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 8872 times)

Weedon

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #30 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.  
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 02:11:25 PM by Weedon »

vicarbob

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #31 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...........

George Erdner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #32 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?

Revbert

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #33 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.

George Erdner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #34 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.

Karl Hess

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #35 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.

Karl Hess

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #36 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.

pr dtp

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #37 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.

George Erdner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #38 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?

Karl Hess

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #39 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.  

Matt Staneck

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #40 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
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

pr dtp

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #41 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. 


George Erdner

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #42 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".


vicarbob

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #43 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

Revbert

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Re: Private C&A
« Reply #44 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