Sunday, August 28, 2016

Critiquing Confirmation

During the late 1970s, I went through two years of confirmation at the Lutheran Church I attended as a kid. Back then I didn’t have much interest in spiritual things. It didn’t help I was mistreated by some of my classmates. Nevertheless, I learned more about the Bible from reading assignments and listening to tapes. One of the latter was a comedy routine by Bill Cosby about Noah that had me laughing hysterically.

Occasionally I served as an acolyte, which the dictionary defines as “a person assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession.” My duties were to light candles and put them out at designated times while wearing a long white robe. Another thing confirmands had to do was turn in critiques of the pastor’s sermons. That was an adjustment for me. I was used to letting my mind wander while sitting through unemotional messages containing few (if any) Scriptures.

My confirmation class also went on retreats. We traveled to a campsite in rural North Dakota on a bus that often broke down. Aside from the obligatory lessons, we played volleyball and other games. A couple times the pastor practiced hypnosis on us for fun (I didn’t know at the time that can open up doors to the devil).

Finally in October 1979 I was officially “confirmed” during a Sunday morning service. Hands were laid upon me but I felt nothing significant happened. It was simply a ritual I had to go through. Afterwards I ate lunch with family members and received a few gifts. One of them was a small wall cross a Lutheran business gave to all the confirmands. Included was a note suggesting I write a thank you letter. My parents told me I didn’t have to do that. They suspected it would put us on a mailing list to receive solicitations.

Looking back on all this, I can see why confirmation influenced me to stop going to church for a while. I wasn’t taught how to be born again and live a victorious Christian life. Instead we studied Lutheran doctrine through a catechism booklet. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.” (Mark 7:13)

We also made recitations like the Apostles’ Creed, which meant nothing to me since it was said rote like the Pledge of Allegiance. Jesus said in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Two decades after going through confirmation, I reconnected with one of my old Sunday school teachers. She was thrilled to hear I became born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. Although my former teacher had remained a member of that Lutheran church (I just found out this morning she passed away ten days ago), I don’t desire to go there again. I’d rather go to fellowships where miracles are happening and God confirms His word through accompanying signs (Mark 16:20).

All churches that have confirmation classes need to teach their students the whole counsel of God. Joining a church or denomination will not get anyone into heaven. Without knowledge of the new birth, confirmation will lead to damnation.

“how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him” - Hebrews 2:3

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