Saturday, June 21, 2003

Article XI: Concerning Confession

Concerning confession they teach that private absolution should be retained in the churches, although an enumeration of all faults in confession is not necessary. For this is impossible according to the psalm [19:12]: "But who can detect their errors?"

Understanding this article requires the observation on our side of history. Very few congregations have retained private absolution. It shows up now and again and I cannot account for its dissolution. Perhaps my commentary partner could enlighten us on this problem?

As such, my contribution to this article must reside in systematic-theological imperatives and anecdotes. My father tells stories of private confession on the prairie in a small German-speaking LC-MS congregation. It's a rare business. I took a course in it at Seminary and was fortunate enough to be friends with some guys preparing for the priesthood and, boy, was their training serious. They would joke about general confessions, like the LBW has as an optional entry rite at the beginning of the service, as being suitable only on the border line cases, like when a plane is going down and the priest would yell out a general absolution before the final destination (pun intended).

The imperatives must aim for the recovery of this practice and will await another entry.

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