Poll

Do you (if you are laity - state what your church does - and if you avail)

Offer it scheduled consistently
Announce it is available by appointment - and it is regularly taken up
Offer it by appt, but it is not ever used
Don't offer it
Private what?
Offerend and rarely used (as opposed to not used)

Author Topic: Private C&A  (Read 10885 times)

Weedon

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #120 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!

vicarbob

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #121 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!
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Bob

Karl Hess

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #122 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."

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #123 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.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 08:16:57 AM by dgkirch »
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George Erdner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #124 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.

Sandra

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #125 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.
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Rev. Kevin Scheuller

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #126 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.  


« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 02:37:12 PM by Rev. Kevin Scheuller »

Karl Hess

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #127 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. 
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 02:51:08 PM by Karl Hess »

Mike in Pennsylvania

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #128 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.
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amos

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #129 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.

Rev. Kevin Scheuller

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #130 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.


Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #131 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.
Don Kirchner

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Karl Hess

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #132 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.

George Erdner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #133 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.

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #134 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.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 05:32:39 PM by dgkirch »
Don Kirchner

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