Thursday, February 11, 2021


Related to the last post: confession and repentance should be an element in a Christian worship service. Today, from Skye Jethani, "It’s time for evangelicalism to embrace the act of confession":
Attend an evangelical church in the United States and you are more likely to find cushioned theater seats than a liturgy of confession or hear a prayer of repentance. ....

Evangelicals ignore Lent and avoid confession not because they don’t believe in admitting their sins. Asking for forgiveness, after all, is part of putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ. But for many white evangelicals, this is a one-time event at conversion. Some may confess in their private prayers, but the corporate practice of confession is often dismissed as an “empty ritual,” “too Catholic” or unnecessary because “God forgave all of my sins — past, present and future — on the cross.”

This confuses confession as something we do for God’s sake, instead of a practice commanded by God for our sake. It misses the formative power of confession to shape us into more humble, self-aware and empathetic people.

The evangelical aversion to confession first occurred to me 20 years ago, when I was serving as a pastor in a mostly white, suburban church. A mentor with decades of experience in a similar setting warned me against focusing on sin, confession or any other “negative” topics. When I reminded him the Bible is full of “Thou shalt not…” commands, he advised me to “preach positive” instead.

This meant inverting the command against adultery into a message about the beauty of monogamy, flipping warnings about greed into the goodness of generosity and avoiding anything about judgment altogether. ....

When self-examination isn’t valued and cultivated, it’s all too easy to see Christian faith as a battle between external agents of good and evil rather than an internal struggle against my own sin. .... (more)
When leading worship I sometimes led the congregation in this from the Book of Common Prayer:
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare Thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou Those who are penitent; According to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of Thy holy Name. Amen.
Followed with a reassurance of forgiveness for those who repent. There are similar prayers of corporate repentance in more modern language.

Skye Jethani, "It’s time for evangelicalism to embrace the act of confession"

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