Sunday, September 03, 2006

Confession, Mega-Church Style

I read about on The Parish (cheers, Greg) several weeks back, and now the New York Times has caught wind of this (rather disturbing, if you ask me) phenomenon. From the Times piece:
About a month ago, LifeChurch, an evangelical network with nine locations and based in Edmond, Okla., set up as a forum for people to confess anonymously on the Internet. [...] “I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times people have told me that ‘I’m going to tell you something, Pastor, I’ve never told anyone before,’ ” Mr. Groeschel said. “I realized that people are carrying around dark secrets, and the Web site is giving them a first place for confession.”

Of course, Pastor Craig goes on to say that “There’s no magic in confessing on a Web site...My biggest fear is that someone would think that and would go on with life. This is just Step 1.” In other words "Absolution is not part of the bargain, just the beginning of release."

Now, I am all for confession. In fact - and this often gets me in trouble when talking to Nazarene friends and family who don't share my convictions about liturgical worship - I have come to cherish corporate confession and absolution such that it is difficult for me to fathom how the COTN ever became convinced that holiness could be possible apart from regular confession. But surely this is not confession - anonymously on a website? - or at least not confession that could be considered in any way Christian. This in no way involves a community of faith in the process, nor does it require anything of me, not even a vocal utterance of my sin (specifically or generally) - think of it: I don't even have to hear my own voice say that I am a sinner, much less permit anyone else hear this admission! Even more troubling, perhaps, is the voyeuristic character of this site, which allows any and everyone to read such sordid blurtings, of questionable veracity, to their depraved heart's contentment.

I pray for the day when the COTN discovers the redemptive humility of confessing, together, our sin in "things done and left undone" (who can argue with that?), and the comfort and affirmation of being reassured that we are forgiven - and that this in no way impugns one's sanctification; in fact, it may serve to confirm it all the more as authentic. But forbid it, Lord, that we should ever accept a hollow, "virtual" version of the real thing.

No comments: