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Messages - Steven W Bohler

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1
Your Turn / Re: The Era of Division and Realignment
« on: Yesterday at 11:03:59 AM »
Your post moved me to check up on the outcome of the 2013 split of Grace Lutheran in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

450 Grace Lutheran - 2013 approximate pre-split attendance reported by Metro Lutheran

_85 Grace Lutheran - 2019 attendance (pre-covid) as reported on ELCA.org
220 Saving Grace Lutheran - attendance as reported on LCMC.net
==
305 approximate total

Grace Lutheran has the original church building, built in 1916.  They have one pastor and five staff members.  Grace Lutheran Church has a connection to the Grace Lutheran Foundation and refers to it as "Our Foundation", but I cannot find a clear explanation of what that connection currently is.  Grace Lutheran's web site section on church history mentions nothing since the 1980s.

Saving Grace has a new church building under construction.  They have two pastors and two staff members.  The church history section of their web site is three paragraphs.  The largest paragraph describes the split from Grace Lutheran.

It's difficult to tell, but it does not appear that either congregation has grown since the split.

Thanks for referencing Eau Claire, James.  It was one of the stops on my great-grandfather's circuit through that part of Wisconsin as a "Reise-Prediger", and he founded congregations there in the latter part of the 19th century.  Just checking online, it turns out that in Eau Claire County 30% of the population is Lutheran.  That's not high.  That's amazingly high.  I would imagine that the people not represented anymore as attending either of the two Grace congregations are now at some of the other Lutheran venues, which cross the various brands of Lutheranism, because as opposed to other parts of the country, there don't appear to be that many ana-baptist or non-denominational churches. 

Dave Benke

You made me curious, Dr. Benke.  So I looked online and found that Polk County (where I serve) has 63% of its population in church membership; 35% of the total population is Lutheran.  That means that well over half of those in the county who hold church membership are Lutheran.  Roman Catholics make up another 21%,  That means all other Christian bodies (and other, non-Christian religions for that matter) only account for about 7% of the population.

2
Your Turn / Re: "Blue Bloods" and the Seal of the Confessional
« on: January 25, 2022, 08:21:53 PM »
The order for individual confession and absolution is simple in the Missouri Synod.  The same confession begins the process - "I, a poor miserable sinner, etc."  The line in the little liturgy that provides the transition is "what troubles me particularly is that........" Then whatever it is comes out.  The order is not invasive, does not demand a list, indicates there can be some "gentle questions" from the pastor, and ends with "I am sorry, and ask for grace.  I want to do better."  Then the absolution. 

Have any of you used this order?  I have, both with laity, congregants, people who walk in off the street, and church workers including clergy.  In general confession there's time given before the confession to consider what's gone wrong, to do an evaluation in silence.  This is simply the extension of that into the tight spot that a specific situation brings to the conscience, for example:
marital affair, dealing drugs, robbing, extortion, lying and scheming, abortion.  The list goes on. 

What has never happened in my experience is that people said, "Well, pastor, beyond the affair, I also used bad language four times and I was over the speed limit, and I had too much to drink three times in the last six months."  It's the thing that troubles them particularly that is eating away at them. 

When it comes to amendment of life, there is nothing in the liturgy about that - no act of penance, no follow-up, no prescription.  Which is OK in terms of liturgy, but in life when it comes to those very troublesome conscience grabbers, is exactly what is going to be needed.   

To add a coda, if and as a pastor/rostered church worker comes to an ecclesiastical supervisor for personal confession and absolution, what are the thoughts of the forum participants on how that should go?  Or if it should go?  Interested in your perspectives.

Dave Benke

NEVER confess to your ecclesiastical supervisor.  It puts him in a no-win spot: having to carry out his duty as father confessor (on the one hand), or his duty as the head of a district or synod (on the other).  And the duties of the two can conflict.  Does he maintain the confidentiality of the confessional, knowing that to do so might mean allowing a man who should be removed from his office to stay?  Or does he act as the hammer (to use Rev. Kirchner's apt phrase) and use the information to remove the man, and thereby violate his oath as a pastor?

3
Your Turn / Re: Women Lectors
« on: January 25, 2022, 08:12:11 PM »
I am reluctant to take issue with anything Rev. Bohler says, inasmuch as I have the greatest respect for him and for his theological integrity.  Having said that, it appears to me that the blanket opposition to lay lectors (not just women, but also men) was not always held among us conservatives.  I know this position became popular during the nineties.  It was debated among conservatives in the South Wisconsin District.  Some of us opposed women lectors and some of us opposed lay lectors in principle.  I was of the former opinion.  I believe (if memory serves) that President Suelflow took this position also.  I would ask my brothers who oppose lay lectors altogether whether they take this position so that won't have to differentiate between men and women.  I'm just asking.

In regards to your first sentence, you are a wise man indeed, Rev. Preus. :)  To answer your last question: no, it is not simply to avoid having to differentiate between men and women.  I look at 1 Timothy, especially 4:13-14 ("Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.").  Paul has been talking about Timothy as pastor and how he is to carry out his office.  And those two verses connect the reading with the preaching/teaching and his call/ordination (the "gift" he received with the laying on of hands).  They form a unit, the reading and the preaching.  And just as it is the pastor's task to preach, so it is his to read.  For what is the sermon if not an exposition/application of the readings?  And if the pastor can delegate the reading, why not the preaching (since St. Paul connects them together here)?

Now, I know others do not understand those verses in that way.  But I do.  And that is why I have always followed the general rule of reading the lessons myself.  There are exceptions.  When I had vicars, for instance.  Or when we had a young man in the congregation that had applied to, and was accepted by, one of our seminaries and just needed to finish college. 


4
Your Turn / Re: "Blue Bloods" and the Seal of the Confessional
« on: January 25, 2022, 04:21:43 PM »
"The Gospel must be preached only to bruised, contrite, miserable sinners; the law to secure sinners." That's Walther in Law and Gospel thesis VIII.

Assuming the absolution or proclamation of God's forgiveness is an application of pure Gospel, it only rightfully belongs to the contrite. Secure sinners are those who confess to being miserable sinners but whose sin doesn't make them miserable. Sins we don't recall are not at issue, nor are sins we can overcome. The issue is being sorry. Those who only ever attend general confession and absolution need to know that repentance has to be real.

Although thesis VIII is the problem-- applying the Gospel to people secure in their sins-- my point is that in our day the danger of that happening stems from the way we do confession and absolution, in which "confessing" becomes merely stating that one knows and believes the doctrine of original sin rather than confessing to have sinned in this or that way. You can tell this happens when people are more comforted to be assured they're no different from anyone else in terms of their sinfulness than they are to be assured that Jesus took their sins to the cross.

So a related issue is Thesis X. "The Word of God is not rightly divided when faith is described as if mere acceptance of truths saves." In this discussion, does merely knowing that you are a sinner amount to the same thing as repentance/contrition and faith?

1. How does someone prove to you that he is contrite?  Can he not just say the words in private confession just as easily as he does in a general confession?  What if he says them but you do not believe him?

2. I disagree with your apparent assessment that many/most people using only the general confession/absolution only are confessing to original sin or some sort of generic sin, without ever thinking of any specific sins.  And if you WERE correct, I disagree that changing to private confession/absolution will change that -- instead, it would require teaching and preaching.  On the nature of sin.  On what sin is.  On the effects of sin.  Of how each commandment condemns us in so many ways.  And so on.
Agreed re: preaching and teaching. The issue that led to the discussion had to confessing to being in bondage to sin. There is no sure-fire way short of declaring (contra another Walther thesis) that the absolution works ex opere operato. That’s why Walther calls determining when to apply Law and when to apply Gospel the highest art of Christians in general and pastors in particular, taught only by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.

When you tell your kid to apologize to his sister, he may or may not be sorry. And he may or may not fool you by faking it. But there are general ways to tell that aren’t failsafe or foolproof, but better than trying to reduce it to a simple, easily determined rule like simply saying the words.

I am still trying to understand just what a person would need to do to show you his true contrition and that he is not faking it.  If he confesses, he is to be absolved.  If he lied, he lied to God and He knows; the pastor does not.

5
Your Turn / Re: Women Lectors
« on: January 25, 2022, 04:18:08 PM »

So, why have someone other than the pastor read them?


Why not? Different pastors and different congregations and congregates will have different reasons for wanting it this way. If it is permitted, as I would argue, there does not need to be a crucial reason why we need to have lay lectors, just a preference.


So, why? Because lay people want to, because the congregation wants to see members involved in the worship. Because it is a way of emphasizing that the lay people are not just spectators at worship but participants. Because it exercises the Priesthood of all Believers (all Baptized). Because some of us as we age can use a break in using our voices during the service. I'm sure that there are other reasons.


None of these, to my thinking, add up to an overwhelming need that would necessitate lay lectors. I would certainly not try to coerce anyone into participating in such a program. If a lay member doesn't want to be a lay reader, that should be fine and acceptable. If a congregation would rather not utilize lay readers, no reason that they should be browbeaten into it. If the pastor is opposed, most likely not worth the effort to change his mind. But if it is desired, why not?

The congregation is not involved in worship unless a layman reads?  I guess the congregational parts of the liturgy, reciting/confessing the Creed, join the prayers with their Amen, and such do not count.  But get old Mrs. Smith up there and now the whole congregation is part of it all?  Why?  I mean if having HER read makes all the rest part of it, why doesn't having the pastor read do the same thing?
I am not going to argue with you that something essential is missing from worship if there are no lay readers. Lay people do participate in worship without lay readers, but if the laity want to participate in this way also, why not?


I do not understand the question of law readers to be one of "must we?" And if we don't have to utilize lay readers, we shouldn't. I take it as something neither commanded nor forbidden. You seem to want to push the position that if it is not commanded, it should be forbidden.


If you do not want to utilize lay readers in the congregation whom you are called to pastor, fine. There is nothing that says you must. I certainly would not try to command that. What I do resist is the position that states that if do not find the practice of utilizing lay readers beneficial then nobody should find it beneficial. If you wish to make the case that lay readers are improper for Lutheran worship, make your case. I have done considerable study on this issue. I probably would not be able to convince you as to its propriety, but I don't need to. It has become acceptable within the LCMS, so now it is up to you to make the case and convince the rest of us that we are wrong in order to impose a ban on the rest of us.


If you decide for yourself and for your congregation that lay readers are inexpedient or improper, that is your prerogative. I certainly will not say that declining to have lay readers is improper. I refuse, however, to be bound by your conscience or your conclusions.

You are misreading me, Rev. Fienen.  While I certainly think my view is correct (why else would I hold it, and don't you think your view is correct?), I have never said that everyone must follow my understanding on this. 

6
Your Turn / Re: "Blue Bloods" and the Seal of the Confessional
« on: January 25, 2022, 03:59:20 PM »
"The Gospel must be preached only to bruised, contrite, miserable sinners; the law to secure sinners." That's Walther in Law and Gospel thesis VIII.

Assuming the absolution or proclamation of God's forgiveness is an application of pure Gospel, it only rightfully belongs to the contrite. Secure sinners are those who confess to being miserable sinners but whose sin doesn't make them miserable. Sins we don't recall are not at issue, nor are sins we can overcome. The issue is being sorry. Those who only ever attend general confession and absolution need to know that repentance has to be real.

Although thesis VIII is the problem-- applying the Gospel to people secure in their sins-- my point is that in our day the danger of that happening stems from the way we do confession and absolution, in which "confessing" becomes merely stating that one knows and believes the doctrine of original sin rather than confessing to have sinned in this or that way. You can tell this happens when people are more comforted to be assured they're no different from anyone else in terms of their sinfulness than they are to be assured that Jesus took their sins to the cross.

So a related issue is Thesis X. "The Word of God is not rightly divided when faith is described as if mere acceptance of truths saves." In this discussion, does merely knowing that you are a sinner amount to the same thing as repentance/contrition and faith?

1. How does someone prove to you that he is contrite?  Can he not just say the words in private confession just as easily as he does in a general confession?  What if he says them but you do not believe him?

2. I disagree with your apparent assessment that many/most people using only the general confession/absolution only are confessing to original sin or some sort of generic sin, without ever thinking of any specific sins.  And if you WERE correct, I disagree that changing to private confession/absolution will change that -- instead, it would require teaching and preaching.  On the nature of sin.  On what sin is.  On the effects of sin.  Of how each commandment condemns us in so many ways.  And so on.

7
Your Turn / Re: Women Lectors
« on: January 25, 2022, 03:50:55 PM »
All the major American Lutheran service books published after the LBW indicate generous opportunities for lay "assisting ministers." That is shown with the [A] distinct from the [P] indicating the pastor's (presiding minister) part. Both the LCMS books (LW and LSB) utilize that option. That would seem to be the official verdict on the question of lay members assisting in public leadership of the liturgy, both of the Word and the Sacrament.    ;D

Peace, JOHN

How could those hymnals NOT have the option, since the synod has already decided such was permissible?  I mean, the convention voted it so CPH could not choose otherwise, could they?  So, I don't put much stock in the argument that since the hymnals give a part for assisting ministers, having assisting ministers must be right.  Seems kind of circular.

8
Your Turn / Re: Women Lectors
« on: January 25, 2022, 03:42:57 PM »

So, why have someone other than the pastor read them?


Why not? Different pastors and different congregations and congregates will have different reasons for wanting it this way. If it is permitted, as I would argue, there does not need to be a crucial reason why we need to have lay lectors, just a preference.


So, why? Because lay people want to, because the congregation wants to see members involved in the worship. Because it is a way of emphasizing that the lay people are not just spectators at worship but participants. Because it exercises the Priesthood of all Believers (all Baptized). Because some of us as we age can use a break in using our voices during the service. I'm sure that there are other reasons.


None of these, to my thinking, add up to an overwhelming need that would necessitate lay lectors. I would certainly not try to coerce anyone into participating in such a program. If a lay member doesn't want to be a lay reader, that should be fine and acceptable. If a congregation would rather not utilize lay readers, no reason that they should be browbeaten into it. If the pastor is opposed, most likely not worth the effort to change his mind. But if it is desired, why not?

The congregation is not involved in worship unless a layman reads?  I guess the congregational parts of the liturgy, reciting/confessing the Creed, join the prayers with their Amen, and such do not count.  But get old Mrs. Smith up there and now the whole congregation is part of it all?  Why?  I mean if having HER read makes all the rest part of it, why doesn't having the pastor read do the same thing?

9
Your Turn / Re: Women Lectors
« on: January 25, 2022, 03:39:34 PM »
That Rome would permit and even celebrate women lectors does not tell us much about their view of the priesthood of all believers (sometimes incorrectly designated the priesthood of the baptized), but it does remind us of their view of the priesthood and how it differs from the Lutheran view.  Offering the sacrifice of the mass is essential to the priesthood.  Indeed, without the priesthood that features (allegedly) apostolic succession, there is no body and blood on the altar.  Thus, we Lutheran pastors do not and cannot hand out to our parishioners the body and blood of Jesus.  One would think that Lutherans would object to such a teaching, but I digress.  The point is that for Lutherans the essence of the office is not the offering up of the sacrifice of the mass.  It is preaching!  The Sacrament serves the preaching.  The Sacrament ensures (or ought to ensure!) that the preaching will focus on the blood and righteousness of Jesus.  But it is preaching that is primary, and the preaching is always grounded in the Holy Scriptures that are read publicly to the people before the sermon is preached.  This is why Lutherans attach the office of lector to the office of pastor and do not conceive of it as arising from the priesthood of all believers.  That the LCMS has caved into women lectors doesn't change our theology.  Or does it?

Don't know if you have heard of the RCL (Revised Common Lectionary), RD, but the Roman Catholic Church reads pretty much exactly the same lessons from the same Holy Scriptures publicly before the sermon is preached in a Roman Catholic Church.   There's that in terms of your understanding of what happens during a Roman Catholic Mass.  It is understood that the Proclamation/Homily/Sermon and the Consecration of the Eucharist is the administrative responsibility of the priest, as it is in the Lutheran tradition.

The conduct of worship is the responsibility of the pastor in any regard.  The lections/readings under the supervision of the pastor can be read by others without violating the preaching office.  To equate the Office of the Holy Ministry with the mandatory reading of all Scripture is a change in "our" theology, whoever you mean by "our."  Non-ordained persons have been reading lessons in LCMS congregations for a long, long time without being accused of violating our theology, and in fact have appropriately understood the theology and practice by which the pastor undertakes his congregational assignment to proclamation and sacramental administration.  The boundary stone has been the public preaching/teaching and consecration of Holy Communion as well as in normal circumstances conducting the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. 

Dave Benke

You and I both grew up in LCMS congregations.  When you were a child, were there any LCMS congregations that featured women lectors?

Yes.

Your argumentation, however, is not based on the gender of the lector.  It's based on the opinion that only an ordained pastor shall read the lessons.  The theological position you are espousing is that the LCMS should because of our doctrine of the office of the ministry allow only ordained clergy to read the lessons.  You haven't specified what kind of services - communion or non-communion, Sunday or weekday - so my assumption is that you mean any services of any kind in any LCMS congregation. 

Dave Benke

As a general rule, that is my view.  The lessons ARE part of the preaching and so ordinarily ought to be done by the pastor.
That is one view of the matter, but not the only view. Without going into a lengthy examination of passages, historical accounts of how the early church conducted worship, and word studies, another view is that the one reading the lessons exercises no authority but is merely a messenger delivering the message that he or she was commissioned to deliver, nothing more or less. They do so under the authority and supervision of the pastor, who also is the one who selected which lessons were to be read. The authority of the lessons rests in the lessons, not the one who reads them.

So, why have someone other than the pastor read them?

Why have anyone other than the pastor sing?

To me it's the same thing.

Maybe I take this a bit personally. Music and I do not get along. My vicarage bishop tried to teach me to chant and gave up after a few weeks. The best that has ever been said about me is that I hit the right note every now and then.

So singing in the choir was out for me. But lay reading was open. I competed in oral interpretation in high school and college; won my share of competitions. This was a way that I could use my abilities in worship as a lay person, just as those who could sing used theirs.

I want others to be able to do the same. For me, it is as simple as that.

So, it is about you.  That gets worship backwards, doesn't it? 

10
Your Turn / Re: Women Lectors
« on: January 25, 2022, 03:04:44 PM »
That Rome would permit and even celebrate women lectors does not tell us much about their view of the priesthood of all believers (sometimes incorrectly designated the priesthood of the baptized), but it does remind us of their view of the priesthood and how it differs from the Lutheran view.  Offering the sacrifice of the mass is essential to the priesthood.  Indeed, without the priesthood that features (allegedly) apostolic succession, there is no body and blood on the altar.  Thus, we Lutheran pastors do not and cannot hand out to our parishioners the body and blood of Jesus.  One would think that Lutherans would object to such a teaching, but I digress.  The point is that for Lutherans the essence of the office is not the offering up of the sacrifice of the mass.  It is preaching!  The Sacrament serves the preaching.  The Sacrament ensures (or ought to ensure!) that the preaching will focus on the blood and righteousness of Jesus.  But it is preaching that is primary, and the preaching is always grounded in the Holy Scriptures that are read publicly to the people before the sermon is preached.  This is why Lutherans attach the office of lector to the office of pastor and do not conceive of it as arising from the priesthood of all believers.  That the LCMS has caved into women lectors doesn't change our theology.  Or does it?

Don't know if you have heard of the RCL (Revised Common Lectionary), RD, but the Roman Catholic Church reads pretty much exactly the same lessons from the same Holy Scriptures publicly before the sermon is preached in a Roman Catholic Church.   There's that in terms of your understanding of what happens during a Roman Catholic Mass.  It is understood that the Proclamation/Homily/Sermon and the Consecration of the Eucharist is the administrative responsibility of the priest, as it is in the Lutheran tradition.

The conduct of worship is the responsibility of the pastor in any regard.  The lections/readings under the supervision of the pastor can be read by others without violating the preaching office.  To equate the Office of the Holy Ministry with the mandatory reading of all Scripture is a change in "our" theology, whoever you mean by "our."  Non-ordained persons have been reading lessons in LCMS congregations for a long, long time without being accused of violating our theology, and in fact have appropriately understood the theology and practice by which the pastor undertakes his congregational assignment to proclamation and sacramental administration.  The boundary stone has been the public preaching/teaching and consecration of Holy Communion as well as in normal circumstances conducting the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. 

Dave Benke

You and I both grew up in LCMS congregations.  When you were a child, were there any LCMS congregations that featured women lectors?

Yes.

Your argumentation, however, is not based on the gender of the lector.  It's based on the opinion that only an ordained pastor shall read the lessons.  The theological position you are espousing is that the LCMS should because of our doctrine of the office of the ministry allow only ordained clergy to read the lessons.  You haven't specified what kind of services - communion or non-communion, Sunday or weekday - so my assumption is that you mean any services of any kind in any LCMS congregation. 

Dave Benke

As a general rule, that is my view.  The lessons ARE part of the preaching and so ordinarily ought to be done by the pastor.
That is one view of the matter, but not the only view. Without going into a lengthy examination of passages, historical accounts of how the early church conducted worship, and word studies, another view is that the one reading the lessons exercises no authority but is merely a messenger delivering the message that he or she was commissioned to deliver, nothing more or less. They do so under the authority and supervision of the pastor, who also is the one who selected which lessons were to be read. The authority of the lessons rests in the lessons, not the one who reads them.

So, why have someone other than the pastor read them?

11
Your Turn / Re: "Blue Bloods" and the Seal of the Confessional
« on: January 25, 2022, 02:56:17 PM »
I think perhaps the problem Rev. Speckhard describes is not so much one with the form of confession as it is one of preaching and teaching about what sin is and how I am guilty of it in so many ways, and deserve only eternal condemnation.  That is, even if one were to toss the general confession/absolution and utilize regular/frequent private confession/absolution, unless parishioners are properly taught to see the sin (original AND actual, with specificity) in them personally and also have a correct understand of what that sin truly merits, it would do no real good.

12
Your Turn / Re: Women Lectors
« on: January 25, 2022, 02:49:52 PM »
That Rome would permit and even celebrate women lectors does not tell us much about their view of the priesthood of all believers (sometimes incorrectly designated the priesthood of the baptized), but it does remind us of their view of the priesthood and how it differs from the Lutheran view.  Offering the sacrifice of the mass is essential to the priesthood.  Indeed, without the priesthood that features (allegedly) apostolic succession, there is no body and blood on the altar.  Thus, we Lutheran pastors do not and cannot hand out to our parishioners the body and blood of Jesus.  One would think that Lutherans would object to such a teaching, but I digress.  The point is that for Lutherans the essence of the office is not the offering up of the sacrifice of the mass.  It is preaching!  The Sacrament serves the preaching.  The Sacrament ensures (or ought to ensure!) that the preaching will focus on the blood and righteousness of Jesus.  But it is preaching that is primary, and the preaching is always grounded in the Holy Scriptures that are read publicly to the people before the sermon is preached.  This is why Lutherans attach the office of lector to the office of pastor and do not conceive of it as arising from the priesthood of all believers.  That the LCMS has caved into women lectors doesn't change our theology.  Or does it?

Don't know if you have heard of the RCL (Revised Common Lectionary), RD, but the Roman Catholic Church reads pretty much exactly the same lessons from the same Holy Scriptures publicly before the sermon is preached in a Roman Catholic Church.   There's that in terms of your understanding of what happens during a Roman Catholic Mass.  It is understood that the Proclamation/Homily/Sermon and the Consecration of the Eucharist is the administrative responsibility of the priest, as it is in the Lutheran tradition.

The conduct of worship is the responsibility of the pastor in any regard.  The lections/readings under the supervision of the pastor can be read by others without violating the preaching office.  To equate the Office of the Holy Ministry with the mandatory reading of all Scripture is a change in "our" theology, whoever you mean by "our."  Non-ordained persons have been reading lessons in LCMS congregations for a long, long time without being accused of violating our theology, and in fact have appropriately understood the theology and practice by which the pastor undertakes his congregational assignment to proclamation and sacramental administration.  The boundary stone has been the public preaching/teaching and consecration of Holy Communion as well as in normal circumstances conducting the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. 

Dave Benke

You and I both grew up in LCMS congregations.  When you were a child, were there any LCMS congregations that featured women lectors?

Yes.

Your argumentation, however, is not based on the gender of the lector.  It's based on the opinion that only an ordained pastor shall read the lessons.  The theological position you are espousing is that the LCMS should because of our doctrine of the office of the ministry allow only ordained clergy to read the lessons.  You haven't specified what kind of services - communion or non-communion, Sunday or weekday - so my assumption is that you mean any services of any kind in any LCMS congregation. 

Dave Benke

As a general rule, that is my view.  The lessons ARE part of the preaching and so ordinarily ought to be done by the pastor.

13
Your Turn / Re: "Blue Bloods" and the Seal of the Confessional
« on: January 25, 2022, 02:42:52 PM »
The words "I a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities, with which I have ever offended You" is inclusive of all the specific sins, and not only of original sin.  The pastor granting Holy Absolution is giving in the absolution the assurance of salvation not only for pardon from the original state of sin, but for sins of thought, word and deed.

If that's not the case, then private confession would be the only way to receive absolution.   That to me would mark a sea change for most Lutherans.  It could be worth the Sturm und Drang in terms of lining up with the Church through the ages, or it could be a departure from our understanding of the General Confession and Absolution and therefore not theologically "us."

What am I missing?  How can you say "Of course" to the absolution offered at the time of the general confession if it does not include actual sins of thought, word and deed?  That doesn't make sense to me.

Dave Benke
I say of course there is forgiveness for sins we aren’t aware of and sins confessed in the general confession. But there is not absolution for sins one is not sorry for. And simply lumping those sins in with everything else you’ve done all week is not confessing them.

If I lie about you behind your back, causing you no end of hurt and trouble, and you find out and confront me with it, it doesn’t mend our relationship if I say, “Every word uttered by this sinner’s tongue through my life has been wretched and sinful, just like yours.” In s sense it would be true, but it would simply be evasive. I would be protecting myself with those words rather than becoming vulnerable.

Therefore the general absolution is false comfort to - I would guess - most people, who have some besetting sin/condition/relationship which gets the best of them, or just something they forgot. They're not truly sorry because they don't/can't change the thing.  Who makes that judgment that they're being evasive or glossing over things?  To me what you're writing is a very real weakening of the General Confession and Absolution.   So why even include it?  Why not abandon it and instead demand individual confession/absolution prior to attendance at the Eucharist?

This, not by the way, was the practice in the Eastern quadrant of the LCMS when Holy Communion was offered once a month (or in some places once a quarter).  Then the Saturday before Communion Sunday the pastor's office was open from X to Y time for "announcing" you and the wife's attendance the following day, and it was in effect private confession and absolution.  Our beloved Pastor and Founder, The Rev. Dr. Arthur C. Brunn, saw those folks right where I'm sitting now.  Say six Our Fathers and see you tomorrow.  No Hail Marys - not allowed.

Dave Benke

At my first call, the parsonage was next door to the church and the office was in the parsonage.  In the front door and to the right was the office, with a little entryway/coatroom, complete with a bench.  There was another door that led into the rest of the house.  When I was moving in, I said to the elders who were helping me that the little room was a nice place to put on boots etc. in the winter, with the bench.  They told me that was not the purpose -- it was the waiting room for those announcing on Saturday afternoon/evening for communion the next day -- they would wait there while the pastor heard the announcements (or "examined" the parishioners).  Not sure when that custom ended.

14
Your Turn / Re: "Blue Bloods" and the Seal of the Confessional
« on: January 25, 2022, 01:03:23 PM »
I think many people know that the correct answer is that they are terrified about confessing to be a sinner in general. But they are not terrified. They already know the words, and that the pastor’s part is to say that they are forgiven. It becomes a cheap grace, vending machine kind of forgiveness.

The catechism says the corporate confession of all sins is part of the Lord’s Prayer, but that confession and absolution should only cover the sins we know and feel in our hearts. If we’re going to have corporate confession and absolution as a de facto replacement for private confession and absolution, (which we do, albeit reluctantly and with much protestation by pastors who want their people to make use of private confession while only a tiny percentage actually do), then we need to instruct people to realize that they are confessing actual sins, not just original sin.

1.  I trust you are not denying that there is absolution in the general absolution, even for those sins we may not know or remember in our hearts.  Is that correct?

2. The general confession, as given in the hymnals, specifically mentions both original AND actual sins (thought/word/deed, what we have done and left undone, etc.).  It does not just speak of original sin.

3. I repeat, how much felt terror is enough to receive absolution?

15
Your Turn / Re: "Blue Bloods" and the Seal of the Confessional
« on: January 25, 2022, 12:20:13 PM »
We might remember that the public absolution, "I forgive you all your sins in the name of the . . . ." (e.g., LSB, p. 151) did not come into Lutheran usage until 1941 with the introduction of TLH (The Lutheran Hymnal). It remains unique to Missouri (and the former Synodical Conference) Lutherans. I don't think any other church bodies use it.

Probably, the public absolution was introduced by the Synodical Conference in 1941 as a measure to help restore the practice of private confession, which in 1941 was virtually nil. Peter criticizes the phrase, "bondage to sin" as weakening the intent of private confession. I would place the blame for that rather on the use of the public absolution.

I do not use it myself but follow the practice of the LBW and all other Lutheran service books before 1941.

Peace, JOHN
The two sort of go hand in hand though. Nothing specific is being addressed. It is just, “I’m a sinner.” “You are forgiven.” On to the introit. There is no possibility of the pastor distinguishing law and Gospel by determining whether the penitent is really contrite (which was the original purpose of penance before it became a works righteousness way of balancing out the bad with something good). It is a pro forma thing. In the article I referenced above, I made the point that confessing to being a sinner is easy. Confessing out loud to someone else to having lied when calling in sick, lusting after the neighbor girl, or anything specific is terrifying.

1. If someone is not terrified by the confession of original sin or of simply being a "sinner", then his pastor has some work to do. 
2. How much terror is enough?
3. How complete must one's list of confessed sins be in order for the pastor to pronounce absolution?

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