Saturday, April 22, 2006

I think it's time to defend myself.

First thing, Pr. Todd Peperkorn wrote a post on hi blog called Confirmation in the Lutheran Church. This excellent summary describes confirmation throughout the history of the church. One of the most telling things is how confirmation made a comeback in Lutheranism during the age of pietism. Confirmation verses also came to being with pietism.

Secondly, rejecting confirmation does not mean no instruction should be given. On the contrary, children must be instructed in the faith to prepare them for the first communion. They must come to an understanding of the basics of the faith and show they are able to examine themselves. This should be instruction given by the parents with the help and support of the pastor. Again, we must encourage parents to pray with and teach their children. This also frees us from saying that everyone has their first communion at a certain age. Some kids might be able to come to the Lord's Table earlier than others, but we put on a "one size fits all" system. Kids who might be ready have to wait, and kids who aren't ready get sent to the table anyway. Parents and their pastor can make an informed decision about when they are ready to go to the Lord's Table, when they are ready. This will allow kids who are ready sooner to partake in the gifts of God, and those who may not be ready can continue to receive instruction.

When the defenders of the current system say that confirmation instruction is the only instruction these kids may get, I say that is part of the problem and the current system isn't helping at all. The current system allows for this! Dump your kid off at Sunday School, allow him to go to confirmation for two years, and the parents think they have done their job. The current system allows parents to be lazy. How, pray tell, is allowing this to happen part of the solution? How can you defend something that encourages the very behavior that we are trying to discourage?

Is no longer confirming kids radical? Yes. Are there other solutions to this problem without getting rid of confirmation? I don't know. Requiring parents to attend with their kids is one possibility. As much as I want to sit here and not trivialize my own confirmation (I did make a vow to stay faithful even until death), I sit here and wonder if my own confirmation was meaningless. Pietism had its way with me at that time.

If you are a parent not fulfilling your responsibilities at the moment, it's time for you to get cracking. Literally, it's now as easy as putting a CD on. If you are a parent and you are taking care of your responsibilities, even if you might be a little late in doing so, take heart. Be thankful that God is doing his good work for your children, even if it is hard work for them. You cannot undo what was done, but you can continue to be faithful, and learn from the past. I pray I can do half the job you all do.

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