It’s Friday! That means we turn out attention to the Augsburg Confession. This week’s topic is one that comes as a bit of a surprise to us Lutherans in America, especially in regards to how the Reformers viewed the role of individual Confession (and Absolution). But notice how the emphasis is always on the Absolution, the announcement of the forgiveness of sins. Enjoy!
Collect of the Week
Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name and nourish us with all goodness that we may love and serve our neighbor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Article XI (Confession)
1 Our churches teach that private Absolution should be retained in the churches, although listing all sins is not necessary for Confession. 2 For, according to the Psalm, it is impossible. “Who can discern his errors?” (Psalm 19:12). (Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 35).
By the time of the Reformation, the practice of confessing sins privately and confidentially to a pastor had been a well-accepted church practice for over a thousand years. Private Confession and Absolution was never something Lutherans wanted to get rid of. As time went on, the practice fell into disuse, but clearly Article XI assumes that private Confession and Absolution will take place in the Lutheran Church. The problem addressed by this article is that the Roman Church demanded every sin be recalled and confessed. Clearly, this is humanly impossible and makes our forgiveness dependent on our work. Such teaching is certainly dangerous to repentant consciences, which need firm assurance that Christ forgives all sin. (See also Ap XI; SA III VIII; Appendix B, An Exhortation to Confession.) (Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. Edited by Paul Timothy McCain. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005, S. 35)
Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant us a true confession that, dead to sin, we may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in Your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord (LSB, collect #153).