Skip to comments.12 Claims Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer: Claim #5
Posted on 01/11/2015 12:54:31 PM PST by NYer
Freedom of speech is a great thing. Unfortunately, it comes at an unavoidable price: When citizens are free to say what they want, theyll sometimes use that freedom to say some pretty silly things. And thats the case with the 12 claims were about to cover.
Some of them are made over and over, others are rare. Either way, while the proponents of these errors are free to promote them, we as Catholics have a duty to respond.
5. "You don't need to confess your sins to a priest. You can go straight to God."
As a former Baptist minister, I can understand the Protestant objection to confession (they have a different understanding of priesthood). But for a Catholic to say something like this...it's disappointing. I suspect that, human nature being what it is, people just don't like telling other people their sins, and so they come up with justifications for not doing so.
The Sacrament of Confession has been with us from the beginning, coming from the words of Christ Himself:
"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." (John 20:21-23)
Notice that Jesus gives His apostles the power to forgive sins. Of course, they wouldn't know which sins to forgive if they weren't told what sins were involved.
The practice of confession is also evident in the Letter Of James:
"Is any 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." (James 5:14-16)
It's interesting that nowhere does James (or Jesus) tell us to confess our sins to God alone. Rather, they seem to think that forgiveness comes through some means of public confession.
And it's not difficult to understand why. You see, when we sin, we rupture our relationship not just with God, but with His Body, the Church (since all Catholics are interconnected as children of a common Father). So when we apologize, we need to do so to all parties involved God and the Church.
Think of it this way. Imagine you walk into a store and steal some of their merchandise. Later, you feel remorse and regret the sinful act. Now, you can pray to God to forgive you for breaking His commandment. But there's still another party involved; you'll need to return the merchandise and make restitution for your action.
It's the same way with the Church. In the confessional, the priest represents God and the Church, since we've sinned against both. And when he pronounces the words of absolution, our forgiveness is complete.
Are all of our sinspast, present, and futureforgiven once and for all when we become Christians? Not according to the Bible or the early Church Fathers. Scripture nowhere states that our future sins are forgiven; instead, it teaches us to pray, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matt. 6:12).
The means by which God forgives sins after baptism is confession: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Minor or venial sins can be confessed directly to God, but for grave or mortal sins, which crush the spiritual life out of the soul, God has instituted a different means for obtaining forgivenessthe sacrament known popularly as confession, penance, or reconciliation.
This sacrament is rooted in the mission God gave to Christ in his capacity as the Son of man on earth to go and forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6). Thus, the crowds who witnessed this new power "glorified God, who had given such authority to men" (Matt. 9:8; note the plural "men"). After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his ministers, telling them, "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:2123).
Since it is not possible to confess all of our many daily faults, we know that sacramental reconciliation is required only for grave or mortal sinsbut it is required, or Christ would not have commanded it.
Over time, the forms in which the sacrament has been administered have changed. In the early Church, publicly known sins (such as apostasy) were often confessed openly in church, though private confession to a priest was always an option for privately committed sins. Still, confession was not just something done in silence to God alone, but something done "in church," as theDidache (A.D. 70) indicates.
Penances also tended to be performed before rather than after absolution, and they were much more strict than those of today (ten years penance for abortion, for example, was common in the early Church).
But the basics of the sacrament have always been there, as the following quotations reveal. Of special significance is their recognition that confession and absolution must be received by a sinner before receiving Holy Communion, for "[w]hoever . . . eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27).
**The Sacrament of Confession has been with us from the beginning, coming from the words of Christ Himself:
“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.” (John 20:21-23)
Notice that Jesus gives His apostles the power to forgive sins. Of course, they wouldn’t know which sins to forgive if they weren’t told what sins were involved.**
Thank God for this Sacrament.
I believe that we as Christians far too often fail to confess our sins to one another, as the Scripture exhorts us to do. Satan can pick us off and divide us from the fellowship with other believers in Jesus. I am not part of the Roman Church, but beyond what I said before, I will respectfully be silent on their beliefs regarding this issue.
**It’s interesting that nowhere does James (or Jesus) tell us to confess our sins to God alone. Rather, they seem to think that forgiveness comes through some means of public confession.**
Funny - no complaints about copyright dates.
Going to Confession is like going to Mass used to be for me. I used to go to both because I had to. Now I go because I want to and to experience the grace. My RCIA sponsorette knows the rote rule, once a year to Confession to meet your Easter obligation. She seems rather dubious when I and the other team members tell her that we go from once a week to once a month. She’s getting Baptized so not doing Confession until after Easter but I did tell her that in our parish she will go into the confessional and have a nice chat with Father. She got a look of panic on her face. LOL
Or is it only for Prots?
There was no such animal as confession to a priest until the 1200’s
...”There was no such animal as confession to a priest until the 1200s”.....
But of course depending on a priest then establishes “forever” the Priesthood. ...and they’re den of thieves.
That has to be a scary thing for folks in RCIA. I have a friend who went through, and I sent her in with a little flashlight and a copy of the Act of Contrition. She was afraid she’d get nervous and forget! Once she got in, she did just fine! Didn’t even need the paper she remembered it on her own: came out smiling and crying at the same time, with a great big hug! What a gift! :)
Ref: “There was no such animal as confession to a priest until the 1200s”
Read the scriptures. Jesus established the sacrament of Confession, along with the 6 others, himself when he walked among us. He put Peter as its head and the other apostles became the bishops of the early Church.
Ref “But of course depending on a priest then establishes forever the Priesthood. ...and theyre den of thieves.”
The “forever” part of the Church was established and instituted by Jesus through Peter.
While there are Priests who fall into temptation (yup, they are all human)and fail to live up to all of God’s teachings, the vast majority uphold the highest of human standards as they do God’s work on a daily basis. None of us should turn away from the truths of our faith because there are individuals who fall.
When you walk out of the church after confession there is a definite feeling of having a weight lifted off of your shoulders.
Could you show me the scripture on that ..also I was specific there was no . Auricular Confession of sins to a priest until 1200's specifically 1215 ..and no Peter was never the "pope"..
5:15 The construction of this clause in the Greek text (a third class condition) assumes for the sake of the argument that the sickness has resulted from sin. James was speaking of sin-induced illness in this entire passage. Not all sickness is the result of sin, as the conditional clause if he has sinned makes clear (cf. John 9:13). Jamess point is simply that both must be dealt with when they are linked.209
5:16 In view of the possibility of physical sickness following sin, believers should confess their sins (against one another) to one another (normally privately). Furthermore they should pray for one another so God may heal them (spiritually and physically). I have added the conditions in parenthesis above to clarify the meaning of James words.
Constable, T. (2003). Tom Constables Expository Notes on the Bible (Jas 5:15).
2. Priest is not a NT office of the Church. Elder is.
This does not support confessing personal sins to a priest (not a NT church office). It deals with the Great Commission and salvation. The structure of the Greek sentence does not allow the interpretation described in the article above.
The second part of each conditional clause in this verse is in the passive voice and the perfect tense in the Greek text. The passive voice indicates that someone has already done the forgiving or retaining. That person must be God since He alone has the authority to do that (Matt. 9:23; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). The perfect tense indicates that the action has continuing effects; the sins stand forgiven or retained at least temporarily if not permanently.
Jesus appears to have been saying that when His disciples went to others with the message of salvation, as He had done, some people would believe and others would not. Reaction to their ministry would be the same as reaction to His had been. He viewed their forgiving and retaining the sins of their hearers as the actions of Gods agents. If people (any or anyone, plural Gr. tinon) believed the gospel, the disciples could tell the believers that God had forgiven their sins. If they disbelieved, they could tell them that God had not forgiven but retained their sins. Jesus had done this (cf. 9:3941), and now His disciples would continue to do it. Thus their ministry would be a continuation of His ministry relative to the forgiveness of sins, as it would be in relation to the Spirits enablement. This, too, applies to all succeeding generations of Jesus disciples since Jesus was still talking about the disciples mission.
. . . all who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearer accepts or rejects the Lord Jesus as the Sin-Bearer.653
Constable, T. (2003). Tom Constables Expository Notes on the Bible (Jn 20:23).
Perhaps you neglected to follow the link I posted above.
"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lords Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure" (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70).
The Letter of Barnabas
"You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74).
Ignatius of Antioch
"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110).
"For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop" (ibid., 8).
"[The Gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women. . . . Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses" (Against Heresies 1:22 [A.D. 189).
"[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness" (Repentance 10:1 [A.D. 203).
"[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command" (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215).
"[A final method of forgiveness], albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, I said, "To the Lord I will accuse myself of my iniquity"" (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 248).
Cyprian of Carthage
"The apostle [Paul] likewise bears witness and says: . . . Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord [1 Cor. 11:27]. But [the impenitent] spurn and despise all these warnings; before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest . . . they do violence to [the Lords] body and blood, and with their hands and mouth they sin against the Lord more than when they denied him" (The Lapsed 15:13 (A.D. 251).
"Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who . . . confess their sins to the priests of God in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. . . . I beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the priests are still pleasing before the Lord" (ibid., 28).
"[S]inners may do penance for a set time, and according to the rules of discipline come to public confession, and by imposition of the hand of the bishop and clergy receive the right of Communion. [But now some] with their time [of penance] still unfulfilled . . . they are admitted to Communion, and their name is presented; and while the penitence is not yet performed, confession is not yet made, the hands of the bishop and clergy are not yet laid upon them, the Eucharist is given to them; although it is written, Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord [1 Cor. 11:27]" (Letters 9:2 [A.D. 253).
"And do not think, dearest brother, that either the courage of the brethren will be lessened, or that martyrdoms will fail for this cause, that penance is relaxed to the lapsed, and that the hope of peace [i.e., absolution] is offered to the penitent. . . . For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given" (ibid., 51:20).
"But I wonder that some are so obstinate as to think that repentance is not to be granted to the lapsed, or to suppose that pardon is to be denied to the penitent, when it is written, Remember whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works [Rev. 2:5], which certainly is said to him who evidently has fallen, and whom the Lord exhorts to rise up again by his deeds [of penance], because it is written, Alms deliver from death [Tob. 12:9]" (ibid., 51:22).
The English word "priest" is derived from the Greek word presbuteros, which is commonly rendered into Bible English as "elder" or "presbyter." The ministry of Catholic priests is that of the presbyters mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 15:6, 23). The Bible says little about the duties of presbyters, but it does reveal they functioned in a priestly capacity.
They were ordained by the laying on of hands (1 Tm 4:14, 5:22), they preached and taught the flock (1 Tm 5:17), and they administered sacraments (Jas 5:13-15). These are the essential functions of the priestly office, so wherever the various forms of presbuteros appear--except, of course, in instances which pertain to the Jewish elders (Mt 21:23, Acts 4:23)--the word may rightly be translated as "priest" instead of "elder" or "presbyter."
Episcopos arises from two words, epi (over) and skopeo (to see), and it means literally "an overseer": We translate it as "bishop." The King James Version renders the office of overseer, episkopen, as "bishopric" (Acts 1:20). The role of the episcopos is not clearly defined in the New Testament, but by the beginning of the second century it had obtained a fixed meaning. There is early evidence of this refinement in ecclesiastical nomenclature in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (d. A.D. 107), who wrote at length of the authority of bishops as distinct from presbyters and deacons (Epistle to the Magnesians 6:1, 13:1-2; Epistle to the Trallians 2:1-3; Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8:1-2).
The New Testament tendency to use episcopos and presbuteros interchangeably is similar to the contemporary Protestant use of the term "minister" to denote various offices, both ordained and unordained (senior minister, music minister, youth minister). Similarly, the term diakonos is rendered both as "deacon" and as "minister" in the Bible, yet in Protestant churches the office of deacon is clearly distinguished from and subordinate to the office of minister.
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