History of Confession

Discussion in 'Sacraments and Liturgy' started by Crusader1, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. Crusader1

    Crusader1 New Member

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    Hi, anyone here with knowledge of the early church and the church fathers. I have a question. What is the historical significance of confession? Was it always viewed as a must to confess sins? Was confession by private prayer viewed as good enough?
     
  2. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    I would not say that the Church Fathers require confession, rather they highly suggest it. When I get baptized, I look forward to confessing often.

    St. Athanasius of Alexandria
    295 – 373 AD
    On the Gospel of Luke 19

    Just as a man is enlightened by the Holy Spirit when he is baptized by a priest, so he who confesses his sins with a repentant heart obtains their remission from the priest.

    St. Basil the Great
    330 – 379 AD
    Rules Briefly Treated 288

    It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries [i.e. the Sacraments] is entrusted [i.e. priests]. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt 3:6]; but in Acts they confessed to the Apostles, by whom also all were baptized [Acts 19:18].

    Theodore Of Mopsuestia
    c. 428 AD
    Catechetical Homilies 16

    This is the medicine for sins, established by God and delivered to the priests of the Church, who make diligent use of it in healing the afflictions of men. You are aware of these things, as also of the fact that God, because He greatly cares for us, gave us penitence and showed us the medicine of repentance; and He established some men, those who are priests, as physicians of sins. If in this world we receive through them healing and forgiveness of sins, we shall be delivered from the judgment that is to come. It behooves us, therefore, to draw near to the priests in great confidence and to reveal to them our sins; and those priests, with all diligence, solicitude, and love, and in accord with the regulations mentioned above, will grant healing to sinners. [The priests] will not disclose the things that ought not be disclosed; rather, they will be silent about the things that have happened, as befits true and loving fathers [cf. 1 Thess 2:11; 1 Cor 4:15] who are bound to guard the shame of their children while striving to heal their bodies

    St. John Chrysostom

    c. 344 – 407 AD
    Homilies on John 86:4

    Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: “Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed” [Matt 18:18]. Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can bind only the body. Priests, however, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself, and transcends the very heavens…Whatever priests do here on earth, God will confirm in heaven, just as the master ratifies the decision of his servants. Did He not give them all the powers of heaven?

    “Whose sins you shall forgive,” He says, “they are forgiven them: whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” [John 20:23].

    What greater power is there than this? …The Father has given all the judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven, elevated above human nature, and freed of its limitations….The priests of Judaism had power to cleanse the body from leprosy — or rather, not to cleanse it at all, but to declare a person as having been cleansed. And you know how much contention there was even in those times to obtain the priestly office. Our priests have received the power not of treating with the leprosy of the body, but with spiritual uncleanness; not of declaring cleansed, but of actually cleansing…What mean-souled wretch is there who would despise so great a good? None, I dare say, unless he be urged on by a devilish impulse….God has given to priests powers greater than those given to our parents; and the differences between the powers of these two is as great as the difference between the future life and the present….Our parents begot us to temporal existence; priests beget us to the eternal. The former are not able to ward off from their children the sting of death, nor prevent the attack of disease; yet the latter often save the sick and perishing soul — sometimes by imposing a lighter penance, sometimes by preventing the fall. Priests accomplish this not only by teaching and admonishing, but also by the help of prayer. Not only at the time of our regeneration [at Baptism], but even aftward they have the authority to forgive sins….

    “Is there anyone among you sick? Let him call in the priests of the church, and let us pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, he shall be forgiven” [James 5:14-15]. (The Priesthood 3:5:182-4; 3:6:190-6)

    …Great is the dignity of priests. “Whose sins you forgive,” He says, “they are forgiven them” [John 20:23]…The things that are placed in the hands of the priest, it belongs to God alone to give…. Neither angel nor archangel is able to do anything in respect to what is given by God; rather, Father and Son and Holy Spirit manage it all; but the priest lends his own tongue and presents his own hand. Nor would it be just, if those who draw near in faith to the symbols of our salvation were to be harmed by the wickedness of another. (Homilies on John 86:4)

    Read more here: http://www.stsophiaukrainian.cc/resources/ecfonconfession/
     
  3. Crusader1

    Crusader1 New Member

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    It seems to me that they mean it is a requirement
     
  4. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    I haven't collected any evidence in which the church fathers explicitly state that confession is a requirement, therefore, I still hold the traditional Anglican perspective that some should and no one must. Confession was simply a norm back in the early days of Christianity, but since the general confession and absolution was added to the Divine Service in the reformation era, people didn't feel the need to go as often. Also, people realized you weren't damned if you could not make it to a crowded confessional and that faith in Christ and sincere repentance would perfectly suffice. At least this is my take on it. Most people these days have not found the courage to confess to a priest, especially because confessionals are rather scarce here in the US (and I'm sure in many Anglican churches).
     
  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I would like to offer caution that there are tons of deceitful and purposefully false "lists" on the Internet, especially about the Church Fathers whose works many aren't familiar with. For example:

    Go ahead and try to find this "On the Gospel of Luke" that St. Athanasius was supposed to have written. You won't find it, because in fact St. Athanasius had never written any commentary on any of the books of Scripture.

    Here is the 86th Homily on the Gospel of St. John, by John Chrysostom. Try to find this passage there:
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.iv.lxxxviii.html

    Theodore of Mopsuestia "...was considered heretical in the Fifth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople on the charge of being the ‘doctrinal founder of Nestorianism’."
    https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jorient1962/44/2/44_2_49/_article


    That being said, a few of the quotes are accurate, such as:
    That quote is 100% in accord with us. As Bishop John Cosin says, "contrary to the slanders of the Jesuits, we do not abolish, but willfully retain, the doctrine of confession." We too believe it is necessary to confess our sins to to the priests. That's why we do a general confession, and are received conditional absolution (depending on our contrition), directly in the Book of Common Prayer.

    This is different from the Roman doctrine of confession, where confession is the condition for our salvation, whereas according to St. Basil and to the Anglican doctrine, confession is a spiritual discipline.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  6. Anglican04

    Anglican04 Active Member Anglican

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    You are right, thank you. I just pulled them off an orthodox site. I cannot seem to edit my post to remove the false quotes..
     
  7. Crusader1

    Crusader1 New Member

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    Hmm.... still a bit sceptical how do we know for sure those are fake. (If you already answered this im sorry)
     

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