Skip to comments.Is Confession Biblical?
Posted on 04/18/2014 10:26:17 PM PDT by GonzoII
The Lord declares in Isaiah 43:25:
I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
Psalm 103:2-3 adds:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases
Many will use these verses against the idea of confession to a priest. God forgiving sins, they will claim, precludes the possibility of there being a priest who forgives sins. Further, Hebrews 3:1 and 7:22-27 tell us Jesus is, the high priest of our confession and that there are not many priests, but one in the New TestamentJesus Christ. Moreover, if Jesus is the one mediator between God and men (I Tim. 2:5), how can Catholics reasonably claim priests act in the role of mediator in the Sacrament of Confession?
BEGINNING WITH THE OLD
The Catholic Church acknowledges what Scripture unequivocally declares: it is God who forgives our sins. But that is not the end of the story. Leviticus 19:20-22 is equally unequivocal:
If a man lies carnally with a woman they shall not be put to death But he shall bring a guilt offering for himself to the Lord And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord for his sin which he has committed; and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him.
Apparently, a priest being used as Gods instrument of forgiveness did not somehow take away from the fact that it was God who did the forgiving. God was the first cause of the forgiveness; the priest was the secondary, or instrumental cause. Thus, God being the forgiver of sins in Isaiah 43:25 and Psalm 103:3 in no way eliminates the possibility of there being a ministerial priesthood established by God to communicate his forgiveness.
OUT WITH THE OLD
Many Protestants will concede the point of priests acting as mediators of forgiveness in the Old Testament. However, they will claim, The people of God had priests in the Old Testament. Jesus is our only priest in the New Testament. The question is: could it be that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13) did something similar to that which he did, as God, in the Old Testament? Could he have established a priesthood to mediate his forgiveness in the New Testament?
IN WITH THE NEW
Just as God empowered his priests to be instruments of forgiveness in the Old Testament, the God/man Jesus Christ delegated authority to his New Testament ministers to act as mediators of reconciliation as well. Jesus made this remarkably clear in John 20:21-23:
Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
Having been raised from the dead, our Lord was here commissioning his apostles to carry on with his work just before he was to ascend to heaven. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. What did the Father send Jesus to do? All Christians agree he sent Christ to be the one true mediator between God and men. As such, Christ was to infallibly proclaim the Gospel (cf. Luke 4:16-21), reign supreme as King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16); and especially, he was to redeem the world through the forgiveness of sins (cf. I Peter 2:21-25, Mark 2:5-10).
The New Testament makes very clear that Christ sent the apostles and their successors to carry on this same mission. To proclaim the gospel with the authority of Christ (cf. Matthew 28:18-20), to govern the Church in His stead (cf. Luke 22:29-30), and to sanctify her through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (cf. John 6:54, I Cor. 11:24-29) and for our purpose here, Confession.
John 20:22-23 is nothing more than Jesus emphasizing one essential aspect of the priestly ministry of the apostles: To Forgive mens sins in the person of Christ Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained. Moreover, auricular confession is strongly implied here. The only way the apostles could either forgive or retain sins is by first hearing those sins confessed, and then making a judgment whether or not the penitent should be absolved.
TO FORGIVE OR TO PROCLAIM?
Many Fundamentalists claim John 20:23 must be viewed as Christ simply repeating the great commission of Matthew 28:19 and Luke 24:47 using different words that mean the same thing:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations
Commenting on John 20:23 in his book, RomanismThe Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (White Horse Publications, Huntsville Alabama, 1995), p. 100, Protestant Apologist Robert Zins writes:
It is apparent that the commission to evangelize is tightly woven into the commission to proclaim forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus Christ.
Mr. Zin’s claim is that John 20:23 is not saying the apostles would forgive sins; rather, that they would merely proclaim the forgiveness of sins. The only problem with this theory is it runs head-on into the text of John 20. If you forgive the sins of any if you retain the sins of any. The text cannot say it any clearer: this is more than a mere proclamation of the forgiveness of sinsthis commission of the Lord communicates the power to actually forgive the sins themselves.
The next question for many upon seeing the plain words of St. John is, Why dont we hear any more about Confession to a priest in the rest of the New Testament? The fact is: we dont need to. How many times does God have to tell us something before well believe it? He only gave us the proper form for baptism once (Matt. 28:19), and yet all Christians accept this teaching.
But be that as it may, there are multiple texts that deal with Confession and the forgiveness of sins through the New Covenant minister. I will cite just a few of them:
II Cor. 2:10:
And to whom you have pardoned anything, I also. For, what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ (DRV).
Many may respond to this text by quoting modern Bible translations, e.g., the RSVCE:
What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ (emphasis added).
St. Paul, it is argued, is simply forgiving someone in the way any layperson can forgive someone for wrongs committed against him. The Greek wordprosoponcan be translated either way. And I should note here that good Catholics will argue this point as well. This is an understandable and valid objection. However, I do not concur with it for four reasons:
1. Not only the Douay-Rheims, but the King James Version of the Biblewhich no one would accuse of being a Catholic translationtranslates prosopon as person.
2. The early Christians, who spoke and wrote in Koine Greek, at the Councils of Ephesus (AD 431) and Chalcedon (AD 451), used prosopon to refer to the person of Jesus Christ.
3. Even if one translates the text as St. Paul pardoning in the presence of Christ, the context still seems to indicate that he forgave the sins of others. And notice: St. Paul specifically said he was not forgiving anyone for offenses committed against him (see II Cor. 2:5). Any Christian can and must do this. He said he did the forgiving for [the Corinthians] sakes and in the person (or presence) of Christ. The context seems to indicate he is forgiving sins that do not involve him personally.
4. Just three chapters later, St. Paul gives us the reason why he could forgive the sins of others: All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18). Some will argue that “the ministry of reconciliation” of verse 18 is identical to “the message of reconciliation” in verse 19. In other words, St. Paul is simply referring to a declarative power here. I don’t agree. I argue St. Paul uses distinct terms precisely because he is referring to more than just the message of reconciliation, but the same ministry of reconciliation that was Christs. Christ did more than just preach a message; he also forgave sins.
Is any one among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain and it did not rain
When it comes to one suffering; St. James says, Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. But when it comes to sickness and personal sins, he tells his readers they must go to the eldersnot just anyonein order to receive this anointing and the forgiveness of sins.
Some will object and point out that verse 16 says to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. Is not James just encouraging us to confess our sins to a close friend so we can help one another to overcome our faults?
The context seems to disagree with this interpretation for two main reasons:
1. St. James had just told us to go to the presbyter in verse 14 for healing and the forgiveness of sins. Then, verse 16 begins with the word thereforea conjunction that would seem to connect verse 16 back to verses 14 and 15. The context seems to point to the elder as the one to whom we confess our sins.
2. Ephesians 5:21 employs this same phrase. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. But the context limits the meaning of to one another specifically to a man and wifenot just anyone. Similarly, the context of James 5 would seem to limit the confession of faults to one another to the specific relationship between anyone and the elder or priest (Gr.presbuteros).
ONE PRIEST OR MANY?
A major obstacle to Confession for many Protestants (me included when I was Protestant) is that it presupposes a priesthood. As I said above, Jesus is referred to in Scripture as the apostle and high priest of our confession. The former priests were many in number, as Hebrews 7:23 says, now we have one priestJesus Christ. The question is: how does the idea of priests and confession fit in here? Is there one priest or are there many?
I Peter 2:5-9 gives us some insight:
and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Gods own people
If Jesus is the one and only priest in the New Testament in a strict sense, then we have a contradiction in Sacred Scripture. This, of course, is absurd. I Peter plainly teaches all believers to be members of a holy priesthood. Priest/believers do not take away from Christs unique priesthood, rather, as members of his body they establish it on earth.
FULL AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATIO
If one understands the very Catholic and very biblical notion of participatio, these problematic texts and others become relatively easy to understand. Yes, Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and men just as I Tim. 2:5 says. The Bible is clear. Yet, Christians are also called to be mediators in Christ. When we intercede for one another or share the Gospel with someone, we act as mediators of Gods love and grace in the one true mediator, Christ Jesus, via the gift of participatio in Christ, the sole mediator between God and men (see I Timothy 2:1-7, I Timothy 4:16, Romans 10:9-14). All Christians, in some sense, can say with St. Paul, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20)
PRIESTS AMONG PRIESTS
If all Christians are priests, then why do Catholics claim a ministerial priesthood essentially distinct from the universal priesthood? The answer is: God willed to call out a special priesthood among the universal priesthood to minister to his people. This concept is literally as old as Moses.
When St. Peter taught us about the universal priesthood of all believers, he specifically referred to Exodus 19:6 where God alluded to ancient Israel as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. St. Peter reminds us that there was a universal priesthood among the Old Testament people of God just as in the New Testament. But this did not preclude the existence of a ministerial priesthood within that universal priesthood (see Exodus 19:22, Exodus 28, and Numbers 3:1-12).
In an analogous way, we have a universal Royal Priesthood in the New Testament, but we also have an ordained clergy who have priestly authority given to them by Christ to carry out his ministry of reconciliation as we have seen.
TRULY AWESOME AUTHORITY
A final couple of texts we will consider are Matt. 16:19 and 18:18. Specifically, well examine the words of Christ to Peter and the apostles: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. As CCC 553 says, Christ here communicated not only authority to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church, but also the authority to absolve sins to the apostles.
These words are unsettling, even disturbing, to many. And understandably so. How could God give such authority to men? And yet he does. Jesus Christ, who alone has the power to open and shut heaven to men, clearly communicated this authority to the apostles and their successors. This is what the forgiveness of sins is all about: to reconcile men and women with their heavenly Father. CCC 1445 puts it succinctly:
The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.
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as Jesus said, “enter by the narrow gate”.
In a word, no.
Find a righteous man, a righteous priest, and a righteous pope. Which one shall you find first?
The argument would be much better if it didn’t try to span Old and New Covenants and use examples from when folks had to provide sacrifices that Jesus took care of in the New Covenant. Just sayin’; there is a fundamental difference between the Old and the New and it would be nice for it to not be marginalized for the sake of argument.
Just look who’s washing feet and whos feet she washed
Plosi is supposedly Catholic, but she is a an Episcopal
And adults washing the feet f children? In
That just creeps me out.
And why is she smiling? The washing of feet is supposed to be an act of humility,, not a photo op?
2 answers of No
“The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.”
Now that’s a very imaginative interpretation of scripture!
Here’s a third no.
Any religion that says they have the right to change or supercede scripture, even the words of Christ Jesus, is not of Him.
Make that third resounding NO. As usual, Rome has abused the Bible and lied on God. There is a limitless sea of mercy and forgiveness available directly from God through Christ. NO PRIEST NEEDED. I would be scared to confess anything to a wicked unsaved priest, let alone rely on one to pronounce me forgiven.
Ezr.10:11 says, “Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God....” And again in Mark 2:7
“...who can forgive sins but God only?” 1Jo.1:9 reads: “If we confess our sins, [To God, not a priest] He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 2:1: “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous....”
Psalms 32:5 says: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”
The Lord himself says: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” ( Heb.10:17) In Matthew 18:15-18, the standard is set for dealing with sin in the church. If a brother sins against you, you were to go to that brother and: “...tell him his fault between thee and him ALONE: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more...if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church. And if he shall neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican”
Auricular Confession: A Late Invention
Question: Since it was Jesus who established the sacrament of Penance, why is it that Protestants do not confess their sins to a priest?
Answer: Confession to a priest is not a biblical practice; it is not even a custom of the early church.
Our Lord taught us to confess our sins directly to God the Father. He told us to pray, “Our Father in heaven...forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Reading the New Testament we do not find a single instance of the apostles hearing private confession; nor do we find the disciples confessing to a priest.
There was no auricular confession to a priest in the early church either. Augustine gives us a snapshot of the church in the 4th and 5th century. In his Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed, Augustine writes:
When ye have been baptized, hold fast a good life in the commandments of God, that ye may guard your Baptism even unto the end. I do not tell you that ye will live here without sin; but they are venial, without which this life is not. For the sake of all sins was Baptism provided; for the sake of light sins, without which we cannot be, was prayer provided. What hath the Prayer? “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” Once for all we have washing in Baptism, every day we have washing in prayer. Only, do not commit those things for which ye must needs be separated from Christ’s body: which be far from you! For those whom ye have seen doing penance, have committed heinous things, either adulteries or some enormous crimes: for these they do penance. Because if theirs had been light sins, to blot out these daily prayer would suffice.
How did Christians deal with sin at that time? They dealt severely with those who committed grievous sins, casting them out of the church. A period of “penance” was required before the repentant sinner was re-admitted. But what about the daily sins that all Christians commit? Did they confess them to a priest? No, they confessed directly to God in prayer, asking the Father for forgiveness. Prayer was considered sufficient for daily cleaning.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church admits that private confession first came on the scene in the seventh century:
Over the centuries the concrete form in which the Church has exercised this power received from the Lord has varied considerably. During the first centuries the reconciliation of Christians who had committed particularly grave sins after their Baptism (for example, idolatry, murder, or adultery) was tied to a very rigorous discipline, according to which penitents had to do public penance for their sins, often for years, before receiving reconciliation. To this order of penitents (which concerned only certain grave sins), one was only rarely admitted and in certain regions only once in a lifetime. During the seventh century Irish missionaries, inspired by the Eastern monastic tradition, took to continental Europe the private practice of penance, which does not require public and prolonged completion of penitential works before reconciliation with the Church. From that time on, the sacrament has been performed in secret between penitent and priest. This new practice envisioned the possibility of repetition and so opened the way to a regular frequenting of this sacrament. It allowed the forgiveness of grave sins and venial sins to be integrated into one sacramental celebration. In its main lines this is the form of penance that the Church has practiced down to our day (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1447).
So, private confession was introduced a full seven centuries after Christ and His apostles. Ironically the Roman Church curses us if we dare assert the plain historical fact that secret confession to a priest was not observed from the beginning:
If anyone denies that the sacramental confession was instituted, and is necessary for salvation, by divine Law; or says that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Catholic Church has always observed from the beginning and still observes, is at variance with the institution and command of Christ and is a human invention, anathema sit (Council of Trent, Session 14, Canon 6).
Friend, I urge you to disregard Romes vain threats; you cannot deny the truth. If you want to follow the teaching of the Bible, and the practice of the early church, stop once and for all going to private confession to a priest. Pray to God. He knows your heart and He hears your prayers. He will certainly forgive you if you repent and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.
I’m happy to get absolution every two to four weeks but the examination of conscious is a wonderful exercise. I am also a proud 8 year member of Al-anon. Step 4, made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. So I guess to me that is a lot like confession. If a Protestant is going through steps 4 and 5 on a regular basis then that’s great. I’m reasonably sure that it will bring absolution from sin. Otherwise, don’t lecture me about how going to confession is not Biblical. Same thing with yada yada grumpiness about my rosary and other prayers. If a Protestant sits down every day and prays for thirty minutes to an hour, then he or she may have something to teach me about how I pray. Otherwise, not interested even in reading their posts.
"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." --JesusIt's impossible to imagine Jesus giving the Apostles the power to forgive and retain sins, unless the penitent's sins were somehow communicated to the Apostles.
How would the penitent communicate his sins to them? By writing, or verbally? The former seems imprudent (and impractical in those days since most people were illiterate), at best.
That leaves telepathic communication, or infused knowledge from God. There is no evidence for the latter.
I believe it was a good thread, but once again it does not seem to be about anything other than the authority of the catholic Church.
I can not deny that it makes some sense but Jesus said a lot of other things that this Church completely ignores.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work,
Just a couple of scriptures but they are plain and to the point, while the Priest hearing confession is not really that clear.
I agree, there are too many things which over ride the idea of confessing to a priest.
Also the Church members were to confess their faults to one another but where does that leave the people who are not members of a Church?
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Believe as you will. I don’t expect to convince you, so I won’t try. I will, however, ask what happened to all the sinners who didn’t have the benefit of confession for hundreds and hundreds of years? Why is there NO confessional in the New Testament? No Catholic has ever confessed every single sin. It’s impossible to even recognize all of our sins of commission, let alone omission, so what of all those unconfessed sins?
Don’t bother answering, those are rhetorical questions.
To everyone else I will point out that the confessional box has created an opening for unspeakable sin throughout the centuries. How many molested boys initially fell under the sway of pervert priests in the confessional box? Roman Catholic confession is an invention of those who want to lord over men. It’s an unbiblical burden on the souls of lost men who desperately need forgiveness. It’s a wicked invention!
Confession to a Priest?
Do Catholic Priests Have Special Powers?
An Irishman Cuts Out the Middle Man
Wow, I’m surprised it took 14 posts before someone raised the whole priest as pedophile issue. Good thing no protestant ministers have ever crossed that line.
**Is Confession Biblical? **
Yes, but most non-Catholics will not believe the Bible’s words on this matter.
**Confession to a priest is not a biblical practice**
Yes, it is. Why don’t you believe your Bible?
Catechism of the Catholic Church
1449 The formula of absolution used in the Latin Church expresses the essential elements of this sacrament: the Father of mercies is the source of all forgiveness. He effects the reconciliation of sinners through the Passover of his Son and the gift of his Spirit, through the prayer and ministry of the Church:
God, the Father of mercies,