I know that Lutherans, as the Roman Catholics, practice private absolution. However is that how sins are forgiven in the Lutheran Church? Or is it just a reassurance, so to say, of the forgiveness of sins?
Absolution concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, Lutheran churches and Methodist churches.
Lutherans practice "confession and absolution" in two forms:
- The first form of confession and absolution is done at the Divine Service with the assembled congregation (similar to the Anglican tradition). Here, the entire congregation pauses for a moment of silent confession, recites the confiteor, and receives God's forgiveness through the pastor as he says the following (or similar): "Upon this your confession and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
- The second form of confession and absolution is known as "Holy Absolution", which is done privately to the pastor (commonly only upon request). Here the person confessing (known as the "penitent") confesses his individual sins and makes an act of contrition as the pastor, acting in persona Christi, announces this following formula of absolution (or similar): "In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Holy Absolution is there for people who feel they need it.