Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Confession of sins to Catholic priests


1. Nowhere are NT pastors distinctively called by the distinctive word for a distinctive separate sacerdotal class of believers , ("hiereus" in Greek, and "priests" in English due to a etymological corruption of the Greek presbuteros), to whom souls regularly came to obtain forgiveness.

Instead, all believers are called to sacrifice (Rm. 12:1; 15:16; Phil. 2:17; 4:18; Heb. 13:15,16; cf. 9:9) and all constitute the only priesthood (hieráteuma) in the NT church, that of all believers, (1Pt. 2:5,9; Re 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

2. Nowhere are NT believers shown regularly confessing sins to their pastors, or ever commanded to do so. Instead, the only exhortation or command to confess sins is to each other in general.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:17-20)

Here we see an example of spiritual binding and loosing, in which the heavens were bound from providing rain, and then loosed to do so, whereby believers of like fervent holy faith are encouraged as able to obtain such binding and loosing in prayer.

However, in the case of an infirm man the intercession of NT pastors (presbuteros) can obtain deliverance of chastisement, as indicated by James 5:14,15, as can the intercession of believers of fervent holy faith, but pastors as particularly expected to be so. And as having disciplinary authority in union with the church, (1 Corinthians 5:4,5; 2 Corinthians 2:9–11: you forgive, I forgive/heal) without any record or mention of required confession.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:13-15)

Yet nowhere is the infirm man required to confess his sin, and which in this case is likewise one he is ignorant of, but chastened for. (cf. Mark 2:1-11) Nor is James 5:14,15 an example of the Catholic "Last Rites," as healing is what is promised here, while the Catholic Last Rites is normatively a precursor of death.

One can be chastised for unconfessed sins he is not aware of, and mercy can even be requested for those who sinned in ignorance, (Lk. 23:34; Acts 7:60) and we see healing and forgiveness being treated as one thing, for the latter obtained the former. And which was in response to the intercession of the man's friends, and is corespondent to James 5.

And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion. (Mark 2:3-12)

In both cases it seems that the afflicted were not aware of the sins that there were under chastisement for, and in neither case was confession of such required, and in both cases intercession obtained deliverance without the separate Catholic sacerdotal class of clergy ("hiereus") being required.

3. Nowhere does any NT pastor teach believers that they need to be confessing their sins to them in particular in order to obtain forgiveness.

Instead, Scripture simply states that,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

And when Peter charged Simon Magnus with sin, he told him to pray to God himself if perhaps he might be forgiven. However, this does not mean that intercession for mercy cannot be asked of pastors or believers in general, as was also the case here.

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. (Acts 8:22-24)

Yet God will withhold forgiveness if we are not repentant, and can chastise us for not making things right with those we hurt.  Also, elders who are accused and found guilty of sins against the body are to be publicly rebuked. (1 Timothy 5:19,20)

4. As seen in James 5:16-18, the power of binding and loosing are is not restricted to clergy, but there are formal judicial actions of binding and loosing, which magisterial judicial power flowed from the OT supreme magisterium, (Deuteronomy 17:8-13) which, as with civil courts, could declare a person guilty of innocent, and even physical bind or loose a person. Likewise a father could bind or loose his daughter who is under his care from her vows, or her husband could could once married. (Numbers 30)

However, premise of ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility as per Rome is novel and unScriptural, and there is no and for binding and loosing judgments to also stand in Heaven (Matthew 18:18) requires them to be in accordance with the known (Scriptural) character and will of God, just as the promise that whatever we pray for will be done must.

Note also that magisterial judicial actions executed under leadership are not autocratic, but in union with all the church.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:16-18)

The formal corporate judicial binding and loosing is seen in action in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5:

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Likewise is the corporate nature of forgiveness by the body that was harmed by public sin:

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)

Yet while judicial actions are carried out by the whole church under leadership, that the spiritual power to bind and loose is not restricted to clergy is also evident by what follows Matthew 18:16-18, as it applies to two or three are gathered together in the Lord's name.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:18-20)

Therefore while leadership can act in the person of Christ in such judicial and disciplinary cases together with the church, Spirit-filled holy men such as the apostles can also declare one to be bound in sin, as seen before in Acts 8:20-23, and in Acts 5:1-10 (cf. Acts 13:6-12; 1Co. 4:21) and be instruments of Divine judgment.

And this spiritual power is not an endowment of office as if anyone in that office can effectual spiritually execute such, but should be the power of Spirit-filled holy men who are to occupy that office, yet the power of binding and loosing in general is provided for all Spirit-filled holy believers.

However, since there simply is no separate sacerdotal Catholic priesthood in the NT church, no separate sacerdotal class of believers distinctively called by the distinctive name for such, whose primary active function is that of offering the Catholic Eucharist as an offering for sin, to be consumed in order to obtain spiritual and eternal life , then any spiritual power that might belong to the office of NT presbuteros does not apply to them .

5. Outside of the above cases, nowhere is clerical intercession or that of anyone required for forgiveness, but the promise that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9) means that forgiveness does not require regular confession to clergy, let alone Catholic priests.

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