Thursday, December 06, 2007

Let People Confess


I have a big pet peeve. Why do pastors refuse to let their people confess their sins? I'm not talking about not having times for private confession and absolution. I'm talking about those times when God's people faithfully harken to the call to repent and the pastor does, what in my opinion, is the stupidest, most faithless thing he could do..."That's not really a sin," or "That's not that bad."

If people come to you with something to confess, let them! Give them the sweet gift of Holy Absolution. I don't care if its something as seemingly trivial as going 1 mile over the speed limit, if that has caused a dear saint in Christ to despair so much so that they would come to you privately seeking the Gospel, GIVE IT TO THEM!!!

I had a pastor to whom I made confession once, many years ago. It was a big sin that I struggled with for years. He looked at me and said, "It's not that big of a deal, many people do that." Why did he do it? Why does any pastor turn away a penitent sinner? Perhaps its because they struggle with the same sin but have not or refuse to acknowledge it as sinfulness. Perhaps its because they despise their office and the Gospel, refusing to give that which was given freely, it to a beggar. Whatever the reason, if you are a pastor and have done this, REPENT! If you are a lay-person and have done what few Lutherans are willing to do by going to private confession, make your pastor forgive you. It's his job! Don't ever let him off with "that's ok, it's not a big deal!" The atonement of Christ is a big deal and He has given it to you at a high cost.

3 comments:

jWinters said...

I think these well meaning and/or cowardly pastors are probably gun shy when it comes to confession and absolution in general. Most of them haven't really been trained in it. In fact, many of our elder brother pastors may have bought into the "well, that's not really a Lutheran thing" line. (Even though it shows up in the Small Catechism...hmnnn...)

I think that there IS a danger however, that we have to watch out for as pastors. We don't want to make the law heavy through accepting confessions that aren't really sins, i.e. Pastor, I didn't fast an hour before communion today, please forgive me.

Still, I think you're right - most of our brothers freak out when someone asks them for Priv. Confession and Forgiveness. They assume that the person is just asking for a "counseling session." Now, I get into some counseling stuff after the absolution - because that's what the pastor is there to do also...but

...ok...I'm just rambling now...hah! Maybe we should write a book on confession and absolution for pastors.

(Kind of a neat thing, here in FL-GA, our Futures Committee is actually thinking about challenging all pastors to do private confession and absolution with one another on a regular basis).

in Christ,
jW

Jim Roemke said...

Jay-
That is another popular misconception about confession and absolution: that it beats people up with the law. The fact is, confession and absolution is the perfect and one of the most personal medicines for the law. If someone's conscious is burdened because they didn't fast before communion, I don't want them to bear that burden. Christ has forgiven all of our sin. He even takes away the guilt for perceived sins. And, honestly, we are working in a vineyard that is terribly romophobic, I seriously doubt that anyone would feel any great burden of conscious for not fasting. In fact, they would probably feel more guilty because they fasted.

Regardless, c & a is not about accosting with the law, but about soothing with the gospel. Its a beautiful thing and I encourage (I hate it when Christians "challenge" one another! I went to a Baptist High School and that's all those fools did!) all Christians to demand the great treasure given to them: holy absolution from the called and ordained servant of the Word.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

This is a great post, and your follow up comments too. Thank you!