History on Confession

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    519
    Likes Received:
    260
    Religion:
    ACNA
    Does anyone any good sources on the history of confession. This seems like a question for @Stalwart @Liturgyworks
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,186
    Likes Received:
    601
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    You might have a look at A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church, Volumes I-III, by Henry Charles Lea LL.D. I downloaded all 3 volumes at Gutenberg.org for free.
     
    Liturgyworks likes this.
  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,528
    Likes Received:
    1,503
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    In the early Church, you had two Sacraments: baptism and the holy communion. Confession was done as a part of the liturgy, in public, with a declarative absolution by the priest. This is essentially what was returned in the Book of Common Prayer. There were proposal for private confession but it was not adopted, being viewed as a potential source for abuse.

    In the Middle Ages, on this as on so many levels, the vital link with the church the Fathers and the apostles was lost. In addition to transubstantiation, worshipping the host etc, you now had mandatory celibacy, and confession was taken out of the liturgy and made into a separate rite. (Even then it was still not a sacrament though.) The mighty power of this private/auricular confession, and the mystical sway it along with transubstantiation cast on the eyes of the faithful, made it one of the lynchpins of medieval piety.

    It was only around the era of Trent that Confession began to be considered its own Sacraments. By then Rome was already in the habit of creating new sacraments, and marriage was made a sacrament only in the 1400s. So Confession was added to that list.

    At the Reformation, the Anglicans returned confession into being a public rite, within the wider liturgy. However they were the only ones, as the continental Reformed saw the abuses and superstitions, and abolished all confession altogether, or at least made it indicative (rather than declarative). The minister announced that by Christ's death people were forgiven, rather than by his words and his power the people became forgiven. That being said, Luther wanted to retain Confession as a sacrament alongside baptism and communion. I don't know about where Lutheranism stands on that today.

    That's how things have stayed for the next 500 years, as all camps dug into the deep barricades erected by the Reformation. Today evangelical Protestantism has essentially followed all the worst trends of the Reformation; confession is absolutely shunned and erased out of Christian life.

    Rome however had an interesting trajectory in the 1960s, with Vatican II. Among with the completely rewritten liturgy, which in most ways abandoned the medieval/Tridentine theology, they also abandoned Confession and instituted Reconciliation. Today their people don't ask for confessions, they ask to 'go to reconciliation'. You have reconciliation rooms. Etc. And the liturgy of Confession/Reconciliation was completely changed. Essentially they threw out the 1500s-era manufactured Sacrament of Confession, and created a brand new Sacrament of Reconciliation in the 1960s. Today almost no Roman takes it seriously, and it looks and sounds very different from the old-fashioned confessions you'd see in the movies.

    Among the Eastern Orthodox, I'm relatively confident that confession is conducted as part of the liturgy, just like the Anglicans have it, but I have not researched it at depth.
     
  4. neminem

    neminem Active Member

    Posts:
    112
    Likes Received:
    80
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Christian
    Do not know any books about the 'history on confession'. Perhaps you could research and write about it.
    However, I loved reading about the Confessor, St John of the Cross. He became a role model for my own counselling studies and career.