Monday, June 14, 2010

Scriptural Confession, Part II

There are two forms of private confession that we learn of from Scripture.  The first is made for our own sake.  This is what is written about in James 5:16, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."  The other form is for the sake of our neighbor.  This is confession our trespasses against him and as an attempt at reconciliation.  As we discussed before, James 5:16 is not necessarily instructing all of us to confess our sins to a priest, instead we are called to confess our sins to each other.  We should choose the most suitable person to hear our confession.  If a believer chooses to confess his sins to a pastor, that is fine.  There should never be any man-made regulations requiring this, but must be given freely.  If men start making requirements for this form of confession, it can quickly turn into superstition rather than true repentance.

"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift," Matthew 5:23-24 (NKJV).  The second form was for reconciliation with our neighbor.  This passage from the Sermon on the Mount is the classic pattern for forgiveness from our sins against our neighbors that Christ teaches.  We should be conscious of offenses we have committed against our neighbors and should want reconciliation with them.  Calvin believed if the church knows of an unresolved issues between two people, they should withhold communion from the offender.  Calvin quotes the 3rd century theologian Cyprian, "They do penance for a certain period; then they come to confession, and through the imposition of the hands of bishop and clergy receive the privilege of communion." Calvin also believed in frequent communion.  Those with an "encumbered conscience can thence receive a remarkable benefit."  Once again Calvin warns against this practice turning into "tyranny and superstition." 

Tomorrow's reading: 3.4.14-3.4.17

No comments:

Post a Comment

Presbyterian Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf