The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Can pastors forgive?

The words of absolution grant God's forgiveness

I was taught and firmly believe that God is the only one who can forgive my sins. I'm disturbed that the pastor says: "As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ, and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Where does the Bible say that anyone but God can forgive sins?
Begin with John 20:22-23, where Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Then look at Matthew 18:15-20.

Left-handed giving

Matthew 6:3 admonishes us to give alms in such a way that our left hand doesn't know what our right hand is doing. Are we giving to the Lord in a proper spirit when we hold one hand out hoping to win the quilt being raffled?

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February issue


Embracing diversity