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 10897 times)

Rev. Kevin Scheuller

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #150 on: February 27, 2011, 08:10:50 PM »
FWIW, George, of the 10-20 times I've taken part in private confession and absolution, at least half of those times it was initiated by the "pewsitters."  Other times, I offered it because I thought it would be helpful to the individual who, in turn, agreed with me.  I have never forced it on anyone.  I would offer it here, but since it might appear too "Roman" in my current setting, I choose (wisely) not to.  Even though I don't broadcast it, I have had opportunities in this current call to use it for those who find it helpful. 



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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

George Erdner

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #151 on: February 27, 2011, 08:23:13 PM »
FWIW George, I hope to be honest and wish to tell you and everyone, if it wasn't explicit in my prior posts, that I have not and would not say that "the really big sins must be confessed privately," and that corporate confession, honestly done (that is with each individual really calling to mind the sins they know they've committed and a repentant of) is enough.  Corporate confession even include sins of which we're not aware but, being real sinners, we all do them.

Cheers!


To be totally honest, in a discussion like this one with multiple participants championing Private Confession and Absolution, with some advocates saying one thing and other advocates saying another, keeping track of which argument you put forth and which argument Pastor Hess put forth and which argument Pastor Weedon put forth is something I haven't committed to memory. One of you guys made reference to private confession and absolution being especially good for a particularly troubling sin. I"m already going way overboard in excessive verbosity. I apologize if distilling a paragraph of carefully nuanced description about especially troubling acts of sin down to "really big ones" caused you personal offense.

Karl Hess

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #152 on: February 27, 2011, 08:33:07 PM »
And I find George's practice regarding confession/absolution as well as yours and mine to be within the parameters of and in agreement with the Lutheran Symbols.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes me wonder what kind of angels must walk the earth in Minnesota who don't really find that public confession, while certainly not bad, doesn't get to the heart of the matter, doesn't really result in us more often than not concealing our sins while saying we're confessing them.  Do you never find it to be the case that many people claim to be certain of the forgiveness of their sins and never doubt it, who it would be better if they were less "certain"?  Do you ever hear people say, "I don't have to go to private confession?"  What would you say if people were to say, "I don't have to go to the Sacrament of the Altar?"  Of course there are those who say that because they are afraid and their conscience terrifies them when they think of confessing their sins in front of another person.  And there are also those who simply don't feel particularly troubled by their sins.  And that I think is the danger for many Lutherans--their sins don't appear to be very great.  So they don't feel any pressing need to go to the trouble of confessing them in front of someone else.  But Luther and the Confessions continually define contrition differently--it calls contrition "terrors."  Now if a person is terrified of his sins and damnation, no one has to tell him to go to private confession, the Lord's body and blood, to read the Bible or to go hear the sermon.  He goes because his need drives him.  And Luther says that when you feel no great need for Jesus' body and blood, you shouldn't wait until you start feeling differently--you should let the own lack of awareness of your sins show you that your heart is so sick that it no longer feels its disese, and you should let that drive you to the Lord's Supper.  Well, the same is so about private absolution.  If you are troubled by sins that you think are proof that your faith is false, you should go to absolution so you can hear Christ's pardon spoken to those sins.  And if you are not troubled by particular sins, you should let the testimony of God's Word that there is nothing good in us compel us to receive absolution spoken to us personally.

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #153 on: February 27, 2011, 10:49:17 PM »
Luther's great valuation of private confession and absolution arose from actual experience of it; he exhorted all Christians not to deny themselves this comfort.  He couldn't imagine a Christian who would want to forgo it.  But as Pr. Kirchner points out, he was not operating in a situation where Christians had come to value the public absolution - for it was not in use during his own day.  I do not wish George or anyone to have a bad conscience about trusting the public absolution - for it is God's own truth!  I do wish the folks wouldn't deny themselves a further blessing God would wish to give them, but it's in no way a denigration of the public absolution to extol the private absolution.  As I said before, those who have experienced both will readily confess that they are BOTH a blessing and in differing ways that are hard to logically define.  I hope as the result of this conversation that some who have not thought of using private absolution will consider receiving it; and I hope that absolutely no one would ever question the great joy of the public absolution either.  It's not a case of this OR that; it is most certainly a case of this AND that - God's richest blessings poured out in more than one way. 

Rev. Kevin Scheuller

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #154 on: February 28, 2011, 12:01:32 AM »
FWIW George, I hope to be honest and wish to tell you and everyone, if it wasn't explicit in my prior posts, that I have not and would not say that "the really big sins must be confessed privately," and that corporate confession, honestly done (that is with each individual really calling to mind the sins they know they've committed and a repentant of) is enough.  Corporate confession even include sins of which we're not aware but, being real sinners, we all do them.

Cheers!



To be totally honest, in a discussion like this one with multiple participants championing Private Confession and Absolution, with some advocates saying one thing and other advocates saying another, keeping track of which argument you put forth and which argument Pastor Hess put forth and which argument Pastor Weedon put forth is something I haven't committed to memory. One of you guys made reference to private confession and absolution being especially good for a particularly troubling sin. I"m already going way overboard in excessive verbosity. I apologize if distilling a paragraph of carefully nuanced description about especially troubling acts of sin down to "really big ones" caused you personal offense.
No personal offense taken on the "really big" sins comment, George.  I just wanted to clarify that my position in favor of Individual Confession and Absolution should not be read as it being better than Corporate Confession and Absolution or more necessary for "certain sins."  I think Pastor Weedon's most recent comment on the matter crystallizes my thoughts eloquently.  Having received such absolution of my individual confession myself, I can only sing its praises.  Having the opportunity to be truly transparent to another Christian whose privilege and duty includes proclaiming God's word of forgiveness to you, whatever the sin, with the assurance of the confessional seal of confidentiality is a rich blessing.  
« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 12:03:49 AM by Rev. Kevin Scheuller »

Timotheus Verinus

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2340
    • View Profile
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #155 on: February 28, 2011, 12:54:04 AM »
Luther's great valuation of private confession and absolution arose from actual experience of it; he exhorted all Christians not to deny themselves this comfort.  He couldn't imagine a Christian who would want to forgo it.  But as Pr. Kirchner points out, he was not operating in a situation where Christians had come to value the public absolution - for it was not in use during his own day. I do not wish George or anyone to have a bad conscience about trusting the public absolution - for it is God's own truth!  I do wish the folks wouldn't deny themselves a further blessing God would wish to give them, but it's in no way a denigration of the public absolution to extol the private absolution.  As I said before, those who have experienced both will readily confess that they are BOTH a blessing and in differing ways that are hard to logically define.  I hope as the result of this conversation that some who have not thought of using private absolution will consider receiving it; and I hope that absolutely no one would ever question the great joy of the public absolution either.  It's not a case of this OR that; it is most certainly a case of this AND that - God's richest blessings poured out in more than one way.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

MHO
TV

PS Here's how I'd resolve the debate -
Don. If George came to your office and said, even casually, no big deal, "Pastor Don I need to confess." I bet you would drop your sermon, trust the Holy Spirit to find the words next service, change your schedule, close your door and invite him to come and sit. Even though you just forgave him at public C&A.
Karl, I know you have not dropped the Public C&A from your services, and I bet when you declare, "as a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you ..." you look into the eyes and hearts of your people trusting they hear those words. Even though your heart aches for them to come to you.
What was your argument about again?
« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 01:26:40 AM by TVerinus »
TAALC Pastor

Harvey_Mozolak

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4857
    • View Profile
    • line and letter lettuce
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #156 on: February 28, 2011, 07:02:20 AM »
While I personally respect private or individual C&A and am not wading into what Luther did or did not, want or did not want to do...   but

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

http://lineandletterlettuce.blogspot.com

Donald_Kirchner

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12124
    • View Profile
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #157 on: February 28, 2011, 11:41:16 AM »
Well, Karl, it seems that, according to your argument, the vast majority of Lutherans, and many prominent Lutheran theologians over the generations, are not Christian. You're in good company, George!

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

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

The end result? George's point is well made. OTOH, I don't really think that he doubts the forgiveness of sins given him in corporate absolution or that he and the vast majority of Lutherans are Christian, though not in Karl's elite club.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but itís not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #158 on: February 28, 2011, 11:44:39 AM »
Actually, the regular use of the Saturday Vespers as an occasion for confession/absolution predates the Reformation; Luther didn't institute it.

Timotheus Verinus

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2340
    • View Profile
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #159 on: February 28, 2011, 11:50:07 AM »
While I personally respect private or individual C&A and am not wading into what Luther did or did not, want or did not want to do...   but

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


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

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

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

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

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

TV

PS:
Actually, the regular use of the Saturday Vespers as an occasion for confession/absolution predates the Reformation; Luther didn't institute it.
Thank you for the correction. I should have said "used the opportunity," but Harvey's note on being reluctant to delve into the mind of Luther probably applies, despite the window where he reveals that somewhat. (LC)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 12:57:17 PM by TVerinus »
TAALC Pastor

grabau

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #160 on: February 28, 2011, 01:21:25 PM »
In the  church when I was confirmed absolution was always "private".  The minister laid hand on each {at the altar rail} and prounounced forgiveness {not in the subjunctive). grabau

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #161 on: February 28, 2011, 01:49:12 PM »
Were you raised Slovak by any chance?  I know they preserved that custom for a long time.  Where I vicared, though, they only did it still on Maundy Thursday, I seem to recall.  That was years ago now.  Don't know if they do it at all anymore.

vicarbob

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #162 on: February 28, 2011, 03:01:47 PM »
on Maundy Thursday, I seem to recall.  That was years ago   Don't know if they do it at all anymore.

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

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #163 on: February 28, 2011, 03:23:19 PM »
Ah, Vicar, and you're even older than I am...wow...  :)

Dave_Poedel

  • Guest
Re: Private C&A
« Reply #164 on: February 28, 2011, 04:22:28 PM »
FWIW, to George and others:  I will submit that since 1995, the practice of Private C&A has increased to numbers perhaps not seen since the Reformation, and if limited to the USA, since our forefathers came over on the boat.

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

See, it's all how you frame the point....