The Roman Catholic sacrament of reconciliation (confession of sins to a priest) is an evil and perverse doctrine. A recent Catholic radio broadcast prompted me to examine this false teaching once again.
The Roman Catholic church teaches that it administers seven sacraments by which its members allegedly receive graces in order to live a life that’s possibly worthy of meriting Heaven at the moment of death. Catholicism’s initial sacrament is baptism and most Catholics are baptized as infants. The Roman church teaches that the baptismal waters poured over the head of an infant in conjunction with the formulaic baptismal prayer actually wash away original sin. When a baptized child reaches the age of accountability, deemed to be seven or eight years old and in second grade, they are introduced to the sacraments of reconciliation (formerly known as “confession” or “penance”) and the eucharist.
Catholics are taught that they must confess all serious (aka “mortal”) sins to a priest. Catholics are taught that if they have only one unconfessed mortal sin “staining” their soul when they die, they will be eternally damned in hell. Catholicism is like a constantly revolving door. One day, a Catholic is in a “state of grace” and supposedly ready to merit heaven, but the next day, after they commit a mortal sin and are no longer in a state of grace, they must be absolved by a priest, and round and round and round. If Catholics were honest with themselves, they would have to admit that they sin every day by thought, word, deed, or by omission. Unlike Catholicism, the Bible says all people are sinners and that no one can possibly merit salvation by attempting to obey the Law.
This sacrament of reconciliation presents all kinds of practical difficulties for the credulous Catholic church member such as the following:
- Catholics are understandably reluctant to confess their personal and embarrassing sins to another sinful human being. The Roman church requires its members to go to confession at least once per year under threat of mortal sin, yet most Catholics are understandably intimidated by the reconciliation process and church statistics reveal that only 12% of the membership participate in the sacrament at least yearly as required.
- Catholics must know the difference between a mortal sin and a venial (lesser) sin. Venial sins do not need to be confessed to a priest, but can be allegedly expiated by attending mass, fasting, prayers, and almsgiving.
- Catholics must remember their mortal sins between trips to confession. Who can remember sins from day to day let alone once every fifty-two weeks? When he was a Catholic friar, Martin Luther went to confession every day because he was so cognizant of his sinfulness.
- As we’ll discuss farther below, Catholics must also gingerly navigate the individual “confessors” (i.e., priests who hear confessions) with their different personalities, temperaments, and varying degrees of commitment to Roman orthodoxy, not to mention their particular mood and state of mind at the moment.
Last week, I was listening to the Catholic talk radio show, “Called to Communion,” the stated mission of which is to convince Protestants to convert to Catholicism. In this particular episode, a “lapsed” Catholic, Kevin, called in with some very valid concerns about the reconciliation process.
Called to Communion
July 10, 2019 podcast
Moderator: Thom Price, Host, David Anders
Thom Price: Let’s go to Kevin now in Stamford, Connecticut, checking us out today on YouTube, a first time caller. Hey Kevin what’s on your mind today?
Kevin: Mr. Price, thank you so much. It’s a pleasure. I love your program. Dr. Anders, I love you, too. And my question, doctor, is this: I am trying to become a revert Catholic. Sadly, I’ve been away from the church for awhile. Now, I know the first step I have to take, obviously, is the sacrament of confession. And as I was telling (the call screener), even my wife, who’s a convert for the last thirteen years, we found out that there seems to be, Dr. Anders, inconsistency in the sacrament in the way it’s administered. It seems like we’re at the mercy of the personality of the confessor. Now, holy clergy, they perform all the other sacraments in the same manner; baptisms, mass, homilies can be a little different, that’s understandable, you know, things of that nature. But when it comes to confession, Dr. Anders, there’s three fast examples. Me, personally, I’ve had some where I left the confessional walking on air. I mean, I felt like a million dollars. My confessor was so nice and loving. I’ve had others that were average. And I’ve had others that were nightmares. I was telling your screener, I had one priest one time stop me in the middle of my confession and say to me, “Sir, I don’t feel like giving you absolution.” And, Dr. Anders, at the age of sixty-two, I was stunned, I was like, I never had this happen in all my life. So I said, “Father, can I continue my confession?” And he said, “Yeah.” So I did and then he…, that was it. I had another priest use a four-letter word…
After that last statement, moderator Thom Price nervously jumped in and interrupted the caller. The stated purpose of the Called to Communion radio show is to attempt to attract non-Catholics to the Roman church, therefore Kevin was not allowed to continue with his negative and unflattering comments. Anders immediately retorted that he had never had a bad experience with a confessor, himself, and inferred that the onus was on Kevin and other penitents to relate their mortal sins succinctly (“…the kind and number…that’s it.” ) along with a few words of contrition so as not to test the patience of a possibly temperamental priest.
Confessing sins to a priest has no direct foundation in Scripture. Catholics point to such passages as John 20:23 as their proof-text for priestly absolution:
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
But we see in the context of the entirety of God’s Word that forgiveness of sins is in conjunction with the preaching of the Gospel of grace and the hearer’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone:
“To him (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” – Acts 10:43
The practice of “auricular” (i.e., relating to the ear or hearing) confession to a priest began to make inroads in the late sixth century, but didn’t become a dogma and obligatory practice in the Roman Catholic church until the Council of Lateran in the year 1215. It’s very obvious why this doctrine came into being. It elevated the priest to the status of an absolutely essential mediator in the Catholic salvation system.
There is so much evil inherent in the doctrine of confessing sins to a weak, sinful, human mediator. God alone forgives sin. We know from documented cases of clerical sexual abuse that many predatory priests used the confessional to lure in their victims. The number of trusting souls who were abused by priests via the confessional over the centuries is unfathomable.
Forsake the man-made traditions of Roman Catholicism and believe the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. My friend, repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.
See the article below for more information on the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation:
What does the Bible say about confession of sin to a priest?