I recently learned that Lutherans, at least some Lutherans, have retained private confession (from Internet Monk posting):
This will probably come as a shock to many of our readers, but the Lutherans retained the use of private confession, (as in “going to confession” in front of a priest or Pastor) and many faithful pastors still regularly hear the confessions of their flock and pronounce Christ’s forgiveness in absolution. Article XI of the Augsburg Confession says:
Article XI: Of Confession.
1] Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession 2] an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:10.
In Article XI of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession it says:
It is well known that we have so elucidated and extolled [that we have preached, written, and taught in a, manner so Christian, correct, and pure] the benefit of absolution and the power of the keys that many distressed consciences have derived consolation from our doctrine; after they heard that it is the command of God, nay, rather the very voice of the Gospel, that we should believe the absolution, and regard it as certain that the remission of sins is freely granted us for Christ’s sake; and that we should believe that by this faith we are truly reconciled to God [as though we heard a voice from heaven]. This belief has encouraged many godly minds,…”
The enumeration of sins is done away with (the idea that only the sins you confess are forgiven) and likewise the assigning of works of penance is also excluded. The Lutherans have preserved a very Gospel centered version, stripped of any vestige of works righteousness.
Individual confession and absolution has almost entirely disappeared in modern protestantism and is unheard of in Evangelicalism. But is the individual confession of sins really so shocking?