In James 5:16, we are told "Therefore, make it your habit to confess your sins to one another and to pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.". I don't think it is saying ONLY do so with a priest - since there is NO mention of one - but that the benefit you spoke of - that of coming clean and getting counseling - is available to all Christians through their ministers as well as one another. Though I don't think a pastor has any power to forgive sins as a stand-in for God (only God can forgive sins), we can go directly to the throne of grace through Christ and know that God is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The added benefit of being honest with our faith family about our failings is the accountability it gives us with each other and the privilege to pray for one another for spiritual and physical healing makes us more closely connected and answerable for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is something our Heavenly Father desires for us to have as a blessing and channel for growth. We are ALL ministers to each other.
Thank you sir...I absolutely agree with you. It has to do with who we are together in Christ. I know that Jesus, The Christ, did not come to earth to create a religion. He came to reconcile us to God...God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit...One God. He speaks to us...and if we listen, we hear Him. He is our mediator. And yes, He said, through His brother James, to ‘confess our sins one to another’...
...and on the other hand, we are all ‘kings and priests’...
In James 5:16 ...I don't think it is saying ONLY do so with a priest - since there is NO mention of one
That passage is set in the context of priestly anointing of the sick. The Greek word for "elder" in that context is presbuterous, which as you probably remember from your Catholic days, is the root for the English word priest. You probably also remember the priesthood referred to as the presbyterate. (Even if you're one who disputes the word as referring to a priest, nonCatholics I know still interpret it as one with a position of authority in the church.) The verse put in context of the verses immediately preceding it is confession as part of the priest's healing ministry.
Though I don't think a pastor has any power to forgive sins as a stand-in for God (only God can forgive sins),
Jesus gave the apostles the power to forgive sins in his name (Jn 20:22-23), did he not? The terms "binding and loosing" (Mt 18:18) as I understand them are terms that refer to membership or exclusion in the worship community. Because we hurt the entire body of Christ by our sin, our confessions as Catholics reconcile us back into the Church and among one another. Our sins aren't only personal but also a corporate matter. Jesus showed us this when he cured the leper and then instructed him to present himself to the priest so that the priest could formally readmit him to the worship community after his time of uncleanliness.
we can go directly to the throne of grace through Christ and know that God is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Indeed. I do the same. For Catholics it's not either/or but both/and. Scripture tells us that confession is something we do with our mouth, not our mind and heart alone (Rom 10:10) whether it's confession of sin or confession of one's faith. The Greek homologeo, often translated as "confess," is not something done in silent prayer but aloud. The original language tells us that oral confession is referred to in the verse you cited, assuming you're referring to 1 Jn 1:9.
Oral confession of sins isn't a Catholic concoction by the way. In the OT we see confession in the context of priests offering sacrifice for sin (Lv 5:5 and Nm 5:7). In Matthew and Mark we see confession as part of John's baptism.
We are ALL ministers to each other.
Yes. Scripture also says that we don't all share the same function (Rom 12:4).
Peace be with you.