This is the 3rd part in a series of posts answering the misconception that most Catholic positions are held without Biblical support, early Church support or solid logic & reasoning. If you want to catch up, please start here.
To recap, there are 3 basic precepts that all Christians take for granted:
That the Apostles Creed is true.
That the manuscripts that make up the Bible are Inspired and Inerrant.
The validity of the Dogma of the Holy Trinity.
We showed in the previous two posts that if you believe the above then you must also agree with the below:
There are Holy Relics of the Saints that contain Grace, given by God, bestowed upon the original bearer, and these Relics have the power to heal.
You can pray to the Saints in heaven, and ask them to petition the Father on your behalf
If you disagree, go read the previous posts and come back when you do agree.
I warned you in the first one that these would start easy and get more contentious. That contentiousness will really begin today. Today’s topic is: confession
Just to switch things up a bit, let’s start today with the Church Fathers and then we’ll look at the Bible.
So what did the Church father’s have to say with regards to confession?
Barnabas, an Apostle, but not one of the original 12 wrote in the first century:
“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.”
Ignatius of Antioch wrote in the early 2nd century (110 AD):
“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....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. “
Cyprian, in the mid 3rd century wrote:
“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.”
And lastly, Tertullian writes in the early 3rd century (203 AD):
“[Some] people flee from [confession] 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....The CHURCH HAS THE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS. This I acknowledge and adjudge.”
Now, for you Protestants reading this I’m sure you’re thinking “well Tertullian was obviously a heretic as God is the only one who can forgive sins”. To that I’ll respond with two things:
1) Do you see precept #3 above? The Validity of the Dogma of the Holy Trinity? That God exists in 3 persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit? That doesn’t come from the Bible, it comes from Tertullian. Google it. That “heretic” gave you one of the 3 core beliefs that make you a Christian.
2) In John, chapter 20, it says the following:
[Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. IF YOU FORGIVE ANYONE’S SINS, THEIR SINS ARE FORGIVEN; IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE THEM, THEY ARE NOT FORGIVEN”] John 20: 21-23
There it is..in plain black and white, right on the pages of John’s gospel: Jesus literally gave the Apostles the right to forgive and retain sins in others and there are many translation that word it in that exact manner. This is AFTER THE RESURRECTION and is the last recorded meeting of Jesus and the Apostles in that Gospel. Jesus meets them, says the above, then meets with Thomas (the doubter), then ascends to heaven.
There are three possibilities here:
1) That the Apostles were special and had this ability but that it didn’t pass on to those who succeeded them OR
2) That you really don’t have to go to confession and Jesus was just giving the Apostles a special ability and didn’t expect them to use it.
3) Jesus said what he meant and meant what he said and ALL that it implies.
If you believe #1, congratulations: You’re a mormon.
If you believe #2, well…”denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”
Lastly, there’s option #3..the only logical deduction that stands up to any scrutiny.
Peace Be With You!