Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Is This A Sin Father? Confessions From Millennials

Fr. Dale Matson

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:1-5, ESV)

There is one fact of the Charismatic movement that did not square with the idea that the movement was reflecting the New Testament Church. In the 1970s we had not yet also returned to a New Testament Culture. In fact, modern church catechisms took it for granted that a candidate for confirmation was embedded in a Christian culture.

Today we live in a culture more suited to the Didache as a catechism than the 1979 Book Of Common Prayer Catechism. The primary focus of the Didache was Christian formation in a pagan World. http://sanjoaquinsoundings.blogspot.com/2011/06/didache-first-catechism.html

The new Catechism for the Anglican Church North America (ACNA) is much more extensive than the Catechism from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. This is primarily because it is addressed to a contemporary culture that is no longer Christian.

Last night, I heard confessions from about 40 candidates about to be confirmed. All of the folks could be considered Millennials. I was not surprised to hear most of the issues to which they were confessing. The confessions centered on past disobedience, rebellion, being judgmental toward others, stealing, lying, drug and alcohol use and promiscuity. They spoke through tears and were sorry. As a priest, I absolved them in Christ’s name.

There were more contemporary things also. What did surprise me was the number of times I was asked, “Is this a sin father?” One person used the phrase, “Living the free life” in reference to her conduct before participating in church. I told her that she was only learning what the free life was about as a slave to Christ. In this pagan society, we have come to the place where hedonism is accepted as normative. Traditional family values are at odds with a permissive and self-seeking society.

Many of those who were confessing were confused about what conduct constituted sinful behavior. They are in the process of learning what is right and what is not acceptable. Their hearts have been changed and they are thirsty to know more. They are attracted to this Jesus the Christ and are in the process of putting on His Mind. They want to do the right thing but are not always sure what constitutes doing the right thing. They do know however, that they don't want to go back to the past life and ask for God’s empowerment to resist the pull.

This is Christianity 101. This is Christian formation more than it is Anglican formation. There is so much more they have to learn. These two hours spent hearing confessions was one of the most intense and blessed times of my priesthood. Thank You Lord.
I remember back in my Christian re-formation, reading Watchman Nee’s The Normal Christian Life. I was overwhelmed by the description of a mature and fully ‘fleshed out’ Christianity. It was the beatitudes applied to life. I wasn't sure I was up to the task. I pray that the thirst for the new wine, of these young people, will be like the seed that fell on good ground.

1 comment:

underground pewster said...

The question of "Is this a sin" shows how quickly a people can forget their history. It only takes a generation. In the case of Moses and the Hebrews it only took forty days and forty nights before they forgot where they had come from and started to worship the golden calf. This nation, in spite of what the polls say, may no longer be a Christian one. not just because of a lack of N.T. instruction, but also a lack of O.T. foundation as well.