Thursday, May 28, 2009

Confession to priests alone?

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) - John Calvin
Book 3 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ
Chapter 4 - Impurity of Sophists' doctrine of repentance;
discussion of confession and satisfaction

Sections 1-6 - The Scholastic doctrine of confession and contrition,
with its alleged Scriptural basis, examined
Section 5 - The unbinding of Lazarus misapplied
Jesus didn't have the disciples loose Lazarus to show that the apostolic successors had power to loose from sin at confession. If anything, it means to treat forgiven sinners gently and mercifully, but allegories are not "of great value in confirming any dogma."

Section 6 - Scriptural confession
They derive a confession to priests from John's baptism - Matt 3:6.
Of course they confessed; it was a baptism of repentance.
They derive a confession to priests from James 5:16:
"Confess your sins to one another."
But this is mutual, not from laity to priest only.

Section 7 - Compulsory confession unknown in the ancient church
Innocent III began requiring it only 300 years ago (since Calvin).
A Nectarius did away with formal confession once when it was abused, without outcry from the church. None of the eastern churches require it, either.

Section 8 - Chrysostom does not enjoin confession to men

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