Peter Speckhard on the confession of actual sins

A confession of sins that only focuses on original sin to the practical exclusion of actual, concrete sins changes the whole nature of being sorry and repenting. … If you find out a friend has insulted you and lied about you behind your back, and he … apologizes to you by saying, ‘Everything I’ve ever said or done has been vile and inexcusable,’ he’s neatly avoided the only hard and only spiritually salutary part of confession. In theory he has apologized even more than necessary. He has utterly abased himself before you. But in fact he has not apologized at all. … [for] it is the pit-in-the-stomach, fear-and-trembling[ly] difficult to enumerate, even to oneself, any actual sins as though they are spiritually, eternally significant [sic]. But it is also the only thing the Gospel speaks to, the only thing that brings peace. It is way easier to say, “I am the worst, most horrible person who has ever lived,” than to say, “I stole ten dollars from the cash register at work.” The Old Adam is only really afraid of saying the latter. … In our day, it might be a lost cause to make individual, private confession and absolution a regular, normal part of the typical Lutheran person’s piety. But if we’re going to rely on a rite of corporate confession to take its place, we need to make sure we’re retaining the essential character of confessing one’s sins, not reciting a creed.

from “In bondage to sin — not exactly!” Forum Lettter 46.10 (Oct, 2017): 3-4.

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