Mortal Sin

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Apr 6, 2020.

  1. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

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    I was listening to a podcast from some Anglican priests in the APA. They seem very Catholic to me but I like the podcasts. They mentioned mortal sin in there. That is a Catholic concept not really found anywhere besides in the Catholic Church. After talking with them over facebook they did not seem to think that the general confession and absolution would work with mortal sins unless there was perfect contrition. So basically it seems like they don't put a lot of stock in the general confession and absolution because even Catholics believe that you don't have to go to confession if you have perfect contrition. What does everyone else think?
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It's not really a thread about mortal sin, but about the efficacy of public confession. To say that it doesn't "work" without perfect contrition is pretty ridiculous, and here you have an instance of APA guys trying to ape being "Catholic". And since we are catholics, they're really just trying to ape Roman Catholicism, importing its categories wholesale without digesting anything. In Romanism, it's true that general confession is generally denigrated, and isn't considered to "work" like a private/auricular confession would. So to the Romans (and the Romanizers in the APA), a public confession is not any more a confession than some public speech. Perfect contrition would work in a public speech, or inwardly in the mind, or anywhere really, so sure, with a perfect contrition they'd allow the public confession to "work", but to them it's not really a confession at all.

    Ironically the Church Fathers only had public confession, and utterly rejected private confessions as a motive to sin, which makes the Anglican tradition a lot more catholic then the Roman church. And therefore you are seeing the APA priests, inheritors of the more-apostolic Anglican tradition, who are trying to ape the errant Romanism in order to try to become "truly" catholic. It is a mess.
     
  3. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

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    I am not very knowledgeable about the continuum or the APA but I did find this kinda odd. Us, the Armenians, and the Assyrians don't have much of a private confession if at all really. I have from listening to their podcast talk a lot about the medieval church. Oddly enough that is where I thought the errors crept in
     
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  4. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Too many ACs try to actively ape anything Roman with the assumption that "Roman = patristic" which is a huge error.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    There is a lot of mythology in certain corners of conservative Christendom regarding the Middle Ages, sometimes apothesized as the height of Christian civilization: mostly in the union of church and state, the (apparent) unity and uniformity of the Church; and the (mostly accurate) ideological coherence and confidence of the Western man. So in other words it is a cultural reason rather than heightened piety. The Romeward leaning members of the APA (and other anglo-catholic movements) are largely driven to that position for cultural reasons. They want to live in that world, rather than that they necessarily believe in that thing. A lot of times it's simple role-playing into piety and "being catholic" and "the one true church".

    Admirers of the middle ages often prefer to forget that that era had equally vast gulfs of error, even if all of us were all unified on those errors (those who differed were simply killed). The ideological coherence and confidence of the Western man which they admire, was just as present, if not more, all the way until around 1900, after which is when the West did indeed start to break down.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
  6. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

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    I would say that the Bella Epoch of the late 1800's was perhaps the peak of idealogical confidence and coherence. It is amazing how fast things fall. I enjoy the podcast but they seem way off from traditional Anglicanism on this one. Does the 1662 prayer book not say to seek out a minister if you can't quiet ones conscious? They seem to be saying seek out a minister because that is the only way to be forgiven.
     
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think you have it right. They are saying or at least implying that one needs a mortal minister to obtain forgiveness. But that is seriously erroneous teaching. Jesus is the only minister we need to seek for forgiveness.

    1Ti_2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

    1Jn_2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

    Sometimes a person may feel so burdened or condemned by his sin(s) that he cannot shake the feeling, whereupon a minister may be able to assist him in understanding that God freely extends His loving forgiveness as a part of His grace. The words of absolution become a concrete marker in the man's life which he can lean upon in faith and become freed from the feeling of condemnation.

    The real work was done at the cross, and we receive it by faith.
    Rom 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

    It may not be ideal to listen to teachers who are known to be in error, even though it may be rewarding or pleasurable to do so.
     
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  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I feel like after defending the necessity and sovereignty of God, I have to switch to the other shoe and now step in to defend the necessity of the Church. Look, yes obviously God is the only one who can offer forgiveness. And the way he has offered it was by commissioning the Church to be his mediate means of grace. God does not act immediately; he acts mediately, and the Church is his normal and natural conduit of grace (excluding exceptional cases of course). When you see the priest offering general absolution, that is God there offering his absolution through the priest.

    God is the only source of remission and forgiveness; and the way we normally receive it is from the Church, rather than through some lightning bolt from the sky (or some inner "feeling"). God's remission is objective, and not a feeling.

    The 1662 BCP as in other aspects captures this elegant dichotomy beautifully. From the Order of Matins or Morning Prayer:

    Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live; and hath given power and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins: He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.

    Parse that closely: God has given to his Ministers the power to declare and pronounce absolution and remission to the people; yet it is He who ultimately pardons and absolves. They are his conduits, his mere ministers; without them his grace normally does not flow, but they have no power of their own, and are mere vessels (perhaps even passively) of God's one infallible sovereign will.

    "Both / and", instead of "either / or".

    * In Rome it is "either / or". Either God pardons, or the priest; and they choose the priest (blasphemy and idolatry).
    * In schismatics and dissenters (Baptists etc), it is also "either / or". Either God pardons, or the pastor; and they choose God, thereby erasing the church and putting themselves outside the one true church outside of which there is no salvation.

    Only the Anglican tradition preserves the apostolic perspective: only God pardons, and normally you get the pardon only from the priest. "Both / and."
     
  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Stalwart, thanks for that. I understand what you are saying.

    The RC position is notably similar what you stated to be the Anglican tradition as you stated it, that "only God pardons, and normally you get the pardon only from the priest." You see, the RCC says the priest cannot and does not pardon sins; rather, they say that Jesus takes over the priest (the priest is "in personam Christi") during the pronouncement of absolution, such that it is Jesus who is pronouncing absolution through the mouth of the priest and pardoning the sins (conditional upon actual contrition and performance of penance). And the RCC states adamantly that Jesus only does this through the priest, and therefore one normally only receives pardon through (not from, but through) the priest.

    But the point I would make here is that both the RCC and the Anglican tradition (assuming you have correctly labeled it as such, for my knowledge base on this point is scanty) seem to be in unison regarding the necessity of a priest to channel God's pardon. And if a priest is truly necessary to channel the pardon, wouldn't you agree that this is an extremely important point which God would want to make perfectly clear to His children? Wouldn't He have ensured that this principle be taught within at least one of the gospels or epistles?

    I should think that the letter to the Hebrews would have been a wonderful place for God to insert this vital information. There is more discussion of the role of priests and high priests in Hebrews than in any other NT book. We are told in Hebrews that high priests are ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins (Heb. 5:1), but that since Christ came these priests' sacrifices can never take away sin (Heb. 10:11) because Jesus has become our high priest.
    Heb 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
    Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
    Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

    With Jesus as our high priest, to whom we go directly and boldly for merciful forgiveness of sins by His grace, the need for an earthly priest to absolve us has been obviated.

    Turning to the 1662 BCP quote which you provided:
    Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live; and hath given power and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins: He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.
    It does state that God has given His ministers "power and commandment" to declare that they have been absolved of sin and that their sins are remitted, but isn't this really an authorization to state or say what has already been done by God? And is there anything at all in that BCP quote which requires the words of the minister or which make the minister an indispensable channel for the remission of sins? Not really. It just says that ministers are empowered to speak words... comforting words, most assuredly, and words which many "baby Christians" need to hear because they haven't yet been taught adequately from God's word, but just words nonetheless. There is no power in those words aside from that which is assigned to them by the mind of the hearer.

    In the 1600s the RCC teachings were broadly prevalent among the pious populace and most of them had been incorrectly taught concerning confession & absolution, so these words of general absolution in the Anglican Church soothed the people's fears about their past sins. Today we should view the general absolution as though our early Anglican leaders erected a temporary bridge over Condemnation Chasm to carry the people until they could be shown that Christ had already blazed a pathway which altogether avoids the chasm, but today (through habit and tradition) that rickety old bridge remains. It is a vestige and appendage of the erroneous RC tradition and teachings which developed in later centuries, and like a big wart it may be safely cut off without causing harm.

    After all, if a minister's absolution is necessary, then all the Christians who have the misfortune of attending a church wherein the minister does not ever pronounce absolutions are in deep trouble! :hmm:

    I would add that, according to Confession and Absolution, Vol. 1, by Charles Henry Lea, the early church practiced a laying on of hands and "a prayer entreating God to pardon the sinner" as a sign of reconciliation of the penitent sinner, however "There was no pretence of exercising any sacerdotal power of absolution, and the episcopal function was simply intercessory."
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  10. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    First let me say that to determine "the RCC position" is actually very tricky. Anything that comes after the 1960s has been deeply infused with Protestant theology, and so becomes a lot murkier in terms of how it differentiates from other Christians. For example in the late 1960s they replaced most of the sacraments with new ones, and completely rewrote those liturgies, so that "Confession" has been erased and replaced with the sacrament of "Reconciliation" and the sacrament of "Extreme Unction" has been completely erased and gone now.

    In describing "Rome's theology" I only referred to their teachings from the Council of Trent onward. Whether this cataclysmic alteration of their beliefs says something about their reliability is something I will leave to others.

    So in the Tridentine system, the priest's declaration of absolution (just like his consecration of the Eucharist) was considered to work ex opere operato, from the priest's own authority. It's one of the many ways in which the Tridentine and medieval system of theology made 'priesthood' seem almost divine, and such an odious term to Reformers.

    I want to make it clear that I do not speak of Rome's theology since the 1960s as "Rome's theology" even if you may find it in today's Catechisms. If anything, they made it a lot more like Anglican doctrine, and their Mass and Bible translations have all been influenced by Anglicanism more than by anyone else, making modern Roman Catholicism actually a version of Anglicanism.


    Why, of course, if we can't root this teaching in the sacred Scriptures, then it's an invention and an imposition on the body of the faithful by the clerics.

    However it is a teaching in the sacred Scriptures. The most obvious teachings are in the gospels, eg. the Gospel of Matthew, 16:19:
    I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    Gospel of Matthew, 18:18:
    I promise you, all that you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and all that you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    Gospel of John, 20:22-23:
    With that, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit; 23 when you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven, when you hold them bound, they are held bound.

    And since nothing in the New Testament is new or invented but is organically tied with the Old Testament, ultimately this doctrine comes from the concepts of the Scapegoat and the Sacrificial Lamb.

    Leviticus 16:21-22-
    Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.


    The reason the Epistle to the Hebrews isn't applicable here is because of the confusion around the English word for 'priest'. The Epistle to the Hebrews wants to say that the Aaronic priesthood culminates and ends with Jesus, our high priest constantly and perfectly offering the sacrifice of himself to the Father. But when you hear the word 'priest' in English, especially in the Anglican context, substitute for it the New Testament title of 'presbyter' (which over thousands of years suffered an evolution of etymology, presbyter -> prester -> priester -> priest).

    So again, in the Anglican context, 'priest' just means the NT presbyter. In the Roman context (especially under Trent), by 'priest' they meant that their clerics were an actual continuation of the OT priests and the Aaronic priesthood. That's why they tried to claim that their Mass was actually a continuation of the Old Testament sacrifice, just like the OT priests. All this Anglicans and other biblical Christians understand to be left for Jesus alone; and after the 1960s Rome has drastically abandoned its Tridentine system of theology.

    Thus to state things using precise terminology, Our great high priest in heaven intercedes for us, and through him we may obtain the Father's mercy. In practical day-to-day life, Jesus rules the Church on earth. He ordains the bishop, and the bishop ordains the presbyter; the latter is given this power to 'bind and loose'; God uses him to "pronounce to the people the remission of their sins". The Rite of Visitation of the Sick in the 1662 BCP embodies the Gospel passages perfectly:

    After which Confession, the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily deſire it) after this sort:
    Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all ſinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences: And by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    No!

    That is the priest teaching the world all that Christ has taught him. Matthew 28:19-20. Absolution comes DIRECT from God, not through any intermediary but Jesus Christ himself. We are the channels through which that absolution information can be conveyed if we are truly members of Christ's church ourselves, through spiritual regeneration. John 3:5.

    In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Col.2:11-14.

    No earthly priest has 'nailed that which is contrary against us', to the cross, and 'taken it out of the way'. God alone has done that, and no one else.
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Let's think about your interpetation of Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, and John20:22-23 (because there is another interpretation of them). If, as you say, this is a power given strictly to ordained ministers within apostolic succession, then the ordained ministers of the RCC had the sole power of binding and loosing during the Reformation era. That means the RC ministers had the power to declare breakaway groups (such as Anglicans) as heretical, schismatic, and outside the family of God. And so they did. Just as a priest steeped in sin could still consecrate the Eucharist, likewise ministers steeped in whatever sins and theological errors you might name would still be the ones (the only ones!) with the power to bind and loose, the power to declare what is and what is not in the sight of God. They declared that the Church of England was anathema, didn't they? By your logic, Anglicanism is illegitimate. I don't believe it is illegitimate, and neither do you.

    There are alternate interpretations. One school of thought on this subject observes that "binding and loosing" were words commonly and frequently used among the Jewish leaders, and they did not carry such heavy significance and weightiness. The apostles exercised their power of binding and loosing in such matters as binding the use of circumcision, binding the observance of traditional holy days and 'new moons,' loosing the dietary laws, and loosing the former requirement that Jews and Gentiles avoid entering one another's houses. The commentaries of John Gill and Albert Barnes and the writings of Lightfoot have much to say by way of explanation, if one cares to read them; it would be space-prohibitive for me to paste them here.

    As for Jesus' actions as recorded in John 20:22-23, notice in the preceding verses to whom He spoke and breathed upon:
    Joh 20:19-20 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
    The RCC uses these same scripture verses (in Matthew and John) to claim that Jesus gave Peter a special power and authority for binding, loosing, and forgiving or absolving of sins. Yet Jesus spoke to, and breathed upon, all the disciples who were present. This is a general statement to all believers, not just those ordained through Peter, that they have authority to teach, proclaim, and declare the truths of the Gospel: namely, that all who come to Christ in faith and make Him their Lord and Redeemer will be forgiven their sins, but that all who refuse to do so will have their sins retained. This dovetails with the Great Commission verses in Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-16, as well as Acts 1:8 in which Jesus promises power and the Holy Spirit would come upon the believers.

    It seems that some understanding of the referenced verses (Matt. 16:19;18-18 and John 20:22-23) have been muddied through the loss of contextual reference, a context well-known in the disciples' day but obscured by passage of time. Perhaps those who take these verses too much on their face appearance make the same mistake as those folks who nowadays take Mark 11:22-23 and Matthew 21:21-22 too much on their face by concluding that we all are supposed to transfer mountains and kill fig trees by faith. (Or are we? :hmm:)
     
  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I see this as perhaps the core vulnerability among the low-church Protestant communities: they dare not allow any thought which would classify them as schismatic, so -- they redefine what schism genuinely, honestly means. It's a neat trick, but that's not how things should work.

    If Anglicanism were indeed schismatic, then I would have to accept that it is in error. And if it were heretical, then even you would have to accept that you and I would have to seek greener pastures. It's not heretical we both agree; and it's not schismatic, as I would maintain, and as our Reformers have uniformly stated. But we don't accomplish this by redefining the natural and grammatical meanings for what heresy or what schism is. We take its natural and grammatical meaning, and conclude that it does not apply. If it did apply, I personally would honestly not be allowed to redefine it, just to ease my sense of discomfort.

    That's more of a general sense. The way baptist groups comfort themselves that they aren't schismatical is by obliterating, erasing, redefining, forgetting, and shouting down, what the word is; and so if no one accuses them, they won't have to feel bad about it. (One of the ways of evangelism is to remind them of it.)

    Now onto your point, of did the Roman church have the power to bind and loose. The case is different for the Anglican Church, because it is not a breakaway or a new sect. Under Henry and Edward VI the Roman church in England adopted certain propositions, confessed errors, and made clear certain controversies. That's not schism. Almost entire Roman church in England unanimously went here. It's not like you had Thomas Cranmer covertly running around ordaining people in the shadows. The Church remained as it was, but errors fixed, and clarity added. The only rift that took place was from the Pope; but since that's not the catholic definition of apostolic unity, it therefore was not schism.

    On the Continent the case was different: the Protestants were very cavalier about what is the Church and what constitutes the Church, and quite frivolously abandoned the apostolic constitution as found in the New Testament and in the 1-4th centuries, so that's a tragedy. But they retained the necessity of ordained ministry and of binding and loosing; even down to the 19th century you have these itinerant Independent ministers who believed that they exclusively had the power to bind and loose. (Whether or not they actually had it, the point is, they retained the belief.)

    So it's not an "Anglican" thing at all, it is very much a belief shared with the Lutherans, with the Reformed, with Calvin in Geneva, with the Moravian Brethren. You should look at the Puritan polemic of how Presbyterianism was directly ordained by God, and they were themselves immediately ordained by God; they had these 2-hour long liturgies. Shockingly "high church" stuff. It is only with the emergence of Baptists, the Methodists, and the evangelicals in the 20th century, that you see this new "T-Shirt Christianity", "Me and My Bible; anything else is Popery" type thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Look at Clement's first letter to Corinth, Ignatius' letter to Philadelphia, and the Shepherd of Hermas. These are some of the earliest writings, and none of them mention any priest's mediation for the forgiveness of sins; instead they speak of repentance and prayer to God. Some writings of that time (such as the Didache) suggest almsgiving. A half century after Ignatius, Dionysius of Corinth told the Amastrians in Pontus to receive back kindly all repentant sinners, and made no mention of ministerial formalities.

    Pronouncements of absolution were a much later development in the church. There is no evidence from the first two (perhaps even three) centuries that a ministerial power existed to either grant or withhold absolution. This suggests that some other interpretation of those 3 scriptures was more likely the understanding of the early church than was the interpretation you prefer. The very early church's understanding is more consistent with what the N.T. letters state: Jesus is our only mediator and high priest, and upon him alone do we depend for forgiveness and right-standing.

    Regarding Hebrews, I am fully aware of the fact that the writer refers to the Jewish priests. But that's part of my point. While telling folks that the Jewish priesthood is no longer relevant and that Jesus has replaced those priests, it would make no sense for the writer to omit such an important matter as the need to seek absolution from a presbyter; for if such an act were indeed important, the glaring omission would be virtually certain to cause misunderstandings (make people believe that no absolution need be sought from a Christian priest, completely contrary to the O.T. pattern which the writer is dispensing with). The very fact that the writer took no thought and made no attempt to prevent such an obvious problem implies that no such problem existed; i.e., no absolutions were being pronounced by presbytery.
     
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  15. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    In the Western Church auricular confession was made obligatory by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The Church of England abrogated this obligation in the 16th century. Despite the obligation being abrogated, auricular confession has remained available in the CofE. (See the Exhortations in the rite for Holy Communion and Visitation of the Sick in the 1662 BCP.)

    In the 1662 rite for The Ordering of Priests, the Bishop lays his hands on the heads of the ordinands and says: "Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God....... Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained."

    For the majority of the laity in the Medieval English Church, auricular confession would have been an annual duty undertaken during Holy Week prior to receiving Holy Communion at Easter.
     
  16. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    To be fair, in the Patristic era the word today translated as 'repentance' was "metanoia" which has the dual meaning of repentance and penance. The manner of showing to your Christian brothers that you repented was by doing something external. Tertullian describes it thus:

    Now obviously this kind of penance is prior to any Roman errors concerning the issue; and because of those errors, penance was stripped away from repentance, so that we now have two words where the Fathers had one. Today you have Christians now pretending to be repentant, without ever having to show anything external for it. So whenever you see Church Fathers talking about repentance, it always means there is a public act of contrition or humiliation which goes along with it.

    And by the same token, just as the visible aspect of Metanoia got lost in your account, I would argue that the "return to the brethren" aspect of the Church Fathers may also be read in the same vein. Where we have two concepts, they usually had one. You repent by having inward contrition coupled with outward penance. You 'return' to the brethren by re-entering the community, coupled with taking the steps the church deemed necessary for your return.

    Let's look at the early patristic books. You will find the doctrine I describe being enunciated there.

    The Didache (70-100 AD):
    -"IV. [...] Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy and everything that is not pleasing to God; thou shalt not abandon the commandments of the Lord, but shalt guard that which thou hast received, neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom; thou shalt confess thy transgressions in the church, and shalt not come unto prayer with an evil conscience."
    -"XIV. But on the Lord's day, after that ye have assembled together, break bread and give thanks, having in addition confessed your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let not any one who hath a quarrel with his companion join with you, until they be reconciled"

    The Epistle of Barnabas (70-130 AD):
    "Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify them that contend by bringing them together. Thou shalt confess thy sins. Thou shalt
    not betake thyself to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light."

    Irenaeus, Against Heresies (180 AD):
    "Such are the words and deeds by which, in our own district of the Rhone, they have deluded many women, who have their consciences seared as with a hot iron. Some of them, indeed, make a public confession of their sins; but others of them are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of [attaining to] the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses, and incur that which is implied in the proverb, "neither without nor within; "possessing this as the fruit from the seed of the children of knowledge."

    Tertullian, On Repentance (200 AD):
    "Chapter X.----Of Men's Shrinking from This Second Repentance..."
    -"most men either shun this work, as being a public exposure of themselves, or else defer it from day to day. I presume (as being) more mindful of modesty than of salvation; just like men who, having contracted some malady in the more private parts of the body, avoid the privity of physicians, and so perish with their own bashfulness."


    You mentioned Ignatius, letter to the Philadelphians. Well here is what it says:

    Ignatius, Epistle to the Philadelphians (110 AD)
    "as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ, they are with the bishop; and as many as shall repent and enter into the unity of the Church, these also shall be of God, that they may be living after Jesus Christ."

    Origen (200 AD):
    "There is still a hard and laborious remission of sins through penitence, when the sinner ... blushes not to tell his sin to the priest of the Lord and to seek for medicine. If we do this, and reveal our offences not only to God, but to those who can heal our wounds and sins, our sins will be blotted out by Him who said, 'I will blot out thy iniquities as a cloud!' "

    To be clear, the church fathers only mandated public confession, and not private, as the norm, as can be seen in Ignatius and others above. Origen is counseling private confession as an additional medicine which may heal the soul, and that's why Anglicans permit (without mandating) private confession sometimes, allowing that it may obtain further healing for some troubled souls.

    The key point is this: modern evangelicalism wants claim that no external acts need (or even may) accompany Christian piety; whereas all traditional Christianity requires public and visible external acts necessarily accompany whatever inward repentance or confession people may claim to make.

    If you repent, you need to make penance. If you confessed, you need to be absolved.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  17. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    C of E stance on private confession is:

    All may. Some Should. None must.
    .
     
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  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think you have built a very good case for the proposition that God has given church leaders authority to set rites, procedures, and standards in the churches. I don't believe there's any way that church leaders can absolutely determine or declare that God will or will not forgive a particular sinner, although they certainly can exclude the sinner from communion or from the particular church.

    What Tiffy posted, "All may, some should, none must," is exactly what my pastor has said, too.
     
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  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I'm reminded of the passage from Cyril's Catechetical Lectures (4th century AD). He talks about baptism, how it equals regeneration, very strong affirmative language equating the outward with the inward. And yet in the next line he adds, that if the person lived a reprobate life, then that regeneration actually was not given by God in that initial baptism in the first place. The ceremony was made, and the words were said, but God withheld his regeneration. That is what separates the patristic/Anglican theology from the Roman Catholics. The Romans will do a hard objective equivocation between the outward and the inward, the physical and the spiritual. To the Fathers and our divines, the connection was more hopeful. We are confident that the outward and the inward are related and connected; but only God has the objective information.

    So when the clergy pronounce the words of absolution, it's not that they objectively force God's hand to pardon us; or that they pardon us from their own name and authority, or anything like that. They pardon us and we believe, we are hopeful and confident that this has happened. We need them to say it, because we know God set those people over us, to pronounce his word over us. But will he actually pardon us, once his ministers have said the words of absolution? We can only hope, and pray.

    The right answer I think sits in the middle between the two errors of 'objectivist' idolatry, and indifferent 'symbolism'. And more than anything, we have to continually do the work of restoring the pristine teaching from Roman abuses.

    But what if there were only the one church again? The fathers operated as if there were only one church, from which you couldn't run away down the street. Sure you had the Montanists, the Donatists, all those folks who called themselves 100% Christian, had the liturgies, read the Scriptures, were even trinitarian Christians a lot of the times. And yet to the fathers, poof, by enrolling with them you were not in the one church; sure go join the communion of montanists if you want.

    The fathers had the cojones to say, here are the bounds of the church, the one undivided church; all divisions from it were ipso facto severing them from Christ. We have to recover that language and that courage to stand against schism, and consign it to infernal damnation, alongside heresy. Those who schism are not okay, no they're outside the Church. It is imperative on us to recover that language, and restore it from the propaganda and bad odium that the Roman Catholics have given it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020

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