes forth a word;
Your shepherd speaks, but You are heard;
Through him Your hand now stretches out,
Forgiving sins, destroying doubt.

Baptismal waters cover me;
Christ's wounded hand has set me free;
Held in my Father's strong embrace,
With joy I praise Him for His grace!
LSB 616 (by Pr. Kurt Reinhardt of the LCC)
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: racin_jason on February 26, 2011, 11:29:23 AM
It's no secret that Private Confession and Absolution has fallen out of favor with the laity in the Roman Catholic church. Is that a failure of teaching for them too?

As I reflect on this topic, I have no issue with Private Confession. What I grow tired of is the laments that we Lutherans don't do it more. It has been 18 years since I first heard this topic raised. Since then, not much movement. In that time, there has been considerable change in the church in areas of weekly communion, lay readers, and teaching on vocation. In contrast, I discern no movement on this topic, despite the steady stream voices raised in concern that we Lutherans don't do it more.  

It is silly to be "against" private confession. No one here is of that thought as far as I can see. But how urgent is this?

No doubt there is a cost to not having private confession and absolution. What remains to be seen, not to mention demonstrated, is how great that cost is.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 26, 2011, 11:35:46 AM
I think the cost is that we have largely left our people all alone in their battle against sin - what did Bonhoeffer say:  "There is no man so lonely as the man left alone with his sin."  And the consequence has been accepting either lives of despair or too often lives of hypocrisy.  But our gracious Lord has a remedy for this struggle, and one that specifically cuts to the heart of the aloneness and speaks a word of grace and pardon directly to the exposed sin - at the point of their deepest shame - and nothing so breaks the power of sin as that!  It was the ordinary manner of pastoral care in our churches and its use explains, I believe, the spiritual vitality that one can sense from those early years.  

By the way, my all time favorite absolution from the early years comes from the Saxon Herzog Heinrich tradition.  Is this gold or what?

The almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would be gracious and merciful to you. He wants to forgive you all your sins, and this because his dear Son Jesus Christ has suffered for them and died for them. In the name of that same Jesus Christ, because he has mandated me to do this, in the power of his words where he said: 'Whosoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven,' I say to you that all your sins are forgiven. They cannot hold you captive. They are altogether forgiven you as abundantly and completely as was won for you by Jesus Christ through his suffering and death, and which he commanded to be proclaimed in all the world through the Gospel, and this is now said to you, to comfort and strengthen you, as I now speak this to you in the name of the Lord Christ, for you to receive it gladly, setting your conscience at peace, as with a faith that cannot be shaken, your sins are surely forgiven you, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Go forth in peace."
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 26, 2011, 11:38:50 AM
You were taught incorrectly.  Sorry about that, but your pastors failed to teach and practice the fullness of the Lutheran Confessions, George.  We (Pastors) are human, we all fail.  As proof of that, we have quoted the Confessions and Luther himself on the matter.  We have tried to reason with you on a variety of levels on the subject.  But for whatever reason you are obdurate on this subject.  Yes, the circumstances are quite different between Luther's day and ours.  Some to the worse, some to the better.  I personally am glad that much of the emnity that Lutherans used to have to anything "catholic" has largely dropped away.

You know, everyone seems to make a whole lot more of what I've said about Private Confession than I ever said. I only said that it seems to me that such strong advocacy for an optional rite implies that the more standard, customary rite is somehow inadequate. Nothing more. That's all I'm saying here. I don't oppose the Evangelical Catholic faction of the Lutheran faith tradition attempting to drag the Protestant faction of the Lutheran faith tradition into the Evangelical Catholic camp. But if you guys are going to succeed at convincing the Protestant Lutherans to become more Evangelical Catholic, you'll have a much easier and more successful time of it by actually addressing the objections the Protestant Lutherans have instead of belittling their perceptions and understandings as errors.

If you Evangelical Catholics want to persuade the Protestant Lutherans that private confession is a good thing, beating us up about the fact that Protestant Lutherans have no history of using Private Confession and Absolution and so we're just wrong and don't know what we're talking about isn't going to accomplish that. There are very few voices in here speaking from the perspective of the Protestant Lutheran pewsitter. This isn't so much about all of you Evangelical Catholics beating up on one Protestant Lutheran pewsitter. It's more a demonstration of how out of touch the Evangelical Catholic clergy is out of touch with the Protestant Lutheran pewsitters you hope to reach. The responses to my statements of the Protestant Lutheran pewsitter point of view from the Evangelical Catholic clergy demonstrate, to me, that the Evangelical Catholic clergy knows how to mutually support each other in agreement, but that you guys are pretty clueless when it comes to pastorally persuading a Protestant Lutheran pewsitter to come around to the Evangelical Catholic perspective.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: LutherMan on February 26, 2011, 11:52:29 AM
Quote
The responses to my statements of the Protestant Lutheran pewsitter point of view from the Evangelical Catholic clergy demonstrate, to me, that the Evangelical Catholic clergy knows how to mutually support each other in agreement, but that you guys are pretty clueless when it comes to pastorally persuading a Protestant Lutheran pewsitter to come around to the Evangelical Catholic perspective.
They persuaded me, and I was brought up as a low-church pietistic protestant WELSian.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 26, 2011, 11:54:47 AM
I would submit George, that there is no such thing as a Protestant Lutheran. That the Reformation was about the restoration of what is meant to be "Evangelical- in the Roman Catholic Church. Once this is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit and justification apart from works is embraced, we will enjoy the unity which is spoken by the Lord Himself, that they all shall be one, as He and the Father are One.
Over simplified? Again- KISS....Keep it Simple Sinner/Saint....nothing is impossible for God.
We all go kicking and screaming George, don't we, to the foot of the Cross?
Pax,
Bob
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 26, 2011, 11:57:19 AM
Quote
The responses to my statements of the Protestant Lutheran pewsitter point of view from the Evangelical Catholic clergy demonstrate, to me, that the Evangelical Catholic clergy knows how to mutually support each other in agreement, but that you guys are pretty clueless when it comes to pastorally persuading a Protestant Lutheran pewsitter to come around to the Evangelical Catholic perspective.
They persuaded me, and I was brought up as a low-church pietistic protestant WELSian.

Well, I guess if one person out of 8,263,347 was convinced, that sure proves me wrong.  ::)
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on February 26, 2011, 12:20:47 PM
After everything I've been through the last two years, one of the things I have lost to a great degree is the amusement at "the game" that gets played out on this forum.   Point and counter-point, play nicely.  You have argued for blunt honesty, George, and that's what I'm giving you.  I have not "beat up" on you, I'm just telling you face-on what I know from the Lutheran Confessions and personal experience.  Nobody...not myself at least... has called you an "insufficient" Christian or Lutheran.  You, on the other hand, have implied that somehow I don't know where most "Lutherans" are.  Quite to the contrary, I assure you that I do indeed know where the majority of Lutherans come from: at least two generations of terrible catechesis (at least in the ELCA and her predecessors); a generic "protestant" identity that sees absolutely no difference in being Lutheran as opposed to Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist; a desire to be located at all costs within the American "main-line" religions and not offend; and a fervent desire to avoid admitting sin and its consequences.  "Most" Lutherans, in my experience, don't really want to admit that they are "all that bad," and certainly don't want to think of themselves as in desperate need of saving.

As to Jason's critique: Really?  Do you not find it interesting that this topic has been raised with increasing urgency over eighteen years, and at the same time in those eighteen years we have witnessed a monumental change in the ethics of our denomination?  I wonder if we had been confronting the reality of sin on a personal level, as opposed to tilting at "systemic sin" so prevalent in the "social gospel" movement, where we might be in regards to our sexual ethics.   Instead, in a striking example, we have the LGBTQ (and whatever other letters you chose to add) community confessing the sins of others rather than any personal sense of sin in the confessional rite in the "Reception to the Roster" worship out in the S-P Synod.

And yes, to the fact that Individual Confession has declined in the Roman Catholic Church is a failure of teaching and Roman Catholics will tell you that as well.  Besides which, I am (a) unconvinced that there is a dramatic decline in the use of Sacrament of Reconciliation (as it is now called), and (b) that such a decline is in fact permanent, but rather is the tail end of the mis-understanding of Vatican II.  But regardless it is a failure of teaching most surely.

And finally, let me hearen back to an earlier point I made....  I propose NO NEW LAW.  Rather Individual Confession is a gift, an oportunity.  But no one is compelled to make use of it, as sadly as I might think it is.  Just as no one is compelled to actually recieve the Sacraments, or attend worship, or listen to the sermon...  As a Pastor I offer the opportunity, that's all.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 26, 2011, 12:52:12 PM
After everything I've been through the last two years, one of the things I have lost to a great degree is the amusement at "the game" that gets played out on this forum.   Point and counter-point, play nicely.  You have argued for blunt honesty, George, and that's what I'm giving you.  I have not "beat up" on you, I'm just telling you face-on what I know from the Lutheran Confessions and personal experience.  Nobody...not myself at least... has called you an "insufficient" Christian or Lutheran.  You, on the other hand, have implied that somehow I don't know where most "Lutherans" are.  Quite to the contrary, I assure you that I do indeed know where the majority of Lutherans come from: at least two generations of terrible catechesis (at least in the ELCA and her predecessors); a generic "protestant" identity that sees absolutely no difference in being Lutheran as opposed to Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist; a desire to be located at all costs within the American "main-line" religions and not offend; and a fervent desire to avoid admitting sin and its consequences.  "Most" Lutherans, in my experience, don't really want to admit that they are "all that bad," and certainly don't want to think of themselves as in desperate need of saving.

Here's the thing. I cannot disagree with anything you have said about the current sad state of Lutheranism in the United States. I think you are quite correct about how bad the situation is. And, what you have expressed as the ultimate goal to be striven for is also impossible to argue with.

Which leaves the main point I tried to make, and the part your post ignored. You've defined the starting point of right now (Point A). You've described the ending point of where we need to be someday (Point B). So how do you propose getting from point A to point B? How do you propose undoing the bad catechesis of the past two generations? Do you favor abandoning the Protestant Lutherans and starting to grow a new crop of Evangelical Catholics? Or do you propose something that will entice, persuade, encourage, or otherwise convince Protestant Lutherans to take a long, hard look at being a Lutheran and somehow reversing the trend of at least two generations? Do you think just telling Protestant Lutherans that they should be more Evangelical Catholic like Lutherans were four or more centuries ago will accomplish anything positive?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: amos on February 26, 2011, 12:57:11 PM
George -- "The responses to my statements of the Protestant Lutheran pewsitter point of view from the Evangelical Catholic clergy demonstrate, to me, that the Evangelical Catholic clergy knows how to mutually support each other in agreement, but that you guys are pretty clueless when it comes to pastorally persuading a Protestant Lutheran pewsitter to come around to the Evangelical Catholic perspective."

Well said George, that is a pretty good reflection of some real live "thinking" Protestant Lutheran pewsitters.  I wish more pewsitters even bothered to think about the issues, in some cases that would be a major improvement.  You may be correct that some Evangelical Catholic clergy may be clueless when it comes to pastorally persuading a Protestant Lutheran pewsitter.  It is also correct  that many  Protestant Lutheran pewsitter's are clueless when it comes to understanding the whole Evangelical Catholic concept of the one Holy and catholic and Apostolic church. For example, the rejection of private confession, weekly communion, or even the outright rejection by some of vestments or the refusal of some to use the traditional liturgical service.

Absolutely no sarcastic remarks are intended here, just trying to make a point, these things have been part of the church for centuries and should not just be rejected just because it "Looks like" Roman Catholic.  

I find it interesting the older German congregations in this area predominately use the common cup but reject a chasuble, while some Swedish congregations freely use the sign of the cross as part of their worship but feel weekly communion somehow "cheapens" communion.    For many these are often signs of congregational historical customs and not theological issues for the pewsitter.  

So how do we do make that change, through education, time and good teaching in the church.  Not telling people what they MUST do but begin by educating people what they can do and WHY.  I have found many caring Lutheran lay people will at least consider the EC view IF and WHEN it is explained carefully, respectfully, and accurately.   No body will willingly accept or embrace something they do not understand or wrongly perceive.  What we have to overcome is the lose of understanding "what it means to be a Lutheran".  ie ---- it is an understanding of Holy Scripture and the Confessions and NOT the church building where I go to church.  

 

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 26, 2011, 12:58:41 PM
George,

You seem to be regarding the private confession and absolution as a symbol of evangelical catholicism; what Pr. Kliner, Pr. Kirchner, I, and others are suggesting is that it is actually a gift that God would like to give you.  It's not a symbol of a church political or theological position.  It is a personal word from God spoken to a personal confession from you, lifting the weight of sin, guilt, shame, fear.  
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: amos on February 26, 2011, 01:15:50 PM
Pastor Weedon -- well said.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 26, 2011, 01:20:49 PM
George,

You seem to be regarding the private confession and absolution as a symbol of evangelical catholicism; what Pr. Kliner, Pr. Kirchner, I, and others are suggesting is that it is actually a gift that God would like to give you.  It's not a symbol of a church political or theological position.  It is a personal word from God spoken to a personal confession from you, lifting the weight of sin, guilt, shame, fear.  

What you seem to be disregarding in my statements is that to the Protestant Lutheran pewsitter, it is a symbol of Evangelical Catholicism. That's the perception. Perception is a powerful thing. Perceptions aren't changed by simply saying, "Your perception is wrong." Just because you in the clergy know something to be so doesn't mean that the pewsitters also know to be so. This isn't so much about whether something is or isn't Evangelical Catholicism, it's whether or not you can educate the Protestant Lutheran pewsitters of what it is. You can quietly state what it is until the cows come home, but once anyone says "this is so", and the person they say it to responds, "But that doesn't make any sense to me. It goes against everything I've been taught all of my life. Why is it so?", just repeating "because this is so" 147 times times won't answer the question, "Why is this so?"
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 26, 2011, 01:29:51 PM
I don't think that's what I or the others have done, but obviously the conversation is not going anywhere.  So I'll bow out, wishing you, as always, God's richest blessings.  Pax!
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 26, 2011, 01:59:58 PM
Off now to an Ordination of a Presbyter which in no doubt  will begin at the Font, where we re-member our Baptism and be blessed by Corporate Confession and Absolution. We will praise to the Lord in song and prayer, hear The Word again for the renewal of our lives in Christ togther. We will confess our Faith in the Creed of the Church, offer the peace of Christ to all in assembly. We will re-member the Words of Institution and partake in His very True Body and Blood....and we will be sent forth.
Most will return tomorrow as sinners and hear the Word declare to us the forgiveness of our sins.
This is the OHCA Church.......and let the Church say Amen!
px
Bob
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 26, 2011, 03:27:21 PM
George, in response to your earlier response to me : Luther did not retain private absolution because people were used to it (boy, this is sounding eerily familiar.)  He kept it because he had learned that without it, the devil would have strangled him (his words).  In the large catechism he says that those who don't desire absolution--that is, private absolution, are not Christians--and he says this even though he admits that private confession is not commanded by God in Scripture.  He writes in the Large Catechism: "If I have brought you to the point that you are a Christian, I have also brought you to confession."  Christianity and private absolution are synonymous for Luther in his "Brief Exhortation to Confession" because, as he argues, Christians eagerly desire to be set free from their sins.  They are troubled by them and snatch at whatever gifts Christ would give them to convey to them the forgiveness of sins--whether baptism, preaching, reading the bible, the sacrament of the altar, or individual absolution.  The absolution as we receive it now is really one step removed from not having it at all.  Those who doubt that the forgiveness of sins proclaimed in the sermon is for them are not going to be any more comforted by the general absolution.

So what does this mean?  It means that Lutherans today, who can easily go decades without any desire for absolution spoken to them personally, lack the consciousness of sin and its power that Luther and the early Lutherans had.  Lutherans today do not hunger and thirst for the forgiveness of sins, because the Gospel is misunderstood by them as a concept about grace.  Nobody's perfect, so God deals with us apart from law by grace.  Grace has become a general principle for Lutherans.  We assume and presume grace.  Lutherans get mad when the pastor preaches too much law; really, they get mad when the pastor preaches too much.  After all, we all know the general theory of universal grace just as well as the next guy.  This also explains the contempt for the office of pastor that is so common among Lutherans.  They figure they don't really need a guy to explain to them the principle of grace.  So what real good is a pastor unless he is able to draw big crowds?

Luther had a different theology.  He saw the Gospel as an alien word, a proclamation that man cannot speak to himself--God's word from without, declaring not a theory or principle but saying "I, here and now, forgive you all your sins."  That pardon is spoken here and now, in words, through human beings.  When it is preached, then it has to be a more general proclamation.  But in absolution, it is personal.  It's not spoken to generalities we confess about sins (if it is, then it is really not different than the preaching of the Gospel.  It is spoken to specific sins.  The truth is, george, you're not just a sinner in the abstract.  You have specific, concrete sins that you know in your heart.  It is true that you know how God slew His Son for the sins of the world, and I know that you know that that means the sins of the world have been removed.  And I know that you understand the biblical teaching that the pastor's forgiveness is God's forgiveness. 

But generalities and theories are neither particularly distressing nor very comforting.  I've never had a hard time sleeping because I am by nature sinful and unclean.  Actual, concrete sins are what disturb me.  Likewise, an absolution that forgives sins in general (which easily becomes not a confession of sins but an acknowledgement that "nobody's perfect," is often not particularly comforting.  What God desires to do is take that specific man he's called to preach the Gospel to you and use his lips to say a concrete word from God, here and now in time, to your concrete sins.  "I forgive you all your sins." 

The truth is that general confession is in many ways hiding from absolution.  That is why John in his first epistle says, "If we alk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesu cleanses us from all sin."  That is followed by the passage that says if we confess our sins God will forgive them.  But reality is thst many who confess publicly say they are sinners, but they are actually denying their sins.  What they mean is "I'm not perfect, but neither am I that bad compared to some people."
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 27, 2011, 08:12:58 AM
And those sorts of statements, Karl, are what I think George is getting at and to which he rightly objects.

Gospel is turned into law. Statements that suggest that those who don't desire private confession are not really Christians, that the absolution as we receive it now is really one step removed from not having it at all, that many who confess publicly say they are sinners, but they are actually denying their sins...The idea that what George has been doing for 59 years- corporate confession/absolution- is not good enough, and to not desire to go to private confession renders one not a Christian. And the gift is lost, covered over by a bunch of pharisaic flummery!

No wonder the majority of, yes, Christians and the vast majority of Lutherans do not engage in private confession.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 27, 2011, 08:18:14 AM
And those sorts of statements, Karl, are what I think George is getting at. Gospel is turned into law. Statements that suggest that those who don't desire private confession are not really Christians, that the absolution as we receive it now is really one step removed from not having it at all, that many who confess publicly say they are sinners, but they are actually denying their sins...The idea that what George has been doing for 59 years- corporate confession/absolution- is not good enough, and to not desire to go to private confession renders one not a Christian. And the gift is lost, covered over by a bunch of pharisaic flummery!

No wonder the majority of, yes, Christians and the vast majority of Lutherans do not engage in private confession.

Thank you. You caught what I was getting at. It is one thing to expressely come out and say something point blank. But it is also possible to say things that include an obvious yet unspoken, implied subtext very clear. Your phrase "Statements that suggest" describes what I was talking about.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Sandra on February 27, 2011, 01:24:42 PM
May I make a suggestion for the pastors who wish to revive this practice among their members?  Don't worry so much about the formality of scheduling an appointment, doing it in the sanctuary, vesting or even using the rite. Just make confession and absolution a normal part of your conversation and pastoral counseling.

I do not regularly see my father confessor (there are a number of reasons this person is not the same as the pastor of the church where I am member), and have only used the rite in the hymnal for Individual Confession and Absolution once or twice. But I do regularly confess and receive absolution.

For example, in conversation with him, I may start into complaining about my son's latest antics and my worries and fears that I'm completely screwing him up with my woefully inadequate parenting. Instead of allowing me to wallow in pity parties and idolatry, he asks something like, "That sounds like a confession...is it?" And usually if it wasn't when I first said it, I quickly realize with the question that yes it is. And he absolves me.

It can even be taught as simply as saying "I forgive you," when someone says, "I'm sorry." So often we just brush off an apology with "It's OK." But it's not OK. It's forgiven.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Rev. Kevin Scheuller on February 27, 2011, 02:33:38 PM
My 2 cents as a Lutheran pastor, serving in the ELCA(admitting my "evangelical catholic" leanings):

Individual Confession and Forgiveness is found in the LBW (copyright 1978) on pages 196 & 197

and on pages 243 and 244 in the newer ELW (copyright 2006).

I suspect that the compilers of both hymnals, for better or worse, comprise the spectrum from "protestants" to "evangelical catholics," and they saw fit to include it in them.  I don't have a copy of the old SBH handy, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it there too.  As a pastor, I've had occasions to use it.  Each time, the penitent seemed to certainly benefit from the assurance of forgiveness for the specific sins they confessed.  I, myself as the penitent, benefited from it myself just this past weekend.  

I applaud what Sandra contributed.  It need not take the exact form of the pages offered in the above two hymnals.  That form is available to those who like structure.  Though it lacks a physical element attached to it (which for some is a crucial component for consideration as a sacrament) Luther suggests in his writings that confession and absolution is sacramental if not, indeed, the third sacrament for Lutherans.  


Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 27, 2011, 02:46:54 PM
And those sorts of statements, Karl, are what I think George is getting at and to which he rightly objects.

Gospel is turned into law. Statements that suggest that those who don't desire private confession are not really Christians, that the absolution as we receive it now is really one step removed from not having it at all, that many who confess publicly say they are sinners, but they are actually denying their sins...The idea that what George has been doing for 59 years- corporate confession/absolution- is not good enough, and to not desire to go to private confession renders one not a Christian. And the gift is lost, covered over by a bunch of pharisaic flummery!

No wonder the majority of, yes, Christians and the vast majority of Lutherans do not engage in private confession.

Hm.  You know that Luther wrote this, I'm assuming.  Can you tell me how what you just accused me of, "pharisaic flummery", applies to me and not to Luther? 

See, you're doing that thing again. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Mike in Pennsylvania on February 27, 2011, 03:07:32 PM
Pastor Schueller, in the SBH the order for individual confession was in the Occasional Services but not in the pew edition.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: amos on February 27, 2011, 03:13:51 PM
Statement - "The idea that what George has been doing for 59 years- corporate confession/absolution- is not good enough, and to not desire to go to private confession renders one not a Christian."  

I honestly do not believe that those who support the use of private confession ever said that or believe that.  I do not! And no way would I perceive or think that George should feel that way.  He makes a valid point.

In many cases private confession is something that is available for those who feel the need and ask for it. It is not just an EC idea.  It is not some magical rite that must be followed to somehow "prove" your Christianity. If it was -- count me out.   The fact is that it has been part of the church for centuries, and to educate others about it who may not be aware of it is not wrong.  To reject it only because we assume that it looks too Roman Catholic is also a wrong perception.    

In any human communication however, there are always two elements involved, the history, generational, cultural, family, congregational, personal world view and expectations that get involved.  Both from the sender and the receiver of the message.  Those making a statement must be aware of their own perceptions and that those perceptions may not fit or be the same as the one being spoken to. The one receiving the message must also be aware of their own personal biases and how those may affect our perception what what we think we hear.  

To me private confession is valid but not mandatory.  It is a gift from God, that can in many ways help, but it is not a "marker" to define if a person is a Christian or not.  Perceptions often get in the way of communication  -- been there and done that all to often myself.  Peace my friends.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Rev. Kevin Scheuller on February 27, 2011, 04:15:43 PM
Pastor Schueller, in the SBH the order for individual confession was in the Occasional Services but not in the pew edition.

Thank you, Mike.  May I suggest that the fact that it moved into the pew edition in the hymnal that was new in 1978 is at least an indication to "pew-sitters" that there is nothing "un-Lutheran" about individual confession and absolution?  I echo Amos' post on the subject.  I've found it to be helpful since it points people to Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of their sins, it is indeed helpful and not something Luther abandoned.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 27, 2011, 04:39:09 PM
Statement - "The idea that what George has been doing for 59 years- corporate confession/absolution- is not good enough, and to not desire to go to private confession renders one not a Christian."  

I honestly do not believe that those who support the use of private confession ever said that or believe that.

Karl would beg to differ, even suggesting that Luther would say the latter part, although Luther did not.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 27, 2011, 04:54:00 PM
Statement - "The idea that what George has been doing for 59 years- corporate confession/absolution- is not good enough, and to not desire to go to private confession renders one not a Christian."  

I honestly do not believe that those who support the use of private confession ever said that or believe that.  I do not! And no way would I perceive or think that George should feel that way.  He makes a valid point.



No, I did say that--or something kind of like it.  

Corporate confession and absolution as we have it is not what is taught in the small catechism. It's good enough in the sense that a sermon is good enough. It's plenty good.  Very good, even.  It's just not what the catechism is talking about, and as a substitute for private confession and absolution I don't think it works.  

As for whether a person is not a Christian if they don't desire private confession and absolution, I agree with Luther on this.  "Thus we teach what a wonderful, precious, and comforting thing confession is, and we urge that such a precious blessing should not be despised, especially when we consider our great need.  if you are a Christian, you need neither my compulsion nor the pope's command at any point, but [i]you will compel yourself[/i] and beg me for the privilege of sharing in it.  However, if you despise it and proudly stay away from confession, then we must come to the conclusion that you are no Christian and that you ought not receive the sacrament.  For you despise what no Christian ought to despise, and you show thereby that you can have no forgiveness of sin.   And this is asure sign that you also despise the Gospel...Therefore, when I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian.  if I bring you to this point, I have also brought you to confession.  Those who really want to be good Christians, free from their sins, and happy in their conscience, already have the true hunger and thirst.  They snatch at the bread just like a hunted hart, burning with heat and thirst, as Ps. 42:2 says, "As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God."   (Large Catechism, V. 28-29, 32-33, Tappert.)"

Now, maybe there is something that I don't know about this quote from Luther that Pastor Kirchner will teach me.  In that case, I will admit that Pastor Kirchner has corrected me, and that when he  strides though fora like a colossus, fearlessly setting people straight, he has a right to do so.  But as it stands, it seems like he is calling Luther a legalist and speaking dismissively of him when he does so of me, and I find that obnoxious.  So hopefully, Pr. Kirchner, you're going to provide me with some insight into this passage of Luther that justifies what you've written, instead of the nitpicking and quibbling you did the last time you tried to teach me my place.

I'm not saying that George is not a Christian; I'm saying that to despise private absolution is unchristian.  Sadly, because Lutherans have become unaccustomed to the practice that we are confessionally bound to teach people to value, when it is suggested that it should be our normal practice, people react negatively and don't see why they should do it.  I don't count that as "despising" confession and absolution.  It's only natural that you shouldn't accept a teaching or practice that is new to you the first time you hear about it, and if for 59 years you've been confessing with the whole congregation and were taught that that was really what ought to be normal, I would imagine that it would be very difficult to imagine doing anything different.  Also, being argued with on the internet by some guy who's not your pastor is not the same as being taught patiently by your pastor.  Maybe years from now, after teaching private confession and absolution regularly, winsomely, and patiently at my own congregation, there would be those who are not simply reacting to a change but actually despising private confession--maybe after years of teaching a pastor could safely diagnose someone as "despising" confession and therefore despising the Gospel, as Luther did.  But George isn't being taught that by his pastor, so I'm not accusing him of despising it.  He's just disagreeing with some pastors who are teaching something other than what he's been taught and been accustomed to do.

In the Missouri Synod, I have heard, the people who wrote the first constitution originally wanted to make private confession the only acceptable form  of confession within the synod, but then changed their minds because they realized that people were not ready for it.  But Walther said that every pastor needed to work diligently to bring it back and teach people to love it.  Now I wonder what his opinion would be of the fact that 164 years later we seem to have not made much progress at all.  My guess is that this is not what he had envisioned.  Nor would it be what Luther would have wanted to see the Lutheran church become.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 27, 2011, 05:06:58 PM
Pastor Schueller, in the SBH the order for individual confession was in the Occasional Services but not in the pew edition.

Thank you, Mike.  May I suggest that the fact that it moved into the pew edition in the hymnal that was new in 1978 is at least an indication to "pew-sitters" that there is nothing "un-Lutheran" about individual confession and absolution?  I echo Amos' post on the subject.  I've found it to be helpful since it points people to Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of their sins, it is indeed helpful and not something Luther abandoned.



You may suggest it, but to those in the predecessor church bodies who noticed it at the time, the people of the LCA and ALC, there was a feeling among those few who paid attention to such things that the LC-MS snuck some of "their stuff" into the hymnal before they bailed out on the project. The overwhelming majority of pewsitters probably don't know it's in there, and the inclusion of it indicates nothing at all. If you were to examine the LBW's sitting in the pew racks in most churches that still have them there, pages 196 and 197 are almost always clean and pristine.

Sometimes I wonder about the disconnect between what the clergy thinks the laity pays attention to and what the laity actually pays attention to. Sometimes I think it would be a really good thing for pastors to take a sabbatical and spend it in disguise as an ordinary, rank-and-file laymen in a congregation where no one knows them. I think they'd be amazed at how different the laity thinks and perceives things from the way things really are, and from the way that the clergy thinks that the laity thinks.

As for whether a person is not a Christian if they don't desire private confession and absolution, I agree with Luther on this.  "Thus we teach what a wonderful, precious, and comforting thing confession is, and we urge that such a precious blessing should not be despised, especially when we consider our great need.  if you are a Christian, you need neither my compulsion nor the pope's command at any point, but [i]you will compel yourself[/i] and beg me for the privilege of sharing in it.  However, if you despise it and proudly stay away from confession, then we must come to the conclusion that you are no Christian and that you ought not receive the sacrament.  For you despise what no Christian ought to despise, and you show thereby that you can have no forgiveness of sin.   And this is asure sign that you also despise the Gospel...Therefore, when I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian.  if I bring you to this point, I have also brought you to confession.  Those who really want to be good Christians, free from their sins, and happy in their conscience, already have the true hunger and thirst.  They snatch at the bread just like a hunted hart, burning with heat and thirst, as Ps. 42:2 says, "As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God."   (Large Catechism, V. 28-29, 32-33, Tappert.)"

I won't go out on a limb and say who it was that Luther was teaching back when he wrote that. But today, the "we" teaching that are seminary professors teaching future pastors. The parts about private confession are not what was been in confirmation classes in the ULCA or LCA. It was not what was taught in confirmation classes in the ELCA in the 90's. I read the confirmation lessons from front to back at the ULCA congregation I belonged to for my first year of confirmation classes, reading ahead to all of the year two subject matter. I read the different lessons at the congregation my parents transferred to at the time of my second year, which coincided with the merger to create the LCA. They used a different curriculum at that church, and I read that material cover-to-cover. In neither curriculum was private confession mentioned at all as a rite/ritual. There were oblique references to being able to talk to your pastor about things that bothered you because helping you with such things were one of the things pastors were there for, but it wasn't presented as anything similar to private confession and absolution ceremonies. I also read my daughter's confirmation curriculum when she was confirmed in the 90's in the ELCA, and it was the same.

Maybe the Concordia curricula are different from the Augsburg equivalents. I've also never heard a single mention of private confession and absolution in any sermon I can remember.

Maybe this is another one of those "you need to get out more" situations. When you members of the clergy talk amongst yourselves, I get the distinct feeling your perceptions of what your flocks think they know are very, very different from reality.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 27, 2011, 05:10:14 PM
Well, let's start by stating that I have seen no one on this board disagree with this statement:

"Thus we teach what a wonderful, precious, and comforting thing confession is..." George in particular has embraced confession/absolution and even took exception to those who would tear it from him as being somehow insufficient.

Can you tell me how what you just accused me of, "pharisaic flummery", applies to me and not to Luther?  

Because you wrote those things, not Luther. Instead, having taken Luther out of context, no, even suggesting that Luther said something that he did not, you now try to cloak yourself in Luther. That's simply more flummery and intellectual dishonesty.

Furthermore, I know Martin Luther, Martin Luther is a friend of mine, and you are no Martin Luther. Luther would not have written such a shocking response to George.

Moreover, even if Luther would have written the flummery that you have written- he did not- it is not part of the German 1580 Book of Concord to which I subscribe. So, simply claiming that Luther said something is far from a slam dunk. But, you know that, "I'm assuming."

See, you're doing that thing again.  

Nah, you do it to yourself.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau14 on February 27, 2011, 05:17:09 PM
Well, in defense of Pr. Hess, the Small Catechism has a model example of Private Confession and Absolution:
Pray, Propose to Me a Brief Form of Confession.

Answer.

You should speak to the confessor thus: Reverend and dear sir, I beseech you to hear my confession, and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God's sake.

Proceed!

I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins; especially I confess before you that I am a man-servant, a maidservant, etc. But, alas, I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them, and caused them to curse, have been negligent [in many things] and permitted damage to be done; have also been immodest in words and deeds, have quarreled with my equals, have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc. For all this I am sorry, and pray for grace; I want to do better.

A master or mistress may say thus:

In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, domestics, and wife [family] for God's glory. I have cursed, set a bad example by rude words and deeds, have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him, have overcharged and given false ware and short measure.

And whatever else he has done against God's command and his station, etc.

But if any one does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture, but mention one or two that he knows. Thus: In particular I confess that I once cursed; again, I once used improper words, I have once neglected this or that, etc. Let this suffice.

But if you know of none at all (which, however is scarcely possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon your general confession which you make before God to the confessor.

Then shall the confessor say:

God be merciful to thee and strengthen thy faith! Amen.

Furthermore:

Dost thou believe that my forgiveness is God's forgiveness?

Answer.

Yes, dear sir.

Then let him say:

As thou believest, so be it done unto thee. And by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive thee thy sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Depart in peace.

But those who have great burdens upon their consciences, or are distressed and tempted, the confessor will know how to comfort and to encourage to faith with more passages of Scripture. This is to be merely a general form of confession for the unlearned.

* These questions may not have been composed by Luther himself but reflect his teachings and were included in editions of the Small Catechism during his lifetime. 

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 27, 2011, 05:23:54 PM
And this is a defense of Karl's unhelpful, incorrect, and  inappropriate comment to George...how?

George to Karl:  “So, I trust you'll excuse me for not embracing your insistence on how wonderful this [private confession/absolution] ritual is that I've been taught for 59 years wasn't necessary…”

Karl to George:  “George, in response to your earlier response to me…In the large catechism [Luther] says that those who don't desire absolution--that is, private absolution, are not Christians… Christianity and private absolution are synonymous for Luther… The truth is that general confession is in many ways hiding from absolution…But reality is thst [sic]many who confess publicly say they are sinners, but they are actually denying their sins. ”

Karl now states:  “I'm not saying that George is not a Christian…"

Oh.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 27, 2011, 05:51:51 PM
Well, in defense of Pr. Hess, the Small Catechism has a model example of Private Confession and Absolution:
Pray, Propose to Me a Brief Form of Confession.

Answer.

You should speak to the confessor thus: Reverend and dear sir, I beseech you to hear my confession, and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God's sake.

Proceed!

I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins; especially I confess before you that I am a man-servant, a maidservant, etc. But, alas, I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them, and caused them to curse, have been negligent [in many things] and permitted damage to be done; have also been immodest in words and deeds, have quarreled with my equals, have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc. For all this I am sorry, and pray for grace; I want to do better.

A master or mistress may say thus:

In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, domestics, and wife [family] for God's glory. I have cursed, set a bad example by rude words and deeds, have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him, have overcharged and given false ware and short measure.

And whatever else he has done against God's command and his station, etc.

But if any one does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture, but mention one or two that he knows. Thus: In particular I confess that I once cursed; again, I once used improper words, I have once neglected this or that, etc. Let this suffice.

But if you know of none at all (which, however is scarcely possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon your general confession which you make before God to the confessor.

Then shall the confessor say:

God be merciful to thee and strengthen thy faith! Amen.

Furthermore:

Dost thou believe that my forgiveness is God's forgiveness?

Answer.

Yes, dear sir.

Then let him say:

As thou believest, so be it done unto thee. And by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive thee thy sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Depart in peace.

But those who have great burdens upon their consciences, or are distressed and tempted, the confessor will know how to comfort and to encourage to faith with more passages of Scripture. This is to be merely a general form of confession for the unlearned.

* These questions may not have been composed by Luther himself but reflect his teachings and were included in editions of the Small Catechism during his lifetime. 



That section of the Small Catechism was presented to us in Confirmation class as the predecessor of the Order for Public Confession that we use in regular worship, nothing more.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 27, 2011, 06:13:07 PM
Well, let's start by stating that I have seen no one on this board disagree with this statement:

"Thus we teach what a wonderful, precious, and comforting thing confession is..." George has embraced confession/absolution.

Can you tell me how what you just accused me of, "pharisaic flummery", applies to me and not to Luther?  

Because you wrote those things, not Luther. Instead, having taken Luther out of context, no, even suggesting that Luther said something that he did not, you now try to cloak yourself in Luther. That's simply more flummery and intellectual dishonesty.

Furthermore, I know Martin Luther, Martin Luther is a friend of mine, and you are no Martin Luther. Luther would not have written such a shocking response to George.

Moreover, even if Luther would have written the flummery that you have written- he did not- it is not part of the German 1580 Book of Concord to which I suscribe. So, simply claiming that Luther said something is far from a slam dunk. But, you know that, "I'm assuming."

See, you're doing that thing again.  

Nah, you do it to yourself.

No, Don, you play stupid games designed to aggrandize yourself.  It's absurd and ridiculous for you to pretend to have pastoral concern for George with the way you try to play "gotcha" with other pastors on the internet.  If I said something that went beyond the bounds, it would be simple for you to simply spit out of your mouth what it was.  I'm sure eventually you will.

Whether or not Luther's quote is in the Book of Concord is irrelevant.  The fact remains that Luther wrote it.  There was no shift to "cloaking myself in Luther"; I was quoting Luther from the beginning.  Now I have the book in front of me; before I did it from memory.  Your argument that George embraces confession and absolution is just stupid; it's clear that the quote from Luther is referring to private confession and absolution.

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 27, 2011, 06:14:18 PM
And this is a defense of Karl's unhelpful, incorrect, and  inappropriate comment to George...how?

George to Karl:  “So, I trust you'll excuse me for not embracing your insistence on how wonderful this [private confession/absolution] ritual is that I've been taught for 59 years wasn't necessary…”

Karl to George:  “George, in response to your earlier response to me…In the large catechism [Luther] says that those who don't desire absolution--that is, private absolution, are not Christians… Christianity and private absolution are synonymous for Luther… The truth is that general confession is in many ways hiding from absolution…But reality is thst [sic]many who confess publicly say they are sinners, but they are actually denying their sins. ”

Karl now states:  “I'm not saying that George is not a Christian…"

Oh.


This is the same effeminate quibbling you always pull.  Why don't you deal with what Luther actually said? 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 27, 2011, 06:16:31 PM
Well, in defense of Pr. Hess, the Small Catechism has a model example of Private Confession and Absolution:
Pray, Propose to Me a Brief Form of Confession.

Answer.

You should speak to the confessor thus: Reverend and dear sir, I beseech you to hear my confession, and to pronounce forgiveness to me for God's sake.

Proceed!

I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins; especially I confess before you that I am a man-servant, a maidservant, etc. But, alas, I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them, and caused them to curse, have been negligent [in many things] and permitted damage to be done; have also been immodest in words and deeds, have quarreled with my equals, have grumbled and sworn at my mistress, etc. For all this I am sorry, and pray for grace; I want to do better.

A master or mistress may say thus:

In particular I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children, domestics, and wife [family] for God's glory. I have cursed, set a bad example by rude words and deeds, have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him, have overcharged and given false ware and short measure.

And whatever else he has done against God's command and his station, etc.

But if any one does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins, and thereby make confession a torture, but mention one or two that he knows. Thus: In particular I confess that I once cursed; again, I once used improper words, I have once neglected this or that, etc. Let this suffice.

But if you know of none at all (which, however is scarcely possible), then mention none in particular, but receive the forgiveness upon your general confession which you make before God to the confessor.

Then shall the confessor say:

God be merciful to thee and strengthen thy faith! Amen.

Furthermore:

Dost thou believe that my forgiveness is God's forgiveness?

Answer.

Yes, dear sir.

Then let him say:

As thou believest, so be it done unto thee. And by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive thee thy sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Depart in peace.

But those who have great burdens upon their consciences, or are distressed and tempted, the confessor will know how to comfort and to encourage to faith with more passages of Scripture. This is to be merely a general form of confession for the unlearned.

* These questions may not have been composed by Luther himself but reflect his teachings and were included in editions of the Small Catechism during his lifetime. 



That section of the Small Catechism was presented to us in Confirmation class as the predecessor of the Order for Public Confession that we use in regular worship, nothing more.

When it says: "Before the pastor, we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts," how did they explain that?  And when it then proceeds to spell out how we should examine ourselves in order to find out which sins we should confess to the pastor, how was that explained?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 27, 2011, 06:32:53 PM
When it says: "Before the pastor, we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts," how did they explain that?  And when it then proceeds to spell out how we should examine ourselves in order to find out which sins we should confess to the pastor, how was that explained?

As I recall from lessons I was taught almost half a century ago, it was explained that during the part where the minister says on our behalf the part that includes "we poor sinners confess unto thee", we are to think about and reflect on any specific sins we've committed that bother us. As for the rest of it, like I said, it was explained that what was written in the Small Confession over 400 years ago was what Lutherans used to do, but that we don't do it that way any more because in the four hundred plus years since then we stopped doing private confessions. I'll be honest, I didn't save my notes from 48 years ago to reference them today. I didn't realize I'd be quizzed on my precise recollections of events of 48 years ago. 

What part of what I'm telling about what regular, ordinary, non-seminary attending Lutherans were taught in the 20th and 21st centuries can you not grasp? Maybe you'd like to pretend that private confession didn't fall out of general use in the 20th century, but it did. Most Lutherans don't do it. Most pastors don't make a point of offering it, and most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it. It's like making the sign of the cross that Lutherans stopped doing and then started doing again relatively recently.

I realize you'd like to see the practice revived and reinstated, and to see it happen more often. Fine. The reason why it needs to be reinstated is because it has fallen into disuse. If most Lutherans availed themselves of the Order for Private Confession and Absolution, there would be no need to even have this discussion thread.



Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 27, 2011, 06:38:05 PM
Whether or not Luther's quote is in the Book of Concord is irrelevant.  The fact remains that Luther wrote it.  There was no shift to "cloaking myself in Luther"; I was quoting Luther from the beginning.  

Well, let's stick with what's in the BOC. Luther’s Baptismal Booklet [pages 371-375 of the Kolb edition of the BOC] was included in some 1580 editions of the Book of Concord. It included in the Baptismal Rite the Flood Prayer, a couple of exorcisms, and the following:

“At this point he shall take the child and immerse it in the baptismal font and…”

Now, while I think the Flood Prayer is wonderful and is included in LSB, it was not in LW or the TLH Agenda. The exorcisms are long gone from the Rite in the hymnals and rightly so, in my opinion. And how many baptize infants by immersion?

Yet, looking to Luther’s words, he uses mandatory language: “The baptizer shall say…” before the first exorcism, “Then he shall…say…” before the Flood Prayer and the second exorcism, and “…he shall take the child and immerse it…” for the baptism.

Now I have the book in front of me; before I did it from memory.  Your argument that George embraces confession and absolution is just stupid; it's clear that the quote from Luther is referring to private confession and absolution.

Of course George embraces confession/absolution! And you insist that he does not and, "quoting Luther," set forth that George is not a Christian. Looking to the above and cloaking yourself with Luther, you then must mantain that those who do not immerse infants have not baptized the infant. Do you immerse infants whom you baptize, Karl?

You see, Karl, in your use of Luther, he was discussing private confession/absolution without considering the alternative of corporate confession/absolution. So, his statements really do not deal with private being better than corporate. So, your use of Luther to suggest that those who prefer corporate over private are not Christians is a misuse of Luther. So, when you quote Luther: "Therefore, when I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian" George can state, "And I do so. I go to confession, and the pastor absolves me."

On the other hand, in the case of baptism, pouring water on the head of an infant was an alternative to immersion when Luther wrote the above. Luther was aware of the use of both, and mandatorily stated that one should immerse the infant.  Do you do so, Karl?

BTW, your inflammatory language characterizing my arguments as "stupid" and "effeminate" are a new low. I am embarrasssed for you.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Rev. Kevin Scheuller on February 27, 2011, 06:43:27 PM
FWIW, George, of the 10-20 times I've taken part in private confession and absolution, at least half of those times it was initiated by the "pewsitters."  Other times, I offered it because I thought it would be helpful to the individual who, in turn, agreed with me.  I have never forced it on anyone.  I would offer it here, but since it might appear too "Roman" in my current setting, I choose (wisely) not to.  Even though I don't broadcast it, I have had opportunities in this current call to use it for those who find it helpful. 

Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 27, 2011, 07:19:30 PM
FWIW, George, of the 10-20 times I've taken part in private confession and absolution, at least half of those times it was initiated by the "pewsitters."  Other times, I offered it because I thought it would be helpful to the individual who, in turn, agreed with me.  I have never forced it on anyone.  I would offer it here, but since it might appear too "Roman" in my current setting, I choose (wisely) not to.  Even though I don't broadcast it, I have had opportunities in this current call to use it for those who find it helpful. 



AFAIC, even if it were the full 20 times, and each time was a different person, 20 people out of a congregation of 290 is still less than 7%. I would say that my statement that "most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it" is proven if around 93% don't ask for it.   
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Rev. Kevin Scheuller on February 27, 2011, 07:28:21 PM
FWIW, George, of the 10-20 times I've taken part in private confession and absolution, at least half of those times it was initiated by the "pewsitters."  Other times, I offered it because I thought it would be helpful to the individual who, in turn, agreed with me.  I have never forced it on anyone.  I would offer it here, but since it might appear too "Roman" in my current setting, I choose (wisely) not to.  Even though I don't broadcast it, I have had opportunities in this current call to use it for those who find it helpful. 



AFAIC, even if it were the full 20 times, and each time was a different person, 20 people out of a congregation of 290 is still less than 7%. I would say that my statement that "most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it" is proven if around 93% don't ask for it.   
...and AFAIC, just because "most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it" does not make it "un-Lutheran."
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 27, 2011, 07:36:02 PM
What I find fascinating in the discussion is that it ends up being the same old discussion had here in a hundred and one guises:  the fight over the understanding of "Lutheran."  For many the word is used to describe what IS either at the current moment or when they were young.  For others, the definition and meaning of Lutheran is defined by teaching (and concomitant practice) that is in agreement with the Lutheran Symbols.  Pr. Hess, Fr. Peters, myself - when we extol the private absolution, are seeking to challenge the status quo by the confession of our Church.  In other words, we see something defective and contradictory of the Symbols in the way that Lutheran practice in this regard has developed over time.  I note that the leading theologian of the LCMS, C. F. W. Walther, did as well.  Thus the first constitution of the Synod insisted that in every place where the practice has been allowed to fall into disuse, private confession was to be reintroduced.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 27, 2011, 07:39:39 PM
And I find George's practice regarding confession/absolution as well as yours and mine to be within the parameters of and in agreement with the Lutheran Symbols.

OTOH, I don't immerse infants. So, perhaps I have some confessing to do.  :)

BTW, Pr. Weedon, you forgot the third alternative: Those for whom the word Lutheran is used for what was was descriptive at the time of Luther with no deviation, i.e., rendering such things prescriptive.   Yes, some extol private confession. Others use it, along with Luther, as a hammer to render another not-Christian.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 27, 2011, 07:51:19 PM
FWIW, George, of the 10-20 times I've taken part in private confession and absolution, at least half of those times it was initiated by the "pewsitters."  Other times, I offered it because I thought it would be helpful to the individual who, in turn, agreed with me.  I have never forced it on anyone.  I would offer it here, but since it might appear too "Roman" in my current setting, I choose (wisely) not to.  Even though I don't broadcast it, I have had opportunities in this current call to use it for those who find it helpful. 



AFAIC, even if it were the full 20 times, and each time was a different person, 20 people out of a congregation of 290 is still less than 7%. I would say that my statement that "most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it" is proven if around 93% don't ask for it.   
...and AFAIC, just because "most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it" does not make it "un-Lutheran."

Kevin, I never said it was "un-Lutheran". I've only said that it is a practice that not many Lutherans practice nowadays. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm not saying it's an "un-Lutheran" thing. I'm only saying that it is, in the year of our Lord 2011, a rare thing. It is a seldom-used thing that's mostly stored in the Lutheran archives, and not often pulled off of the shelf, dusted off, and used. I'm not saying that situation is a good thing, nor am I saying it is a bad thing. But it is very much a real thing.

Those members of the Lutheran clergy who'd like to see any practice that has fallen into disuse over the past 100 years revived, reinstated, and restored, great. More power to you. I hope you succeed in convincing the pewsitters to come around to your perspective on the issue. But I can tell you that if the method used to attempt to convince them carries with in an implied message that the Order for Public Confession isn't really good enough for the really big sins, your attempts will probably fail.

It's a funny thing about implication. A deceitful person who is skillful in the use of English as a means of persuasion can deliberately put a message "between the lines" that is both crystal clear and yet such that the person speaking the message can honestly say that he never actually said the "between the lines" message. On the other side of the coin, an honest person who doesn't take care in what he says and how he says it can accidentally stick one of those "between the lines" messages where he doesn't intend it to be. A wise and honest person will take it to heart when someone points out that he has inadvertently put an unintended message "between the lines". Others will just get defensive and swear up and down that the never specifically stated the message that they unwittingly implied.
 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 27, 2011, 08:05:12 PM
Don, do you really think the quotes are similar? I mean on the one hand...the pastor shall immerse...a rubric.  On the other hand, "if you despise confession, you're not a Christian."  Of course, the context makes it clear that he is talking about private confession.  The people Luther was talking to were not despising general confession in the service.  If that was in place in Wittenberg at the time Luther wrote this, it's obvious that's not what he's talking about.  I mean, they aren't the same kind of document at all!  One is an agenda, essentially, with a suggested liturgy.  The other is an admonition to go to private confession!
Whether or not Luther's quote is in the Book of Concord is irrelevant.  The fact remains that Luther wrote it.  There was no shift to "cloaking myself in Luther"; I was quoting Luther from the beginning.  

Well, let's stick with what's in the BOC. Luther’s Baptismal Booklet [pages 371-375 of the Kolb edition of the BOC] was included in some 1580 editions of the Book of Concord. It included in the Baptismal Rite the Flood Prayer, a couple of exorcisms, and the following:

“At this point he shall take the child and immerse it in the baptismal font and…”

Now, while I think the Flood Prayer is wonderful and is included in LSB, it was not in LW or the TLH Agenda. The exorcisms are long gone from the Rite in the hymnals and rightly so, in my opinion. And how many baptize infants by immersion?

Yet, looking to Luther’s words, he uses mandatory language: “The baptizer shall say…” before the first exorcism, “Then he shall…say…” before the Flood Prayer and the second exorcism, and “…he shall take the child and immerse it…” for the baptism.

Now I have the book in front of me; before I did it from memory.  Your argument that George embraces confession and absolution is just stupid; it's clear that the quote from Luther is referring to private confession and absolution.

Of course George embraces confession/absolution! And you insist that he does not and, "quoting Luther," set forth that George is not a Christian. Looking to the above and cloaking yourself with Luther, you then must mantain that those who do not immerse infants have not baptized the infant. Do you immerse infants whom you baptize, Karl?

You see, Karl, in your use of Luther, he was discussing private confession/absolution without considering the alternative of corporate confession/absolution. So, his statements really do not deal with private being better than corporate. So, your use of Luther to suggest that those who prefer corporate over private are not Christians is a misuse of Luther. So, when you quote Luther: "Therefore, when I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian" George can state, "And I do so. I go to confession, and the pastor absolves me."

On the other hand, in the case of baptism, pouring water on the head of an infant was an alternative to immersion when Luther wrote the above. Luther was aware of the use of both, and mandatorily stated that one should immerse the infant.  Do you do so, Karl?


I can feel the lawyerly buildup that is about to come smashing down on me!  The suspense is killing me!

But Don, you're not a lawyer anymore.  You're a pastor, remember?  So putting words in my mouth--i.e., lying, is not your vocation anymore.  

I've watched you do this again and again on this forum.  You did it to Messer, Kim Schave.  Actually, you were doing it to George before I jumped in.  This is bad behavior, Don.  

Your argument is false.  There was corporate confession in Luther's day.  And even if there weren't, it was particularly the indivdual nature of the absolution that Luther praised, because as I said earlier, you are already being absolved as a group when the Gospel is preached to you.  But sadly, your argument is just false.  "At the start of the Reformation there were in practice...three types of confession: 1. private, or individual confession, the so called sacramental confession, followed by the indicative operative absolution...(2) general confession (Offene Schuld), usually conducted in the vernacular after the sermon with an optative or declarative absolution; and (3) the confiteor form with an optative absolution, said at the beginning of the Mass..."  (Fred L. Precht, ""Confession and Absolution: Sin and Forgiveness", Lutheran Worship, History and Practice, p. 333.  Moreover, the same guy writes: "Luther's high regard for the institution of confession does not result so much from the confessing aspect as such, but more from the absolution that is imparted to the anxious conscience and upon the comfort of the forgiveness of sins that is personally and individually imparted.  It is this personal certainty of the heart that gives confession its significance and which should cause the Christian to make use of it....The absolution to be sure, from the standpoint of content, does not differ from the preaching of the Gospel.  On the other hand, despising the absolution is tantamount to despising the Gospel..." (Precht, 336)  And please note: "And the absolution of the pastor on earth is one with God's absolution in heaven.  'It is Christ who sits there, Christ who hears, Christ who answers and not a man'...It is private, or individual, confession of which the Lutheran Confessions, or Symbols, exclusively speak and which they value highly in pastoral care, allowing it to be called a sacrament in the strict sense..." (Precht 338)  The first quote is Luther's statement; taken together, these all show that trying to make confession and absolution mean "private or corporate or whatever" is not in keeping with what the confessions in general, the small catechism in particular, or Luther mean when they praise confession and absolution.  Private absolution was distinguished from the general preaching of the Gospel because it was done in private, one on one.

The Lutheran Confessions actually, after all, do say the same thing Luther does regarding despising private confession and absolution.  "For we also retain confession especially on account of absolution, which is the word of God that the power of the keys proclaims to individuals by divine authority.  Therefore it would be unconscionable to remove private absolution from the church.  Moreover,those who despise private absolution know neither the forgiveness of sins nor the power of the keys." Apology XII:99-101, Kolb-Wengert.  

Ay ay ay!  Luther and the Apology and Fred Precht are all full of..what?  Legalistic mummery?  or flummery?  I guess you're the expert on all things legal, and it appears that you know a lot about flummery or mummery or mammaries or whatever it was.  

Seriously, Don, you need to quit doing this gotcha thing on pastors that are supposed to be your younger brothers in the ministry.  It's not pastoral.  If me or Tom or Kim says something that's wrong, just tell us you think it's wrong, instead of trying to make a point.  Last time I tried to let you say your piece, because I didn't want to argue with you in public and I had respected you.  But now it's obvious you're just being an ass.  Quit.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Rev. Kevin Scheuller on February 27, 2011, 08:10:50 PM
FWIW, George, of the 10-20 times I've taken part in private confession and absolution, at least half of those times it was initiated by the "pewsitters."  Other times, I offered it because I thought it would be helpful to the individual who, in turn, agreed with me.  I have never forced it on anyone.  I would offer it here, but since it might appear too "Roman" in my current setting, I choose (wisely) not to.  Even though I don't broadcast it, I have had opportunities in this current call to use it for those who find it helpful. 



AFAIC, even if it were the full 20 times, and each time was a different person, 20 people out of a congregation of 290 is still less than 7%. I would say that my statement that "most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it" is proven if around 93% don't ask for it.   
...and AFAIC, just because "most Lutheran lay people don't make a point of asking for it" does not make it "un-Lutheran."

Kevin, I never said it was "un-Lutheran". I've only said that it is a practice that not many Lutherans practice nowadays. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm not saying it's an "un-Lutheran" thing. I'm only saying that it is, in the year of our Lord 2011, a rare thing. It is a seldom-used thing that's mostly stored in the Lutheran archives, and not often pulled off of the shelf, dusted off, and used. I'm not saying that situation is a good thing, nor am I saying it is a bad thing. But it is very much a real thing.

Those members of the Lutheran clergy who'd like to see any practice that has fallen into disuse over the past 100 years revived, reinstated, and restored, great. More power to you. I hope you succeed in convincing the pewsitters to come around to your perspective on the issue. But I can tell you that if the method used to attempt to convince them carries with in an implied message that the Order for Public Confession isn't really good enough for the really big sins, your attempts will probably fail.

It's a funny thing about implication. A deceitful person who is skillful in the use of English as a means of persuasion can deliberately put a message "between the lines" that is both crystal clear and yet such that the person speaking the message can honestly say that he never actually said the "between the lines" message. On the other side of the coin, an honest person who doesn't take care in what he says and how he says it can accidentally stick one of those "between the lines" messages where he doesn't intend it to be. A wise and honest person will take it to heart when someone points out that he has inadvertently put an unintended message "between the lines". Others will just get defensive and swear up and down that the never specifically stated the message that they unwittingly implied.
 

FWIW George, I hope to be honest and wish to tell you and everyone, if it wasn't explicit in my prior posts, that I have not and would not say that "the really big sins must be confessed privately," and that corporate confession, honestly done (that is with each individual really calling to mind the sins they know they've committed and a repentant of) is enough.  Corporate confession even include sins of which we're not aware but, being real sinners, we all do them.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on February 27, 2011, 08:23:13 PM
FWIW George, I hope to be honest and wish to tell you and everyone, if it wasn't explicit in my prior posts, that I have not and would not say that "the really big sins must be confessed privately," and that corporate confession, honestly done (that is with each individual really calling to mind the sins they know they've committed and a repentant of) is enough.  Corporate confession even include sins of which we're not aware but, being real sinners, we all do them.

Cheers!


To be totally honest, in a discussion like this one with multiple participants championing Private Confession and Absolution, with some advocates saying one thing and other advocates saying another, keeping track of which argument you put forth and which argument Pastor Hess put forth and which argument Pastor Weedon put forth is something I haven't committed to memory. One of you guys made reference to private confession and absolution being especially good for a particularly troubling sin. I"m already going way overboard in excessive verbosity. I apologize if distilling a paragraph of carefully nuanced description about especially troubling acts of sin down to "really big ones" caused you personal offense.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on February 27, 2011, 08:33:07 PM
And I find George's practice regarding confession/absolution as well as yours and mine to be within the parameters of and in agreement with the Lutheran Symbols.

OTOH, I don't immerse infants. So, perhaps I have some confessing to do.  :)

BTW, Pr. Weedon, you forgot the third alternative: Those for whom the word Lutheran is used for what was was descriptive at the time of Luther with no deviation, i.e., rendering such things prescriptive.   Yes, some extol private confession. Others use it, along with Luther, as a hammer to render another not-Christian.

"How highly Luther esteemed private confession he shows in the following words: 'If thousands and thousands of worlds would be mine, I would rather lose all things than let one of the least parts of this confession be lost to the church.  Indeed, I would prefer the tyranny of the papacy concerning fasting, celebrating, vestments, [holy] places, tonsures, hoods, and whatever else I could bear without denying the faith, than that confession should be taken away from the Christians.  For it is the first, most necessary, and useful school of Christians in which they learn to understand and practice God's Word and their faith.  This is not done so mightily in public lections and sermons"...'  Hence, though private confession is not a part of the essence of a Lutheran congregation, its omission, nevertheless, is no small defect."

CFW Walther, The Form of a Christian Congregation, p. 84

So once again, Luther could say, "Private confession is not commanded by God, and therefore we cannot require that an otherwise orthodox church practice it," but on the other hand he says that those who despise it are no Christians, and Walther calls its absence, while not breaking fellowship, "no small defect."

Somewhere in the church postil Luther has a long sermon about confession where he would probably thoroughly explain this seeming contradiction.  In the meantime, I think you do wrong when you say that Luther used private confession as a hammer to declare people not Christian.  I think he was simply trying to wake up those who despised it as a result of their freedom.  What they were using their freedom to despise was the forgiveness of sins.  

It makes me wonder what kind of angels must walk the earth in Minnesota who don't really find that public confession, while certainly not bad, doesn't get to the heart of the matter, doesn't really result in us more often than not concealing our sins while saying we're confessing them.  Do you never find it to be the case that many people claim to be certain of the forgiveness of their sins and never doubt it, who it would be better if they were less "certain"?  Do you ever hear people say, "I don't have to go to private confession?"  What would you say if people were to say, "I don't have to go to the Sacrament of the Altar?"  Of course there are those who say that because they are afraid and their conscience terrifies them when they think of confessing their sins in front of another person.  And there are also those who simply don't feel particularly troubled by their sins.  And that I think is the danger for many Lutherans--their sins don't appear to be very great.  So they don't feel any pressing need to go to the trouble of confessing them in front of someone else.  But Luther and the Confessions continually define contrition differently--it calls contrition "terrors."  Now if a person is terrified of his sins and damnation, no one has to tell him to go to private confession, the Lord's body and blood, to read the Bible or to go hear the sermon.  He goes because his need drives him.  And Luther says that when you feel no great need for Jesus' body and blood, you shouldn't wait until you start feeling differently--you should let the own lack of awareness of your sins show you that your heart is so sick that it no longer feels its disese, and you should let that drive you to the Lord's Supper.  Well, the same is so about private absolution.  If you are troubled by sins that you think are proof that your faith is false, you should go to absolution so you can hear Christ's pardon spoken to those sins.  And if you are not troubled by particular sins, you should let the testimony of God's Word that there is nothing good in us compel us to receive absolution spoken to us personally.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 27, 2011, 10:49:17 PM
Luther's great valuation of private confession and absolution arose from actual experience of it; he exhorted all Christians not to deny themselves this comfort.  He couldn't imagine a Christian who would want to forgo it.  But as Pr. Kirchner points out, he was not operating in a situation where Christians had come to value the public absolution - for it was not in use during his own day.  I do not wish George or anyone to have a bad conscience about trusting the public absolution - for it is God's own truth!  I do wish the folks wouldn't deny themselves a further blessing God would wish to give them, but it's in no way a denigration of the public absolution to extol the private absolution.  As I said before, those who have experienced both will readily confess that they are BOTH a blessing and in differing ways that are hard to logically define.  I hope as the result of this conversation that some who have not thought of using private absolution will consider receiving it; and I hope that absolutely no one would ever question the great joy of the public absolution either.  It's not a case of this OR that; it is most certainly a case of this AND that - God's richest blessings poured out in more than one way. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Rev. Kevin Scheuller on February 28, 2011, 12:01:32 AM
FWIW George, I hope to be honest and wish to tell you and everyone, if it wasn't explicit in my prior posts, that I have not and would not say that "the really big sins must be confessed privately," and that corporate confession, honestly done (that is with each individual really calling to mind the sins they know they've committed and a repentant of) is enough.  Corporate confession even include sins of which we're not aware but, being real sinners, we all do them.

Cheers!



To be totally honest, in a discussion like this one with multiple participants championing Private Confession and Absolution, with some advocates saying one thing and other advocates saying another, keeping track of which argument you put forth and which argument Pastor Hess put forth and which argument Pastor Weedon put forth is something I haven't committed to memory. One of you guys made reference to private confession and absolution being especially good for a particularly troubling sin. I"m already going way overboard in excessive verbosity. I apologize if distilling a paragraph of carefully nuanced description about especially troubling acts of sin down to "really big ones" caused you personal offense.
No personal offense taken on the "really big" sins comment, George.  I just wanted to clarify that my position in favor of Individual Confession and Absolution should not be read as it being better than Corporate Confession and Absolution or more necessary for "certain sins."  I think Pastor Weedon's most recent comment on the matter crystallizes my thoughts eloquently.  Having received such absolution of my individual confession myself, I can only sing its praises.  Having the opportunity to be truly transparent to another Christian whose privilege and duty includes proclaiming God's word of forgiveness to you, whatever the sin, with the assurance of the confessional seal of confidentiality is a rich blessing.  
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on February 28, 2011, 12:54:04 AM
Luther's great valuation of private confession and absolution arose from actual experience of it; he exhorted all Christians not to deny themselves this comfort.  He couldn't imagine a Christian who would want to forgo it.  But as Pr. Kirchner points out, he was not operating in a situation where Christians had come to value the public absolution - for it was not in use during his own day. I do not wish George or anyone to have a bad conscience about trusting the public absolution - for it is God's own truth!  I do wish the folks wouldn't deny themselves a further blessing God would wish to give them, but it's in no way a denigration of the public absolution to extol the private absolution.  As I said before, those who have experienced both will readily confess that they are BOTH a blessing and in differing ways that are hard to logically define.  I hope as the result of this conversation that some who have not thought of using private absolution will consider receiving it; and I hope that absolutely no one would ever question the great joy of the public absolution either.  It's not a case of this OR that; it is most certainly a case of this AND that - God's richest blessings poured out in more than one way.  

I hesitate to wade into a tense discussion of distinction, and your words Pr. Weedon I think are well said. But I do believe this is yet another instance of where we have to hold the tension in stark opposition. It is like where we might say. "I'm sorry you are corrupt, and 100% sinner, as Paul says in the text this morning 'scum of the earth,'" We cannot diminish this, as we proclaim, "though your sins were as scarlet you are white as snow in Christ!!" Saint and Sinner. These tensions must be held in their starkness, uncompromised, untweaked, and not watered down.

While what you say of Luther is technically correct Pr. Weedon that being "public" as we know it, Luther faced the same issues with his congregations and instituted a Saturday evening liturgy, as an apology of the brokenness of C&A falling into disuse. It was the church struggling to maintain something uncompromisingly of value to being Christian. Without "you are forgiven" there is no Christian Faith. That is as stark as "scum of the earth." I propose we cannot diminish that in the least. As protestantism influenced our practices centuries after Luther, "public C&A" was introduced for us  because, like Luther, and as Luther said "They have learned 'this' all too well" and the church sought to keep absolution present in her midst. The 'this' is what is in tension.

In speaking of the previous abuses of the Roman church, a type of mandated works attachment to conditional absolution and penance needed to be corrected. That meant Pastors could not, must not compel to C&A. That too must be held in starkness. This conversation has drifted in its softness to understate this reality and truth of the Gospel. I would not soften it in the least. The priest cannot teach that "doing this right" will get you into heaven, or even merit forgiveness. We have to admonish strongly against this.

What is lost in this back and forth between these two is dangerous because it threatens to create doubt based on something less than the Gospel "you are forgiven," a type of "how should we do this?" Well we do it in the best possible way the people can receive it. But make no mistake the declaration of absolution - FOR YOU 'insert name here' is what we are called as a church and her servants to provide. Private C&A remains the clearest way to do this unmistakably, for sins great and small. This is what the Large Catechism and other Confessions teach clearly. I am one who voted "encourages schedules, makes available, and it is used" as an answer. Not every one uses it, but we will always continue with unceasing effort "exhort" them to it.  In its use it is a blessing to each person who comes. That is all that need be said. For the 90 year old, never did a visible sin in her life, sweet church lady, to the 13 year old teen struggling with major stuff.. There is no difference in the two.

We cannot stop exhorting and encouraging all to come to private C&A in the strongest way, even while doing so in gentleness. And if like Luther we have to schedule a Saturday night service, or slip in a public C&A before the DS, well we do. But not to lessen the call to come "more often than we would want."

George, in Christ "YOU , George, ARE FORGIVEN!" May the church in whatever place and manner you find her never relent on that declaration to you, ... George. I assure you, your pastor aches to tell you that each and every minute. It is a part of why he is a pastor.

MHO
TV

PS Here's how I'd resolve the debate -
Don. If George came to your office and said, even casually, no big deal, "Pastor Don I need to confess." I bet you would drop your sermon, trust the Holy Spirit to find the words next service, change your schedule, close your door and invite him to come and sit. Even though you just forgave him at public C&A.
Karl, I know you have not dropped the Public C&A from your services, and I bet when you declare, "as a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you ..." you look into the eyes and hearts of your people trusting they hear those words. Even though your heart aches for them to come to you.
What was your argument about again?
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on February 28, 2011, 07:02:20 AM
While I personally respect private or individual C&A and am not wading into what Luther did or did not, want or did not want to do...   but

What Scriptural mandate, not warrant,  do we have for private C&A?  As opposed to confession simply between any Christians and more public forms?  The John 20 passage used in the Small Catechism does not delineate how forgiveness and retention is to take place, whether in preaching or counseling or public acts of C&A.  Certainly it is not only an apostolic mission because it would have ceased with the 12 or only be invested in popes, if you take that course of extending the apostolic.  ML, of course, in the next Small Catechism Q&A says that he/we believe that when called ministers of Christ deal with us....  but that is not in that text.    You can build a case for Private Confession as a salutary exercise based on Tradition but must you from the Biblical record?   Harvey Mozolak
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on February 28, 2011, 11:41:16 AM
Well, Karl, it seems that, according to your argument, the vast majority of Lutherans, and many prominent Lutheran theologians over the generations, are not Christian. You're in good company, George!

I've tried to focus on your statements and arguments, Karl. You have chosen to go on the personal attack with name-calling and derogatory epiphets such as stupid and effeminate. That's not helpful in the least.

I'm going to go with Pr. Weedon's post yesterday at 10:49:17 PM (which Clyde finds "technically correct"  ::)) that Luther "was not operating in a situation where Christians had come to value the public absolution - for it was not in use during his own day" (I understand that you have slam-dunk evidence that denies that, complete with corresponding ridicule) and leave things there. I tried to proclaim the giftedness of private confession/absolution to George, but this has devolved into a "you're not really Lutheran/Christian if you don't..." type of thing that I've seen with, e.g., discussions of every-Sunday communion as well. Gospel gifts turned into law hammers and a manifestation of neo-pietism.

The end result? George's point is well made. OTOH, I don't really think that he doubts the forgiveness of sins given him in corporate absolution or that he and the vast majority of Lutherans are Christian, though not in Karl's elite club.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 28, 2011, 11:44:39 AM
Actually, the regular use of the Saturday Vespers as an occasion for confession/absolution predates the Reformation; Luther didn't institute it.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Timotheus Verinus on February 28, 2011, 11:50:07 AM
While I personally respect private or individual C&A and am not wading into what Luther did or did not, want or did not want to do...   but

What Scriptural mandate, not warrant,  do we have for private C&A?  As opposed to confession simply between any Christians and more public forms?  The John 20 passage used in the Small Catechism does not delineate how forgiveness and retention is to take place, whether in preaching or counseling or public acts of C&A.  Certainly it is not only an apostolic mission because it would have ceased with the 12 or only be invested in popes, if you take that course of extending the apostolic.  ML, of course, in the next Small Catechism Q&A says that he/we believe that when called ministers of Christ deal with us....  but that is not in that text.    You can build a case for Private Confession as a salutary exercise based on Tradition but must you from the Biblical record?   Harvey Mozolak


Not lightly dismissing John 20:23, (that's like "other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?") I would use examples from the OT like 2 Samuel 12:13, and definitely 2 Corinthians 5:20 and the text before and following that. There are others.

This retreat trying to do away with personal C&A pretty much all together, arose with pietism, and tradition however manifest in a confessional or Sunday morning corporately is constant before that onslaught.

Christians are uniquely a reconciling people (2 Cor 5) we don't just agree to - you be Republican and I'll be Democrat, but seek to be reconciled on a constant basis, even while fighting. (Matthew 18) We are called to do so face to face individually, and where a sin is against one unavailable, or God and self, the pastor is the only one who we see called to step into that breach.

Finally I will only speak for myself, but suspect others are the same. I am great at loving the world, and mankind. I can push the button on the web page that says "press here to save the children." That is no struggle. I can forward an email to twenty friends, BUT when it gets to loving that guy over there, actually getting dirty doing something menial to help "a" child... that gets much harder. Sin attacks individually in individual hearts. That's where it lives. It doesn't hurt to answer David's "what a bad person!" with "Pastor" Nathan's "that man is you!! .... [on your confession] The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die."

The argument it seems to me is distracted. The Lutheran Confessions (esp. LC) state clearly "we cannot compel it." But they are equally clear that we are called to offer it always, and to exhort and encourage.

TV

PS:
Actually, the regular use of the Saturday Vespers as an occasion for confession/absolution predates the Reformation; Luther didn't institute it.
Thank you for the correction. I should have said "used the opportunity," but Harvey's note on being reluctant to delve into the mind of Luther probably applies, despite the window where he reveals that somewhat. (LC)
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: grabau on February 28, 2011, 01:21:25 PM
In the  church when I was confirmed absolution was always "private".  The minister laid hand on each {at the altar rail} and prounounced forgiveness {not in the subjunctive). grabau
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 28, 2011, 01:49:12 PM
Were you raised Slovak by any chance?  I know they preserved that custom for a long time.  Where I vicared, though, they only did it still on Maundy Thursday, I seem to recall.  That was years ago now.  Don't know if they do it at all anymore.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on February 28, 2011, 03:01:47 PM
on Maundy Thursday, I seem to recall.  That was years ago   Don't know if they do it at all anymore.

So you were there Pastor...and therefore speak with apostolic authority of the first kind. :D :D :D :D :D :D
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on February 28, 2011, 03:23:19 PM
Ah, Vicar, and you're even older than I am...wow...  :)
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Dave_Poedel on February 28, 2011, 04:22:28 PM
FWIW, to George and others:  I will submit that since 1995, the practice of Private C&A has increased to numbers perhaps not seen since the Reformation, and if limited to the USA, since our forefathers came over on the boat.

With the advent of groups like the STS, SSP and the efforts of CTSFW, the practice has grown to numbers never seen before.  Now, have the majority of those people who are however affiliated with ELCA, LCMS, LCMC and NALC utilized the sacramental of Absolution in private after confession of specific sins?  Likely not, but compared with before 1995, the practice has had a veritable explosion of use.

See, it's all how you frame the point....
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: recentrev on March 01, 2011, 10:17:05 AM
I was reading a memoir last night (Hannah's Child), and I ran across this sentence:  “[Do] not trust yourself to know yourself.  You learn who you are only by making yourself accountable to the judgment of others.”

I think this is a huge part of the reason I find individual C&A so helpful and compelling.

We humans are suceptible to remarkable amounts of subtle self-deception (or deception by the devil, as the case may be). 
1) We can convince ourselves that we are not worthy of God’s forgiveness. 
2) We can also convince ourselves that our sin isn’t really “that bad.” 
3) We can be too self-congratulatory that we’ve gotten better about a particular habitual sin. 
4) We can be in denial that particular behaviors we cling to are actually sins at all. 

I find that I almost always err in at least one of these directions when left entirely to my own devices, and most of the time, I don’t even realize it.  For example, it is only with the sense of relief I feel when I hear the words of absolution spoken to me that I come understand that I hadn’t fully believed in God’s forgiveness in the brief order.  I am incapable of truly looking at myself objectively, which includes an inability to see my relationship with God objectively. 

Built into the form of individual confession is a remedy for the first form of self-deception: the inability to truly see the overflowing abundance of grace for me is countered by an individual assurance of that grace and forgiveness.  Numbers 2, 3, and 4 are countered somewhat by the practice of examining one’s conscience and the realization that we are ashamed to confess our sins to another human being.  The discipline of articulating one’s sins aloud to another person does a great deal to strip away the self-deception caused by pride.

A skilled confessor, particularly one you have a regular relationship with, will also be able to help discern which (if any) of those categories you fall into at a given moment.  In the time for pastoral confession, that pastor can help apply Law and Gospel accordingly.  (Though, I must say that one of the most helpful and perceptive confessors I’ve ever had was someone who didn’t know me at all the one time I confessed to him).

Yes, the absolution in the brief order is adequate and valid for all who hear and believe it.   Maybe there are some who always (or at least nearly always) fall into that category, though I doubt that on any given Sunday we are all that “good soil” that hears the word, receives it, accepts it, and then bears much good fruit.  Some of us may not be ready to hear the absolution because we need the Law to kill before the Gospel can make alive.  Some of us may not be ready to hear it in that form, because we’re not sure if we believe that it applies to our sins, or just the sins of the person next to us.  Some of us may hear it only as “cheap grace” without realizing that grace always uges us on to deeper faithfulness.  If individual C&A can be seen as “Christian therapy,” it is only a form of “Christian therapy” for sin, not for our emotional or psychological well-being (which may be positive secondary consequences, but are not the primary intent).  Maybe "individual confession and absolution" won’t always take the forms printed in our hymnals—it may well be a part of regular pastoral care or a even faithful friendship—but for others to help tell us who (and whose) we are, to protect us from self-deception, it certainly helps if we aren’t hiding significant parts of our lives from them.  As we come to see ourselves more clearly, we will also come to see the overflowing abundance of God's grace more clearly.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on March 01, 2011, 10:30:50 AM
I was reading a memoir last night (Hannah's Child), and I ran across this sentence:  “[Do] not trust yourself to know yourself.  You learn who you are only by making yourself accountable to the judgment of others.”

I think this is a huge part of the reason I find individual C&A so helpful and compelling.

We humans are suceptible to remarkable amounts of subtle self-deception (or deception by the devil, as the case may be). 
1) We can convince ourselves that we are not worthy of God’s forgiveness. 
2) We can also convince ourselves that our sin isn’t really “that bad.” 
3) We can be too self-congratulatory that we’ve gotten better about a particular habitual sin. 
4) We can be in denial that particular behaviors we cling to are actually sins at all. 

I find that I almost always err in at least one of these directions when left entirely to my own devices, and most of the time, I don’t even realize it.  For example, it is only with the sense of relief I feel when I hear the words of absolution spoken to me that I come understand that I hadn’t fully believed in God’s forgiveness in the brief order.  I am incapable of truly looking at myself objectively, which includes an inability to see my relationship with God objectively. 

Built into the form of individual confession is a remedy for the first form of self-deception: the inability to truly see the overflowing abundance of grace for me is countered by an individual assurance of that grace and forgiveness.  Numbers 2, 3, and 4 are countered somewhat by the practice of examining one’s conscience and the realization that we are ashamed to confess our sins to another human being.  The discipline of articulating one’s sins aloud to another person does a great deal to strip away the self-deception caused by pride.

A skilled confessor, particularly one you have a regular relationship with, will also be able to help discern which (if any) of those categories you fall into at a given moment.  In the time for pastoral confession, that pastor can help apply Law and Gospel accordingly.  (Though, I must say that one of the most helpful and perceptive confessors I’ve ever had was someone who didn’t know me at all the one time I confessed to him).

Yes, the absolution in the brief order is adequate and valid for all who hear and believe it.   Maybe there are some who always (or at least nearly always) fall into that category, though I doubt that on any given Sunday we are all that “good soil” that hears the word, receives it, accepts it, and then bears much good fruit.  Some of us may not be ready to hear the absolution because we need the Law to kill before the Gospel can make alive.  Some of us may not be ready to hear it in that form, because we’re not sure if we believe that it applies to our sins, or just the sins of the person next to us.  Some of us may hear it only as “cheap grace” without realizing that grace always uges us on to deeper faithfulness.  If individual C&A can be seen as “Christian therapy,” it is only a form of “Christian therapy” for sin, not for our emotional or psychological well-being (which may be positive secondary consequences, but are not the primary intent).  Maybe "individual confession and absolution" won’t always take the forms printed in our hymnals—it may well be a part of regular pastoral care or a even faithful friendship—but for others to help tell us who (and whose) we are, to protect us from self-deception, it certainly helps if we aren’t hiding significant parts of our lives from them.  As we come to see ourselves more clearly, we will also come to see the overflowing abundance of God's grace more clearly.

Extremely well said.  Thank you.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on March 01, 2011, 10:43:56 AM
Were you raised Slovak by any chance?  I know they preserved that custom for a long time.  Where I vicared, though, they only did it still on Maundy Thursday, I seem to recall.  That was years ago now.  Don't know if they do it at all anymore.

We do this on Maundy Thursday at Cross of Grace as well.  I find it an interesting parallel and contrast with the Impostition of Ashes which began the Lenten Fast.  On Ash Wednesday, ashes remind us of the consequences of our sin and our broken faith (they are the remains of the palms that we waved on the last Palm Sunday, crying "Hosanna in the highest" and singing "All Glory, Laud, and Honor" after all...).  On Maundy Thursday, those same people have the opportunity to kneel in the same place, hear the words of Absolution said to them, and recieve an anointing with blessed oil (unction) in place of that ashen cross.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: vicarbob on March 01, 2011, 11:43:31 AM
on Maundy Thursday, I seem to recall.  That was years ago   Don't know if they do it at all anymore.

So you were there Pastor...and therefore speak with apostolic authority of the first kind. :D :D :D :D :D :D

Gosh darn FB profile  :'(
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on March 01, 2011, 02:06:24 PM
I am incapable of truly looking at myself objectively, which includes an inability to see my relationship with God objectively. 


This entire post was excellent and very helpful to me.  Bravo.  I hope you will post more stuff like this.

I've also had this experience: that sins that seemed not so bad when I did them--for instance, something nasty I said in an argument--suddenly appeared much uglier when I began to confess it in front of someone else.  This is what makes the private absolution so joyful; on the one hand it is not what often happens, where my confession to God does not really take seriously the full weight of what I have done.  The full ugliness of the sins, spoken where another human being might hear them, suddenly appears.  Then, the amazing nature of the absolution becomes clear.  God is not merely saying, "I understand.  Nobody's perfect."  But to the very sins that in my heart of hearts I know makes me the one who deserves eternal death, Christ speaks unconditional pardon and forgiveness and declares me white as snow.  So that I not only get out of jail, but I am also a new creation as he said I was when I was baptized. 

The absolution also helps me to realize that my fundamental sin is not all my moral failings, which are many and great, but rather the fact that I do not believe God.  He tells me I am a new creation, but way down, below the conscious level, I completely reject what God has said.  I refuse to believe God and remain in chains.  So in the private absolution Jesus comes personally to me and makes me watch him unlock the prison door of sin and death again.

So often the Gospel remains a theory in our minds, an explanation of the way things happen.  But as Forde reminds us, the Gospel is not simply teaching us facts.  It is a performative word by which Christ steps in to our presence (although hidden under human words and earthly elements) and looses us of our sins, makes us free.  Quite often I see that Lutherans--and I myself--hear the preaching of the Word of God as the description of objective facts about the world or the universe--God created the world, God redeemed the world, etc.  But in private Absolution it is impossible to weasel away from the confrontation that Christ is addressing me personally and entering into conflict with my flesh, putting it to death.  My flesh can no longer hide out and say, "Yes, of course, God loves the world.  Christ died for the world.  Isn't that nice!"  In private absolution I must either agree that Christ has just forgiven and loosed me or I must say that the Word spoken by the minister was not God's. 

That is why Luther praised private absolution so highly and why it is difficult to understand how Lutheran pastors could have allowed it to fall into disuse, or why they would continue to defend the status quo.


Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: racin_jason on March 01, 2011, 03:53:27 PM
As I reflect on what's been written the last few days, I have especially appreciated the contributions from Karl Hess.

Part of the obstacle is that this is a clergy-centered activity. The american (if not human) inclination toward keeping sin private makes this a tough sell. Cultural Lutherans who are not familiar with Luther's theology of the Word view this enterprise as a clergy-centered endeavor that was shed in the reformation. The "I don't need a pastor to forgive my sins, i can get that directly from God" type of thinking.

If placed within the framework of a conversation around what God is doing in a person's life, I imagine a person seeing real value in private C&A. Many pastors do that and I think it's effective. It would be part of a broader discussion as opposed to the person showing up and being asked to walk down the plank and jump into a talk about one's sins.

To stir the pot a little, I'm curious what people think of the idea of a lay person offering confession and forgiveness to another lay person. Would anyone here argue those sins would not be forgiven, that the absolution not be valid? Can the Keys to the Office be loaned out by the pastor?


Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Sandra on March 01, 2011, 04:51:27 PM
To stir the pot a little, I'm curious what people think of the idea of a lay person offering confession and forgiveness to another lay person. Would anyone here argue those sins would not be forgiven, that the absolution not be valid? Can the Keys to the Office be loaned out by the pastor?

Forgiveness is forgiveness. It's the same "stuff" regardless of who is speaking it.

That said, there's something more "official" about absolution from the mouth of one called and ordained to speak "in the stead and by the command" of my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on March 01, 2011, 06:06:19 PM
racin_jason,

LC, Exhortation par. 14:

The origin and establishment of private Confession lies in the fact that Christ Himself placed His Absolution into the hands of His Christian people with the command that they should absolve one another of their sins.

This, for Lutherans, is never a matter of clerical power.  The only difference between the absolution by the called and ordained servant and the non-ordained is this:  the ordained have taken a vow never to disclose what is revealed in confession; the laity have not (but, of course, they should never reveal sins confessed to them either).
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: George Erdner on March 01, 2011, 06:13:49 PM
As I reflect on what's been written the last few days, I have especially appreciated the contributions from Karl Hess.

Part of the obstacle is that this is a clergy-centered activity. The american (if not human) inclination toward keeping sin private makes this a tough sell. Cultural Lutherans who are not familiar with Luther's theology of the Word view this enterprise as a clergy-centered endeavor that was shed in the reformation. The "I don't need a pastor to forgive my sins, i can get that directly from God" type of thinking.

If placed within the framework of a conversation around what God is doing in a person's life, I imagine a person seeing real value in private C&A. Many pastors do that and I think it's effective. It would be part of a broader discussion as opposed to the person showing up and being asked to walk down the plank and jump into a talk about one's sins.

To stir the pot a little, I'm curious what people think of the idea of a lay person offering confession and forgiveness to another lay person. Would anyone here argue those sins would not be forgiven, that the absolution not be valid? Can the Keys to the Office be loaned out by the pastor?




I would suspect that in the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness in the LBW, the second alternative statement would be appropriate even if spoken by a layman:

"In the mercy of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for you, and for his sake, God forgives you all your sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ he gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit". That's not a proclamation by the speaker that the speaker has exercised the Authority of the Keys. That's just an advisory statement that God forgives sins. When I was leading non-sacramental worship services, I always used that version, and also changed the pronoun from "you/your" to "us/our".

The new ELW does not include an option for such an advisory statement that "God forgives".
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Karl Hess on March 02, 2011, 02:48:30 AM

If placed within the framework of a conversation around what God is doing in a person's life, I imagine a person seeing real value in private C&A. Many pastors do that and I think it's effective. It would be part of a broader discussion as opposed to the person showing up and being asked to walk down the plank and jump into a talk about one's sins.

To stir the pot a little, I'm curious what people think of the idea of a lay person offering confession and forgiveness to another lay person. Would anyone here argue those sins would not be forgiven, that the absolution not be valid? Can the Keys to the Office be loaned out by the pastor?




I agree with the first point here.  The loss of private confession is part of the larger loss of the cure of souls, which used to be part of what people looked to their pastors to do.  If a pastor can build up enough trust with his congregation, or if people see their pastor as a guy who can actually do something for you when you suffer from grief, or depression, or the loss of a job, etc., that would be the first step toward restoring private absolution.  First of all you have to teach people that the pastor's ability to listen, to apply the word of God and prayer to  the troubles of their soul that arise from the various difficulties of life and the world, his calling to give the Lord's blessing--these are all things that actually do something, rather than being essentially useless.  Unfortunately when people are suffering, oftentimes they never think of talking to the pastor.  They figure they have to deal with it themselves--or they go to see their doctor or find a therapist.  Quite often going to a therapist is good and helpful, but part of our job now is to help people see that in addition to the specific help a doctor or therapist can give (which a pastor can't and shouldn't try to do unless he is trained that way--and probably not even then), the pastor is called to bring God's 3rd article gifts to bear on their need--that is, the forgiveness of sins.  Once people start seeing the pastoral office that way, a wise pastor will be able to guide the sufferer toward private absolution when it would be the appropriate cure. 

To the secon point: absolutely.  The forgiveness of sins is not the property of the pastor.  They keys are not the pastor's either.  All Christians have the calling to teach God's word in their callings and to edify their brothers. Absolutely a layman can pronounce absolution--and they do.  My 3 year old son absolves me sometimes--that is to say, Jesus absolves me through him.  It might not be appropriate for a layman to say, "I forgive you all your sins," (I will leave someone else to make a judgment on that)--but the statement, "Jesus died for that sin too" or "the Lord forgives you" is just as much an absolution as the pastor's.  As I think Pr. Weedon pointed out, the only difference is that it is part of the pastor's calling never to divulge what is confessed--not even to the earthly authorities.  But with this it isn't a question of either/or.  What would be fantastic is if the royal priesthood learned to recognize when someone is expressing guilt, and would learn to absolve and be willing to receive absolution from one another--in addition to singing and speaking the Gospel to one another, and in addition to receiving absolution from the man who has been called by God to serve them as His undershepherd.
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on March 02, 2011, 08:28:07 AM
The only difference between the absolution by the called and ordained servant and the non-ordained is this:  the ordained have taken a vow never to disclose what is revealed in confession; the laity have not (but, of course, they should never reveal sins confessed to them either).

No, as to the last phrase, that is incorrect. Some laity are mandatory reporters and even those who are not may be in vocations specifically given, for example, to guard and protect the vulnerable. Some sins confessed to them should be revealed to the appropriate authority.

Clergy, therefore, are in a unique position to be a confessor, in which the seal of confidentiality is preserved both by the the church and, e.g., in Minnesota, by the state. (Thouroughly discussed on past threads) And our people should not be misled into thinking that others hearing a confession can and will offer that absolute cloak of confidentiality. And laity who might hear such a confession should not be burdened and even be put into a position of legal vulnerability by an erroneous suggestion that "they should never reveal sins confessed to them either."
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Weedon on March 02, 2011, 08:34:16 AM
Good point, Pr. Kirchner.  Though I'd venture to say that if the lay person is in such a position, they should recuse themselves from hearing another's confession. 
Title: Re: Private C&A
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on March 02, 2011, 08:43:11 AM
No, I disagree, for that does not go far enough. No confession other than one made to clergy, bears the expectation of complete confidentiality, and laity should not be misled into thinking otherwise. And laity who would hear a confession must not be misled into thinking or burdened with the expectation that they bear, legally as well as morally, the requirement of complete confidentiality.

Do you want complete confidentiality? Confess to your pastor. (Although, given the position of some clergy nowadays, stated on past threads and even as manifested by the outrageous action of the Lutheran pastor in John Grisham's new novel, Confession, that's no longer a guarantee.) Or confess to your lawyer, if applicable.   ;)