Religion: Back to Luther

Last week, after a lapse of two centuries, the ritual of individual confession was again an official practice among German Lutherans. In Flensburg a fortnight ago, the General Synod of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church* restored the same private confession which Martin Luther, in his day, had emphasized as an important means to salvation. It had been virtually abandoned since the 18th century, when most Lutheran churches, influenced by rationalist philosophy, discarded private confession as unnecessary.

Through the troubled years of World Wars I and II, many German Lutherans looked wistfully back at...

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