Thursday, January 06, 2011
Learning from Catholicism
For all of the well-meaning priests who try to gently let someone off the hook in the confessional, or who–in attempting to demonstrate the mercy of God–are perhaps too quick to say “it’s okay, you’re only human” (true as that is) I have always been so grateful for the simple acknowledgment by a simple priest that I had done something that was, yes, stupid and destructive, but that mercy was mine.If there is anything Protestants have screwed up - it is doing away with confession as a sacrament. Some of us in the mainline have tried to preserve it in the liturgy, but as liturgy dies, replacing worship with the purely evangelical our efforts may be in vain. What passes for liturgical confession in the average contemporary evangelical service is laughable in how easy it is to overlook and ignore. For us Presbyterians, we have pushed the Book of Order to its very limits and beyond - but that is a fight for another time.
Sometimes it is not enough to hear “Jesus loves you and forgives your sins,” you need to hear, “yeah, girl, you screwed that up, pretty good,” too. If the weight and depth of the sin is never plumbed, how can the uplifting counterbalance of Grace be properly, gratefully, understood?
The gospel is not "You are good." The gospel is "You're a yutz, but God loves you and will make you good any way. Romans 5:8:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [emphasis added]This is, I think, the reason small groups are so necessary - when they are good, they are confessional - not psychological but confessional.
Is your small group confessional?