Friday, December 21, 2018

Confession and Absolution: A Report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, April, 2018

Dear Friends,

One of my latest works was serving as drafter for this important project on Confession and Absolution. The writing and research was conducted in response to a national (synodical) resolution to encourage our pastors to employ this invaluable resource which Christ has granted His Holy Church. When the pastor makes use of this gift, then he can also be effective in offering the rite to his flock. Indeed, the gift is for all the people of God! The work came out this past Spring and is available in digital form via:

When you get to this site, see the very top. You can type in a search.

Type in Confession and Absolution

You will be taken to the document and you will be able to download the document! You will have the e-book for free!

"Confession" in God's Word takes on different forms: there is confession of faith, confession of praise, and confession of sin.

The document focuses on the latter, but in doing so, emphasizes how the Church -- through the office of Jesus in the Church -- responds to confession of sin. The response is called "Absolution." Thus, the entire consideration is Confession and Absolution. Absolution is the pronouncement, declaring, and imputation of God's forgiveness through God's Word and Office! It is a very great gift indeed!

At this juncture, of course, the Church of the ancient teaching runs into contemporary complaints: "Hold on! Wait just a minute! It is through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus alone that we are saved and have forgiveness! So, why do you claim that forgiveness comes through this rite?"

And the contemporary objection is readily answered. Our salvation and forgiveness was indeed won on the cross by our LORD Jesus Christ and our justification absolutely established by His resurrection! However, we must ALSO receive this salvation and forgiveness 2000 years later in time. Christ's victory must be DELIVERED and given to us personally!

That is, our salvation is both won and distributed. The one without the other will not suffice. Luther perhaps put it best:

"Christ on the cross and all his suffering and his death do not avail, even if, as you teach, they are 'acknowledged and meditated upon' with the utmost 'passion, ardor, heartfeltness.' Something else must always be there. What is it? The Word, the Word, the Word. Listen, lying spirit, the Word avails. Even if Christ were given for us and crucified a thousand times, it would all be in vain if the Word of God were absent and were not distributed and given to me with the bidding, this is for you, take what is yours." ("Against the Heavenly Prophets," LW 40, 212-213)

In this document we explore the Scriptural Witness, the Confessional Witness, History, and Challenges. We continue by considering how this gift helps the pastor as a child of God, for addressing the needs of his unique calling, and then we provide guidance for the pastor on how to get started. Finally, we present how this gift may then be extended to the entire congregation. We discuss the general need, the great benefit for pastor and people, and how this resource may be restored and practiced.

I pray that this work might be of personal benefit for you. In Lutheran Biblical Christianity the gift -- in its individual and private form -- is not mandated, but is free. When it is used, however, it provides a great benefit indeed for troubled consciences. It is a true balm for the soul, and salve for the spirit.

To the glory of Christ, our Savior!

Dr. Espinosa

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