28 May 2009

2nd Person Preaching

(In spite of the dangers of insomniatic posting, I will stride forth here)

In the previous post, a question was raised as to the propriety of the "I forgive you" style of absolution in the public service. This relates to the fact that it seems to be a matter of a sloppy (or perhaps careless) exercise of the Office of the Keys - to pronounce absolution to an individual without literally hearing their individual confession (and not just assuming that they speak). Besides, there is also the matter of visitors and the like who may not be in fact confessing.

Now, these concerns don't particularly bother me. . . "Upon this your confession" is a fine enough qualifier for me. . . if one is a hypocrite, behold, the first words place it back upon their head. However, I do understand how this might not lessen the concerns of my esteemed colleagues. My question, though, is this. If you have concerns about the the General Absolution, do you have any qualms about preaching in the second person?

I find that I try to preach quite often in the 2nd person - you have sinned, Christ has died for you, you are forgiven. It is direct. However, it seems the same problems that would arise with the Absolution being directly applied would arise with 2nd person preaching. Any thoughts on this matter?

(I myself say go and forgive. Preach in the second person. The hypocrites and faithless will not believe, so be it. The Word is meant to be scattered, come what may. Now, the Body and Blood of Christ, let that not profaned for the sake of those who would profane it. . . but let the Word go forth)


Anonymous said...

I always preach in the 2nd person singular (when a distinction can be made, e.g., "your life" not "lives"). As a preacher, I am the Lord's mouth as He speaks to His Bride. Such an intimate conversation requires the 2nd person singular.

WM Cwirla said...

Eric, get some sleep.

I think "I/Thou" language is the distinctive language of preaching and the authority of the pastoral office. Elsewhere, I've used this as a distinction of pastoral preaching vs lay proclamation, without any quantifications or qualifiers as to one being more "effective" than the other.

I agree with the original post. Preaching is, in a broad sense, a "general absolution," that scatters the good seed of the Gospel without targeting any particular kind of soil.

Greg said...

Forde's "Theology is for Proclamation" is a helpful discussion of this.

Pastor Leary said...

I too, use 2nd person when preaching -- thank you for your thoughts

Jdog said...

I find helpful the distinction that we are called not only to speak about God but also for God. Hence our 2nd person is not "our" 2nd person. This calls for true humility and careful attention as we prepare to proclaim Law and Gospel.