The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



In Christian life, it's not optional but essential

"I confess … I am by nature sinful and unclean ….” These words from the 1960s liturgy that served as part of our shared preparation for the public absolution of sin now remind me that human perfection is out of reach. I will always need to forgive someone, even as I ask God and my neighbors to forgive me.

True forgiveness is a personal relation
True forgiveness is a personal relation with another person
That is problematic: Being Lutheran means that I know a lot more about justification than I know about human forgiveness. We are much more concerned about getting right with God than we are with living right with our neighbors as faithfully as possible. The prophet suggests that one without the other irritates God.

“I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.

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