Private Absolution

Our churches teach that private Absolution should be retained in the churches, although listing all sins is not necessary for Confession. For, according to the Psalm, it is impossible. “Who can discern his errors?” (Psalm 19:12). (Augsburg Confession XI)

Lutherans retain the practice of Private Absolution, more commonly known as Private Confession or simply Confession. We do not retain this practice to torture or burden consciences but to comfort and unburden them. Jesus gives His pastors the power and authority to forgive sins in His stead. (Jn 20:22–23) Jesus wants your specific sins, the ones that especially bother you, to be forgiven. Pastors “have the command to forgive sin. They do not have the command to investigate secret sins.” (Apology XII.8)

Absolution is the voice of the Gospel. It says that Christ not only died and rose FOR YOU to win forgiveness FOR YOU, but Absolution says that Christ died, rose, and won forgiveness for THAT sin. The absolution delivers the forgiveness won on the cross to you for THAT sin. The Pastor forgives THAT sin so that your conscience may be at peace.

If you want some preparation for Private Absolution, see Pastor Fenker’s Preparation for Private Absolution.

If you want more information on Private Absolution,
check out Our Beliefs.

We also keep Confession, especially because of the Absolution. Absolution is God’s Word which, by divine authority, the Power of the Keys pronounces upon individuals. Therefore, it would be wicked to remove private Absolution from the Church. If anyone despises private Absolution, he does not understand what the forgiveness of sins or the Power of the Keys is. (Apology XII. 2–4)