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There is a time to hold one’s ground, and to be inflexible and dogmatic, and especially concerning those things that are central to the Christian Faith. But there is a time to give way, and to give ground concerning those things that more occupy the circumference. Perhaps Solomon had in mind this constant fight for truth and need for charity, when he wrote in his book of wisdom: “There is a time for war and a time for peace.”
With respect to the practice of Confession in the Protestant Church, a rule was proposed by the English churches and expressed this way: “All may, some should, none must.” The first phrase indicating that the practice is not unbiblical. The second that for some believers, the practice is important to their faith. The third indicating that for others, the practice is unnecessary and may safely be omitted. Thus far, so good.
The challenge of course, as with many things, happens in the communal application. For too often, the ‘time for war’ and the ‘time for peace’ are applied to the wrong end of the matter, such that concession is practiced when rigidity is called for, and rigidity is practiced when concession would be the wiser course. Perhaps that’s why the Maker nailed somethings down, so that we would fight for the most important things, and also why He didn’t nail everything down, so that there would be ample opportunity for us to practice the most excellent way.
DM 20th November 2021