Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Reclaim Hymnal: Now That's What I Mean By Conditional Absolution!!!

A friend of mine who is interested in the topic of public absolution and has studied the topic's history, sent me the two formulas of absolution that we find the "Reclaim" hymnal (this is connected with the WordAlone movement in the ELCA, but not technically produced by them). It is my understanding that they wanted the later to be the only option, but because of reasons of marketability, they had to include the former as well. I cite them here:

Version 1

"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, has had mercy on you, and has given his only Son to die for you, and for his sake forgives you all your sins. Scripture declares: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not, shall not see life. Therefore God continues to call the unbelieving to turn from their impenitence while it is day, and come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. For to all who receive him and who believe in his name, he gives power to become children of God, and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. All who believe and are baptized will be saved."


Notice this is not really that different than the Wittenberg 1559 absolution that was cited below. Interestingly enough, it emphasizes faith more, but it's not too bad. Again, my preference is that there be no mention of faith, since faith will be created by the proclamation of forgiveness. It's not like if you don't mention faith people will say later "oh man! I forgot to have faith! I guess it didn't work!" But again, there's nothing wrong with mentioning faith. Just as long as it's not spoken of as something we do to get the forgiveness.


Version 2
"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, has had mercy on you and has given his only Son to die for you, and for his sake forgives you all your sins. To all who believe in Jesus Christ he gives the power to become children of God and bestows on you his Holy Spirit. On the other hand, I declare to the impenitent and unbelieving, that so long as you continue in your impenitence, God has not forgiven your sins, and will surely visit your iniquities upon you if you do not turn from your sinful ways and come to repentance and faith in Christ before the day of grace is ended."


Now that's what I mean by conditional absolution!

My friend comments:


"Isn't that 2nd one just plain, distilled awesome? It sounds like the pastor is saying that "God forgives you, but I declare that you're probably screwed." I'm sure the proper purpose of an absolution is to scare people senseless, wondering exactly when the day of grace is ending so they have time to get themselves together."


My friend also notes that the ELCA theologian that I was interacting with is not correct about the conditional nature of absolution in the public setting in earlier Lutheran liturgies:

"So, basically, [name omitted] is wrong (or at least incomplete) when he says the order is always the same--public condition, private unconditional. In at least some cases, the more pietistic side had a confession w/ no absolution. But note also that the common "conditional" absolution simply mentions faith. It doesn't turn around and say "damned if you don't." That sort of condition is nowhere to be found. Instead, this just says in blanket fashion, "for his sake forgives us all our sins," then mentions belief."


In reviewing the relationship of the Reclaim hymnal to earlier Lutheran liturgies (of even a Pietistic variety) my friend concludes:


"Notably, there's NOTHING that looks like the hyper-conditional absolution the Reclaim hymnal wants to go with. Some [Pietists] didn't use one at all, but I don't find an example of, "Those who do not believe are damned" in an absolution for Sunday mornings among the Scandinavians (or anyone else who followed the Common Service). Doesn't mean nobody used it, but it wasn't in their major hymnals [those which he has examined]. The Reclaim crew had to kind of make one of those up."


Update 1: Yesterday, I mentioned that I couldn't find any formula of public absolution in Luther's Wittenberg Mass. Someone posted this formula of absolution given by Luther in the wake of the Nuremberg controversy. Notice it is unconditional:

"Dear friends, because we are all mortal, not being certain of the hour of [our] death, humble yourselves before God, [and] confess in your hearts that all we poor sinners have need of His grace and forgiveness at every moment. And in case God today or tomorrow should call any one of you from this vale of tears, I, as a pastor (preacher) by His mandate, pronounce all of you who are present and hear God’s Word, and who with true repentance for your sin believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, free from all [your] sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in peace, whether to live or to die."


Update 2: Someone just wrote me and informed me that there has in the later editions of the hymnal been added a unconditional formula of absolution.

Update 3: Gregory, a frequent reader, offered the source of the Reclaim hymnal's formula of absolution:

"Service book and hymnal p.252 The Order for Public confession for a specially appointed preparatory Service. 
"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us, and for the sake of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of his dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, forgiveth us all our sins. As a Minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you who do truly repent and believe in him, the entire forgiveness of all your sins: In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The Rubrics then add: Here the Minister may also say: On theother hand, by the same authority, I declare unto the impenitent and unbelieving, that so long as they continue in their impenitence, God hath not forgiven their sins, and will assuredly visit their iniquiteis upon them, if they turn not from their evil ways, and come to true repentance and faith in Christ, ere the day of grace be ended."


Hence, it would appear my friend is mistaken.  It does have prior existence to the hymnal.  The theological point I made still stands.

20 comments:

  1. Jack--
    I don't think Luther included an absolution in any of his liturgical formulas, but he did write one as an example given to the Nuremberg leaders in the Osiander controversy. Here it is:

    Dear friends, because we are all
    mortal, not being certain of the hour
    of [our] death, humble yourselves
    before God, [and] confess in your
    hearts that all we poor sinners have
    need of His grace and forgiveness at
    every moment. And in case God
    today or tomorrow should call any
    one of you from this vale of tears, I,
    as a pastor (preacher) by His
    mandate, pronounce all of you who
    are present and hear God’s Word,
    and who with true repentance for
    your sin believe in our Lord Jesus
    Christ, free from all [your] sins in
    the name of the Father, Son, and
    Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in peace,
    whether to live or to die

    I found it in an article by Thomas Winger in the Lutheran Theological Review.
    http://www.concordiasem.ab.ca/research/documents/LTRXVIII.pdf

    Luther does a couple things here that distinguish this absolution from the others: 1) the purpose is for consolation in the face of death rather than the "amendment of life; and 2) true repentance is not "sorrow" but belief.

    Thanks for this ongoing conversation.

    Tim

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  2. Service book and hymnal p.252 The Order for Public confession for a specially appointed preparatory Service.
    "Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us, and for the sake of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of his dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, forgiveth us all our sins. As a Minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you who do truly repent and believe in him, the entire forgiveness of all your sins: In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
    The Rubrics then add: Here the Minister may also say: On theother hand, by the same authority, I declare unto the impenitent and unbelieving, that so long as they continue in their impenitence, God hath not forgiven their sins, and will assuredly visit their iniquiteis upon them, if they turn not from their evil ways, and come to true repentance and faith in Christ, ere the day of grace be ended.

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  3. If my memory serves me right this two fold use of the keys in the SBH traces back at least to Mulenberg and the earliest english lutheran services. It is kind of cool in contrast to the modern contempt for the proclamation of the Law. It is kind of an anti-Rob Bell order of service.

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  4. Gregory- Thanks for the source. I'll put up the source as an update when I get home. It appears that my friend was not entirely correct that Reclaim just made up the formula. In any case, it does not appear to go back to Luther. Thanks for the contribution!

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  5. I believe you may also be interested to see the Maundy Thursday service contained in the LSB Altar Book.

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  6. The argument for the absolution adopted by Reclaim is provided on their website under the heading Archive and Links (http://www.reclaimresources.org/archive-and-links). Both Oliver K. Olson and Walter Sundberg have articles that they believe will make the case. I tend to lend toward Dr. Kilcrease's view, but their essays make interesting reading.

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  7. David- Thanks for the link. As I recall, they mainly make their argument on the basis of historical precedence. I guess I don't find that argument all that convincing because, 1. The precedence is weak- though I now admit, stronger than I suggested in the original post. 2. Mere historical precedence should not define liturgical practice. Rather, only systematic reflection on Scriptural teaching.

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  8. Luther's Wittenberg Mass Absolution is conditional. It is limited to those: "who with true repentance for your sin believe in our Lord Jesus Christ."

    I have an ongoing thesis that public unconditional absolution has no historical precedent in the Lutheran Church. To my knowledge, an unconditional absolution intended for the general public (e.g., the unbaptized, the excommunicate, the scoffers, etc.) was first implemented in 1941 in The Lutheran Hymnal.

    For many years and across many forums and blogs, I have asked for evidence of a Lutheran public absolution dated before 1941. It's impossible to prove a negative but, so far, no one has been able disprove my thesis.

    The Lutheran Church has traditionally restricted unconditional absolution of sins to private or individual confession. Public confession/absolutions before TLH, 1941, were individual, conditional, or they included a retention of sins For example: 1580 revision of the Herzog Heinrich Agenda (Corporate Conditional Remittal); Braunschweig-Woelfenbuettel Church Order prepared by concordists Chemnitz and Andrea (Corporate Conditional Remittal and Retention); Danish Norwegian Rite of 1685 (Individual Remittal).

    In Holy Absolution we receive the forgiveness of sins as we return to our baptism in repentance (AC, XII). Many visitors to public services have never been baptized. How do they return to a baptism they have never received and do not desire?

    Members of Christian sects believe that forgiveness is received through the outward act or covenant of absolution rather than through faith alone (Gal. 3:22). Should absolution be pronounced to those who deny the doctrine of justification by faith alone?

    Members banned from the supper for public or private sins attend divine services. Should they, indiscriminately, have their sins remitted to them without confession or repentance?

    Unworthy guests at the supper eat and drink judgment not discerning the Lord’s body. Scripture says the steward should restrict the supper to those holding the catholic confession (1 Cor. 11:18-20). Should the steward pronounce absolution to all men (e.g., the unbaptized, the unbelieving, the excommunicate, etc.) or should absolution be restricted like the supper (AC, XII)? Are the unbaptized, unbelieving, and excommunicate hardened when they receive an unconditional absolution of sins?

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  9. Daniel, I will respond to each of your statements in a commentary form.

    "Luther's Wittenberg Mass Absolution is conditional. It is limited to those: "who with true repentance for your sin believe in our Lord Jesus Christ."

    Well, it depends on how you define conditional. When I attack conditional absolution, I'm not attacking the practice of mentioning the fact that forgiveness is received by faith. Or even addressing the word of absolution to the "those here who have faith." What I am attacking (as I repeatedly note in this post and the last post), is the practice of adding an addendum saying "well, but if you guys didn't really believe, it's not valid. To hurry up and be repentant and have faith!"

    "I have an ongoing thesis that public unconditional absolution has no historical precedent in the Lutheran Church. To my knowledge, an unconditional absolution intended for the general public (e.g., the unbaptized, the excommunicate, the scoffers, etc.) was first implemented in 1941 in The Lutheran Hymnal.

    For many years and across many forums and blogs, I have asked for evidence of a Lutheran public absolution dated before 1941. It's impossible to prove a negative but, so far, no one has been able disprove my thesis.

    The Lutheran Church has traditionally restricted unconditional absolution of sins to private or individual confession. Public confession/absolutions before TLH, 1941, were individual, conditional, or they included a retention of sins For example: 1580 revision of the Herzog Heinrich Agenda (Corporate Conditional Remittal); Braunschweig-Woelfenbuettel Church Order prepared by concordists Chemnitz and Andrea (Corporate Conditional Remittal and Retention); Danish Norwegian Rite of 1685 (Individual Remittal)."

    Fair enough. But here's the deal. First of all, I again am not rejecting those liturgies which simply mention faith or telling the faithful to receive in faith.

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  10. Continued.

    Historically speaking, the 1941 hymnal my be unprecedented, but it doesn't mean that it's bad ecclesial practice. If we want to talk about precedents though, the "all if you who didn't just really repent are screwed" absolution that Reclaim has is highly unprecedented as well. It only seems to go back to the 1888 hymnal. What I would consider to be a form of unconditional absolution is the one that is precedented. Again, not to sound like a broken record, but a mere mention of faith is not conditional absolution.

    "In Holy Absolution we receive the forgiveness of sins as we return to our baptism in repentance (AC, XII). Many visitors to public services have never been baptized. How do they return to a baptism they have never received and do not desire? "

    First, faith is what justifies. Hence the Lutheran Church has always taught that baptism is a relative necessity-i.e., if you died in the desert without it, but you had faith, you'd still be saved. If you're not baptized, but you trust in the word of the gospel, you are saved. So, saying that people who are not baptized might accidentally hear it and believe it and it won't be true is a total misunderstanding of how Lutherans understand baptism. Baptism both works faith in infants and confirms faith in the gospel that already exists in adults. Hence, it is a visible and effective form of the verbal gospel- is not different than the gospel! Baptism is important not because it gives access to forgiveness which one would not otherwise have, but because it connects us with Christ's benefits in a concrete form as a visible word. Faith, as Luther puts it in the Catechism, needs something to believe in. Faith needs a concrete and visible unity of the believer with Christ's death. Faith can have that in the Word alone, but Christ not only commands us to be baptized, but also gives greater assurance through baptism- since it, in visible, concrete manner, gives and confirms the word of the gospel as a part of the concrete narrative of our existence. I can always point back to it and say "see, I'm baptized and therefore saved!"
    Therefore, the public proclamation of absolution should not be restricted to the baptized. In fact, the public proclamation of forgiveness might very well work faith in non-believers present and draw them to baptism. Hence, no conditions should be place on it. If they are, then faith won't be worked.

    "How do they return to a baptism they . . . do not desire? "

    If someone doesn't desire baptism, then they are faithless and didn't receive the word of absolution. So what? How does that change anything? If you placed conditions on the Word, would non-believers says something like "oh, wow, I guess that was just for believers. I guess I better work myself up into faith and repentance."

    Again, all of this is a profound misunderstanding of the effectiveness of the Word of God and the bondage of the will. Daniel, frankly all your questions presuppose free will. What you're afraid of is that by saying certain things that free will will not be properly engaged and that people won't use it to move themselves towards faith. This is a total abandonment of the Lutheran project and heresy. It is not by engaging people's free will that we convert people. So adding things onto the word of absolution to force them to use their free will in specific ways is totally unhelpful. We need to preach and teach with the presupposition of bondage! Not thinking this way is what got us into the whole Church-growth mess in the LCMS in the first place!!!
    "Members of Christian sects believe that forgiveness is received through the outward act or covenant of absolution rather than through faith alone (Gal. 3:22). Should absolution be pronounced to those who deny the doctrine of justification by faith alone?"

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  11. Continued.

    First, again, proclamation of absolution is what creates faith. Getting your intellectual ducks in a row, isn't. So worrying that your audience as the wrong intellectual ideas and therefore real faith cannot be worked in them is poppy-cock. Again, Daniel, let's think in terms of the bondage of the will and the effectiveness of the Word!!!

    Secondly, having faith and thereby being justified is different than having correct intellectual beliefs about justification by faith. Otherwise 5 year olds who have faith, but know nothing about the Lutheran confessional definition of justification would go to hell. Similarly, Roman Catholics and other non-Lutheran Christians would go to hell.

    The later Lutheran scholastics recognized this and therefore they suggested that only creedal orthodoxy (the teachings of basically the first 6 ecumenical councils) counted as "Primary Fundamental Doctrines" (that is, those doctrines which one needed to be saved and be a Christian), whereas Justification by faith, Sacraments, the authority of Scripture, etc. counted as "Secondary Fundamental Doctrines" (i.e. those doctrines which are necessary for everyone to believe in to have fellowship with the visible Church.

    Therefore, yes, the minister should pronounce absolution so as to create faith in those non-Lutheran Christians! The proclamation of absolution is precisely how real faith is created!!! Furthermore, yes, non-Lutheran Christians do get forgiven when they trust in that word, even when they have wrong intellectual ideas about how it all exactly works. See Franz Pieper on this!!
    "Members banned from the supper for public or private sins attend divine services. Should they, indiscriminately, have their sins remitted to them without confession or repentance?"

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  12. Continued.

    Ha!!! Again, if they believe it, it's true! Really believing it can't come without their real repentance. If they hear and don't believe it, then they won't really repent and won't receive it- so what's the danger? This is really odd, because you're acting like they could hear it and believe it, when it's not true. BTW, that's why when we excommunicate a person, we don't ban them from the Divine Service- even if we ban them from Communion. How do you think they're supposed to repent and get their faith back if they don't hear the gospel? Are they supposed to work themselves into faith and repentance?

    Daniel, stop assuming free will!

    "Unworthy guests at the supper eat and drink judgment not discerning the Lord’s body. Scripture says the steward should restrict the supper to those holding the catholic confession (1 Cor. 11:18-20). Should the steward pronounce absolution to all men (e.g., the unbaptized, the unbelieving, the excommunicate, etc.) or should absolution be restricted like the supper (AC, XII)?"

    I answered this one in the last post. Baptism and absolution give and confirm faith. Hence, Jesus tells us that they should be given to "every living creature." Sometimes the Word works faith, other times it doesn't. But it should be given freely because there is always the possibility it will work faith. The Lord's Supper is way different. It's only to be given to the faithful to confirm an already existing faith. Paul tells us that it will not work faith, but it will damn and judge those who receive it without faith. Hence, it should be restricted to those who hold publicly to the true faith. Totally different situation!

    "Are the unbaptized, unbelieving, and excommunicate hardened when they receive an unconditional absolution of sins?"

    Sometimes. Other times real faith is worked. That's what the Word of God does! The Word of absolution will either harden or cause to despair (since it is also the word of law!) or it will create faith. God does both things with it! That's up to him. But again, the proclamation of the word of absolution is how faith gets worked- because it's precisely the word of the gospel!

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  13. So, then, when is a pastor to use the binding keys? If a person comes to him and asks for absolution, and the pastor uncovers a sin and the person doesn't believe it's a sin and will not repent of it, should the pastor pronounce absolution anyway, on the chance that it'll give them faith?

    In a public setting, is the assumption that all people are penitent by default unless they state otherwise?

    Don't liturgies make the distinction between the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins ("In Jesus all your sins are forgiven") which belongs to the whole priesthood of the baptized, on the one hand, and on the other hand the absolution which belongs to the Office of the Holy Ministry ("By virtue of my office, I as a called and ordained servant of the Word... I forgive you all your sins")?

    Isn't it possible to incorrectly make faith into a condition, like some Arminians do: "You will be saved--IF you believe"?

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  14. Jack, I am in agrement with your point, but a tiny quibble. You write that Paul tells us that the Supper will not work faith. I don't think Paul tells us any such thing. The words of institution tell us that Christ's body and blood are given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. paul tells us that the Lord's Supper proclaims Jesus death until He returns. This is pure Gospel and the Gospel always works faith. The fact that some are condemned who recieve it without faith does not mean that it does not work faith. If you think about it the preaching of the Gospel condemns those who hear it without faith. Your very argument that absolution is also law which hardens and causes the unbelieving to despair is a caase in point. To hear the preached Gospel, to recieve absolution or to recieve the supper without faith will bring judgment and condemnationon the one who hears without faith. The Supper is Gospel,it is a means of grace, it works faith.

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  15. Dr. Jack Kilcrease: "Well, it depends on how you define conditional. When I attack conditional absolution, I'm not attacking the practice of mentioning the fact that forgiveness is received by faith. Or even addressing the word of absolution to the "those here who have faith." What I am attacking (as I repeatedly note in this post and the last post), is the practice of adding an addendum saying "well, but if you guys didn't really believe, it's not valid. To hurry up and be repentant and have faith! . . .
    Fair enough. But here's the deal. First of all, I again am not rejecting those liturgies which simply mention faith or telling the faithful to receive in faith."

    Then you must reject all of the historic Lutheran public absolution liturgies. As far as I know, there is not a single historic public absolution that simply mentions faith or reminds the congregation that faith is necessary to receive the absolution. They all pronounce absolution on the condition of faith.

    Augsburg Confession, XII, "Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors."
    Faith conditional absolutions (“if you guys didn't really believe, it's not valid”) are all contrary to AC, XII, and the pattern of all biblical absolutions. The historic public absolutions of the Lutheran Church cannot be considered true absolutions because they all require as a condition of absolution what the absolution imparts.

    You are right to reject these faith conditional absolutions. Lutheran fathers erred when they permitted them. Most Lutheran liturgies do not include faith conditional absolutions.

    To my knowledge, TLH, p. 15, and its non-historical successor absolutions are the only public absolutions in the Lutheran Church which do not impose non-contrition based requirements (e.g., faith and repentence). My problem is not with the content of TLH absolutions but with the public nature of TLH absolutions. However, a mention of faith apprehending the remission of sins (as you suggest) would be helpful .

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  16. Dr. Jack Kilcrease: "First, faith is what justifies. Hence the Lutheran Church has always taught that baptism is a relative necessity-i.e., if you died in the desert without it, but you had faith, you'd still be saved. If you're not baptized, but you trust in the word of the gospel, you are saved. So, saying that people who are not baptized might accidentally hear it and believe it and it won't be true is a total misunderstanding of how Lutherans understand baptism. Baptism both works faith in infants and confirms faith in the gospel that already exists in adults. Hence, it is a visible and effective form of the verbal gospel- is not different than the gospel! Baptism is important not because it gives access to forgiveness which one would not otherwise have, but because it connects us with Christ's benefits in a concrete form as a visible word. Faith, as Luther puts it in the Catechism, needs something to believe in. Faith needs a concrete and visible unity of the believer with Christ's death. Faith can have that in the Word alone, but Christ not only commands us to be baptized, but also gives greater assurance through baptism- since it, in visible, concrete manner, gives and confirms the word of the gospel as a part of the concrete narrative of our existence. I can always point back to it and say "see, I'm baptized and therefore saved!"
    Therefore, the public proclamation of absolution should not be restricted to the baptized. In fact, the public proclamation of forgiveness might very well work faith in non-believers present and draw them to baptism. Hence, no conditions should be place on it. If they are, then faith won't be worked. . .
    If someone doesn't desire baptism, then they are faithless and didn't receive the word of absolution. So what? How does that change anything? If you placed conditions on the Word, would non-believers says something like "oh, wow, I guess that was just for believers. I guess I better work myself up into faith and repentance.""

    If absolution should not be restricted to the baptized, why restrict the absolved from being baptized? After the Holy Spirit creates faith through the word of absolution, why not immediately offer baptism to the unbaptized before they fall from grace given them in absolution? There is a baptismal font and no shortage of water in Lutheran churches. Why withhold baptism from any of the absolved? If they refuse baptism, “they are faithless” and their sin should be retained!

    Dr. Jack Kilcrease: "Again, all of this is a profound misunderstanding of the effectiveness of the Word of God and the bondage of the will. Daniel, frankly all your questions presuppose free will. What you're afraid of is that by saying certain things that free will will not be properly engaged and that people won't use it to move themselves towards faith. This is a total abandonment of the Lutheran project and heresy. It is not by engaging people's free will that we convert people. So adding things onto the word of absolution to force them to use their free will in specific ways is totally unhelpful. We need to preach and teach with the presupposition of bondage! Not thinking this way is what got us into the whole Church-growth mess in the LCMS in the first place!!!"

    I think you should consult "Bondage of the Will" for the difference between God's revealed will and God's secret will of Majesty. God's revealed will is that the Church preach the gospel to all creatures. God's revealed will is that the Church remit the sins of some and retain the sins of others. There is no revealed will for the Church to publicly absolve all creatures.

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  17. Daniel- I'm pleased to see you responded. I don't really think that me simply repeating myself will add much to the discussion. I know from doing a google search of your past remarks you have very set views on these things. You also apparently believe that TLH was inspired by the Devil. So, I'm probably not going to change your mind.

    Phil- The power of the keys is supposed to be exercised against public sinners within the Christian community. Jesus in Matthew 18 and Paul in 1 Cor. are pretty clear about this. Paul points out that it's not our business to judge sinner who aren't Christian, because that's God's job. So, public setting of worship where the proclamation of the Word for the conversion of sinners takes place isn't the place to exercise the keys. If the exercise of the keys happened there, then we would be taking upon ourselves to judge those who are still in the world, which is counter-productive and which Paul tells us is not our job.

    The keys are to be exercised against open sinners in 1. Private confession and absolution. In this case, the minister of the Word tells the person who will not repent and receive the gospel that they are not forgiven. 2. This carries over into our public fellowship with that one at the Lord's table. The exercise of the keys also means a public restriction from receiving the Lord's Supper because A. It is a public proclamation of the forgivenness of sins, which we are telling them that as long as they continue in public sin they don't have. B. A protection of them from the harmful effects of receiving the Lord's Supper without faith. C. public proclamation that we lack fellowship and unity of faith with a public sinner. The key though is that Church discipline be exercised first in private and then in public. This is what Jesus quite explicitly says in Matthew 18.

    Gregory- Yes, the Word of the Lord's Supper is the Word of the Gospel. As I noted though in the post, though there is a single mystery, our relationship to that mystery is different depending on our faith and baptism. Proclamation and baptism were instituted by Jesus to be given to every living creature. He only introduced the Lord's Supper later among believers. Just as baptism is a new birth, the Lord's Supper is food to sustain new life. So, though you are correct that there is one Word of the gospel, that Word connects with and functions differently among different people. The gospel functions in the Lord's Supper so as to confirm already existing faith. It is food for the journey. Life must be there first before it is sustained. I don't feed my non-existent children. It isn't meant to convert- that is the function of baptism and the preaching of absolution. That's why Jesus tells his disciples to preach and baptize when he's talking about the conversion of the whole world, but doesn't mention the Lord's Supper. If the Lord's Supper was meant to convert, the Jesus would have instituted it at the beginning of his ministry and converted people with it. Furthermore, whereas for absolution and baptism, condemnation or faith will result from it's being given indiscriminately, Paul promises only condemnation from receiving the Lord's Supper without faith. We must trust in the promise, that is, "discern the body and blood."

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  18. Dr. Jack Kilcrease: "First, again, proclamation of absolution is what creates faith. Getting your intellectual ducks in a row, isn't. So worrying that your audience as the wrong intellectual ideas and therefore real faith cannot be worked in them is poppy-cock. Again, Daniel, let's think in terms of the bondage of the will and the effectiveness of the Word!!!
    Secondly, having faith and thereby being justified is different than having correct intellectual beliefs about justification by faith. Otherwise 5 year olds who have faith, but know nothing about the Lutheran confessional definition of justification would go to hell. Similarly, Roman Catholics and other non-Lutheran Christians would go to hell.
    The later Lutheran scholastics recognized this and therefore they suggested that only creedal orthodoxy (the teachings of basically the first 6 ecumenical councils) counted as "Primary Fundamental Doctrines" (that is, those doctrines which one needed to be saved and be a Christian), whereas Justification by faith, Sacraments, the authority of Scripture, etc. counted as "Secondary Fundamental Doctrines" (i.e. those doctrines which are necessary for everyone to believe in to have fellowship with the visible Church.
    Therefore, yes, the minister should pronounce absolution so as to create faith in those non-Lutheran Christians! The proclamation of absolution is precisely how real faith is created!!! Furthermore, yes, non-Lutheran Christians do get forgiven when they trust in that word, even when they have wrong intellectual ideas about how it all exactly works. See Franz Pieper on this!!"

    I'd rather visit Luther: "It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ." Heidelberg Disputation. According to their own public confession, the sectarians, the heretics, and the scoffers trust only in their own ability and are, therefore, unprepared to receive the grace of God.
    If the wicked people were truly contrite, they would be prepared to receive the grace of Christ in Holy Absolution. Is mouthing the words of a public confession sufficient evidence of their contrition? The Lutheran fathers would probably say “no”. They never implemented a true public absolution. All their public absolutions were faith conditional.

    Dr. Jack Kilcrease: "Ha!!! Again, if they believe it, it's true! Really believing it can't come without their real repentance. If they hear and don't believe it, then they won't really repent and won't receive it- so what's the danger? This is really odd, because you're acting like they could hear it and believe it, when it's not true. BTW, that's why when we excommunicate a person, we don't ban them from the Divine Service- even if we ban them from Communion. How do you think they're supposed to repent and get their faith back if they don't hear the gospel? Are they supposed to work themselves into faith and repentance?
    Daniel, stop assuming free will!."

    There is no free will. The wicked stubbornly resist the gospel and the word of absolution because they are in bondage to sin, death, and the devil. Should we preach both the law and the gospel to them? Absolutely! Should we absolve them of all of their sins even if the law has not worked contrition in them? Absolutely not!

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  19. Dr. Jack Kilcrease: “I answered this one in the last post. Baptism and absolution give and confirm faith. Hence, Jesus tells us that they should be given to "every living creature." Sometimes the Word works faith, other times it doesn't. But it should be given freely because there is always the possibility it will work faith. The Lord's Supper is way different. It's only to be given to the faithful to confirm an already existing faith. Paul tells us that it will not work faith, but it will damn and judge those who receive it without faith. Hence, it should be restricted to those who hold publicly to the true faith. Totally different situation!”

    All sacraments work faith. But each sacrament has its own conditions for the object of the sacrament. For absolution, the condition is contrition (“terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin”). The Church may not impart absolution to those who do not show contrition.

    Dr. Jack Kilcrease: “Sometimes. Other times real faith is worked. That's what the Word of God does! The Word of absolution will either harden or cause to despair (since it is also the word of law!) or it will create faith. God does both things with it! That's up to him. But again, the proclamation of the word of absolution is how faith gets worked- because it's precisely the word of the gospel!“

    "Let no one think, therefore, that God, where He is said to harden, or to work evil in us (for to harden is to do evil), so does the evil as though He created evil in us anew, in the same way as a malignant liquor-seller, being himself bad, would pour poison into, or mix it up in, a vessel that was not bad, where the vessel itself did nothing but receive, or passively accomplish the purpose of the malignity of the poison-mixer. For when people hear it said by us, that God works in us both good and evil, and that we from mere necessity passively submit to the working of God, they seem to imagine, that a man who is good, or not evil himself, is passive while God works evil in him: not rightly considering that God, is far from being inactive in all His creatures, and never suffers any one of them to keep holiday." Bondage of the Will

    God never suffers the wicked to keep holiday. Teaching the wicked that they receive the forgiveness of sins when they refuse baptism, deny faith in Christ, and refuse to repent only hardens the wicked in their unbelief. This may be God's secret will of Majesty but it is never God's revealed will.

    Dr. Jack Kilcrease: “I'm pleased to see you responded. I don't really think that me simply repeating myself will add much to the discussion. I know from doing a google search of your past remarks you have very set views on these things. You also apparently believe that TLH was inspired by the Devil. So, I'm probably not going to change your mind.”

    Deviations from scripture in TLH are inspired by the Devil. However, you may be confusing my overall positive view of TLH with my negative comments on ELCA's Lutheran Book of Worship and WELS's Christian Worship.

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